With thanks to Judith Press, Wendy King, Ellen Clemens, Hal Riegger, George Stewart, O.E. Le Roy, T.W. Patterson, Greg N. Fraser, Michael Kluckner, Bruce Ramsay, Roger Burrows, G.M. Hutt, W.G. Kennedy, and John Fahey.
Boundary Creek Gold
No.7 mine and Whites Camp
The Mother Lode and the Anaconda smelter: early years
The Sunset Smelter at Boundary Falls
The Mother Lode and the Anaconda smelter: the end
The City of Greenwood
Up to Jewel Lake
Granby, The City of Phnix and the Camps
Boundary Creek Gold
The No.3 abandons the Kettle River just east of Midway, and follows the Dewdney Trail up the valley of Boundary Creek northward into the Midway Range of the Monashees. As the Highway turns north, Thomet Road, a paved two-laner, branches off south back into Midway and to the Boundary crossing at Ferry, Washington, about a mile away.
It is a gentle thirteen kilometre climb up Boundary Creek to Greenwood. The Creek has been one of the finest placer gold streams in B.C. Discovered in 1859 by prospectors discouraged by returns at Rock Creek, the Boundary known then as White Sheep Creek suffered years of abuse by miners. Living rough in a community at the Creeks mouth on the Kettle that they called Bunkers Hill City, the miners started by first gently panning the Creeks sands, then mechanizing a bit with shovel-fed sluices and rocker boxes. The easy gold was gone probably by the end of the 1870s and the Creek was left more or less in peace for six decades, if one doesnt count the industrial uses to which its water was put for some 30 years around the turn of the Nineteenth Century by a pair of upstream smelters. In 1934 mining returned to the Creek itself when a local doctor organized a new Boundary Creek Mining Company, Limited, which employed a Marion 1-cubic-yard power shovel to scoop Creek sands into a pair of Federal 2.5-ton trucks for transport to a big steel rocker sent up on solid ground nearby. The operation worked its way up the Creek placer claim by placer claim until profits began to thin. In 1937 Boundary Creek Placers Limited set up hydraulic monitors and blasted the banks away in an effort to get the last of the gold. Naturally, not much colour remains in the Creeks ravaged bed, but people still come out to practice their sluicing skills, hoping to stumble upon old Jolly Jacks fabled lost lode. Scattered on the Creeks left bank are a few caved-in log cabins and a wrecked timber bridge or two attesting to the valleys former industry.
Five kilometres from Midway, the privately owned Boundary Creek Campground offers basically serviced camping sites down on a wide terrace in the Creeks bottom to our right. On the Highway not far beyond stands the MoTHs historical marker commemorating the place where Dewdney sloshed his Trail across the Creek just above the Falls, and carried it eastward on up over the mountains to get back into the Kettles valley near Grand Forks. Opposite the marker, on the left, is the site of the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Companys ore tipple.
No.7 mine and Whites Camp
From early on prospectors were impressed by the mineralization in the mountains east from here. In October of 1891 the No.7 was staked on a patch of country rock struck through with quartz veins carrying gold, copper and lead, one of several promising prospects located around what soon became known as Central, or Whites, Camp. Isolated from cheap transportation, the No.7, like all early claims in the Boundary District, held little immediate value for its original claimants despite its potential wealth. There were syndicates, however, which specialized in buying up properties on the speculation that their worth would increase. One of these, the New York-based Boundary Mines Company, bonded the No.7 for $13,200 in 1896 through its agent, John Weir. Its gamble paid off. A year after the arrival of the C&W in 1899, some of the New York-based principals in the B.C. Copper Company organized the No.7 Mining Company, Limited, with $1 million in capitalization and bought the property. For two or three years from 1901 the mine was in production, skidding, packing and waggoning 600 or 700 tons of ore per year down a twisted trail seven miles to Boundary Falls whence it was railed five miles up the Creek to B.C. Coppers Anaconda Smelter. The No.7 had been unworked for several years when CPs Consolidated Mining and Smelting acquired it and the adjacent Caber Fae Fraction and the Black Jack in 1909. Within a year CM&S had a four-kilometre-long aerial tramway completed between the mine and the Railway tipple, and the mine started shipping again in October, 1910, most of the ore being delivered to CM&Ss Trail smelter. Marginally profitable, the operation was economically vulnerable and expired in the cash-crunch of 1913. Salvors subsequently stripped the hardware for scrap. In 1934 a Greenwood entrepreneur, W.E. McArthur, leased the No.7 from CM&S, and that year sent maybe 5,000 tons of the galena and pyrite-rich siliceous ores to Trail. For the next seven years McArthur kept a small crew at Whites, trucking the ore to the railroad, 723 tons in 1940 to get 185 ounces of gold and 9,000 of silver, 284 tons in 1941.
The Mother Lode and the Anaconda smelter: early years
A stones throw from the placard, the Highway crosses the Creek on a 1995 bridge and runs by the phantom community of Boundary Falls. Close to the Highway beside the Creek, a reef of blackened slag marks the site of the Sunset Smelter allude to Boundary Creek valleys most famous industry; nearby, a few tumbled-down ruins in what is now essentially a homestead ranchyard remember the Falls lost population.
A few kilometres beyond the Falls, the eighteen sun-stricken sites of Boundary Creek Provincial Campground to the left tempt fishermen to stop to try their luck with the reintroduced trout. Lifting easily up past paddocks of horses snorting wistfully at the neighbouring pastures of fragrant hay, the Highway brings travellers in sight of the soaring smoke stack that the British Columbia Copper Company Limited completed in 1903 for its now-demolished smelter at Anaconda. Just around the corner past the old Anaconda Café and the grand, fancy-faced brick pigeon coop that West Kootenay Power and Light built as a substation in 1905 is B.C.s smallest city Greenwood (748m).
The Midway Range of the Monashee Mountains rise from the right bank of Boundary Creek which swirls its tawny waters southward into the State of Washington and the Kettle River. By the 1880s the World was clamouring for copper and lead with which to continue the electrification of the planet. With industrial transportation beginning to reach into southern B.C. in the form of riverboats and railroads, prospectors crossed the 49th Parallel from Washington and Idaho to poke into the secrets of the Midways. The first to record a claim hereabouts were George Leyson and his partner, George Bowerman. Perambulating the region in 1887, on what is now Deadwood Creek they staked the Big Copper and, apparently, walked away. The big strike happened in the spring of 1891 when Richard Thompson and William McCormick found rich copper ore spiced with silver and gold. Among other properties, they staked what they called the Mother Lode on May 28th. Though the nearest railroad was well over sixty miles away, in the Columbia River Valley at the end of what was becoming the Kettle River waggon road, the promise of riches lured other prospectors who soon had the Midways gulches patched with claims.
The regions isolation didnt bother H.C. Walters of Spokane. Having bought up several local mining claims for his Spokane and Great Northern Mining Company, in 1892 he leased a train of pack mules, hired labour and dragged a two-stamp mill up the Kettle Valley road and emplaced it somewhere on Boundary Creek between the Deadwoods mouth and the Falls. From the ore he dug mainly from the American Boy property, he selected the richest, crushed it and loaded it onto his mules for the first leg of its journey to the American Smelting and Refining Companys plant at Tacoma, Washington. His operation marginal at best, Walters gave it up soon after the New York stock market crash of June 27th, 1893.
By 1896 Industry had recovered its appetite for base metals, and that year, after careful assessment and now confident that the rumours of railroad soon to be built into the Boundary District were true, Colonel John Weir bonded Thompson and McCormicks Mother Lode for $14,000 on behalf of the New York-based Boundary Mines Company, acquired the adjoining Primrose Fraction and began development. The Mother Lodes ore was not particularly rich but the lode was huge and over the next couple of years tons were waggoned four steep kilometres down the Deadwood to a stockpile on the banks of Boundary Creek.
On March 17th, 1898, as the rumour of C&Ws extension to Midway solidified into promise, L.W. Mayer and principals in the Boundary Mines Company incorporated the British Columbia Copper Company, Limited (BCC), in the State of West Virginia, U.S.A., with $1 million in capitalization and F.L. Underwood as president. Registered in B.C. on April 28th, its objective was to buy out Boundary Mines Company and build smelter to exploit the Mother Lode.
