The Historic Bralorne Gold Camp

Nothing strikes the fancy, nor stirs the juices, like gold fever. Okay, platinum, diamonds, and silver perhaps – as well as agates, opal, jade and copper to mention a few more. But for the purist, however, it will always be the yellow metal. With the recent increase in the price of gold, famous gold camps around the world are getting a second look. One such area is the historic Bralorne gold camp, located about 120 km. northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Interest in the historic Bralorne area dates back to the glorious days of the Cariboo Gold Rush 1858-1864. Before the Victoria Gazette and Victoria Colonist reported prospectors were searching the headwaters of the Bridge River in 1860, only Native Indians hunting and gathering various foods along with the odd trapper and the occasional grizzly bear visited the valley. It was reported that some 10,000 prospectors descended on the region to pan for gold in the creeks in the winter of 1859-60. Like other placer gold camps, astute prospectors sought the lode source of the placer gold – and found it.

In 1865, the Andrew T. Jamieson Expedition explored and examined the country situated between the “Chilcoaeten and Bridge Rivers.” Cadwallader Creek was named to honour the prospector-scout who discovered one of the richest gold strikes in the province. A water powered arrastra drag-stone mill operated on Cadwallader Creek until 1897 when William Young, Nat Coghlan and John Williams packed mining equipment into the Bridge River Valley from the town of Lillooet. By steamboat and packhorse through the rugged mountainous country via Seton Lake and Mission Mountain, three claims were struck – the Lorne, Golden and the Marquis. Together with 49 others, they formed the 1,200-acre holdings of Bralorne, and with the adjoining Pioneer Gold Mine, it would become what was called “The greatest lode operation in the world.”

In 1908, a telegraph line was completed that followed a trail over the McGillivary Creek Pass to Anderson Lake. Another route utilized by miners followed the Hurley River. It was known as, the Old Chilcoten Pass, or the Blue Grouse Trail. A wagon road to the town of Lillooet that followed the Bridge River was completed in 1909.

Since the Bralorne and Pioneer closed due to low gold prices and not lack of gold, today, Bralorne-Pioneer Gold Mines Ltd., headed by Louis Wolfin and son David, is preparing to place the combined operations of the two mines back into production. The re-opening of the Bralorne and Pioneer gold mines is good news for the company as well as the local communities and is providing much needed employment.

3 thoughts on “The Historic Bralorne Gold Camp

  1. My Dad talked about Bralorne and how he worked in the mine in the dirty 30’s and how they would have the hammer and rod competitions where one man would swing the hammer and another man would turn the rod one quarter of a turn on every swing of the hammer(thus drilling the hole for dynamite charges to be set)They would do this continuously for the better part of an hour. Alot of trust involved if you were turning the rod.
    He always said that most of the time that the “big Swedes” would win the competitions.

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  2. I have been at it for the last six years right down too melting my own bars and drying my own brick’s . going to get it looked at Ottawa . Mining has helped me through some very dark time in my life trail .they tryed to kill me broke my skull with a rock and left me dead. Ended up getting put back together thanks too doctor pinn. Anyways I haven’t had trouble ever since. Just keep my nose in the ground always looking for the color.

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  3. The Bralorne gold field’s story is far from over. Some where along this geoligical trend are several “super” giants (a multi million oz deposit). This happens to be one of them.
    Out of reach for the average prospector? Maybe? But that isn’t for us to decide. The dream remains as real as the setting sun.

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