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

A concept rendering of the proposed seven-unit, two-storey development at 1129 Riverside Ave. in Sicamous. (District of Sicamous graphic)
Proposed luxury development in Sicamous sparks parking concerns

Seven-unit commercial-residential building planned for Riverside Avenue

The Shaw Centre and the SASCU Recreation Centre are the two largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions on City of Salmon Arm properties. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
City of Salmon staff surprised COVID not cause of drop in greenhouse gas emissions

2020 sees emissions on city-owned properties decrease well below 2019 totals

Shuswap Litas and Son of Stomp head out from uptown Askew’s parking lot on Thursday, June 10, some with teddy bears and stuffies, to ride to Pierre’s Point by Adams Lake community hall to show their support for band members in the wake of the confirmation of 215 children buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap bike clubs ride to support Indigenous communities

Motorcyclists go to Pierre’s Point in solidarity with bands in wake of residential school findings

Interior Health is offering mobile vaccination clinics for the first dose only of COVID-19 vaccine in the Shuswap from June 15 to June 19h. (Interior Health image)
First-dose vaccinations for COVID-19 offered via mobile clinics in Shuswap

Clinic in Salmon Arm scheduled for June 15, other clinics in Sorrento, Malakwa, Chase

The price per litre of regular gasoline was at 145.9 cents at several gas stations in downtown Salmon Arm on June 11, 2021. (Zachary Roman - Salmon Arm Observer)
Gas prices pumped up in Salmon Arm and Sicamous

Price spikes from 131.9 to as high as 145.9 cents per litre

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a summary of this week’s biggest stories from the Okanagan-Shuswap

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

The rainbow flag flies beside the Canadian flag outside the University of the Fraser Valley’s Chilliwack campus on June 26, 2020. Monday, June 14, 2021 is Flag Day, and also June is Pride Month. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

The RCMP are asking for assistance regarding the death of Kathleen Richardson of Naramata, pictured here. Her death is believed to be related to two homicides in Naramata in May. (RCMP)
Police identify South Okanagan homicide victim as 57-year-old Naramata woman

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna General Hospital clinicians observe increase in e-scooter injuries

A report is set to go to city council next week on how the e-scooter pilot has gone thus far

Most Read