Gold mining in the Kootenais

June 8th, 2021 2 Minutes
Placer Mining on Wildhorse Creek ca. 1898 Collection No. 2251.0061 – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History

A glimpse into the hubris of the early gold rush in the Kootenays – an excerpt taken from the Victoria Daily Colonist June 18, 1864.

THE KOOTENAIS MINES. – Their Richness Confirmed. – 

We have received from the most undoubted authority the fullest confirmation of the account published a few days since by us of the incredible richness of the Kootanais mines. The government of British Columbia has officially obtained information of the most startling nature as to the extent and richness of the gold mines, so much so that we understand it has appointed a gold commissioner for the new district; and so satisfied is it of the almost certainty of a great rush to that country that it is even contemplated to appoint a county court judge to be in readiness for duty.

We are informed that our accounts received from Mr. Finlayson and published the day before yesterday’s COLONIST are far below the truth and that the diggings are richer than anything in Boise or Cariboo, besides being much more accessible. A great deal of speculation is going on among the few persons who are aware of the richness of the new mines. They are buying up mules and provisions in every direction to anticipate the rush they believe will inevitably occur. As we stated before, the Hudson Bay Company intends to send through many goods at once. With the assistance of the British Columbia Government, a trail will be speedily constructed, which will be comparatively an easy matter, owing to the dry and level nature of the country.

The route to the diggings will be from Hope to new Fort Colville, on the Columbia River, just north of the boundary line, a distance of about 200 miles, from which point the new trail will be made to the mines. The whole distance is only about half that from the head of navigation on the Columbia and through a much more accessible country. The Kootanais or Flat Bow river, on which the mines are found, rises in the Rocky Mountains, close to the source of the south branch of the Saskatchewan, and flows south, parallel to the mountains, for nearly 150 miles, when it crosses the boundary lines; it then takes a great bend of upwards of 100 miles into the American territory, recrossing the boundary northwards, about 50 miles east of new Fort Colville, and joining the Columbia about 20 miles north of the 49th parallel.

The diggings at present are entirely in British territory. They are believed to extend over the whole country between the mouth and source of the river, a distance of nearly 100 miles, over a fine grassy tract known as the Tobacco Plains. We understand that the British Columbia government is determined to take the most energetic steps to open out the new mining region, and we confidently expect ere long to see a stream of hardy miners such as passed through our city in 1862, flowing towards the new and promising gold fields.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *