The Skeena River and Northwest BC are one of the most beautiful places in the world. We were fortunate enough to share this region with writer Janet Gyenes who gave a very stunning account of her visit to the area. We incorporated a touch of many of our Northern BC Adventure Tours during the few days. Read the online article or the screenshots below.
Global TV Spotlight on the Ghost Town of Alice Arm
This once thriving Silver Mining town Alice Arm of the early 1900’s is home to the Dolly Varden Silver Mine and a dozen or so cabins and homesteads. It is also one of our stops on the UNBC Continuing Studies “Ghost Towns of Northwest BC” Tour. Some of the highlights include the 1920 schoolhouse, bakery, haunted houses, old derelict vehicles, polish prison, seafood BBQ, waterfalls, salmon and bears. Below the video are a few more photos of the town. For a good read on the history of the town Darryl Muralt’s book “Steel Rails & Silver Dreams” provided an insightful look into the boom and bust times of this silver mining town and the tribulations of building a small railway in some of the most inhospitable conditions. The town really is a unique pace to visit!
The Kitselas Canyon Historic site and home of the Kitselas First Nation is 15 minutes east of Terrace on the banks of the Skeena River. The highlights include the longhouses, petroglyphs, totem poles, lookout, dugout canoe, interpretive signs and the flora and fauna. None of these highlights would be complete without the interpretive knowledge and background provided by the curator Webb Bennett.
Webb is a wealth of knowledge and can tell you anything about the history of the area. He shares his knowledge and shows us the sites as we wind along a path through the beautiful hemlock forest. He talks about the totem poles and longhouses and how totems are a way for the Kitselas and other first nations to tell their stories as their history isn’t written down anywhere. The experience at the site is hands on as Webb mentions “It’s a living cultural centre”. The tour of the longhouses greatly benefits from this belief as the participants can hold and touch the various items on display to get a better feel of the work that went into making them.
We visit the Kitselas Canyon Historic site on a few of our tours.
One of the highlights to the Ghost Town of Anyox is the Graveyard. It is now overgrown with mature trees but amazingly little else grows under the trees as the area suddenly opens up and is devoid of vegetation once entering the cemetery. On my first visit to Anyox when we did a reconnaissance trip to source out unique things to see fro the guests. I was with the owner of the town and it had been many years since he had been to the cemetery. He had a basic idea where it was but it still took us two hours of bushwacking to find the site. That is how seldom visited this place is. We then spent two days brushing out a path for the guests to walk into the graveyard and keep it cleared every year.
One of the first headstones you will see is that of 8 year old Wilfred Sheldon Teabo. He was a young boy who tragically drowned in the toxic waters of Fall Creek. Read the caption below from the book “The Town that got Lost” for more information on his death.
The cemetery is about one km for the ocean. The bottom historic photo show the cemetery and the faint white crosses at the base of the hill.
We still have a few spots left in our two day Anyox tour June 3-4, 2017 or June 10-11, 2017. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit one of BC’s largest towns from the early 1900’s
Our Two day “Anyox – The town that got Lost” tour June 3-4, 2017 and June 10-11, 2017 will visit this iconic structure that is till standing almost 100 years later. It was Canada’s tallest dam at one time and is still an amazing structure. Don’t miss your chance to be on of the few people to visit this iconic structure.
The dam was completed in 1923 and was built by hauling pallets of concrete bags up a single guauge railway line operated by electric hoists. The dam is 635 ft long and 137 ft high and 28 000 acre ft of water capacity. In 1923 before the dam was complete heavy rains caused a landslide above the dam and the debris from the slide plugged the penstocks and the water level rose to dangerous levels so much so that they had to evacuate people living in the lower parts of Anyox below. The water eventually subsided and the dam was completed.
