Sep 032013
 
Flooded mine tunnel

It’s been many, many years…no…actually its been two decades since I last visited Moyie Falls near Cranbrook BC. I’ve been meaning to return and have made plans to do so many times over the years, but for one reason or another, something always got in the way that prevented this from happening. Determined to succeed this time and with Connie accompanying me (her first visit here), I finally made it back. Yeah!!! A long overdue visit.

Not only is it worthwhile visit the falls for their rugged, scenic splendour, but there is a also a lot of gold mining history in the immediate area, which is what I came to explore. There has been active mining here for well over century and on the way in we’ll pass successively older workings, until we were right beside the falls themselves.

Access to this hard to find spot is via a dusty logging road (watch for fast moving trucks!) and from the parking spot, you have to hike in a couple kilometres. To start you’ll walk a steep mine road down and at the bottom you’ll have to pick your way across the Moyie River (near impossible at high water). Continuing upstream, you can follow a continuation of that same mining road for a bit. Where it ends you’ll have follow the river bed, scrambling over huge blocks and boulders, up to a slippery ledge beside the falls, overlooking a deep plunge pool.

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The most modern workings here, the ones furthest from Moyie Falls, were being mined in 2012. We scouted out the site that year, from a vantage point overlooking the valley, and saw equipment hard at work. It does not appears that anyone has been here this year however, no doubt due to somewhat flat gold prices. Or maybe they’ve run out of good ground, it could be either. If you visit here and active mining is taking place, avoid the workings and pick your way up the river bed itself. Also, make your presence known.

This operation is just one of many that have mined here over the years. They have driven a tunnel (technically a drift) into the base of a cliff, where they mine the ancient river gravels deposited here eons ago. The gold laden ore is brought outside and run though a trommel and sluice arrangement where the precious metal is separated out. This mine entry is sealed up. Nearby we find a large block in the river with two drill holes – who knows what they are for but they are most certainly old.

Soon we come across another entry, also sealed. This is the one in the picture with the yellow doors and it is somewhat older, dating from the late 1970s/early 1980s I am told (not confirmed). It runs roughly parallel to the newer workings we just passed. I am not sure when this one was last mined. This adit sits almost at the water line and flood debris jammed in the door hinges shows how high the normally placid Moyie River can flow. This tunnel clearly floods during periods of high water.

At this point one has a good view of the falls. Getting to them however gets progressively harder and the going is rough and slippery in places and the rocks sharp.

Picking our way up the river, the last and hardest step is to work our way up to a ledge, via a steep loose trail. On previous visits there used to be a ladder and rope here to help you up.

Once on top, we have a good view of the workings, both on this side and the opposite side of the falls (the west and east adits respectively). There are three openings to be seen here, all which date from the 1930s and early 1940s. If you peer over the edge, the dark waters of the plunge pool hint at how deep it is. Stay back!

There is an adit in front of me and directly beside is an old engine and compressor. Right next to that is the falls – they are that close. A fair sized stream flows from the mine opening – not surprising – and old pipes lead from the compressor into the dark abyss. The tunnel heads in then almost immediately turns right under the falls. We follow it in perhaps a 100m but found the footing rather dangerous. The floor was slimy from the water and a slip and fall was a good possibility. Plus there were signs of some recent rockfall, which had me worried about the integrity of the roof at this section.

By the way, when we enter a mine we always come prepared. We are seasoned mine explorers and don the right gear, know and understand the dangers and we proceed slowly and cautiously. We know mines! If you visit Moyie Falls, peer inside the adits, but don’t go inside.

Across the Moyie River on the east side are two additional entries, which we’ll head to, one almost under the falls themselves, We have to back track and cross the river and make our way across on some logs. There are some relics here, an old pipe and mine rails.

The adit we want is right in front of us. This is actually an access tunnel that cuts through a rock outcropping, leading to a narrow ledge, which them leads to the mine itself. It is full of water (no doubt filled when the river was at flood stage) and since the tunnel dips in the centre, the water keeps getting deeper and deeper. There are also lots of big logs and tree bits inside as well and the going was difficult, so we turned back – I did make it through in the mid 1980s though, and recall it was similarly flooded them. On that trip, so long ago, we did get to the other adit, the east adit, but followed it in for only a short time before turning back. Back then we had no flashlights, no safety gear, nor an understanding of what we were up against.

None of these tunnels are hard rock mines, but rather each is used to access deep placer gravels in ancient channels around the falls.

Heading back, we take time to explore the newest workings some more. On a bench above the site, I find some old equipment, an old mine timber cart, the timbers it would carry, an ancient winch and further up a cut, an old pull scraper.

Reluctantly heading back, I hope to return again, perhaps to explore the east adit. Getting through the deep water in the access tunnel is going to be a challenge however – I’ll think of something. One thing is certain, it won’t be twenty years till my next visit.

I was fortunate enough to know one of the people associated with the oldest workings we explored. In the 1980s a friend was neighbour to Oscarson Sr. who worked this mine back in the 1930s and 40s. As I understand it the family still has title to the claim and they lease it out to others, who pay them a percentage of the take.

Not far away from here is the PayRoll Mine which we explored in 2012. On the road leading up to Moyie Falls is the Lumberton ghost town, it too an interesting place to visit.

It may be technically wrong but in this post I use tunnel and adit somewhat interchangeably. An adit is a mine opening or entrance only. To call a mine a tunnel is only correct if it has an opening at each end (like the access tunnel we spoke of) but we use it for single ended mines as well, for simplicity’s sake. Most mine tunnels are called drifts – unless they go right angles to the ore body, in which case they are a crosscut. Confused yet?

