From Washington State’s best kept secret, to icy deserted camps, these are Ghost Towns of The American West | Part 1
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8.Barkerville | B.C.
Historians say that the town of Barkerville, located in the Cariboo Mountains of British Columbia, triggered a multi billion dollar industry... Of course it was gold, its always gold with these 1800s ghost towns isn’t it ?
Seriously though, if it wasn’t for Barkerville and similar towns propping up during the Cariboo Gold Rush, British Columbia might look a LOT different nowadays.
The town was founded in 1862 by William “Billy” Barker, an English prospector, and boy did it grow quick. As soon as word spread about the massive amounts of gold in the nearby mountains, thousands of prospectors looking to better their life made their way into town. At one point 5000 people lived here, the hysteria eventually yielded a total of 2,350lb (1,065kg) of gold.
7. Bennett | B.C
6. Moyie | B.C
Moyie is pronounced “mo-yee” but really fast so that it sounds like you’re saying “moyyyy”. Don’t say the “mo” and the “yee” separate, it’s all connected. Okay, now that we have our etymology lesson done, we can talk about how Moyie came to be known as a ghost town even though it still has residents.
Moyie is located in southeastern British Columbia, about 30 miles north the U.S. border at Montana. Before Moyie was even founded, a massive area of an important source of silver, called “Galena”, was discovered near the town’s main source of water, Moyie Lake. That was in 1893. Fast forward to 1897, and the town was founded and developed by a man named Glencairn Campbell (no relation to the better-known Glen Campbell: the famous 1970’s “Southern Nights” singer). Moyie was founded because of its close proximity to the Canadian Pacific Railway and tote roads that were built for supplies. (A tote road is a road built specifically for stagecoaches to bring supplies to rural towns). Back then, a town located close to a railroad was a sure-fire sign that it was going to be a prosperous city. Moyie did not become the glorious, thriving city everyone had hoped for, but it did prove to be a quaint place to live! By 1901, Moyie’s pride and glory was its brothels and saloons located right on the lake. There were some wholesome elements, too, of course: hotels, St. Peter’s church, a train station, and a school. Overall, the town was home to mostly males who were workers in the mine.
The mine in Moyie was called “St. Eugene’s” mine because Nicolas Coccola, who was probably mistaken for the inventor of Coca-cola several times, was the head of the St. Eugene Mission. 1909 was the mine’s best year, with 450 men working actively for silver deposits. Unfortunately, by 1920, the census of both St. Eugene’s mine and the entire town of Moyie drastically dropped to just 120. Honestly, they probably just completely drained the mine of silver and left to find more.
5. Yale | B.C.
4. Index | Washington
Index is the smallest town in western Washington, boasting a population of 160. It is located in northwest Washington, about one hour north of Seattle. Despite its current humble state, the town began with high hopes. All the way back in 1893, when millions of prospectors were searching for gold and silver, two young hopefuls had a different vision for this small community in western Washington. And their vision was in the shape of logs. Yes! Logs! Tree trunks! In addition to mining and recreation, they saw the potential for a thriving logging economy.
Amos and Persis Gunn, a husband and wife duo, who were probably on a romantic vacation, exited their honeymoon phase with a plot of land. Most people just get used to living with each other first, but you know, to each his own. Anyways, the couple initially settled in Snohomish County for Amos’ work as a miner, but they staked a claim on the plot of land because it was basically the Holy Trinity of resources. It was right on the Skykomish River, in the middle of the woods (hello, trees), and was near already-established trails leading to operating gold and silver mines. It truly was a melting pot of potential success. No, but really, it was an actual pot: a valley situated between a 6,000-foot mountain and a 1,000-foot granite cliff. Persis took one look at the mountain and said: “Wow, that looks like an index finger!” And without missing a beat, Amos proved his undying love to his wife by naming it Index Mountain. Nice work, Amos.
3. Maryhill | Washington
2. Monte Cristo | Washington
1. Port Gamble | Washington