Though Carmi is technically a ghost town, its memory is kept alive to residents and passersby who view this village sign depicting their rich history located on Hwy. 33 at the junction of Dale Avenue. Carmi is located on the west side of West Kettle River and the Carmi Mine emerged as a silver mining camp in the early 1900’s.
Carmi got its start when a wandering prospector by the name of James Dale, who was working his way up the West Fork of the Kettle River, came across a showing of quartz diorite on the south side of the river. Prospecting the area, he found gold bearing chalcopyrite on the surface. He staked the outcrop and named it “The Carmi,” after his hometown of Carmi, Illinois.
By 1899 the Carmi Mine was shipping ore to the Greenwood smelter, nearly 50 miles to the east. It continued producing in 1900 with more than an ounce of gold andfour ounces of silver to the ton. In short time, a collection of shacks grew up around the mine. In 1900 Mr. Dale sold the Carmi claim to London, England, interests who carried out operations under the name Carmi Mining Company. By 1910, Carmi boasted a hotel, several stores, and more than twenty houses. A western extension of the main vein had been developed on a claim called “The Butcher Boy”.
The veins in the mines were unpredictable, showing both high and then low values, but seldom profitable for any length of time. The mine passed through a series of owners from the English syndicate, to American interests, and then Canadian companies, all convinced they could turn a huge profit. A stamp mill was built, and the town slowly grew, establishing a business district, a post office, a school, and a population of around 200. The Kettle Valley Railway tracks ran nearly through the centre of the town.
Despite the belief of James Dale and Robert Kerr of the mines potential, Carmi never quite made it. The ore bodies of nearby Cranberry Ridge never matched those of Wallace mountain, so Carmi was gradually replaced by Beaverdell , the mining town at the base of that mountain, as the major mining camp in that area.
Carmi Train Station
The town limped along into the 1930’s, hoping for the big strike that never came, and by the 1960’s Carmi virtually ceased to exist as mining activities ground to a halt. Today, old Carmi is a ghost camp. The abandoned workings of the mines still scar the slopes of Cranberry Ridge.
The old hotel, once owned by “Trapper” Smith continues to command the view of the town, along with the dozen or more buildings that still stand. From 1901 to 1940, 5,270 tons of ore were shipped from the Carmi property. From this ore 2,827 ounces of gold, 8,989 ounces of silver, 7,009 pounds of lead, and 16,101 pounds of zinc were recovered.