A Day of history
Late September - 2012 - French Snowshoe Creek
We finished the work and picked up some more. Greg had claims above the Canyon on French Snowshoe Creek.
In a spot where a 100 hundred Chinese crossed the creek daily, Greg Mckee found 3/4 of an ounce gold in one day with a pan in the 1980's...he was daring me to do better.
Greg was the son of a mining engineer and had mined all over the world. He would scuba dive the rivers of BC for nuggets.
Greg also went back to the days of the McQuen's on Yanks peak. An area they wanted to mine became a conflict with the government over what was considered a high water mark.
Ken wasn't sure who was mining in this area. However, he was able to identify that the shovel heads were riveted in a style common to use in the 1860's.
He was able to further that with the few tin cans that we found. They had been sealed by solder.
A small shard of glass Ken was able to identify as a champagne bottle from the time period
Who were these people that worked this area so long ago is still a mystery. The shovel heads were laying beside each other. The wood had rotted away long ago leaving no trace.
Was the Champagne a toast of good fortune made or busted?
Lots of mineralization in this area.
The entrance to the Steel and Cunningham tunnel was caved but it is a fair bet the tunnel is preserved.
For example, timbers extracted from William Luce's tunnels were perfectly preserved. The axe marks in the notching looked as though they were days old.
When the entrance to a tunnel caves in, it produces a lack of oxygen thereby slowing the rate of decay in tunnel timbers.
"Steel was a miner on Williams Creek above the canyon years ago and Cunningham mined Williams Creek. They were both experienced miners. they kind of tunneled in and the quartz vein must have been fairly high up cause the roof that caved in" Ken said.
We finished our work late in the day and began the long hike back to the truck. We hiked out from the confluence of Dutchman Creek and French Snowshoe Creek to the road.
There is another site of cabins and a shaft to explore yet but that is another story.
The expression "The water may have flowed there when Jesus walked the earth" had been used extensively to describe the ridiculousness of the accusation.
All these years later Greg had staked and now held the same ground. The McQuen's had been able to do some mining in there but Greg believed there was still more to be had.
Ken goes back to the 1980's in this region too. He knew the McQuen's and of their struggle to mine. He was good friends with Dave Falconer and Art Woolsey.
He joined CJ and I on this excursion. I was thankful to have him with us over the next few day. Like Greg, Ken knows the history of Yanks Peak. Walking with him brought the memories of Dave Falconer and Dad to life in a time I now was now sharing with my son.
We hiked into McQuen's past workings. Mother nature had virtually reclaimed the area. We did our days panning in the creek and then moved downstream.
It had been a while for me but it was a pleasure to rediscover some old workings that I knew about many years before.
The next day we hiked through the remains of Snarlsberg. This was a town in the 1930's and very little remains today of human habitation. There was nothing but brush and vegetation. Mother nature reclaims anything left to time.
There is a shaft at the bottom of the switchbacks that I believe was from the mining operations of that period.
We made our way up creek to the falls (below Calgary Dam)and panned our way down. It is rare to be able to walk the creek itself. However, the water table was low and for the first time in many years we walked the creek.
Old workings were everywhere. We found where the Chinese were working on the Bowman map ("Chinese here find fine gold on bed rock 2 ft deep"). The Chinese were meticulous with their workings. Rocks washed cleaned and piled in mounds were clear evidence of their workings. Plus we also wandered upon the Homestake Group on the Holland map
Further on we encountered some more old workings. This time we believe it was the Steel and Cunningham tunnel. Right across the creek from the tunnel is a one foot wide vein of mineralized quartz.
It was an amazing discovery and like much of the history, easy to miss unless your walking the creek.
The sun was setting and the old road blended into that twilight grey where it was easy to slip into history walking the path of so many before you. A few kilometers later we were back at the truck.
Tonight was our last night at the Winger cabin. I was so exhausted that all I could muster for dinner was eggs and toast.
The next morning was After nearly a month on the creeks, CJ and I traveled the Y road out and around Cariboo Lake. We had our victory photo in Barkerville. In the photo I am wearing Robin Williams actual hat from the movie A Night At The Museum.
CJ had had ice cream for breakfast. We enjoyed a performance by Mr Ben Zhao at the Wells Theatre. It was an unexpected pleasure how CJ took an interest in Chinese culture.
We had struck gold!
Thank you - Leighton Woolsey (Aka) Mitch Mortensen