Boom and Bust: Ghost Towns of the Elk Valley The early coal mining communities in the Elk Valley were boom towns which rose almost overnight. Built within a short distance of new mines, these communities promised a better life for thousands of immigrants that came to the region. The communities of Coal Creek and Michel-Natal, where the coal seams were lucrative, survived for over 50 years. Others popped up and then disappeared just as quickly when the mines were not as profitable as owners had hoped. COAL CREEK The Crow’s Nest Pass Coal Company brought in 20 miners from Cape Breton to work its first mine at Coal Creek, which was established in 1897. By 1905 the townsite became home to 1,000 residents. On May 22, 1902, an explosion in a mine left 128 dead in one of Canada’s the worst mining 6 ferniemuseum.com disasters. The mine was closed in 1958 and the townsite was dismantled. During those 60 years, the Coal Creek mine produced 20 million short tons of coal. By contrast, today’s open pit mines produce 25 million metric tons per year. Very little remains of the townsite or the mine.