The life and death of a really unique gold rush

By Ellsworth Dickson

In the early days, Canada’s many western province, British Columbia, was developed on gold. While there were the well-known gold hurries of the Fraser River in 1858 and Barkerville in 1862, there is one gold rush that differs from the rest– the Granite Creek gold rush near Princeton, southwest B.C.

What make Granite Creek various is that besides gold, there are likewise platinum nuggets– among just 2 locations on the planet– the other being the Amur River in Russia.

It all began in July 1885 when an at some point cowboy/sometime hooligan called Johnny Chance (no joking) appeared in the Tulameen Valley northwest of Princeton where there was some modest second mining operations.

He signed on for work at a second mine; nevertheless, as it ended up, luckily, he had a major character defect– he was chronically lazy. Second mining was effort. Got a task as cooking area assistant however peeling potatoes and cleaning meals was real work too, so the cook handed him a rifle and informed him to go shoot something for supper.

You thought it: he was too lazy to hunt. He discovered a great creek (Granite Creek) that streamed into the Tulameen River and put down for nap with his feet in the cool water. When he woke up and stayed up, he looked down at his feet and saw something gold-colored and glossy. Choosing it, it was certainly a gold nugget. He discovered more.

Filling his buckskin bag with nuggets, Johnny ran back to camp hollering “GOLD! GOLD?”

His discovery spread like wildfire and quickly numerous miners– both European and Chinese– flooded in. The town of Granite City– often called Granite Creek– was born. It didn’t take long prior to there were 2,000 individuals, 13 saloons, 14 hotels and dining establishments, 2 blacksmiths, 2 jewellers– however no churches or schools. This was the 5th greatest town in British Columbia with some 200 structures. There was even a prison– without any bars! All the windows were one foot square so nobody might get away– and they didn’t.

At initially, the majority of the European miners were stymied by the little silvery-grey nuggets they recuperated with the gold. Not understanding what they were, they tossed them away. The Chinese recognized that the odd nuggets were some kind of metal and carefully kept them for terrific earnings (at US$ 0.50/ oz) later on when a geologist properly recognized them.

The gold worths happened at surface area and at shallow depths; nevertheless, a lot of gold was at bedrock. Some miners needed to dig 25 feet to reach the gold channel. For the very first year of discovery (1895), gold production reached an approximated $100,000(at US$20/ oz). For 1896, it amounted to $203,000 For 1897, gold production was $128,000 with about 2,000 ounces of platinum recuperated.

That was the very best year and like all other gold hurries, placer gold is a limited resource and production decreased. By the year 1900, Granite City was dead. According to the late B.C. mining historian, Bill Barlee, the worth of Granite City’s gold production is approximated to be about $450,000 If you include the earlier years for the whole camp, to overall is most likely some $1 million plus an approximated 15,000 ounces of platinum.

By 1915, after numerous fires, Granite City was a ghost town. Throughout the 1930 s, some resourceful miners remodelled the location consisting of burning down some old prospectors’ shacks to recuperate the platinum nuggets in the ashes that they had actually disposed of.

Today, the Tulameen Valley and all the essential second creeks have actually been staked with mineral or second claims. There is another treasure in the Granite Creek goldfields simply waiting for discovery.

During the gold rush, a Swedish prospector called Johanssen recuperated about 20 pounds of platinum nuggets and conserved them in a container. When he deserted his diggings he buried the container near his cabin. He never ever returned and the pail of platinum has actually never ever been discovered. This story has actually been reported by a variety of publications for many years.

There is barely anything left of Granite City however it’s just a 3 1/2- hour drive east of Vancouver and a fascinating location to check out. The town of Princeton is a going worry about the neighboring Copper Mountain copper mine supplying over 400 tasks in addition to some active expedition tasks in the neighbouring hills.