The discovery of Camp McKinney was made in 1884 by two placer miners, who uncovered free gold-bearing quartz. The camp, however, takes its name from Al McKinney, who located the first mineral claim, staking out the now famous Cariboo mine. Camp McKinney has been ever since a more or less active field for prospectors and miners. It is situated at an altitude of 4,600 feet, on round-topped hills, almost midway between Penticton and Greenwood. It is bounded on two sides by the forks of Rock Creek, while Rice Creek flows through the centre. Rock Creek, a short distance in the direction of Greenwood, was in the sixties a very active placer mining camp, and several million dollars are said to have been taken from there. In later years, the deposits have only been worked at intervals.
Camp McKinney Gold Exhibit 1934.
Camp McKinney is in the Greenwood Mining Division on the Rock Creek drainage, about 9 miles north of the International Boundary and 6 miles north of Bridesville on the trans-provincial highway. A branch road leaves the highway 3 miles east of Bridesville and passes through the camp westerly to Oliver. The camp is on the lower slopes of Baldy Mountain that attains a summit elevation of 7,558 feet.
Al McKinney and Fred Rice staked a claim in 1888 which eventually became the Caribou Mine. By 1901, the population of McKinney was 250. Hotels such as St. Louis, Sailor, Camp McKinney, McBoyle & West’s, Cariboo and Miner’s exchange competed for the miners’ trade. The business section of town consisted of five saloons, three general stores, a drug store, a real estate office, butcher shop, a school and a church. In 1901, 16,862 tons of ore yielded 9,439 ounces of gold bullion, and 428 tons of concentrates. However, gold mining declined in the area, the Cariboo Mine closed in December 1903 and Camp McKinney became a ghost town.
Several unsuccessful attempts were made to revive the camp from 1907. Today, all that is left is a cemetery and a few abandoned workings.
Lost Gold Bars
On August 18, 1896, George B. McAulay of Spokane, Washington, one of the major shareholders in the Cariboo mine, left Camp McKinney for Midway. McAulay had three gold bricks valued at more than $10,000 (more than 1 million today). He was robbed half an hour later on his way to Midway. Cariboo Mining Company posted a $3,000 reward for information leading to recovery of the gold bars. The bars were never recovered. It is believed the bars were hidden or buried somewhere in the area, close by Camp McKinney still waiting to be discovered.