Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

The historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale

Built during the First World War, it survived the Great Depression, the Second World War and the closure of coal mines in the 1950s. Now the historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale.

There are a century’s worth of memories in the three-storey wooden hotel, including photos of the community in its heyday, mining equipment and three bullet holes — framed on one wall of the bar — dating back to the 1970s when a trigger-happy bartender wanted to encourage some patrons to pay their tab.

The hotel, about 15 kilometres southeast of Drumheller, Alta., was built by the Rosedeer Coal Co. to house its workers and opened in 1913. The saloon was added a few years later so employees being paid in company scrip could buy a meal or a beer.

“It originally was built for the coal miners when Wayne was starting to boom with 2,500 residents in the early 1920s. Now we’re down to 29 residents and this is one of the few remaining structures from that time,” explains current owner Dave Arsenault, who has to sell the hotel as part of a divorce settlement.

“It was a going concern. There was more than one hotel out here. There were 12 coal mines and it was a bustling place. Of course, there’s almost nothing left but there’s lots of photos around depicting what it was like in the day.

“That’s really the charm of this place.”

The last working mine in the area, Sovereign Coal, closed in 1957.

A University of Calgary history professor says many people don’t realize how big an effect the coal industry had in early 20th-century Alberta.

Georg Colpitts says the Drumheller area was one of the “ground centrals of early coal-mining” in the province. Many early explorers to Western Canada not only looked at the agricultural potential, but considered the vast amounts of coal that could be used to support the British Empire.

“Wherever these individuals found large coal deposits it was factored into the thinking of London investors, to the colonial office. Coal was in the backdrop of a lot of the thinking of empiring.”

Colpitts said not only did the area have coal deposits, CN decided to develop a railhead.

“Those were the two magic combinations to tap Drumheller into the international demand and supply of coal. It became the lifeblood of that valley and continued to be so up until about the ’70s.”

The hotel is listed for $925,000. Arsenault says there’s already been some interest from prospective buyers.

“It’s unfortunate because I think the timing is great for a nice rebound in the hospitality game, but I guess that’s a selling feature, too,” he says.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re conducting business as usual. We’ve got weddings booked. We’ve got some groups coming in, lots of recurring old friends that have called and made reservations. Camping is open this year.”

WayneStock, a three-day annual music festival with acts on three stages in and around the saloon, posted a record attendance of about 2,000 in 2019, but has been cancelled since due to the pandemic.

Some think the third floor of the hotel, which is locked up and used only for storage, is haunted. The hotel was featured in Season 3 of the Canadian ghost-hunting TV show, “The Other Side.”

It has also hit the big screen.

The 1983 movie “Running Brave,” starring Robby Benson, was filmed in part at the hotel as well as the 2000 martial arts western comedy “Shanghai Noon” which starred Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson and Lucy Liu.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Alberta

Just Posted

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Creston’s high school

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for the former Prince Charles Secondary School

A new doctor has been recruited for the Creston Valley. (Pixabay)
New doctor recruited for the Creston Valley

Dr. Luke Turanich is expected to begin practice in late summer/early fall

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy patbaywebcam.com.
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

Most Read