Nordegg is a former coal-mining town situated in the foothills approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Rocky Mountain House. It was founded by Martin Nordegg, a German entrepreneur, who after finding and staking claim to the coal field in the early 1900’s, reached an arrangement with the Canadian Northern Railway, whereby they would build a rail line to Nordegg for a supply of coal.
The Brazeau Collieries began mining in 1912 and the rail line into the area was completed in 1914. Nordegg coal was used mainly in the railway’s steam locomotives with a smaller portion for consumption in the coal furnaces of Alberta’s cities and towns.
Nordegg was one of many company coal-mining towns established in Alberta prior to World War I, however it proved to be unique among other coal-mining communities in the province. Nordegg would be a totally planned community in which Martin Nordegg took great interest and pride. Nordegg’s commitment to create a suitable living environment for the miners and their families was in sharp contrast to the efforts made by other coal companies in Alberta at the time.
Initially, the town of Nordegg featured 50 modern miners cottages arranged in a semi-circular pattern around a central business and service core. The layout of the town as designed by Martin Nordegg, appears to have been adapted from the principles of Ebenezer Howard’s "Garden City” concept, and was more in keeping with the hilly topography of the site than the traditional grid pattern that was popular at the time.
Nordegg became a thriving community, reaching a peak population of around 2,500 people, with amenities comparable to any prairie town in the province during that time period. Nordegg survived as a coal-mining town for over 40 years and in its heyday the mine employed 800 workers. As the railroads began to use diesel fuel and the domestic users began using natural gas, the loss of a market for their coal resulted in the closure of the Brazeau Collieries for good in 1955. Soon after the closure of the mine, the town was virtually abandoned.
In the early 1960’s, an Alberta Government Corrections camp was placed in the old town site and almost all of the town’s older buildings were torn down as a result of work projects for the inmates. The existing infrastructure was maintained by Alberta Public Works. The town site of Nordegg was transferred from the Province of Alberta to Clearwater County in 1996. The mine site was left virtually untouched for several decades aside from some vandalism and pilfering of machinery and metal.
Clearwater County officially took over the town site of Nordegg in March 1996 through a land trade with the Province of Alberta. The Province had operated the town since 1963 when a minimum-security camp was set up in the old historic portion. With the downsizing of the camp and plans to totally close the facility, discussions began with the County to take it over. It was agreed that additional land to the north of Highway 11 would be included in the transfer so that some development would be able to occur immediately following the transfer.
Please contact our real estate agent Lorna Moore for more information at (403) 844-9644 or at Lorna@Lorna.ca