Gold Of The Monashee

The area surrounding Monashee Mountain was one of the earliest productive mining districts in Western Canada. In 1863 a small bonanza silver lode, later known as the Hidden Treasure, was discovered on Monashee Creek. A small amount of ore was taken to the coast for processing in 1864.

The most important mineral production in the area has been placer gold from Cherry and Monashee creeks and their tributaries north and west of Monashee Mountain. In 1865, Cherry Creek made news when it was reported that the Cherry Creek Gold and Silver Mining Company had discovered a rich gold and silver quartz lead on the creek.  Unfortunately, this claim was never proven and a brush fire destroyed the Cherry Creek Company’s cabins and mine workings.  By 1876, placer gold was reported in quantity on Cherry Creek by both white and Chinese miners. .That year 20 men were reported working on Cherry Creek.  Yields were $4-$5 a day.  Although this gold was fine, some nuggets were found, one weighing 8.5 ounces.  The placer gold from this creek is unusually high in silver with the fineness running around .720 fine.   

With more miners heading into the Cherry Creek area, a route from Lumby was built by the British Columbia Department of Public Works in the summer of 1877.  At that time the road was a mere eight feet wide track.  With this new road, families began to arrive in the area.

Between 1863 and 1895, the original area grew into a small mining camp boasting a population of more than 100 people, half of which were Chinese miners. Minor gold production from creeks on the south side of Monashee Mountain started in 1877 with the discovery of placer gold in the Kettle River drainage. Starting in 1889, a Mr. Marsh drove about 760 metres (2,500′) of tunnel along the top of the bedrock under what is now Marsh Creek. Production figures are unreliable but reportedly gold was present in old fluvial deposits beneath glacial till. Mr. Marsh abandoned the project because of rotting and collapsing timbers and poor health.

From 1863 to 1930 numerous mining companies operated in the area. It had been calculated that over $125,000 worth of gold had been extracted from Cherry Creek.  This figure was calculated when gold was selling at $7.50 an ounce.  By today’s prices, that would be approximately $112,000,000.

No reliable figures are available for placer gold production in the Monashee area. Estimates of as much as 4,665,500 grams (150,000 ounces) produced during the 1880’s have been published, but the British Columbia Ministry of Mines records production of only slightly over 155,500 grams (5,000 ounces). Sporadic minor placer gold production from creeks in the area continues to the present.

Lode gold was apparently first discovered in the area in 1879 and the first claims were staked on the “Monashee gold ledge” on the west flank of Monashee Mountain in 1886. This property later became the Monashee Mine and yielded at least 2,500 tonnes of ore containing 15,645 grams (503 ounces) of gold between 1890 and about 1940.

About 1890 a trapper, Mr. Morgan, located the first claims on top of Monashee Mountain. This property, the Morgan, was on a group of four crown granted mineral claims held by St. Paul Mines Ltd. The Silver Bell, another high grade gold-silver prospect was located on the north side of Monashee Creek about 7 kilometres north of Monashee Mountain in 1903.

In 1916, the St. Paul Mine showings were located on the north flank of Monashee Mountain, about 600 metres north of the Morgan. A complex polymetallic ore was discovered with values in gold, silver, arsenic, antimony, copper, lead and zinc. There was apparently little exploration work in the area until the early 1980’s when Brican Resources Ltd. and Mohawk Oil Co. Ltd. acquired large blocks of claims, east and west of Monashee Pass respectively. During the 1980’s, both companies carried out several programs of stream sediment and soil geochemical surveys, geophysical surveys, geological mapping, surface trenching, and limited drilling in a search for gold-silver mineralization. Several known mineral occurrences were extended by this work and several anomalies were noted. Brican did no work after 1983. Mohawk continued working on the Pita claims, west of Monashee Pass until about 1986. The claims were allowed to lapse in 1992.

Presently, Monashee Creek, Putnam, Barnes, Eureka and the Kettle River continue to give up their gold and provide excellent opportunities for the tenacious miner. 

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