Author Tags: Local History

Don Blake chronicled the rise and fall of a mining town established in the 1920s near Princeton in Blakeburn: From Dust to Dust. He has also detailed the hard rock mining history along the highway connecting New Denver to Kaslo in Valley of the Ghosts: The History along Hwy 31A, B.C. [BCBW 1995]


Blakeburn: From Dust to Dust: the Rise and Fall of a Coal Mining Town (D. Blake, 1985)
The Valley of the Ghosts, Hwy. 31A B.C. (Vernon: Wayside Press, 1988)
Valley of the Ghosts - the History Along Highway 31A, B.C. (Sandhill Book Marketing, 1990)

[BCBW 2003] "Mining" "Local History"

The Valley of the Ghosts: The History along Highway 31A

THE MOTHERLODE OF SLYER MINING'S history in B.C. is a 30-mile stretch of road from the "morning side of the mountain" in Kaslo to the "twilight side of the hill" in New Denver. Known as the "The Valley of the Ghosts", this section of Highway 31A once helped the Slocan area account for 60 per cent of Canada's total silver production.

"They say there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," writes Don Blake in The Valley of the Ghosts: The History along Highway 31A (Sandhill $8.95), "In B.C.'s case, the golden end was in the Cariboo. The other end had a pot of silver and it hit the mountainous region between Kaslo and New Denver."

Using facts and figures from Ministry of Mines Reports, plus personal research with locals and historic photos, Blake has compiled a detailed historical guide for a 138 mile circle tour that includes Kaslo, New Denver, Slocan, Nelson, Balfour, Ainsworth and Hot Springs.

Mining mothered most Kootenay communities. Blake recalls the first "Beaver" claims in 1891 when three prospectors, Lardo Jack, Andy Jardine and Jack Allen, precipitated the influx of settlers to the Kaslo area. The first Beaver claim, which ironically never became a producing mine, is still owned by Kaslo resident Andy Jardine Jr. "If it was up to me," writes Blake, a B. C. native who recently moved to Edmonton, "I would turn the whole area into a park, have Sandon restored along the same lines as Barkerville and Fort Steele, and, when Dickenson Mines has exhausted their ore reserves, keep it open for underground tours in conjunction with a mining museum."

Meanwhile he hopes signs can be erected along Highway 31A. Each year thousands of motorists traverse the Valley of the Ghosts largely unaware that the hills are haunted by the triumphs and failures of countless B. C. pioneers.

[Winter / BCBW 1989]