It’s the early 1860s and the word in the hills is that there is gold on the Wildhorse. A mad rush ensures and the town of Fisherville is born. Situated at the end of the Dewdney Trail deep in southeastern BC, this was once a rip roaring town with many saloons. Now only a cemetery and some other odd bits remind the visitor of its exciting past.
Sometimes refereed to as Wilkdhorse or Kootenay (or Kootenai), the town sits high on a bench above the Wildhorse River. Originally located lower down, it was found the buildings were sitting on some valuable ground and everything was picked up and moved higher. The original location is now an unrecognizable jumble of rocks and gravel, having been heavily worked for gold.
At it’s peak there were thousands of residents in town, many of them transient of course, as gold miners do not seem to stay in one place for long. Given its location near the US, there was a high population of Americans in the area and later the Chinese moved in. Like most gold rush towns, glory was fleeting and a only a few years after the rush, the population could be counted in the hundreds.
In the early days most miners found their way to the area via trails in the US. In response to this a Canadian only trail was constructed to allow access to region. This was the famous Dewdney Trail and Fisherville was its terminus. Stretching all the way from Fort Hope (now Hope) this trail followed a southern route, passing though rugged country and over many mountain passes. At over 700km long, this was a major undertaking for the day and even now, some stretches of it still exist. What a testament to the skill of the workers and engineers that made it.
Seem on our visit, the cemetery is the largest remnant from those crazy days. Rehabilitated by volunteers in the 1950s there are many graves, but most are occupied by those who are unknown.
Not far away is an old channel, a ditch high on the hillside used to bring in water to workings that were not close to the river. In spite of it’s age, it’s in fine shape and could easily carry water today. Kudos to those who built it.
Just beyond that is a small meadow populated with fruit trees. Decedents of trees brought at the time of the rush, these seem to doing okay. Odd since weather is in the valley is often not very fruit tree friendly.
Also seen were the remains of an old chimney and hearth and some stones that were either a walkway or patio of some sort.
Fisherville is situated west of the famous Fort Steele heritage town and can be easily reached by a gravel road.
This visit was a quick visit while travelling the area and we will return to document the place better. It’s a fascinating area that requires a good thorough look. When in the area be sure to check out the nearby Kootenay King Mine concentrator complex, which is located just before Fisherville on the same road.
To see another ghost town nearby, click the link below…
Lumberton ghost town.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date: August 2012.
Location: Fisherville ghost town near Cranbrook BC.