Kootenay Mines Report: 0051.0021

HIGHLY IMPORTANT NEWS FROM KOOTENAY.  (from the Cariboo Sentinel).

            Through the courtesy of a gentleman on this creek, we are enabled to place the following most interesting letter from Mr. O’Reilly before our readers.  It contains later and more important intelligence than has been previously received from the Southern mines, and coming from such an authority may be relied on:

                                                                        Wild Horse Creek, Kootenay

                                                                                    18th June, 1865.

AN EXPRESS STARTED. – An enterprising individual, named Reid (formerly of Jack of Clubs creek) is about to start an express to Hope, and I take advantage of his first trip to send this letter.

THE KOOTENAY MINES. – The mines, so far as they are yet known, are “shallow diggings,” from 4 to 10 feet below the surface.  The gold is mostly found on the bed-rock, which is blue slate, soft and easily worked.  But little has been done this season from the scarcity of provisions – almost famine – that existed in the spring, and latterly because of the high stage of the water; also the difficulty that always takes place of working bench and hill claims while the creek remains unworked.  One company have just completed a ditch nearly four miles in length, and capable of carrying 2000 inches of water, and in a short time the hills will be prospected; till then it is impossible to say anything definite about this camp.  The creek and low benches all pay well – from $10 to $15 to the hand, and three companies made last week as much as 100 ounces per day.  At present it would be difficult to ascertain even approximately either the daily or weekly returns.  There are about 800 men employed, and about half that number loafing about, who cannot get work; when the water subsides a much greater number will get employment.  Outside of the claims already taken up, and which are known to contain gold, there is no prospecting going on.  I have never known a class of miners who show less enterprise in this respect.  From the above you will see that Kootenay is not so extensive as was represented though the claims are undoubtedly good, and have the great advantage of being easily worked.  About a fortnight since our population numbered 1500, when a report reached us that rich diggings had been discovered on Elk river, which flows into the Kootenay river about 50 miles S.E. of this place, and 15 north of the line.  About 200 started immediately, but as yet nothing sufficiently reliable has transpired.

CARNES CREEK. – is situated on the east bank about twenty miles above the Upper Dalles, or at a point you will see marked on the map, “canon four miles long, very narrow, with a number of rocks in the channel.”  He says that there is sufficient ground to employ 4000 men and pay $100 a day to the hand.  When he left there were between 50 and 60 men at work; beyond this nothing is known of it.  I should not be surprised if a hundred men were to leave for these mines in a few days.

THE NEW ROUTE. – Mr. Dewdney has arrived and reports that he has discovered a good line for a trail from Boundary Creek, by which the total distance from Hope to the mines will not exceeed 350 miles; from there to the Columbia river by this route is 60 miles; from Columbia river to Kootenay lake 65, and from the lake to Wild Horse creek 80.  Mr. Dewdney will commence work on Tuesday, 20th June, with 50 men; a portion he intends to let out to contract, and says the whole line will be open by the 1st August.  This will suit your book exactly, and you may consider yourself lucky in being able to avoid going by Colville, which would add at least 200 miles to your journey, besides being a most expensive route.

NO LITIGATION AT KOOTENAY. – We are all very quiet, though if we were to believe all we hear one half of the population is made up of murderers, highwaymen, and horse thieves.  There is very little litigation; Cornwall finds it hard work to kill time, particularly as there is nothing to be got in the way of fish the waters are as muddy as the Fraser at this season.  The climate is a decided improvement on that of Cariboo, though the country is not so open as was represented.

MARKET RATES. – Flour 45c lb.; bacon, 75; sugar, 80; butter, $1.50; beans, 75 @ 80; candles, $1; tobacco, $3 @ 3.50; beef, 30 @ 35; picks, $4; shovels, $4.50 @ $5!

LABOR MARKET. – Carpenters per day, $10; laborers, $7.  Mr. Dewdney could have engaged 100 men at $75 per month had he required them.

                                                                                                            P. O’REILLY


ANOTHER LETTER. – We are indebted to Mr. Frank Dunstan for the following letter, which he received by the last express from Mr. Jim Gerald, formerly well known on this creek.

                                                            FISHERVILLE, KOOTENAY MINES,

                                                                                    June 19th, 1865.

