Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gold Rushes of British Columbia, Part 2

Omineca
Placer gold deposits were discovered in the Omineca region of British Columbia (B.C.) in 1861 but as in other strikes in the Province, the word did not get out till later. In fact, not until 1869 when extensive placer deposits were located at Vital Creek. Those fortunate miners who were on the scene before the Vital Creek discovery did quite well for themselves at locations like Toy's Bar and Silver Creek, where 4 troy ounces a day could be recovered by panning and sluicing.

By the early 1870s the early strikes in the Omineca region were supplanted by new gold discoveries at Germansen, Manson, and Lost Creeks and their smaller tributaries. At Germansen Creek, the daily take in placer gold often exceeded 10 troy ounces per man, and it was not uncommon to pan out more than a half ounce per pan. Germansen Creek was, as they say, very rich ground (as were Manson and Lost Creeks where 20-120 troy ounces per week were not uncommon).
The Omineca rush started its decline in 1873 even though good placer gold values were still being recovered by some miners who were willing to work hard on less-than-rich ground. By 1874 only 80 miners were still working claims in the region and the Omineca Rush was over for all intents and purposes.

Cassiar

In the early 1870s extensive placer gold deposits were also discovered in the Cassiar Region, with most of the gold taken from Dease Creek and its two main tributaries, McDame and Thibert Creeks. The diggings at Cassiar were not as rich as those at Omineca however, and miners had a tougher time of things in general. By 1880 the Cassiar Rush was finished, with the miners disappearing into B.C.'s wilderness (yet again) in their search for additional deposits of the gleaming yellow precious metal.

Atlin

The Atlin Rush was, in truth, an offshoot of the much larger Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Be that as it may, the Atlin goldfields proved to be extremely rich, with an estimated production figure of over $23,000,000 in placer gold. By 1899 over 5,000 miners were working claims in the Atlin Lake region and a bustling new town of the same name was born. Within a few years however, the richest diggings had been cleaned out at Atlin leaving ground of a more "hard scrabble" variety. Once again, B.C. miners moved on to search for better ground.

Cayoosh Creek

In order to review the Cayoosh Creek Rush we must return to the Fraser Canyon (River) region. In 1884 rich pockets of placer gold were discovered in the lower 6 miles of Cayoosh Creek between Cayoosh Falls and the confluence of the creek itself with the Fraser River.

Over 300 Chinese miners beat their mining competitors to this new strike and within a matter of weeks nearly every square inch of ground along Cayoosh Creek was claimed up and being worked by the "Celestials." The fact that they were relegated to "borderline" diggings angered many white miners, but claims were claims and the Chinese pressed on with the hard work of placer gold recovery nonplussed.

It's estimated that $6-$7,000,000 in placer gold was recovered along Cayoosh Creek during the heydays of the rush, but by 1887 the good ground was exhausted and the rush, as such, ended.

Other Notable B.C. Gold Rushes

Other notable rushes occurred at Stewart, Tulameen, Bridge River, Golden Cache (which turned out to be a "humbug" of sorts), and Yalakom. Additionally, many smaller, less noteworthy or "mini" gold rushes occurred in various locales within the Province.

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2008

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