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Coleman Alberta Plane Crash | Hiking into History

Coleman Alberta Plane Crash | Hiking into History


DC-3 (Dakota) Plane Crash -1946 Near Coleman Alberta.

A Place of Honor!

Tail section of a DC-3 (Dakota) Plane. Coleman AB

We were in the mood to do a little bit of celebrating. Our oldest daughter Savannah was turning 20, and had decided to do something different to kick-off the start to her new year. “An adventure,” she said, something to indicate that she was marching towards the goals in her life and wasn’t afraid to grab life by the horns!  So her dad, Shane found us a hike that would hopefully challenge and educate us in the process.


We were heading to North York Creek, just outside of Coleman AB, to hike to an old crash site from 1946. We walked and talked, enjoying each other’s company, as we made the 6.2 km hike (one way) to the headwaters of North York Creek. We marveled at the beauty all around us. The sound of the creek babbling through the trees, the orange and yellow butterflies dancing among the wild flowers, the majestic mountain peaks that seemed to enfold us in their grandeur as we meandered the path to our destination.

Dog sitting by some daisies.

After many fits of stops and starts, we reached an opening in the trees and were greeted by a sign that read:

Dakota plane crash 1946 Coleman Alberta memorial

Surveying the site, the silence stretched like a receding fishing line between us. We were awe struck! Scattered amongst the trees were signs of the devastation that had happened here. A wing from the Dakota lay several yards away from the silvery tail section that had once been its working neighbor. Farther still, toward the waterfall, were pieces of the plane’s landing gear as well as parts from her engine. Glittering in the sun, mixed with the pebbles of the creek were bolts, hinges and melted pieces of her once sturdy aluminum hull.

Engine of a crashed DC-3 plane Coleman Alberta Wing of a crashed DC-3 plane Coleman Alberta Prop of a crashed DC-3 plane Coleman Alberta Wing of a crashed DC-3 plane Coleman Alberta

We were hypnotized by the scene that lay before us. Here seven young men, not many years older than my own daughter, had lost their lives in service to their country. At first it brought about a feeling of melancholy, they were so young just starting out in life.

Tail of a crashed DC-3 plane with crosses Coleman Alberta

But then, it dawned on me that this was truly a beautiful place to have the journey end. A glistening waterfall and a set of regal mountains at your back, the pungent aroma a pine trees mixed with a carpet of other alpine greenery, a captivating view of the surrounding valleys, and a constant trickle of new and interesting visitors that stopped to take a few moments to remember you. Perfect!

Memorial cross of a crashed DC-3 plane Coleman Alberta

Coleman’s plane crash site is a remarkable monument to the personal lives and stories of these young servicemen!

Tail section of a crashed DC-3 plane Coleman Alberta

I feel that places like this are meant to be a celebration of the journey we are all on. It should remind us that life is fleeting, and you must grab life by the horns leaving a mark on the world that shouts from the highest peaks around … “I was here!”

Waterfall near a crashed DC-3 plane Coleman Alberta

Click here to see a map listing to the DC-3 plane crash hike just out of Coleman Alberta.

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View of Moraine lakes deep blue colour from the rock pile

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