            I thought I would drop you a few lines and let you know where I am now, but it is mighty hard to tell where I shall be when you receive this.  There are lots of Cariboo boys here, all broke (as well as myself) and most of them wishing they were back again, so I suppose you will be glad you did not leave there; I am sure I have no desire to be back again although it may be the best place in the world, but I do not think so, I think this is a better country for me (not this camp, for this is the meanest place I ever got in without exception), but there is a good country east of here, on the American side, that is setting up very fast with white people.  There is a big excitement about the Columbia at present, I think there will be some good diggings discovered in that country.  The creek they are prospecting now is called Carne’s creek, and is about 300 miles from Colville; it empties into the Columbia river, and is on the British Columbia side of the line.  I do not know whether I shall go there or no, I may take a notion to go East, but it is hard to say.


AND ANOTHER. – The letter of which the following is a copy is from Mr. Fred White, a packer, and was received by Mr. Joe Copland, who kindly allowed us to publish it.

                                                                        KOOTENAY, FISHERVILLE, B.C.

                                                                                                June 16th, 1865.

            Here  I am in this God-forsaken country and do not know what to write.  Times are dull, in fact dull is no name.  There are several of the Cariboo boys here, and without exception they are the poorest lot I ever saw.  The season was very late here, and when grub came in the camp was in a starving condition and everybody in debt – claim holders in particular – and one still so; the water is so high that the creek claims are laid over until August; some of the bar claims pay very well, that is for this country, but they are all owned by men that came in last fall, and all strangers to me.  My train has made one trip and will be back with a second load in about two weeks; I wish I had the goods in some other place outside of this, for I can’t sell a dollar’s worth for cash.  Flour is selling at 45c; beans, 50; sugar, 75; bacon, 75; fresh beef, 25 and 30, on jaw-bone; clothing is cheaper here than at Yale.  I will try and close out packing this season, if I don’t get broke before I can do so, and hope to see you next winter in Victoria.  Reports say that diggings have been struck on the Columbia; I saw a friend of mine who told me he had got some very good prospects on a creek about 300 miles above Colville, he left his party of about forty men there and came back here to sell his claims and then he is going back; Johnny Cluckston, Bob Nouels and several others are there, and we expect to hear from them soon.  There is no gambling going on here, but there is about a thousand sports, and if you took them all by the heels and gave them a good shaking you might possibly be able to shake out $100.

0051.0021: Kootenay Mines Report

Article with letters from various individuals with reports on the Kootenay Mines. Featured is a report from Peter O'Reilly, gold commissioner, discussing the progress in the Wild Horse camp.

Medium:  Newspaper - Text
Date:  August 3, 1865
Pages:  3
Publisher:  Victoria Daily Colonist
Collection:  Columbia Basin Institute (0051)




People arrow Cluckstonarrow
People arrow Coplandarrow
People arrow Dewdneyarrow
People arrow Dunstanarrow
People arrow Geraldarrow
People arrow Nouelsarrow
People arrow O'Reillyarrow
People arrow Reidarrow
People arrow Whitearrow
Sports arrow Fishingarrow
Social arrow Consumer Goods arrow Mining Camp Conditionsarrow
Communications arrow Post Offices arrow Expressmenarrow
Cities arrow Fishervillearrow
Cities arrow Hopearrow
Cities arrow Wild Horsearrow
Cities arrow Yalearrow
Industry arrow Mining arrow Gold Mining arrow Big Bend Countryarrow
Industry arrow Mining arrow Gold Mining arrow Caribooarrow
Industry arrow Mining arrow Gold Mining arrow Wild Horse Creekarrow
Industry arrow Mining arrow Equipment arrow Ditches arrow Victoria Ditcharrow
Physical Features arrow Rivers arrow Columbia Riverarrow
Physical Features arrow Rivers arrow Elk Riverarrow
Physical Features arrow Rivers arrow Kootenay Riverarrow
Physical Features arrow Creeks arrow Boundary Creekarrow
Physical Features arrow Creeks arrow Carnes Creekarrow
Physical Features arrow Creeks arrow Wild Horse Creekarrow
Physical Features arrow Lakes arrow Kootenay Lakearrow
Transportation arrow Pack Trainsarrow
Transportation arrow Trails arrow Dewdney Trailarrow
Social arrow Criminal Activity arrow Gamblingarrow
Social arrow Criminal Activity arrow Murderarrow
Social arrow Criminal Activity arrow Robbery and Theftarrow
Industry arrow Mining arrow Lawsarrow


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