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It is surrounded by Mountain View County. The town was founded in 1883 as a stopover for travellers on the Calgary-Edmonton Trail, and became an important regional service centre after the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1902. The railway still passes through Pincher Creek but passenger service ended in 1990; grain shipping remains an important activity for rail traffic. In recent years, tourism has become increasingly significant to local economic development efforts. It is known as "Alberta's Festival City" because it hosts several festivals each year including Country Thunder music festival, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually.