When the last of the Coal Creek mines were sealed in the spring of 1958, some predicted that Fernie would become a ghost town.
Fortunately, there were others who could see the value of another local natural resource: the exceptional topography of the snow-covered valley.
The opening of the "Snow Valley" ski resort in 1963 was the beginning of Fernie's tourism economy. Now owned by Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Fernie Alpine Resort has been the subject of significant investment in the form of ski-in/ski-out condominiums, new eateries, and other facilities.
Fernie's population changed as its new economy grew. Some mining families remained, with workers commuting 20 minutes up the highway to the Sparwood mines, but the availability of world-class skiing and mountain biking brought new people to town.
Fernie is filled with heritage buildings that have endured decades of a boom and bust economy. Today, those buildings are enjoying a new lease on life as restaurants, galleries, outdoor stores, and bars. Many of Fernie's service industry jobs are filled by young people from Australia.