Supporters of the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site near East Coulee got together on Tuesday night to take a look back at the past year and ahead to summer 2017.
 
Close to 25 people packed the administration office at the mine for the annual general meeting.
 
"Financials and visitation look pretty good from 2016," reported new executive director Sarah Newstead. "Our financials have actually gone up this year and they've been following an upward trend over the last five years, which is really good. We're hoping that it will continue this year."
 
"We are getting a little bit of oscillation in visitation every year," she continued. "We found that there was actually a spike in visitation in 2014, that's when we filmed The Amazing Race (Canada) here, but all in all the numbers are very positive and we seem to be going up every year."
 
Heritage interpreters at the mine conducted just over 6,000 tours for pre-booked groups in 2016, including almost 80 school groups, which Newstead thinks is especially important.
 
"Mining history is something that particularly primary school children should be learning about because it's fundamental to the history of Alberta and also the history of Canada," she told 99.5 Drum FM. "Children tend to learn a lot better when they actually have hands-on stuff and they're not just reading about stuff in books."
 
Newstead added they're expecting even more school visits in 2017 and a very special visitor this coming weekend: the 500,000th person to tour the mine site since it opened to the public in 1987.

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