In this post we take a look at some old gold mining equipment, an abandoned locomotive on an old rail line, a forgotten graveyard and a small glacier located deep in the mountains. These all date from 2003 and 2004 and prove that old leftovers don’t always need to be thrown away.
1) Seen along the historic Wildhorse River in the East Kootenays of BC this old water wheel sits rotting in the bush. Likely used to power some machinery, perhaps a pump to dewater a sunken shaft, this wheel would be driven by the flow of the river providing cheap and easy power.
The Wildhorse River is a well known placer gold producer and the centre of a rush that took place in the 1860s. Heavily worked in the ensuing years, even today it’s gives up a lot of gold. The water wheel seen here is located near the mouth of the river, not far from where it joins with the Kootenay River just downstream from Fort Steele BC.
Not far way from here is the historic ghost town of Fisherville and the famous Dewdney Trail, a long distance link that allowed miners, prospectors and business people from the west coast to access this remote area. Considered worked out by the turn of the twentieth century there is still mining taking place along the river, although it’s no where near as busy as it was in the old days. There are lots of mining artifacts to be found up and down the valley.
This image dates from May 2003.
2) Skirting the base of Mount Stephen not far from Field BC, an eastbound CPR train tip toes its way up the valley. Before long it will enter the famous spiral tunnels where it will slowly loop upwards on its way to the east. Located to the left of the train you can see the debris field from the snow and rock slides that often come down from above. There is a concrete shed here to protect the trains (just visible), which deflects everything away from and up and over the tracks. Above the train but hard to see are numerous mine adits (openings) from the Monarch Mine. It operated here into the 1930s and was located in a very precipitous location.
This view is from Kicking Horse Mine, which exploited the same vein as the Monarch Mine across the valley. This mine was worked up to the early 1950s and when you pass by on the highway you may see evidence of the operation and many openings can be seen on the flank of the mountain. Our goal was to enter the mine, however, we forgot our safety equipment and called it off. Warning, entering mines should not be attempted unless you are experienced and have the proper equipment. They are DANGEROUS!
This image and the one below it date from May 2004.
3) Located not far from the train seen in the previous pictures, the locomotive seen here was used to construct the famous spiral tunnels and when the work was done in 1909, it was abandoned in place. By this time it was already quite old and likely very worn out, having been built in the 1880s. It’s not clear if the complete locomotive was dumped here, or if parts were removed prior to it happening. Perhaps some bits were valuable and taken form the engine to be used elsewhere or sold as scrap. It’s also possible that some parts have been taken by souvenir hunters in the hundred plus years it’s been sitting here.
Of course, some of the wooden parts have since rotted away, although the oak pilot beams are surprisingly intact and in reasonable shape. Contrary to some legends, this is NOT the remains of a runaway train. The spiral tunnels were built to bypass CPR’s dangerous “BIG hill” into Field, so it’s easy to understand how that legend could start.
4) As seen from the Burstall Pass trail, Robertson Glacier is tucked away in a rugged valley. Even in spite of it’s small size (in glacier terms anyway), it has a huge influence on the surrounding weather and in the area it’s often cold and blustery no matter what time of year. The location of the pictures is the gravel flats below the glacier and lots of small streams braid their way through the area making crossing somewhat of a challenge.
At this point we are a few kilometres up the Burstall Pass trail and so far it’s been pretty easy. Not long after crossing the flats however the trail changes personality and steeply heads upwards to its namesake destination. It’s well worth it though and the views from the pass are stupendous. This picture was taken in June 2004.
5) While the town of Wayne Alberta is located deep in a valley in the Drumheller area, the cemetery is located high on the prairie above. The views up and down the valley are awesome, but I doubt many of the residents of the grave yard are in a position to appreciate it. While I did not record any details of the visit, it’s clear it has been a long time since the place was maintained, or even visited since no roads lead to it. The town, like many in the area, owed its existence to coal mining. Many operations used to dot the area, although one would be hard pressed to find any evidence of these mines today.
The town itself is a small cluster of of houses along with the famous Last Chance Saloon, a popular watering hole for travellers. Especially those travelling in on motorcycle and on summer weekend the places buzzes with activity. The route in is know for its many bridges (eleven to be exact) and is a winding affair – very un-prairie like. This image was taken September 2004.
To see our visit to Fisherville along the Wildhorse River, follow this link…
A brief visit to Fisherville.
To see what the locomotive seen in this reports looks like in 2013, follow this link…
CPR’s Big Hill revisited.
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