Lowhee Creek

Lowhee Creek is a stream in central British Columbia, which has become noted as an important contribution to the placer gold production of the Cariboo Mining Division. The creek is fifty miles east of Quesnel, flowing north and west, and empties into Jack Of Clubs Lake. Before it was mined by hydraulicking monitors, it was a small creek about two and a half miles long, perhaps three or four feet wide, with a moderate grade from its head at Stouts Gulch to the valley of Jack of Clubs Lake.

Richard Willoughby, an Englishman, discovered the creek in 1861, and was the first man to work on it. He named it in honor of the “Great Lowhee,” a secret society in Yale, B.C., in which he was a prominent member. From July 27 to September 6, 1861, a period of 43 days, Willoughby and from four to seven men worked the creek near the mouth with rockers and long-toms, and from a strip 400 feet long and 12 feet wide they recovered 3,037 ounces of gold. All the gold was found at or within four feet to bedrock which was reported as a “soft blue slaty clay yielding readily to the pick.”

Willoughby’s last week’s work yielded 106 ounces. Two weeks previous he netted 52 ounces a week for each working hand on the claim. His largest day’s return was 84 ounces of gold, valued at $160,000 today. Willoughby sold his claim in the same year and returned to Yale.

A Mr. Patterson and a brother were reported to have recovered about 525 ounces for five week’s work shortly after Willoughby’s departure. Their largest day’s return was 33 ounces. The gold was rough and ragged, and had a fineness of 930. It is said that six to ten-ounce nuggets were frequently found.

During the Seventies and Eighties the whole channel to within a few hundred feet of Watson’s Gulch, a distance of about 8000 feet, was drift-mined. When the remaining ground was too poor to make drift-mining profitable, hydraulic plants were erected at the lower end of Lowhee Creek, and the hydraulicking of the old channel was started.

During the summer of 1947, the Lowhee Mining Company Limited, of Tacoma, Washington, operated the hydraulic plant on Lowhee Creek. The sluice-flume was about 7500 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 feet deep. Before 1943, the tailings were allowed to run into Jack Of Clubs Lake, resulting in a large alluvial fan which stretched to the Willow River, and upon which the townsite of Wells and South Wells is built.

Lowhee Creek has been a remarkable placer creek. For more than 100 years it has been worked continuously, providing work and abundant wealth through its life. Recorded production from 1874 to 1945 was 75,000 ounces of gold, valued at over 142 million dollars today.

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