Saturday, September 28, 2013

From boom to bust, the historic Ghost Town Of Sandon here in the Kootenays.

"History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days."  ~Winston Churchill

This past week has been cold and rainy and I found myself unable to focus on work and garner any enthusiasm to get into the studio. Ivor, Kenya and I decided, what a perfectly good excuse to get away for a day and enjoy a drive through the mountains.

Our drive took us along the east shore of Kootenay Lake to Crawford Bay where we caught the ferry taking us west across the lake to Balfour landing.  We then drove north through the beautiful, small lakeside village of Kaslo and continued on to the once thriving mining community of Sandon. (now a ghost town.)

Miss Molly Browns brothel, just one of 40 that were once in existence in the town and surrounding area.  


No tea invitation here!  (Kenya and I)

In the 1800s, Sandon sprang into existence as Canada's richest silver mining community.  Prospectors and miners came by the thousand.  The town was hastily constructed in an impossibly narrow and inhospitable valley high in the mountains.  Buildings were constructed right at the edge of Carpenter Creek on either side with a boardwalk built right over top of the creek.  

It's said there was a population of apx. 5000 with 29 hotels, 28 saloons, 40 brothels, 3 breweries, 2 railways, banks and dozens of stores and businesses.

Museum, Sandon, BC

Sandon was enjoying a booming economy and then in the early 1900s much of the town was destroyed by a devastating fire. The town was rebuilt and over the next several years it began experiencing a series of labour problems, declining metal prices, along with the exhaustion of several major mines.   

Both the Kaslo & Slocan Railway, connecting Sandon with nearby Kaslo on Kootenay Lake and the Nakusp & Slocan Railway (Cdn. Pacific) from New Denver and Nakusp raced to reach the Sandon area to profit from the boom. 

The hills around Sandon were actively mined by mines such as the Silversmith, the Slocan Star and The Payne well into the 1900s.  

This building is the original City Hall. 

Like the other silver towns of the era, Sandon faded with the fall of silver prices. In 1955 a major flood of the Carpenter Creek occurred, destroying most of the remaining buildings of the downtown core.  Looters tore apart what was left and the town never fully recovered again.   

Remains of the boardwalk are still found scattered around the creek edge.  Yellow sticker tape cordons off many areas as the embankment is unstable  and collapsing.  (Amazing to see this destruction up close)

Mangled piles of timber, once the main street,are still littered all over.

Scenes from the Sandon Museum

Prospectors Cabin

A photo of the Silversmith Powerhouse, still in use today and is the oldest continuing operating plant in Canada.  

We ended our day trip with a with a hearty meal of halibut and chips at JB'S Pub located at Woodbury Resort on Kootenay Lake.  One of our favorite stops when in the area.  

Have a great weekend, it's back to the studio for me!

Laura Leeder, Watercolour Artist, 
Creston, BC ~ In the heart of the Kootenays!


Sian said...

Lovely pictures. What a lovely weekend - a glimpse into history!

Chelsey said...

Thanks for sharing. It must have been fascinating to see it all up close!

Laura Leeder said...

Thanks Sian, it was very interesting.
My husband and I are still talking about it!

Liz Williams said...

This is such an interesting post! You have inspired me to plan ahead and take more daytrips! 40 brothels in a town of 5000 is pretty crazy!

Thanks for sharing this!

Win Dinn said...

Fascinating photos and story, Laura - that will feed the muse for a good while!

Laura Leeder said...

Thanks Chelsey, it certainly was!

Laura Leeder said...

Liz, thanks for stopping by. I'm thrilled to have inspired you!

Laura Leeder said...

Win, just imagine if our town of 5000 boasted all those businesses! Actually scratch that!

Celia Blanco said...

I'm still stuck on the 40 brothels to 5000 ratio...
It is fun to take day trips, they feel like mini vacations. Interesting history and a fitting quote to go along with this beautiful post! I'm sure this has brought some new ideas your way!

Laura Leeder said...

Celia, so am I! My small town has a population of apx. 5200.Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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