How many of you would jump at a chance to be taken back in time to the 80’s ? Well…… it is now possible through the Ghost Towns of Northwest BC Tour where we visit the town of Kitsault. Our exclusive access to this 1980’s ghost town will take you back in time to 1983 when the moly mine closed and the towns residents were told to pack up and leave. The town has been left as is for 35 years. Complete with a shopping mall, swimming pool, fully equipped hospital, curling rink, movie theatre, library, pub, gymnasium, stores, apartments and houses. How many of you remember the harvest gold appliances? you will be re-aquainted as you spend the night in one of the 1908 apartments complete with harvest gold stoves and fridges. You do not want to miss an opportunity to be one of the few people allowed exclusive access to this town and btw who wouldn’t jump at the chance to go back in time!
One of the iconic towns of the Skeena River is the town of Port Essington. Founded by Robert Cunningham in 1871 and a fall camping spot of the Tsimshian known as Spokeshute this site has over a wealth of interesting sites and features that will truly amaze you! A jungly 100 year cemetery with hundreds of moss covered headstones, a grisly boneyard of cow skulls and bones, a one km long boardwalk falling into disrepair, pilings protruding out of the brackish river on their last legs, a boiler form the Cunningham sawmill, old bottles, trinkets, and remnants from over 100 years of habitation. The One day Port Essington Experience will jet boat you back in time to a place that few have visited and explored.
On all of our trips our guest really make the trips. We have had so many interesting people participate in the tours and it has been great to get to know them over a short period. Many of them are repeat guests that are coming back for another tour the following year. We always like to to take a lot of photos on the tours for marketing purposes and many of these now include photos of guests participating in the tours. Here are some photos from last August’s Ghost Towns of Northwest BC Tour. This year’s tour is starting to fill up and will be another great tour to some of northwest BC’s most remote and inaccessible Ghost Towns.
A big part of the history of the Skeena River and Upper Fraser River involved the use of Sternwheelers to transport people, equipment, supplies, furs and food up and down the rivers which were the main transportation routes. Almost all of the sternwheelers used wood to fed the boilers which in turn powered the large paddles at the rear of the ship. Wood was a readily available resource that grew adjacent to the river and could easily be cut and split into 3-4 ft sections and piled into cords by local contractors. The term Cordwood became part of everyday language as it was a necessity for every day travel. The cordwood cutters would get around $3-4 a cord for each one that was used by the boats. They would cut it and stack it next to the river at strategic points so that there was always an available supply along the routes that they traveled. The sternwheelers could burn 1-3 cords and hour depending on the size of the boilers and how hard they ran the boat. This was for upstream navigation only as downstream typically used a fraction of this as they used the current for most of their power. Passengers were typically enlisted to help with the loading of the cordwood at the supply points. some boats could hold up to 10 cords of wood at one time. It was one crew members job to continually feed the boilers with wood the entire time the boat was moving.
Ironically the Sternwheelers faded into obscurity in the 1912 -1920′s as the railway replaced the need for them. The last use of the sternwheelers was the assisting with goods and supplies to build the railway.
On the Skeena River the last sternwheeler the “Inlander ” did its last trip in 1912. Why this is interesting is that there are still piles of old cordwood lying along the banks of the river that were never consumed. In one location that we visit there are 6 piles lying adjacent to the river and they are in different stages of rot and decay but they can still be identified. For some reason I find this fascinating that these piles are over 100 years old and are one of the only remnants of the historic Sternwheeler days. If you want to visit these piles you can always join one of our tours that visits them or send me a note and I would be happy to provide you directions to them.
One of the most photographed items on our visits to Port Essington is the abandoned boat lying in the deep sedge grass. I was fortunate enough to find out some more information on the boat and acquire a photo of the boat when it was seaworthy. The boats name is the Hi-Lo and it was a small crab fishing boat that plied the inner water of the coast in search of crabs. The lady who told me about it said that she remembers fishing on it it with her grandfather and rolling out a sleeping mat on top of the warm engine compartment at night time to go to sleep. The boat looks a little worse every year we go back there but still stands out prominently in the dark green sedge grass. We visit Port Essington on a few of our tours and we are doing a Brand New one day tour to Port Essington May 27, 2017. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit the town that still “Stands Guard over the Mouth of the Skeena”