Field investigations, which took place during July, August and early September, 1995, located four potential sources of building stone at coal mining sites in the Alberta foothills. One location is an abandoned mine and three are active coal mines. In all cases the potentially useful rock is sandstone.
As an aid in identifying and marketing the sandstones, they have been given names reflecting their potential quarry locations. Sandstone from the Smoky River Mine, approximately 20 km north of town of Grande Cache, appears to be the most promising. This rock has been named Smokystone and is found along the footwall of Pit No. 3 in No.12 Mine West operated by Smoky River Coal Ltd. Mining in this pit was completed in 1993 and the area currently is being reclaimed. Recovery of this stone for building purposes could commence as soon as reclamation is completed. It is estimated that this will occur sometime in 1996. Smokystone is a medium grey to dark grey, siliceous, very fine grained scabby to flaggy (5 cm and 10 cm thick) sandstone. The colour of the stone is medium to dark grey on fresh surfaces with yellow and white coloration along joint surfaces. The bedding planes (ie, the top and bottom) are greyish black to black. In general appearance it is similar to Rundlestone which is quarried in the Bow Corridor and used extensively as decorative facing in the Canmore-Banff area and elsewhere in Alberta. Two pallets of Smokystone were shipped to Angelo Building Supplies Ltd in Edmonton to expose the stone to potential customers. Masons who saw the stone were pleased with its shape and colour, but concerned with the carbon dusting on its flat sides. About one half tonne of the stone was sold for building a low retaining drywall in a garden. At the sample site there is a reserve of about 800 mï¿½ of the stone and elsewhere in the pit there is excellent potential for substantial increase of this quantity.
The Town Council of the town of Grande Cache was interested in having Smokeystone installed as facing the lower part of the front wall of the Tourism Centre that was under construction in September 1995. The council did not have enough money to pay for stone installation, an estimated cost of about $17000. Since stucco was used on the wall, there remains a possibility to replace it with Smokeystone in the future.