While increasing the Mother Lodes production and acquiring the neighbouring Big Ledge, Spotted Horse, Primrose, Ten Broeck, Don Julio and Sunflower claims, BCC set about building its Anaconda smelter beside the ore that Boundary Mines had stockpiled on Boundary Creek. By the autumn of 1899, when the CPR drove its Columbia and Western Railway (C&W) down the Boundarys valley past the new City of Greenwood and pushed a six mile-long spur nearly 1,000 feet up to the Mother Lode,1 BCC was mere weeks away from blowing in the first of the Anacondas two Allis-Chalmers stack furnaces. It did so on Monday, February 18th, 1901.
Tailoring a smelters process to successfully treat a particular ore was always a gamble. Luckily for BCCs investors, the furnaces and ancillary equipment supplied by the Edwd. P. Allis Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were well suited to the job and installed properly by engineer Paul Johnson and his team. Ton by ton the Mother Lodes rock began to yield its precious content. Buoyed by investors enthusiasm for its shares, the company fired up the second furnace in June of 1902, enabling the smelter to treat about 160,000 tons of ore that year. Alone, however, the furnaces were only capable of producing 45% pure copper matte. This had to be sent to the nearby Granby Consolidated smelter to be converted into 98% pure blister copper, moulded into anodes and shipped typically to the Balbach Smelting and Refining Company in Newark, New Jersey, which extracted the silver and gold. Concerned with the considerable cost incurred by having Granby process its matte, in 1904 BCC installed a Bessemer converter which enabled the Anaconda smelter to swallow 700 tons of Mother Lodes ore per day to obtain a little more than a ton of blister. With 20,000 volts of electricity coming in on a five mile-long line from the Cascade Water Power and Light Companys substation at Phnix, that year the smelter processed 210,500 tons of ore to get, after Eastern refining, $652,000 in copper, $728,000 in gold and $68,000 in silver. Convinced that greater investment meant more profit, BCC resolved to double the capacity of the Anaconda operation, and to ensure a steady supply of ore beyond that of the Mother Lodes, in 1905 obtained control of the Emma group and the Oro Denoro up at Summit Camp on Phnix Mountain, and the Lone Star and the Washington mines just across the 49th Parallel in Washington. The next year the company removed Anacondas old furnaces and had the Power and Mining Machinery Company install three 700-ton per day units.
The Sunset Smelter at Boundary Falls
BCC was not alone in its appreciation of the Boundary Creek regions potential. On June 28th, 1900, under the presidency of William Price in Québec City and capitalized to $500,000, the Standard Pyritic Smelting Company came into being. It immediately began building a smelter at the Boundarys falls, not five miles downstream from Anaconda. Poorly capitalized and owning no mines, Standard Pyritic was in trouble from the start, and just before the first of its 300 ton-per-day furnaces was blown in on June 19th, 1902, the company sold the project to the Montreal and Boston Copper Company, Limited (M&B), and voted itself into extinction on the 27th of April, 1903.
M&B had started life as The Canadian Coal Company, Limited, incorporated by an Act of the Nova Scotia legislature on March 11th, 1898. It soon became interested in the Boundary district and bought the Sunset group of claims the Sunset, the Crown Silver, the and the Florence Fraction which the Honourable A.W. Ogilvies Montreal Boundary Creek Mining Company, Limited, had accumulated in the Deadwoods valley. Financially exhausted, on October 22nd, 1900, it reorganized itself into the Montreal and Boston Copper Company, Limited, with a capitalization of $500,000 and the vice-president of the Great Northern Railway, H.H. Melville, as president. Unfortunately, within a month of buying the Standard Pyritics smelter, a coal miners strike in the Crows Nest Pass cut off M&Bs coke supplies and killed the furnace fires for nine weeks, crippling cash flow. With the help of its three largest investors by far; J.B. Elmendorf of New York, and E.W. Farwell and S.F. Morey of Montréal, M&B increased its capitalization to $3 million and began upgrading what thenceforth was known as the Sunset smelter. In 1903 alone M&B spent some $60,000 to eliminate the technological glitches which impaired the ability of the Sunsets furnaces to process the local ores, and buy a locomotive and a fleet of 5-ton side-dump slag cars. That year the Sunset digested 110,000 tons of ore to extract some 1500 tons of copper, 1.75 tons of silver and 160,000 dollars worth of gold. Having had to shut down their operation in December of 1903 when their main source of ore, the Snowshoe mine up on Phnix Mountain, suspended operations, the directors of the M&B realized they needed secured supplies or ore. To do that they required cash and got it in 1904 by reorganizing the M&B as the Montreal and Boston Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, Limited. From their new pool of capital they immediately spent $70,000 to buy another furnace and install a Bessemerizing plant at Sunset so that it could convert matte to blister itself rather than paying Anaconda to do it, and began buying and developing local mines. One of those properties they acquired belonged to a company whose fate would become intimately linked with the Sunset, the Dominion Copper Company.
The Dominion Copper Company, Limited (DCC), was incorporated in Toronto on April 29th, 1899 by the Canadian senator and businessman, George Albertus Cox, and some of his associates including Mackenzie, Mann and Company of Toronto. It hurriedly assembled the Brooklyn group of claims on Phnix Mountain Brooklyn, Stemwinder, Idaho, Rawhide, Standard, and Montezuma and drew up plans to raise a smelter, signing a construction agreement on November 3rd, 1900. By the time DCC was able to arrange its financing, however, three other smelters were already a-building in the District, and in 1901, with ore piling up on the Brooklyns dump, DCC stopped mining and cancelled its Agreement.
The M&B bought the Brooklyn group and DCCs mining charter in 1904 and began redeveloping the Brooklyn-Stemwinder and Rawhide mines. Redevelopment, however, interrupted ore output, and M&B treated only 31,000 tons in the Sunset smelter that year, down some 70,000 tons from 1903. With little cash coming in, on May 20th of 1905, having acquired the Athelstan - Jackpot group at Wellington Camp on Phnix, the Lancashire Lass and the Morrison claims, M&Bs finances snapped when copper prices slipped. It defaulted on its payments to DCC and all work ceased.
Judging the Sunset operation to be viable if only it had a cash reserve to see it through the occasional downturn, Dominion Coppers management determined to recapitalize their company to invest heavily in the Boundary District. On June 26th, 1905, a syndicate of American investors headed by Samuel Newhouse of Salt Lake City, Utah, agreed to buy a sizeable portion of the $1 million in bonds offered by a reorganized Dominion Copper Company, Limited. With its new money, DCC cleared M&Bs debts and took over its assets, as well as buying outright or gaining control over the Brooklyn, the Stemwinder, the Rawhide, the Idaho group, the Athelstan, the Jackpot Fraction, the Mountain Rose, the Morrison and the Sunset group. In August, as the Sunsets plant was being refurbished, mining was recommenced. Smelting began again when one furnace was blown in at the end of November, the matte being sent to Anaconda for conversion to blister until Sunsets Bessemerizing plant became operational. The next spring, on February 12th, 1906, DCC offered $5,000,000s worth of shares to the market and revealed that it intended to double the Sunsets capacity to 1400 tons by installing a Giroux hot blast-type furnace. It did not, but managed to treat 218,000 tons with its original furnaces. By 1907 the Brooklyn-Idaho group and the Rawhide mine on Phnix were sending up to 1,000 tons a day to the Sunset smelter, while the Sunset mine adjacent the Mother Lode contributed a further 100 tons, with other mines also sending ore. Before it was shut down that October after the Wall Street Panic of 1907, the Sunset had treated 153,500 tons.
The Sunset smelter stood silent for the first six months of 1908 as its management wrestled with its fate. It had barely commenced operations in July when the Great Fire in the Crowsnest Pass cut off its coal supply. Having treated but 23,000 tons, the Sunset shut down as DCC prepared to again reorganize. On December 9th, 1908, the company mortgaged its smelter, but spent little of the money on refurbishing the plant.
On June 11th, 1909, three days after a memorandum of association was signed, the New Dominion Copper Company came into existence under the presidency of R.C. Spinks. Headquartered in Vancouver, the new company acquired the assets of DCC which was dissolved on August 17th, 1910. New Dominion did no work in 1909 and by the time that it had moved its registered office to Greenwood on September 13th, 1910, 64% of its stock was owned by BCC which began managing the Sunset operation in tandem with the Anaconda. That year BCC finally completed a 5.4 mile-long Byron C. and Royal N. Riblet-designed aerial tram between its Lone Star mine just over the Boundary in Washington State and the Sunset smelter in hopes that the latter could be re-engineered to treat the Mines alumina and silica-rich copper ore. After three years of struggling with the Sunsets obsolete equipment, in 1913 BCC announced that it would add both water and oil floatation concentrators supplied by the Mineral Separation Company of San Francisco in hopes that the old plant would be able to process the Lone Stars output and maybe the complex ores that the company was sampling from Copper Mountain at Princeton. The investment was apparently shelved and the plant likely dismantled for scrap early in the Great War for the Sunset Smelter is mentioned never again in the reports of the Minister of Mines. In his article, Medicine Hat to Vancouver in the March, 1945, issue of Agricultural and Industrial Progress in Canada, G.M. Hutt mentions that the Sunsets shell still stood.
