Busting a myth in the Alberta Foothills…?

Vulcan Aerodrome

For years I have wondered, for years I had hoped, for years I wanted to know – do we have actually have a Magnetic Hill is southern Alberta.   I decided to take my curiosity onto the open road to find out.   My son and I drove south along Highway 2 for approximately one hour until we entered the small town Nanton, known for numerous antique stores and the Bomber Command Museum of Canada, which houses a Lancaster Bomber used in World War II.  From there we made a quick turn west onto Secondary road 533, a nicely paved highway that drives through the foothills for about 40 kilometers before you intersect with Highway 22.  Mystery has it, that 23 kilometers west of Nanton on 533 there is a small dirt road that is supposedly the entrance to the Magnetic Hill.  Well, we drove and drove, we actually missed the dirt road entirely, but thanks to our handy-dandy back road atlas, we were soon headed in the right direction.   However, there were no signs highlighting the area.  The road rose and dived like a roller coaster, but still no signs.  We did try one spot, but alas, nothing….!  All this time, I had hoped…but as we drove we concluded that this myth was busted!   That said, if anyone out there knows about this hill in Alberta, please share your discovery!

However, that didn’t stop our adventure.  We headed back into Nanton and crossed over Highway 2 and decided to head east on Secondary Road 533 to continue exploring.   I had read that there was an old abandon Aerodrome located in the middle of a prairie field, located approximately 30 minutes east of Nanton.  The Vulcan Aerodrome was short-lived and was only used for World War II training during 1942-1945; however, the remnants of its former glory years still stand.

Vulcan Aerodrome

Vulcan Aerodrome

Vulcan Aerodrome

Vulcan Aerodrome

Vulcan Aerodrome

Vulcan Aerodrome

As we drove into the open prairie, where trees only dotted the landscape, I spotted buildings off into the distance.  Excited to see that this myth wasn’t busted, I started to drive faster.   Soon we were located within the ghostly compound driving along a forgotten past.   Skydiving and “no trespassing” signs were plastered on the buildings and an eerie silence encompassed the area.  We stopped briefly to take some photos, and as I walked in long grass and tiptoed around broken glass, I wondering if this area would ever come back to life like its formal glory days.

Categories: Around Alberta, Road Trip Pictures, The Unusual...

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16 replies

  1. Interesting post! I’d never heard of a Magnetic Hill. Nice pictures!

  2. LOVE THIS! We planned to go to a Gravity Hill in Wisconsin (Shullsburg) but couldn’t get there. I was so anticipating finding one in Alberta once I started your blog! 😀 I hope you find it!

  3. Nice reading about you

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Be in touch. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may find something of your interest.

  4. Magnetic Hill is there. You’re in the right spot. Ive visited it a couple of times. But I was checking on line to refresh my memory on its exact location. If its not off the 533 its off the 540, but Im leaning more towards the 533. As far as I remember there is a small unobtrusive sign on the side of the highway that says ‘magnetic hill’ and the actual hill is barely off the highway. Last time I was there must’ve been about 2000, 2001.

  5. I can tell you that you were so close to the Magnetic Hill site. The road you turned onto is what the Local folks actually do call “Roller Coaster Road”. If you would of proceeded West on #533 just a bit more around the bend, it would of been your next left turn. It’s been closed and gated off for years now. I think the land-owner got tired of the local teenagers having parties up there and leaving their garbage so he locked the gate and took down the sign.

  6. Kinda related only in that I was planning on taking a drive on #540 from Cayley area to Bar U this weekend, but a couple of weeks ago I saw orange construction signs leading up to #540 west, but only glanced as we were heading elsewhere. I thought the sign said #540 was closed, but other details I missed. Not sure if construction or flooding but now online can’t find info. to see if problem is behind us. Any idea where to find that updated information? Back up plan is #533 but have been on #540 and it is great day trip road, with stop at (FREE for 2017) Bar U. Planning on continuing past Bar U also, to a little known Ranch owned once by Royalty.

  7. Sorry to burst your bubble, but magnetic hill is real. It’s an optical illusion formed by the surrounding landscape. The road is unmarked and would be hard to find if you don’t know the area.

  8. Hello Tracy

    … my name is Dave O’Malley and I am volunteer editor and writer for Vintage Wings of Canada’s free story service. We operate 14 WWII trainers and fighters in flying condition in Ottawa and our website has published more than 500 stories for free to anyone who wants to read about our aviation heritage. I am presently putting together a story about the old training airfields in Alberta and came across your photos on you blog. They would help tell the story of what things look like today. Would you allow me to use a few of them in the story?

    Here is a link to another one that I did for the airfields in Saskatchewan: http://www.vintagewings.ca/VintageNews/Stories/tabid/116/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/379/Ghosts-of-Saskatchewan.aspx

    and here’s a link to a gallery of many of the stories I have published before: Just click on any icon to get to the story.


    I will credit you of course and link to your blog

    Dave O’Malley

  9. Hi everyone. To know the exact location of the Nanton’s Magnetic hill, please either access my website or my Google Drive folder below to download a 3-page article about it dated July 26th, 2021.
    Website: https://sites.google.com/site/leblancjacques/fossilhome
    Google Drive folder: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B_FRE6vSR2MeMGwyaXdsNDVsdnM?resourcekey=0-SFJb9NszWgz5yUSsrHhEyA


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