One our Ultimate Ghost Town Adventure we visit two of Northern BC’s most unique ghosts towns which are essentially neighbors. The early 1900 silver mining town of Alice Arm was home to the Dolly Varden Mine and railway while Kitsault just across the inlet was home to the early 1980’s molydenum mine of Kitsault. Alice Arm still buzzes with hoped of finding the next big silver “find” as exploration crews still scour the valley in the summer. Other than that the town is largely abandoned with a scattering of locals who spend the summer in the town.
Across the inlet is the modern day ghost town of Kitsault. It was a complete town that was built on the premise of strong moly prices for years, but after a couple of years the price of moly crashed and the mine was shut down. The fully serviced town with shopping mall, swimming pool, basketball court, curling rink, hospital, pub, movie theater, apartments and houses sat vacant until 2005 when Viriginia business man bought the town sight unseen for 5.7 million dollars. The town has still sat vacant other than caretakers and a summer crew of maintenance people.
Everything still remains relatively eerily as it was in 1982. We are fortunate enough to be granted access to tour the town and also stay overnight in it.
We will be heading back to Kitsault and Alice Arm, August 17-18, 2019 for any of you that are interested. Here are some photos from last year.
We are excited for the upcoming year of Adventure Tours through UNBC Continuing Studies. Every year the tours get better as we fine tune all the small details. Most tours are only delivered once a year and occasionally twice if sufficient demand well in advance of the tour date. These tours are not geared towards academic students but rather those with an interest in adventure and experiencing northern BC. The tours have a small group size of upto 10-12 guests at he most and rely heavily on guest speakers and authentic locals that share their knowledge about the places we visit. Our average age of our guests is around 60 years old and some as old as 85. We do have younger people join us as well but predominantly it is an older clientele.
I thought I would share 10 photos form last year that highlight some of the trips we did.
Why would the word “STOLEN” be stenciled onto a light bulb!
You are about to find out. The 1911-1935 Copper Smelting town of Anyox which is about 145 km north of Prince Rupert is only accessible by boat. This town was a company town owned by Granby Consolidated. They provided all the houses, electricity, sewer, water, store, transportation but one they they did not provide was “Light Bulbs”! The company provided light bulbs for the factories, equipment shops, store, offices and smelter but not for the houses. They were going through an increased number of light bulbs and soon realized that some unscrupulous residents were taking company light bulbs for their own residential use.
The company quickly came up with a plan to stop this unauthorized use.
Their plan was to contract their supplier who would stamp all the official light bulbs with the word “STOLEN” in large capital letters, as this would discourage use of them in the residences and rooming houses.”
This worked for some of the more honest residents or those who were not willing to take the shame of displaying the words “STOLEN” on their lights.
Others were not as worried, and proudly lit up their houses with the words stolen reflecting on the walls of the house.
There were even stories of some families asking their children to take a piece of emory cloth and rub the bulbs as it made for a “brighter” light while the children unknowingly removed the stigma of the stenciled “STOLEN”.
Anyox is a ghost town full of interesting stories and remnants. That is why we will be visiting this remarkable ghost town again June 2-3, 2018. Contact us for more information on making the trip with us.
The Anyox Powerhouse is always one of the highlights for guests on the “Town that got Lost” tour!. Even though a lot of the equipment inside was removed it is still a surreal experience with all the rusted iron and steel remnants providing a glimpse into the past. Amazingly a few plants and shrubs have taken root amongst the industrial wasteland, giving it an even eerier feeling.
Constructed in 1911, Powerhouse No. 1 was the heart of the mining and community operations, providing electricity for the smelter, machine shops and other mining operations, as well as the town, until the mine closed in 1936. Secondary powerhouses and substations in the mine site produced electricity for the ore-haulage railway trolleys and other equipment. Constructed of brick and steel, 50 feet wide by 180 feet long, the building’s concrete foundations are laid on solid rock. Brick for the Powerhouse was originally imported from Sidney Island. Later brick, for refurbishing the building, was likely produced at the brickworks on the Anyox site. The building is a massive, elegant structure with an unobstructed interior volume. Ten bays with curved window openings and clerestory windows along both sides of the upper portion of the roof contribute to an impressive facade. A 15-ton crane, used to move the machinery, runs the entire length of the interior of the building.
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.