The Mother Lode and the Anaconda smelter: the end
After extending its line of credit to the maximum when installing three expensive, high output furnaces in its Anaconda smelter in 1906, BCC was forced to stop operations in the fall of 1907 as the North American economy slipped into recession following a panic on Wall Street. The recession passing, on June 1st, 1908 BCC recommenced operations, able to produce copper at 10¢ per pound from the 2,000 tons of ore per day that the Mother Lode sent down the mountain. Like the rest of the nearby smelters, the Anaconda was hard-pressed to maintain profitability during the Crowsnest coal miners strike of 1909. Despite a long-time low of 12¾¢ per pound of copper in New York, in 1910 the BCC expanded the hearth size of two of its three furnaces, increasing Anacondas capacity to 2500 tons of ore per day and keeping the companys two 15 ton Baldwin-Westinghouse electric locomotives busy hauling slag out to the dump. Each day some 45,000 pounds of 99.3%-pure blister copper was poured from the converters for dispatch to Eastern refiners where up to 50 ounces of silver and 15 ounces of gold was extracted from every ton. So satisfied with their operation were BCCs directors that they declared a 10% dividend for the year. Problems, however, were surfacing.
Despite the fact that it supplied 55% of the Anacondas feed in 1911, the great Mother Lode was playing out. To maintain production, in 1910 an aggressive approach to mining it had been adopted. Batteries of 25 holes were drilled 12 feet down into the deposit, packed with dynamite and touched off. When the smoke and dust cleared, the overburden was shoved aside and the ore scooped from the pit. It was a savage way to mine, feasible only because the lode was so near the surface. Though the companys analysts noted that the metal content of its ore was dropping around 12% per year, copper prices were recovering, and when the Crows Nest Pass coal miners struck for nine months in 1911, BCC didnt balk at the expense of importing Pennsylvania coal.
Besides the Mother Lode group, come 1912 BCC owned or operated up on Phnix Mountain the Emma, the Oro Denoro and the B.C. at the Summit Camp, the Athelstan and Rawhide at Wellington Camp, the Stemwinder-Idaho-Brooklyn group at Phoenix City, and the Lone Star and its neighbours, the Washington and the Napoleon across the Boundary in the United States. The Lone Stars ore was proving refractory, however, and the mine was operated only haltingly after 1912. Of the group besides the Mother Lode, the Rawhide was by far the most productive, supplying 32% of Anacondas diet in 1911. The profitability of the whole operation, however, hinged on the Mother Lodes output, and in 1913, proponents of the open-pit mining method convinced the company to drill 4834 holes some 15 feet down into the Mother Lodes main ore body, pack them with nearly 25 tons of 40% anti-freezing powder and shoot the whole works in one big blast at 10:00 in the morning of Monday, September 1st. The result was a huge crater filled with an estimated 450,000 tonnes of shattered rock that, under normal circumstances, would have diluted the payload to near worthlessness.
Circumstances, however, were not normal. In Sarajevo, Bosnia, around noon on Sunday, June 28th, 1914, Serbian patriot Gavrilo Princip shot to death the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie Chotek von Chotkova. Within weeks Europe and then the World had split into opposing factions and the Great War had begun. Metal prices climbed to unprecedented heights allowing marginal enterprises like the Mother Lode mine to make money.
BCCs management was under no illusions, though: the Mother Lode was operating on borrowed time. Needing a new source of ore, they shifted their attention to Copper Mountain at Princeton. In March of 1914 they formed the Canada Copper Corporation, Limited, under the president of BCC, L.W. Mayer and by February of 1915 had used the new outfit to buy up $3 million of BCCs stock to give CCC control of the Boundary valley smelters and their mines. Come 1916 the spot-market for copper had hit 23¢ per pound in New York and that year Anacondas 62 employees shovelled 265,000 tons of the Mother Lode - Sunset groups ore into the smelters one steadily operating furnace, treating a total of 308,000 tons to produce 5.25 million pounds of blister copper, 12,000 ounces of gold and nearly 50,000 ounces of silver.
Nineteen-16 was the last good year for the metals industry in the Boundary Creek valley. In 1917 CCC shifted its focus to Copper Mountain and, after pulling 176,000 tons out of the Mother Lode that year, halted work at the mine.
At 1100 hours on November 11th, 1918, the guns fell silent in Europe. The Great War was over, and with Peace came the crash in demand for base metals. Finding it no longer viable, CCC closed the Anaconda on November 26th, 1918, and sold it to Leon Lotzkar of Pacific Metals in Vancouver who salvaged the metal, leaving the smelter floors and flues to be scavenged for precious metals by the Boundary Equipment Company.
By November of 1919 the B.C. Copper Company was an empty shell, owning no property, having done no business since 1917. Owing it $147,000 in accounts payable as of March 31st, 1919, CCC moved New Dominion Coppers headquarters to Allenby on May 3, following, and allowed it to be stricken from the Register of Companies on March 27th, 1924.
The City of Greenwood
In 1895, a year before New York money bought and began developing the Mother Lode, an optimist with vision arrived in the Boundary Creek valley. Sensing big opportunity in the area, merchant Robert Wood decided to settle. In the Boundary Creeks valley near the mouth of Deadwood gulch there was an ideal townsite on land owned by the Dillier Ranch. Wood paid $5,000 for 200 acres of it in 1895, built a store, subdivided his property and offered lots for sale in what he called Greenwood Camp. With his own money he improved the roads and trails that led into the Camp, striving to displace Midway as the regional node. On July 12th, 1897, Wood received letter patent incorporating his Camp as the City of Greenwood and immediately formed the Greenwood Water, Power and Light Company to dam Boundary Creek at the Falls. Though the dam at the Falls was completed by August of 1898, financial difficulties saw the project pass to other investors who managed to get a power generating station built by autumn of the next year. Unfortunately, the Creeks varying flow ensured that precious little electricity ever came out of the facility.
On October 21st of 1899, with the Francis Mawson Rattenbury-designed Hotel Greenwood rising, the 3,000 citizens of Greenwood celebrated the arrival of the Columbia and Western tracklayer leading a second train with CPR officials. With smelters being built, mines pouring forth ores and now a railroad to whistle supplies in and whisk away Industrys output, Greenwoods future seemed assured. C.S. McRae and his partner, Donald McLaren, though, thought that there was a need for a town closer to the Mother Lode and so, in late 1899 they pre-empted adjacent 320 acre homesteads up in the Deadwood Creeks valley and laid out a townsite that they called Deadwood. By February of 1900 they had, according to History Still Standing A Guide to Historical Mine Sites of The Boundary Country (British Columbia Ministry of Employment and Investment, Queens Printer, n.d.), sold some 45 lots. However, the extreme topography of the terrain, the thriving community of 400 nearby at the Mother Lodes mine site and, particularly, the Deadwood Creeks fickle flow, placed severe constraints on the size of new settlement. Its population never did exceed 100. When the Mother Lode began to fail, the inhabitants of the Deadwoods valley started packing and moving, taking what buildings were worthwhile, abandoning the rest to fire and weather. The final nail in Deadwoods coffin was driven early in 1919 when CP abandoned the Mother Lode spur, eventually lifting its rails.
In the valley below, Greenwoods fortunes had skyrocketed during the early years of the Twentieth Century, making Mayor Robert Wood, whose business it was to grow his City, a wealthy man. As the centre of the valleys metals industry, Greenwood attracted considerable investment, both public and private. It was a comfortable place to live with wide streets graded smooth, bordered with side-walks and electrically illuminated in places with power supplied by the Cascade Power and Light Company. Water lines were laid and local telephone service was implemented, complementing the telegraph link that had come with the Railway. The Elkhorn Brewery arose to slake thirsts crowded into saloons uncounted and the parlours of the Citys sixteen hotels. Readers enough lived in the environs to support two newspapers in the boom times.
With the closing of the mines and the smelters at the end of World War One the boom times ended. Within a decade the population had halved and halved again. Only the high price of lead kept money in the City as independent miners picked away at such surrounding properties as the Defiance, Combination, Spotted Horse and Providence.
Not long after February 2nd, 1942, the day the Ministry of National Defence designated as Enemy Aliens all ethnic Japanese living in Canada and demanded that the Coast be cleared of them by the following April 1st, mayor W.E. McArthur and Greenwoods municipal council realized that the City had been presented with a unique business opportunity. The newly created British Columbia Security Commission had 21,000 detainees for whom it had to find accommodation. With but 200-odd souls remaining in the City, Greenwood had vacant housing aplenty. Not necessarily good housing, but for Enemy Aliens, just fine.
By that summer some twelve hundred Japanese had stepped off special trains onto the platform of the Special E station that the C&W had raised at Greenwood in 1899. Fixing up the old hotels and the abandoned cottages and shacks as best they could, they settled in, giving the City a twenty-year high in population. Although the internees made significant improvements in Greenwood, most, when finally released from detention in 1947, said sianora to their hosts and the formal little Ohaira Garden with which they had beautified an abandoned plot down between the Creek and the railroad tracks. Despite being officially denied restitution for their confiscated properties, many returned to the Coast to try and salvage the shreds of their pre-war lives. Abandoned once again, Greenwood slipped into the repose in which Scott Hicks found it when he arrived with his cast in 1999 to film Snow falling on Cedars.
Not fifty yards away from the Anaconda Café the Highway curves past the old brick power sub-station that West Kootenay Power and Light Company raised in 1906 to supply electricity to the Smelter, relieving the smaller Cascade Water, Power and Light Company of the burden of servicing a primary customer. Until 1920 the City of Greenwood got its power from its own generating plant and dam at Boundary Falls, but the uncertain flow of the Creek finally forced the City to contract WKP to supply electricity. With the Smelter closed, the old sub-station was redundant, and unsuited to distribute the Citys power, it was scrapped out in 1922. With its windows bricked up, the structure is an appealing shelter to the flock of rock doves which has found that the dozens of holes through which the wires used to run, each charmingly sheltered by a tiny gabled roof hung onto the brickwork, make ideal entrances into the spacious, dry interior.
The Creek on its left and a row of humble cottages on its right, the Highway lazily esses out of Anaconda and turns into Greenwoods Copper Street. Its a long street maybe two kilometres with the Citys central business district concentrated at the south end. All of Greenwoods accommodations are ranged along it. Just north of the downtown, the municipally operated Visitors Campground, decorated with its Ingersol-Rand twin-cylinder steam engine and Westinghouse generator set, a few yards of rusty rails carrying a little mine dump-car or two, is washroom-equipped and is available. Other campers might set up a tent amid the RVs on one of the ten sites that the owners of the Greenwood Motel have staked out on an open corner of their property. There are two other motels the kitchenette-equipped Boundary Creek, and the Evening Star with its convenience store and Greyhound Bus stop at the north end of Copper and the Renaissance B&B in a hand-hewn log house near the Campground. Regrettably, the fancy old Greenwood Inn, survivor from the last year of the last century, does not offer overnight accommodations.
Though there were major fires in 1899, 1935 and 1936, Greenwood has retained nearly fifty heritage buildings scattered from one end of town to the other. The 1902 Courthouse and the 1915 Post Office, the old hospital, the venerable Sacred Heart Catholic Church, St. Judes Anglican and all the carefully restored, ornate old piles on Copper Street are identified and located on the self-guided heritage walking tour map that you can get from the Citys excellent museum, also on Copper Street.
Crossing Boundary Creek on the Washington Street bridge and passing the Ohaira Gardens, the curious can make their way a mile south along the old C&W right-of-way to the ruins of the Smelter. Though its furnaces sent not a wisp of coke smoke up their 37 metre high chimney since the facility was shut down in November of 1918, the buildings stood slowly sloughing woodwork and shingles until the conflagration of Halloween Night, 1964, reduced it to a smoking pile. The site was an eyesore until 1970 when Leon Lotzkar offered it to the citizens of Greenwood for a park. Rather than bull-doze the 28 hectare site clean and plant flowers and decorative shrubbery, volunteers simply removed the hazardous scrap and laid out a few paths along which visitors can wander to view Hells Bells which were moulded by the Smelters 25-ton M.H. Treadwell Company slag cars, wonder who determined that a quarter-million bricks comprise the smoke stack and picnic at the tables under the trees that now grow through the ruins.
Up on the Deadwood properties small scale mining had been sporadically carried on by independent miners over the years, but in 1957 Woodgreen Copper Corporation leased the Mother Lode and began scooping the debris out of the Mines pit and concentrating it in a 1,000 ton-per-day mill that it built on the site. Weakening copper prices and complications encountered in trying to get to the valuable ore buried under the debris soon forced a suspension in operations. In 1959, now reorganized and Consolidated Woodgreen Mines Limited, the outfit worked sporadically until 1962 when it dismantled its mill and moved on. The last attempt on the Mother Lode was made by Aabro Mining and Oils Limited which acquired the property and the adjoining Greyhound and Sunset claims in 1968, had their 1,500 ton-per-day mill set up and running by September of 1970 and were out of business by the following January. The great pit filled up with water, a curiosity which draws the occasional tourist today some five kilometres up the gulch road from Greenwood.
In 1964 a train wrecked in Greenwood, smashing and burning the station. As passenger service had been suspended that January, CP elected not to rebuild. In 1983, the Railway lifted the Citys siding, and five years later ripped up the rails between Midway and Grand Forks, leaving Greenwood to slumber its nights through, disturbed no more by the squeal of steel wheels paring away microns of rail on the curves up by Lotzkar Park.
Up to Jewel Lake
Grand Forks is some 73 kilometres away from Greenwood via the Highway, but that distance can be shortened significantly by those travellers willing to risk a little stone damage. Greenwood Street turns into a gravel road that claws its way up onto Phnix Mountain, zigzags across the despoliation wrought by the Granby Mining Companys yawning open pit mine, passes the Great War cenotaph which stands in what used to be the central park of Canadas Highest City, Phnix, and rolls down to rejoin No.3 on the other side of the Mountain.
Copper Street ends at Greenwoods northern limits and the pavement resumes its identity as the Crowsnest Highway, skirting a spur of Phnix Mountain which intrudes to partially plug Boundary Creeks valley. On the far side of the Spur, an enormously high earthen dike reaches out from the western valley wall across the Creek and abruptly ends in a clean, 45 degree slope just before it would have blocked the Highway. In line with it, on the opposite side of the Highway in the shades of the Spurs northern side, stands one of the oddest structures on No.3. Its a tunnel through nothing; a free-standing concrete shell as long as the width of the base of the nearby dike, ten metres high, bent in the middle, great slots cast into its rough exterior, painted with the flags of the world as a Millennium project by area school kids. Dated 1913, its portals are wide enough to accommodate a single file of cars and are decorated on both sides with those vertical bars of diagonal black and yellow striping intended to attract the attention of drowsy drivers.
When they built the C&W down the Boundarys valley in 1899, the alignment engineers hung the railbed on the flank of Phnix Mountain for a few miles to maintain an acceptable gradient. Writes W.G. Kennedy in his Canadian Pacific in Southern British Columbia (BRMNA, Calgary, 1986), when the railway engineers hit the Spur, they threw 630 feet of wooden trestling and a 160 foot Howe through-truss bridge across the Valley, and brought their rails into Greenwood on the Boundarys right bank. By 1912, a masonry arched conduit had been built over the Creek, the wooden Howe truss replaced by timber trestling and the whole affair filled in with the old tunnel and its mate ushering the Highways predecessor in and out of the upper Boundary Valley. The old tunnels got buried and forgotten when they were replaced by a wider, straighter one in 1964, and were a bit of a surprise when they emerged in 1993 as MoTH crews cut away the redundant dike and removed the new tunnel as a safety improvement project. One of the old shells was dynamited because it was so decrepit, but the other, looking exactly like a giants version of those little plastic tunnels that used to add some interest to bed-room floor O scale Lionel model train sets, was stabilized and is now a protected heritage structure.
Just beyond the Tunnel a little road separates itself from the Highway and continues northward up Boundary Creek heading for Jewel Lake and the old mine workings around what was called Long Lake Camp. The most famous of the claims, the Jewel and the Denoro Grande, were staked in 1896 on a reach of eruptive granite and micaceous schists fractured by veins of gold-bearing porphyritic quartz. A year later they were bonded to L.W. Hill the future father of the Okanagans orchard industry for the British Columbia Prospecting Syndicate. The Jewel Development Syndicate took over in 1898 and when the Railway built through the Boundary District in 1899, the London-based Syndicate reorganized itself as Jewel Gold Mines, Limited, and risked further capital investment in developing the claims, waggoning the ore five miles to the Railway at Eholt for delivery to the Granby smelter at Grand Forks. Around 1905 Jewel Gold sold out to the Jewel-Denoro Mines Company of Edinburgh which concluded that the values in the ore had declined to the point where concentration was necessary to keep the operation economic. In 1909 Jewel-Denoro began construction of a 15-stamp Fraser and Chalmers mill which it eventually finished in 1912. The Jewels ore was not free milling, however, and the mill didnt work acceptably until a cyanide treatment process was installed in June of 1913. That year the Jewel-Denoro employed a high of 35 men and improved the waggon road. The properties proved a poor investment, however, and in 1916 operations were halted and the mill gutted of equipment.
Die-hard independents picked at the Jewel and Denoro Grande over the years, gleaning the dump and the mill floor for leavings. In 1933, though, with the price of gold raised 75% by the U.S. government, a group of Alberta entrepreneurs formed Dentonia Mines Limited to buy up the Jewel, the Gold Drop, the Dentonia and several other adjacent claims, and rebuild the mill. Dentonia worked through the 30s and continued to hold the properties at least until 1941 when the Annual Report of the Minister of Mines noted that it had been leasing the works to local miners for a couple of years. The 1941 report was the last mention of the operation by the Department of Mines, and local literature claims that the ruins of the mill are extant still in 2000, though in a dangerous condition.
At the Jewel Lake road the Highway abandons Boundary Creek and follows north-easterly up the Eholt Creeks wide valley. Running arrow-straight down the floor of the Valley, the old C&W right-of-way, now part of the Trans-Canada Trail, carries squads of mountain bikes. Ranchsteads shelter within cottonwood and apple-tree wind-breaks, cattle roam their pastures munching hay and bawling at whatever it is that incites a cow to bawl.
Up the gentle but persistent incline of the valley the Highway climbs for a few kilometres and then turns easterly as it makes its way around the glacis of Phnix Mountain on the divide between the watersheds of Boundary Creek and what is now the Granby River to the east.2 On the right a lonely little concrete abutment crudely graffitod Eholt in surveyors orange spray-paint stands out at the forests edge just above the Highway. It is the only readily visible hint that the Highway overlays the main street of Eholt (947m). Lost in the tangle of Sitka Alder, larch and cedar that has reclaimed the townsite, are the divots and mounds and scraps of concrete upon which once stood the villages buildings.
Here Louis Eholt came in 1892 after selling out of Midway. Why he chose what at the time was a pretty remote location is not known. If he was speculating on land, he must have had a fine eye for a railroad grade for in September of 1899 the CPR shattered Louiss solitude when it ran its C&W across his property and decided that this was the ideal location to begin a 10-mile long spur up to the mines on Phnix Mountain. Soon the Company had built a large yards, a station, watering, coaling and icing facilities, shops, an eight-stall wooden engine house and the concrete abutment which, with its disappeared counterpart, carried the first few metres of the Spur over Eholts main street, the heart if a very small network of streets upon which houses began appearing. G.A. Rendell was appointed the communitys first post master on September 1st, 1899. In 1912 a spectacular fire consumed the engine-house and shops, and realizing that Grand Forks with its ample farming lands and level terrain was the natural regional node, relocated its servicing operations there. When the Railway began tearing up its spur to Phnix in July of 1921, Eholts Hotel Union and its four companions quickly emptied of resident guests who foresaw that the yards would soon be reduced to storage sidings. The stubborn hung on, of course, huddled around the Eholt Trading Company store and its post office, but when Mrs. Anna Tofelt resigned as post master on September 30th, 1948, and the Post Office sought no one to replace her, the villages last believers lost faith and moved on, leaving the forest to slowly reclaim its own.
At Eholt, the Highway and the C&W cross again, and diverge. The Railways right-of-way continues north-east, hacking its way through a couple of short tunnels in Thimble Mountain to get into the picturesque Granby River valley and ease itself down long 2.3% grades into Grand Forks. The Highway, switching itself southward around Phnixs northern spur, begins its final short climb up past exquisite Wilgrass Lake shining like lapis lazuli mounted in a setting of shady jade, and on to the 1028m high Eholt Summit. Just before the summit the Highway cuts across the ghost of CPs B.C. Copper spur of the Phnix Branch line, now converted by the Forest Service into a mountain bike trail, winding its way two kilometres eastward to the old B.C. mine on the flank of Thimble Mountain. This property, acquired in 1898 by the B.C. Chartered Company of Montreal, was developed into the first shipping mine in the Boundary District, sending its silver-rich copper ore by waggon down the Kettle Valley road to Marcus on the Spokane Falls and Northern Railway line in the Columbia River valley. To the right some 500 metres along the B.C. Copper spur was Summit Camp, site of the Oro Denoro and the great Emma mine, both closed these many years.
Granby, The City of Phnix and the Camps
The Annual Report[s] of the Minister of Mines... for B.C. dont record a filing date for the Emma claim at Summit Camp, but in 1897 William Mackenzie, Donald Mann and W.T. Smith bought the property. The associates developed enough of a mine so that a quantity of iron-heavy ore could be removed and determined to be valuable as a flux in area smelters. Particularly interested was the Hall Mines smelter in Nelson which leased the mine in 1902, took out 11,500 tons and then bought Smiths quarter-interest. In June of 1904 Mann and Mackenzie sold their interest to British Columbia Copper which had found that the Emmas ore smelted well with the output of the Mother Lode mine at Deadwood. Abandoning the open pit method which the former owners had employed, BCC began developing the Emma as an underground mine, electrified and equipped with the most modern of mining machinery. As the Mother Lode which was showing signs of exhaustion, BCC also acquired the nearby Oro Denoro and in 1906 bought the idle B.C. mine from the B.C. Chartered Company of Montreal. In 1907 BCC sold the Emma to the Granby Consolidated operation and concentrated on open pit mining at the Oro Denoro.
Added to the mix fed into the furnaces at Granby Consolidateds enormous smelter at Grand Forks, the Emmas iron-rich ores simplified the work of separating metal from rock by supplying much of the flux required in the process. However, by the mid-1910s the company had decided to concentrate its efforts on a new smelter at Anyox on B.C.s northern Coast and in 1916 sold the Emma to CPs Consolidated Mining and Smelting division. CM&S doubled the Emmas output to 34,000 tons the next year, but 1919 saw a drop to 21,273 tons and in the six months that the mine operated in 1920, 30 men sent 18,000 tons to Trail. In 1921, with a diminishing market for its metals, CM&S shut the Emma down. But for rock hounds, it was never worked again.
Though the B.C. mine initially showed some of the richest copper ore ever to be found in the province, it didnt long hold BCCs interest. By 1913 it was leased to independent miners who renewed their agreement in 1915, 16 and 17. Apparently only picked at after that, the B.C. Department of Mines in 1927 estimated that during its life, the B.C. had given up 145,559 ounces of silver, some gold and six million pounds of copper in the 84,000 tons that had been removed from the property.
The Emma and its companions, though productive and valuable mines, were merely a side-show to the real attractions on Phnix Mountain. On July 25th of 1891 Henry White and Matthew Hotter staked respectively their Knob Hill and Old Ironsides properties. Nearby in that same month, Jim Atwood and Jim Schofield claimed the Stemwinder, and Joe Taylor and Geo. W. Rumberger filed on the Brooklyn. By 1894, when John Stevens staked the Victoria and Rumberger restaked Robert Denzlers lapsed Silver King as the Phnix, dozens of prospectors had patched the map of the entire top of Phnix Mountain with hundreds of claims. Because of its high value/weight ratio, the attraction was gold, but everyone soon knew that the Mountain was made of copper, metal of the new Electric Age.
Until then a useful by-product of the precious metal smelting process, come the early 1890s copper became the object of the process as demand pushed up its price, impelling metallurgists to refine their processes to extract more metal from the ore. By 1894 these improved techniques enabled smelters to make a profit treating low grade ores, as was being proved at Butte, Montana, and in the Comstock region of Nevada. The ores of Phnix Mountain promised similar rewards, especially from the Snowshoe, the Stemwinder, the Knob Hill, the Old Ironsides, the Victoria and the Brooklyn. The problem, however, was location, and getting sufficient ore to market in order to make a profit required industrial transportation. Pack ponies could bring out enough gold-rich ore from remote locations to make the effort worthwhile, but base metal ores required railroads. The dilemma of the miner at Phnix Camp was that few moneyd institutions were willing to grubstake the development of a mine remote from a railroad, and railroad companies were hesitant about building into a distant mountain locale. Enter G.W. Rumberger.
Owner of the Brooklyn and the Phnix, and one of the first two men to set up permanent camp on the Mountain in the early days,3 George Wallace Rumberger was, in the estimation of writer Greg N. Fraser, a born promoter and the man responsible for the Camps boom. In his chapter in The History of the Canadian West (Sunfire Publications, Langley, B.C., 1984, ed. T.W Patterson), George W. Rumberger: The Mayor of Phoenix, Fraser reports that Rumberger made it his business to invite the Spokane-based financier, J.P. Graves, to involve himself in the Mountains development, and persuaded F.A. Heinze, the owner of the Trail smelter, to hasten his Columbia and Western Railway out to Phnix.
Rumberger, however, was not alone in his efforts to promote the Phnix find. The autumn of 1895 found White and Hotter in Spokane, Washington, the financial hub of the inland Northwest, seeking development money. There they made the acquaintance of, according to John Fahey in Shaping Spokane: Jay P. Graves and His Times (University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1994), H.P. Palmerson, who, for a quarter-share of the Knob Hill and Old Ironsides properties, agreed to find investors with an inclination to speculation. He found Jay Paul Graves, a born risk-taker who, for Palmersons interest in Whites and Hotters claims, threw his enthusiasm into their development. Crediting the Old Ironsides and the Knob Hill with one million and 1.5 million 10-cent shares, respectively, Graves hired A.L. (Aubrey) White to help him push shares for what ever they would fetch. It was a tough sell, the properties being so remote. To generate some interest in his project, Graves had Henry White haul a little steam engine, a generating plant and an air compressor, 65 miles up the Kettle River waggon road from Marcus in the Columbia River valley to Phnix Mountain, clear the claims of timber and put the machinery to work powering air drills for a crew of exploratory miners. Graves convinced an acquaintance influential in Spokanes mining affairs, J.F. (John) Hemenway, to visit the claims and opine as to their worth. Hemenway spent some time with Henry White trenching the claims, ran some assays and liked what he found. On the strength of Hemenways opinion, Graves bought the adjoining Victoria and Fourth of July claims.
In 1895 international attention had been focused on the metal mining potential of southern B.C. when F.A. Fritz Heinze began building his smelter at Trail in the Columbia River valley. To feed ore to it, in the spring of 1896 he incorporated his Columbia and Western Railway with the intention of building it westward into the Boundary District. Suddenly mines in the Boundary looked as if they might be worth something, and among the first investors to risk capital in the region was F.C. Innes of Vancouver who bought $15,000s-worth of Graves Old Ironsides. As welcome as this cash must have been, it did not nearly fulfil Graves requirements. Graves had been active on Red Mountain managing properties for absentee owners and had formed the opinion that there was much spare cash laying around in Québec, especially in Montréal. Resolving to gather some of it up by playing on the contemporary Canadian urge to buy out the foreign owners of national resources, in the autumn of 1896 he sent Aubrey White thither to establish A.L. White and Company. Graves followed and soon formed a casual alliance with S.H.C. (Steven) Miner, the president of the Québec-based Granby Rubber Company and a director of the Eastern Townships Bank. Introducing Graves to Montréal men of business, Miner prevailed upon Graves to have his Phnix properties re-assessed, to substantiate their potential. Graves agreed and contacted a Spokane mining engineer, Colonel N.E. (Nelson) Linsley. Linsleys analysis of the ores is the basis for O.E. Le Roys Phnix (Memoir No.12 of the General Survey of Canada, Ottawa, 1912), which reported ...extensive deposits of low-grade copper ore...occur[ing] in a mineralized area of the Brooklyn limestone [in which the] metallic minerals are chalcopyrite, pyrite, hæmatite (specularite), and magnetite..., deposited in extensive bodies workable of ore that would generally prove self-fluxing when smelted and ran to 1.2% to 1.6% copper with appreciable values in gold and silver and some lead and traces of zinc on most of the properties.
Eighteen-97 saw a blizzard of claims change hands and money begin to seep into the Boundary in anticipation of the C&Ws construction. The legendary Patsy Clark, also of Spokane, bonded the Snowshoe and ordered a complete plant from the Jenckes Machine Company of Sherbrooke to be delivered to the property. G.W. (George) Rumberger and J.M. Taylor acquired the Brooklyn, and work commenced on the B.C. group of eleven claims. Graves and F.P. Bucke of Sherbrooke, Québec, organized the Knob-Hill Gold Mining Company and capitalized it to $150,000. As well, Graves and Miner incorporated the Old Ironsides Mining Company in Montréal, capitalized it for $1 million, and eased Henry White and Matthew Hotter out of the picture by 1898. That year, too, William Mackenzie, Donald Mann, federal Senator G.A. (George) Cox, and T.G. Holt formed an association to acquire the Stemwinder, the Brooklyn, Montezuma, Phnix and Standard and begin development. At Wellington Camp on the eastern shoulder of Phnix Mountain, an English syndicate bonded the Snowshoe for $65,000 and set a crew to work examining it.
All this investment was making George Rumberger a wealthy man. Not only did he have interests in the Brooklyn and the Phnix, but he had got himself into the town-founding business, like George Kendall Stocker at Cascade City on the other side of Grand Forks. He pestered the Post Office until it established at bureau on the Mountain in 1898. He succeeded in luring newspaperman W.B. Willcox to the Camp and in November of 1899 the first issue of the Phnix Pioneer hit the streets. And streets there were, for Rumberger had had part of his claim legally subdivided and in the autumn of 1899 sold the first of his lots in what would be called the Lower Town.
By the end of the spring of 1898 the CPR had bought Heinzes B.C. interests and, having been authorized by a federal Order-in-Council on August 8th of that year to lease the Columbia and Western Railway for a millennium less a year, proceeded to lay track westward, curling rails around the base of Phnix in the late summer of 1899. By then the British Columbia (Rossland and Slocan) Syndicate, Limited, had been organized in Great Britain to buy up the Snowshoe group of claims, the Gold Drop Mining Company of Montreal was developing its namesake group of properties, the Rathmullen Mining Company had bought the Maple Leaf group at Summit Camp, and the B.C. Chartered Company of Montreal owned the 12 full and fractional claims of the B.C. group whose ores were favoured by CPs Canadian Smelter Works at Trail as a flux. Nearby the King Mining Company was working at the Oro Denoro.
Destined, however, to overshadow all other operations in the region was, the Granby Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company which Graves and Miner formed in 1899, with themselves as vice president and president, respectively. Already gathering money to build a huge smelter at Grand Forks to specifically treat Phnix Mountain ores, Graves and Miner invested Granby Consolidated with the Fourth of July and Victoria claims, and had it buy the Ætna and the Phnix claims close by the Knob Hill and Old Ironsides. They were by then the co-owners and vice president and president of the Old Ironsides Mining Company, the Knob Hill Gold Mining Company, and the galena-rich City of Paris group and the Majestic group at Central Camp on the Boundary near the No.7. With what appeared to be the most promising properties secured, Graves and Miner began looking for serious development money. They found C.E. (Charles) Gault, a Montréal securities and insurance broker who bought a stake in the company worth 3.5% less than Miners, 9% more than Graves. Rounding out Granby Consolidateds board of directorship was Miners partner in a Granby grist mill, J.H. (James) McKechnie, Fayette Brown of Montréal, A.L. White and W.Y. (William) Williams who was appointed on-site manager at Phnix. This group was soon dubbed the Miner-Graves syndicate.
Having embarked upon the development of its properties, the Syndicate had a townsite presumably the Upper Town surveyed adjacent to the Knob Hill and the Old Ironsides and started selling lots. The proceeds, eventually totalling $100,000, swelled Granby Consolidateds coffers and were applied to the construction of the companys smelter at Grand Forks. Awaiting the arrival of rail service to the Mountain, the mines on Phnix stock-piled their ores, the Old Ironsides and the Knob Hill proving themselves the Mountains big producers, managing a combined output of 232,000 tons for 1901.
Writes T.W. Patterson in Phoenix(Canadian West, No. 21, Fall, 1990), at noon on May 21st, 1900, the CPR drove the last spike in its Phnix Subdivision.4 Examining the beautifully draughted maps in R.G. Burrows essential Railway Mileposts: British Columbia, Volume II, one can see that the Companys construction engineers must have had quite a task getting rails up to the mines: the old right-of-way flings itself back and forth up the northern face of Phnix Mountain to gain 460 metres in a little less than sixteen kilometres from Eholt Junction. When the tracks were ballasted and the line declared serviceable by the inspector of the federal Department of Railways and Canals, the mines began to empty their ore bunkers into the waiting gondola cars. The first trainload of ore eased the nearly 3,000 vertical feet down the Mountain to the Granby smelter on July 11th and soon 3500 tons-per-day were pouring off the Mountain. CP declared the branch officially complete and open for all business in October.
The settlement of Phnix celebrated the Railways arrival by incorporating itself as a City on October 11th, 1900.5 Geo. Rumberger, for all his efforts in boosting the settlement, was acclaimed as mayor. Chief Charles Flood and one constable constituted the police force. Living at a mean elevation of 1430m, its citizens immediately proclaimed their community the highest city in Canada. A dozen hotels were soon open and doing a booming business. Though Rumberger and some associates formed the Phnix Water & Light Company, the electricity to light Phnixs street lamps and power its mine machinery came from the Cascade Water Power and Light Company, Limiteds generating station on the Kettle River some 30 kilometres to the east. By 1906, when the West Kootenay Power and Light Company ran its 63 kilovolt Second No.1 line from Rossland to Grand Forks and Phnix, the men working for the areas 26 mining companies could choose from among seventeen saloons in which to quaff the offering of the Phnix Brewery at any hour of the day. Every religious denomination had its own church building, a hospital had been opened and kids trooped to school. Prominent among the Citys buildings was the three story Miners Union Hall with its banquet room, ballroom and theatre. A covered skating rink allowed the local hockey teams to practice in all weathers. By 1911 4,000 people lived in Phnix and the mines were outputting up to 7,000 tons-per-day; half of all the copper ore mined in Canada.
In need of more capital to undertake an expansion of its business, the Miner-Graves syndicate applied to the B.C. government for a new charter. The Granby Consolidated Mining, Smelting and Power Company, Limited came into being on May 11th, 1901, capitalized to $15 million and amalgamating the assets of the original Granby Consolidated, the Old Ironsides and Knob Hill companies, and the other properties of the Syndicate. Granted by its charter were extra-ordinary powers which permitted the new company to deal in real estate, distribute electricity, engage in transportation. At the new Granby Consolidateds first general meeting in Montréal later that spring, Miner was elected president, Graves V.P. and the Syndicate was dissolved as Gault wished to sell out. Of the $15 million in shares, three-quarters of them were credited to the directors which now included A.C. (Alfred) Flumerfeld and W.H. (William) Robinson of the Eastern Townships Bank. A.L. White moved to New York to sell the remaining shares.
Granted a $500,000 line of credit by the Eastern Townships Bank, Granby Consolidated began an aggressive program of modernizing its operations, investing $150,000 in its mines over the next two years. From the Thew Automatic Shovel Company of Lorain, Ohio, Granby ordered two giant steam shovels, a type No.1 and a type No.3, and from Davenport Machine Works arrived two little saddletank steam locomotives for marshalling ore cars at the mine site. For underground work, the company adopted an ore car designed by one of its employees, Frank Knott. It was of unique design, with one edge of the tub hinged to the side of the cars frame. A wheel assembly attached to the opposite edge of the tub engaged an elevated rail running parallel to the tracks at the dump site, lifting the tub to an angle of 45º, spilling the contents sideways. The car was manufactured in Grand Forks.
Anticipating the arrival of a spur of Jim Hills VV&E, the company build huge ore bunkers and loading facilities. By far the largest operation on the Mountain, 1902 saw Granby load out 320,000 tons, a third again as much as all the other mines in the District combined.
In 1902 Miner decided to cash out of Granby Consolidated. Graves, plotting to seize control of the company himself with the aid of J.J. Hill, was beaten to the punch and obliged to help the other principals deliver control to the New York refiner, W.H. (William) Nichols, and his cohorts who bought up every share they could get at four dollars each, including those held in the companys treasury. Heavy with cash and now the biggest metals business in British Columbia by far, Granby Consolidated began to buy up properties so aggressively that by 1908 it controlled 35 full claims or fractions on Phnix, and ordering car-loads of equipment from the Jenckes Machine Company, Limited, of Sherbrooke, P.Q., to modernize its operations.
For three years after it had driven the last spike in the Phnix branch in the spring of 1900, the CPR had the Mountain all to itself, hauling up to 2,000 tons of ore per day down to Grand Forks while the Companys lawyers barred the Great Northerns arrival with a barricade of paper. The impediments finally cleared, Hill pushed GNs VV&E up the eastern side of the Mountain, climbing 3% grades and twisting through tight 16º curvatures to arrive in the City of Phnix. On December 31st, 1903, the inspecting engineer of the Department of Railway and Canals, William McCarthy, allowed the VV&E to moved limited tonnages of ore slowly on the as yet unballasted trackage. Two months later, its Phnix station complete, the line was opened for unrestricted business. Because the GN had chosen an alignment with gentler grades and could therefore handle heavier trains at less expense, and because the American owners of Granby Consolidated liked the fact that the GN was a American road, the VV&E was soon handling the greater part of the Mountains ore. Ever eager to compete, the CPR soon pushed a couple of spurs a few miles southward along the top of the Mountain, to the Winnipeg and Reffek mines, in an effort to thwart any GN expansions. Despite the competition, in 1904 the Boundary District supplied 56% of the CPRs B.C. tonnage, one million tons. This was not enough to make the Railway much money and would diminish as Hill cut the VV&Es rates to the bone, winning 60% of the Districts rail freight business within a few years, his lines direct connection to the United States being his trump card.
After digging a total of 290,000 tons in 1903, 514,000 in 1904 and 551,304 in 1905, come 1906 Granby Consolidated was well on its way to linking the Knob Hill and the Old Ironsides into one mine underground. Employing nearly 500 men and now known generally as the Granby mine, it dwarfed all other operations on Phnix. However, it did not own the entire Mountain.
At what was known as Wellington Camp, a mile or so south-east of the Old Ironsides and Knob Hill, the British Columbia (Rossland and Slocan) Syndicate, Limited, had been hard at work since 1899 on the Snowshoe group of two full claims and two fractions. The Syndicate poured $130,000 into its pit over the next two years to extract 100,000 tons of copper ore so complicated by other elements that the Granby smelter would only take it at a drastic discount. By the summer of 1901 the Syndicate had exhausted its finances, but with gold pegged by the U.S. government at a reliable $20 per ounce and copper climbing towards an attractive 16.5¢ per pound, the Syndicates management organized the Snowshoe Gold and Copper Mines, Limited, and capitalized it to £250,000. Although by 1903 the Montreal and Boston Copper Companys Sunset smelter at Boundary Falls was successfully treating the Snowshoes ores, the British were anxious to withdraw their money and in December of that year proposed an amalgamation with M&Bs neighbouring rival, the British Columbia Copper Company. The deal fell through and, though tiring of the Canadian mining game, Snowshoe Gold and Copper continued to work in a desultory fashion until a hike in the price of coal caused by a miners strike in the Crows Nest Pass drove it into insolvency in October, 1906. In exchange for guaranteeing Snowshoes $78,000 overdraft, CPs Consolidated Mining and Smelting subsidiary leased the Snowshoe and ran some of its ore through its smelter at Trail. Determining that the ore was useful as a flux, CM&S spent thousands of dollars on 1907 redeveloping the mine, taking out 135,000 tons of ore. Year by year CM&S continued to lease the Snowshoe until April of 1911 when it shut down the operation. Two years later the property was acquired by Granby Consolidated which worked it off and on until it left the District in the aftermath of World War One.
