History | October 6, 2017 5:00 am

Lake Minnewanka in Alberta, Canada Hides an Underwater Ghost Town

Scuba divers flock to the water to see the eerie landscape.

Lake Minnewanka is a seemingly normal, 13-mile-long lake in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. But what most bikers and hikers don’t know is that the lake did not used to be here. Before the area was flooded, it was home to a bustling lakeside resort town. Now, that town resides at the bottom of Lake Minnewanka, only visited by those in scuba suits, Smithsonian Magazine reports.

The summer village was known as Minnewanka Landing, and was located at the base of the Canadian Rockies. Over the years, the town grew to include “four avenues, three streets, dozens of cottages, numerous hotels and restaurants, and multiple sailing outfits that would take guests on boat excursions around the original lake,” writes Smithsonian. 

According to Smithsonian, a dam was built as part of a Calgary Power Co. hydroelectric plant operation being set up downriver in 1912. The construction and dam ultimately flooded a good portion of Minnewanka Landing. This didn’t destroy the town fully, which continued to grow until 1941. But a new dam, which raised the reservoir’s water by 98 feet, essentially sunk the town to the bottom of the lake, according to Smithsonian. 

Bill Perry, an archeologist with Parks Canada, told Smithsonian that everybody was “hungry for power” during the Second World War, and Calgary and the surrounding area were growing substantially.

The former town is still intact, thank to Lake Minnewanka’s glacier-fed, ice-cold waters, reports Smithsonian. Therefore, scuba divers can check out house and hotel foundations, wharves, an oven, a chimney, a cellar, bridge pilings, and sidewalks. You can see a video of some scuba divers and the town here.

Perry estimates that 8,000 people dive in the lake each year to explore the town, as well as a native campsite that dates back thousands of years.