Fernie, BC, incorporated as a city in 1904, population 4448 (2011c), 4217 (2006c). The City of Fernie lies in the narrow valley of the Elk River, amidst peaks of the ROCKY MOUNTAINS forming part of the CONTINENTAL DIVIDE. It is 970 km E of Vancouver. Originally called Coal Creek, the city was later named for William FERNIE. It was founded in 1898 with the construction of the Crow's Nest Pass Ry. Wiped out by fire in 1908, it was rebuilt in impressive fashion. Referred to in its early years as the "Pittsburgh of the West," it became the centre for the region's coal mines, particularly Coal Creek Mines. At the end of WWI, 4500 people resided there.
A recession followed that was prolonged by the switch from coal to oil on American railroads and intensified by the Great Depression. The first coal was shipped to Japanese steel makers in 1970. Fernie's economy today is diversifying in the areas of tourism and recreation, while its residential base is sustained in part by the 4 nearby coal mines operating in the Elk Valley. The Snow Valley ski area is a popular attraction for local people and tourists from Alberta.