The other major mining enterprise on Phnix Mountain was the Montreal and Boston/Dominion Copper/B.C. Copper combination of companies. The Dominion Copper Company had become interested in mines on Phnix in 1899 when it acquired and began working the Brooklyn group of claims. Economic conditions, however, forced it to shut down its operations in 1901, eventually selling its properties and leasing its mining charter in 1904 to the Montreal and Boston Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, Limited, whose Sunset smelter at Boundary Falls south of Greenwood was starved of ore. M&B, under-capitalised, was soon in difficulty and in 1905 defaulted on its payments to DCC. Re-organized and recapitalized, DCC took over the Sunset smelter and M&Bs portfolio of mining properties; the Brooklyn, the Stemwinder, the Rawhide, the Idaho group, the Athelstan, the Jackpot Fraction, the Mountain Rose, the Morrison and the Sunset group. As the principal property at Wellington Camp, the Rawhide sent 26,000 tons of ore to the Sunset in 1906, and quadrupled that in 1907. In October of that year, though, following the Panic on Wall Street, DCC shut down the Sunset and quit mining. In 1909 DCC was reorganized yet again, this time as the New Dominion Copper Company.
The British Columbia Copper Company had long been a bit player on Phnix Mountain, mining the Emma, Oro Denoro and B.C. properties at Summit Camp since the mid-19-aughts to augment the ore output of its rich Mother Lode mine at Deadwood. Realizing that, individually, neither itself or the New DCC could hope to compete with the giant Granby Consolidated outfit, in 1910 BCC acquired a controlling interest in New DCC. Although it now had the Brooklyn-Stemwinder-Idaho group at Phnix, the Rawhide and the Athelstan at Wellington Camp, and theMountain Rose, Emma, B.C. and Oro Denoro properties at Summit Camp, it still relied on the Mother Lode for the vast bulk of its ore. When that mine was ruined by the great blast of 1913, BCC began to turn away from the Boundary District, focusing its attention on the riches of Copper Mountain near Princeton. As with the rest of the Districts metals operations, the collapse of the markets at the conclusion of the end of the Great War chased BCC from the Phnix.
By the mid 19-aughts, however, Granby Consolidated Mining, Smelting and Power was by far and away the largest metal worker in B.C. and all other outfits in the Boundary District worked deep in its shadow. Since 1906 Granby Consolidated had been developing the Victoria claim within the bounds of Phnix City, and joining it underground to its Ironsides-Knob Hill operation. By 1909 it had created what was commonly referred to as the Granby mine from the three, was equipping it with electrically driven locomotives and was purchasing the Curlew and the Gold Drop mines adjacent to the Rawhide on the fringes of Wellington Camp. In 1910 Granbys Phnix mines loaded 1.1 million tons of ore onto trains of the companys special 53-ton side-dump gondolas and sent them rumbling and squealing 24 rail-miles on the VV&E down the Mountain to the companys smelter at Grand Forks. A report to the company by eminent geologist Otto Sussman that year declared that ore reserves in sight on the current Phnix properties totalled only 5.6 million tons about 4.5 years worth at the smelters average daily rate of consumption of 3400 tons. The glory days were over and the price of Granby Consolidated stock plunged. While the company began to finalize plans to relocate to Hidden Creek on the Coast, its directors bet that tensions in Europe would result in a war that would drive up the prices of metals, making even the poorer quality properties on the Mountain worth owning. In 1913 Granby began buying mines on Phnix, among them the Snowshoe. That year the companys payroll for its Mountain operations alone totalled $100,000. It was the City of Phnixs raison dêtre.
With two railroads carrying away up to 4500 tons a day and three nearby smelters bidding for its eventual tally of fifteen million tons of ore,6 Phnix roared for the first 20 years of the Twentieth Century. Refined copper was worth 11¢ per pound in 1913, and Granby Consolidated was focusing its investment on its Hidden Creek property on B.C.s northern Coast. At a place it would call Anyox, the company blew in a smelter in March of 1914. Encouraged to remain on Phnix as War pushed prices to a profitable 28¢ per pound by 1918, Granby Consolidated, like the rest of the Mountains miners, could not justify continuing operations there as the malaise which afflicted North Americas industry at the end of W.W.I halved the price of copper. When labour problems in the Crows Nest Pass interrupted coal and coke shipments and forced the Granby smelter to suspend production in June of 1919, operations at Phnix halted. The last ore train squealed down the Mountain on June 14th. Having extracted over 100 million dollars worth of ore for the companies shareholders, the miners downed their tools and walked away. Salvors, hastening to complete their jobs before the railroads tore up their spur lines, rapidly loaded up the little electric locomotives and famous Granby automatic side-dump gondolas, stripped the mines of rail and wire and dynamited the portals closed. Proud Phnix, whose hockey team had once played for the Dominions grand hockey prize, Lord Stanleys Cup, was lifeless by the end of 1920.7
Industry, however, was not quite finished with the Phnix. Miners released from employment sought to carry on their trade, leasing the B.C. and the Stemwinder in 1919. The latter had been ten years idle and gave up but 29 tons to hard labour that year. Nineteen-28 found Pacific Tidewater Mines, Limited, of Victoria holding leases on the Brooklyn, Stemwinder, Rawhide, Bullion and other properties, and sending a bit of ore to Consolidated Mining and Smeltings Trail facility. The next year another outfit, the Hercules Consolidated Mining, Smelting and Power Company owned by R. Forshaw of Greenwood had leased the Stemwinder and the Brooklyn. At the being of the 30s, many District ore properties fell into local hands, the most capable of which proved to be those of W.E. McArthur, the future mayor of Greenwood. Controlling most of the best properties by the time World War Two got fairly underway, he was concentrating his efforts on the Granby mine in 1941, shipping out 7600 tons of high-grade ore to American Smelting and Refining at Tacoma, Washington, that year. The requirements of the Bloody 40s soon brought Granby Consolidated back to the Mountain. This time, though, rather than burrowing around underground trying to follow individual veins of ore, the company opened a pit and set two huge, electrically powered Bucyrus shovels to work systematically devouring two square miles of the Mountains top. City, old mines, everything was eaten away. Before and after photographs in Bruce Ramseys Mining in Focus (self-published in Vancouver, 1968) graphically show the impact.
Notes The Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for the Year Ending 31st December, 1946, that year McArthur owned the Granby and was doing some exploratory drilling, as was the Vancouver-owned Brooklyn-Stemwinder Gold Mines, Limited, on its properties.
During the early 50s, evidently, Granby Consolidated returned to the Mountain for a third time. It reorganized itself as the Granby Mining Company in 1959 and that year built a 900 ton-per-day concentrating mill on the Mountain which it operated through its subsidiary, the Phnix Copper Company. With the war in Vietnam boosting the price of copper toward 70¢ per pound, in 1972 Granby tripled the capacity of the mill and by 1976 had carried off ore which yielded 70,000 tons of pure copper, 1.4 million ounces of gold and 200,000 ounces of silver. The economic ore was by then gone, however. For two more years the mill was employed crushing the output of the Lone Star mine which was trucked across the Boundary from the Washington state property, but 1978 saw its removal.
Next: GRAND FORKS
- March, 1900. !NB: To return to this end-notes origin in the main text, left-click your browsers Back arrow
- The Granby was for some years known as the North Fork of the Kettle River. !NB: To return to this end-notes origin in the main text, left-click your browsers Back arrow
- The other man was James Marshall. !NB: To return to this end-notes origin in the main text, left-click your browsers Back arrow
- Writes Hal Reigger in his problematical Kettle Valley and its Railways (Pacific Fast Mail, Everett, WA, n.d.), CPs 2-8-0 #312 rolled the first train into Phnix on this date. !NB: To return to this end-notes origin in the main text, left-click your browsers Back arrow
- Writes Hal Reigger in his problematic Kettle Valley and its Railways (Pacific Fast Mail, Everett, WA, n.d.), Phoenix received its charter as a city in 1889… !NB: To return to this end-notes origin in the main text, left-click your browsers Back arrow
- To handle the increased tonnage, CP transferred its only three Shay locomotives, No.s 1901, 1902, and 1903, from the Trail-Rossland section of the C&W in 1910. They were not particularly successful, being slow, albeit powerful. In April of 1912 #1902 was destroyed in a spectacular wreck while easing a train down the Mountain. No. 1903, renumbered 5903 in 1912, was sold in 1913 to Corbin Coal and Coke at Corbin, B.C. !NB: To return to this end-notes origin in the main text, left-click your browsers Back arrow
- The last City Council meeting was held on August 14th, 1920. George Rumberger had long since sold out and had departed the City by then. Claims Reigger in The Kettle Valley and its Railways, the City was completely solvent at the end of its life, and even had a little money in the bank to remit to the province. !NB: To return to this end-notes origin in the main text, left-click your browsers Back arrow