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History of Granite Creek

 

 

Gold was first discovered on Granite Creek during the time when prospectors were rushing North to the Interior of B.C. around 1858.  The area was considered low grade, abandoned by the White miners, and mined by the Chinese for the next 25 years.  You can still see the “tailings” or piles of rock the Chinese moved by hand to get to the gold between the Granite Creek Campground and the junction of Granite Creek and the Tulameen River. In July of 1885, a major gold strike occurred, and by the end of the year, Granite Creek had grown to over 2,000 people, mostly miners looking for their “bonanza”.  By 1886, there were 40 houses, six saloons, seven stores, and several hotels, and it was reported to be the third largest community in B.C., if not in size, certainly in stature.  That year, gold production reached its peak with $193,000 reported, but undoubtedly it was much higher.  There was a lot of platinum mixed in with the gold, and to the early prospectors it was an annoyance because it couldn’t be separated from the gold by panning.  They called it “white iron” and threw hundreds of pounds of it back into the river, to be covered up by tailings, although eventually its worth became known, and the miners hoarded it.  There is a legend that a Scandinavian prospector named Johanssen collected 25 pounds of platinum and buried it in a bucket near his cabin at Granite Creek.  There is no proof that there ever was a cache of platinum, and no record of Johanssen has been found in mining reports, census records or directories for Granite Creek.  Over the years, the old town site has become pockmarked from digging and vandalized by treasure hunters looking for the fabled cache. Today, digging and camping in the town site is not permitted.

 

The gold supply eventually ran out, and by the turn of the century, Granite Creek was virtually deserted, although limited hydraulic mining, sluicing, and dredging continued for several decades.  There was a major fire on April 4, 1907, one of several which destroyed most of the derelict buildings.  You can get to Granite Creek by crossing the bridge over the Tulameen river on the south side of Coalmont, and turning left.  The bridge is at the foot of Bettes Ave., one block east of Parrish Ave.  About a kilometer later on a good gravel road, you’ll find the old townsite on a plateau overlooking Granite Creek, and just across the creek, the campground. The old Cemetery is up the hill overlooking the town site, on your right as you take the road to Blakeburn, and is still in use by the residents of Coalmont.  A lot of the old gravesites are still visible, dating back to the heyday of this once bustling town.  The Granite Creek Post Office, in operation since 1886, closed in 1918 when Blakeburn was established.

 

Official Status:

On June 6, 2013, the Ghost Town of Granite Creek and the Cemetery overlooking it were added to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Heritage Register for Area H. On September 3rd of the same year, the Granite Creek Preservaton Society was formed to collect, study and preserve the history, site and artifacts of Granite Creek. Please visit their website at www.granitecreekbc.ca

 

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