Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ABC Wednesday

and the letter this week is M

M is for Mascot Mine

Located some twenty miles northwest of Keremeos where the old buildings of the Mascot Mine cling to the side of the mountain that towers above Hedley, ( which the Sukwnaginx people of the Similkameen called 'the place of the striped rock')

the rock face of the mountain upon which the Mascot Mine is located

The Mascot Mine Story (available in the Hedley Museum, tells us that by 1898 almost all of the Nickel Plate Mountain had been staked, but Duncan Woods, a hard luck prospector had learned that "prospectors 
tended not to bother pounding claim-stakes on terrain inclined toward the vertical".

"Woods identified an unclaimed sliver and in the summer of 1899 hired a local packer, George Cahill, to go up and take a look.  Cahill did and staked a claim for Woods on the very edge of the precipice which plunges some 2900 feet down" into Hedley.  This cliff face working surface was not conducive to attracting development money, and in 1904, when the main mining company on the mountain decided they might be interested they sent their superintendent to talk to Woods.  Alas, the man so angered the old prospector that he vowed he would "eat road apples and old shirts"  rather than let this mining company dig one shovelful of ore from his claim.

It would be 1931 until Woods was able to make a deal with a group of energetic businessmen from the Coast.  The mill started operating on May 5th, 1936.  By 1941 it had yielded almost a million dollars in dividends.

It was about this time that Charles became part of the operation, working for part of a year in the Mascot Mine before he joined the R.C.A.F.  He tells hairy tales of the mode of transportation supplied for shift workers.  The mill site was some 950 metres below the mine mouth, and to connect the two " a mile-long aerial tramway consisting of two pairs of precisely parallel cables upon which danced a pair of three-ton bottom-dump cars - plain rectangular gondolas hanging from two tandem-wheeled axels."

"The loaded weight of the descending car powered the system, and controlled the speed with a huge brake.  Whatever needed to get to the mine, including shift changes rode to the top in the ascending car".

The Mascot Mine has had its ups and downs.  In the 1990s it was felt worthwhile to work the tailing ponds from the mine, and when that enterprise was exhausted there was talk of burning the original buildings of the mine, perched above the town, lest some crime or accident would find the owners liable.

However, the potential of the mine site as a Tourist attractions resulted in the Provincial Government making handsome donations to the cause.  The Upper Similkameen Indian Band made badly needed repairs to the buildings and the Hedley Heritage Museum Society lent its support to the project.

In June of 2003 the Similkameen Band obtained a grant of $300,000.00 "to retrofit the abandoned Mine and make it a site for adventure tourism by developing an interpretive program that not only complements the view but also gives people a feel for what happened here 50 or 60 years ago"

Click here  and here for the story of this enterprise and for pictures of the Mine site as it is today.

My thanks for information obtained in part from an article by Donald Malcolm Wilson www.crowsnest-highway.ca

What else has M to tell us, - click here to go to ABC Wednesday to find out.


Kcalpesh said...

What a breathtaking view of a beautiful tourist site!

Pixellicious Photos

magiceye said...


jabblog said...

Marvellous piece of history. It's good that it has been preserved to serve as a reminder of the back-breaking work that the miners did.

Jay said...

Wow, beautiful place and fascinating story, too! I'm glad he held out, even if it did take decades before he saw his money!

Manang Kim said...

Oh wow this is the place where I like to go to and take pictures everywhere. The view is breathtaking! Happy Wednesday!

ABC Wednesday~M

Roger Owen Green said...

Very interesting history, but I must admit a bit of vertigo.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Wanda said...

Such a beautiful view Hildred, those buildings do look perched a little too close to the edge for my comfort, though.

Sheila said...

Your first picture makes me feel dizzy! A fascinating story and an amazing place.

Barb said...

I am amazed by the steepness where the buildings were placed for the mine town. You wouldn't want to roll out of bed!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Such an interesting read! Thank you!