To see what Moyie Falls looked like in 1990, check out the link below…
Moyie River Falls – 1990.

If you liked this post, why not check out these as well…
Sunken (Lost) Creek to Dibble Mine – Cranbrook BC.
Tent Mountain was torn a new one.

If you’d like to know more about the subjects seen in this post, by all means contact us!

Date: August 2013.
Location: Near Cranbrook BC.

Moyie River gold mine

This tunnel was being mined in 2012.

Moyie River rocks

Who knows what these two drill holes were for.

Placid Moyie River

The placid river below the falls.

Moyie Falls mine

An older mine entry.

Scenic Moyie Falls

Moyie Falls. a beautiful and rugged place.

Moyie Falls mine equipment

Right beside the falls are the oldest workings. Here we see an engine and compressor.

Moyie Falls and mine openings

Note the two mine openings to the right of the falls.

Moyie River mine

Heading into one of the adits.

Moyie River mine tunnel

A good sized stream flowed in this tunnel. At this point am right under the falls.

Mine tunnel Moyie River

The water was deep and the footing dangerous so I headed out.

Moyie Falls BC

The falls are just so photogenic.

Moyie Falls tunnel

A closer look at the adit on the opposite side.

Moyie Falls mine tunnel

The tunnel I just explored.

Moyie River water fall

Picking my way across some logs to explore the openings on the opposite side.

Moyie River mine relics

An old rail and pipe.

Mine adit Moyie River

Entering another adit.

Flooded mine tunnel

The water kept getting deeper and deeper…

Moyie River Falls

The tunnel on the far right allows access to the second or eastern adit, in back beside the falls.

Mine relics Moyie River

Modern mining relics.

Mine cart

A mine cart for hauling timbers.

Mine winch

An ancient winch.

Pulled scraper

An old scraper found nearby.

Moyie River gold plant

The trommel and sluice from the modern mine.

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44 Comments on "Mining under Moyie Falls"

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Lila C
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Lila C

Well done; I’m glad there is a photo of you by the falls so we can see just how big everything is.

BJ West
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BJ West

Great Photos, — A Very Interesting Mine !!

Alan M
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Alan M

Excellent writeup and pics.

Kyle C
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Kyle C

Woah, that place looks amazing!

Alex Gurtz
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Alex Gurtz

I was at the falls earlier this year and the fellows working the claim were doing some exploratory work, but doubted they’d be doing it for long since the price of gold is low. Did you notice party litter in the area? It seems to be getting out of hand.

John Birks
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John Birks

In an old but undated BC archives image the plunge pool below the falls is deeper. There was a rock dam, with its own small waterfall, just down from the main waterfall. It’s picture F08787.

Dylan S
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Dylan S

Thanks for the writeup! I have been prospecting in and around the Cranbrook area for a few years now, and it’s wonderful to see (new to me) areas. The Wildhorse Public areas are still producing for me, though the effort put in for reward is high! There are still Nuggies being found though! 🙂

adamthinks@aol.com
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adamthinks@aol.com

Just looking at those undergound pictures makes me nervous…

Drumlust
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Drumlust

Holy cow.

Epic mine!

Dan
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Dan

The walk through that one partly flooded adit that comes out next to the falls is worth it , especially in the winter when the falls are frozen.

Fred Moller
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Fred Moller

The “ancient winch” in the above photo is a “slusher hoist”, which the below scraper bucket is attached to via a cable coming off each drum of the slusher….I know this, as I am a career miner in the Porcupine mining camp of northeastern Ontario. Your site/links are excellent, as are your exploration stories, thanks for having/sharing this, it is greatly appreciated, and thoroughly enjoyed.

Sally Cain
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Sally Cain

Beautiful pics. We also enjoy hiking around the falls – I don’t see any pics of the disgusting mess left by a mining company in one of the most beautiful spots just past the falls. I am in the process of trying to find out who is responsible and am hoping there must be some obligation to clean your mess up.

Becky
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Becky

Beautiful! Directions anyone??

Lou, Glenda & Paul
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Lou, Glenda & Paul

wow ur Site is Excellent, great pics and narration. what a place to visit. we visited the Moyie Fall 10-Aug-2016.
what an Historical place. The Family (active Miners were so polite and offered a Personal touch to our great visit

Smith927
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Smith927

Great pictures, Chris and Connie. You have such adventures!

Smith_316
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Smith_316

Enjoyed this, very good stuff, thank you. I can’t imagine a more scenic place to mine. So it was gold they were after?

Coinoath Sarsfield
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Coinoath Sarsfield

(via Facebook)
Everything right there for me. I love placer mining and photographing waterfalls.

Elijah Thompson
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Elijah Thompson

I love it up there, a great swimming hole under the water fall.

Ken Ames
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Ken Ames

(via Facebook)
Makes one wonder about all the effort to get that machinery to that spot.

martin
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martin

Hi I am from Cranbrook and this little nugget was the best kept secret,we found this place from friends,we were going there since the early 70’s and went fishing there.When we were going there,there were two miner shacks, remnants of mining tracks and carts.We went there in the winter and toboggan down the steep road,and we had a blast.Thanks

Smith318
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Smith318

Always heard the place was spectacular, but wow!

Barry
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Barry

You continue to amaze me by all of the unique sites you find ! Thank you for continuing to show the rest of us all what a true explorer you are!

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