Placer gold has been known in the lower Coquihalla since the mid- 1800s. G.M. Dawson in 1877 reports that: One point of particular interest with respect to the schistose and slaty rocks of the Boston Bar series and their representatives in the area of the present map is their auriferous character.
Part Of A 1923 Map Depicting The Coquihalla River.
The ‘Boston Bar Series’ is now called the Ladner Group. Lode Gold production was first achieved in the Hope Area during 1905 from the Ward Mine on Siwash Creek in the northern part of the Coquihalla Gold Belt. The start of construction of the Kettle Valley Railway through the Coquihalla Valley in 1912 stimulated prospecting activities. On September 8, 1913, M. Menick located the Emancipation Claim overlooking the railway grade between Ladner and Fifteen Mile Creeks about 1.5 km northwest of the Harv Claim. Between May 1916 and November 1919, shipments totalling 118.2 tons of high-grade, hand-sorted ore netted a gross return of $35,683.83 or $302.22 per ton with gold at $20.67 per ton.
During 1927, trenching continued at the Aurum Mine on Ladner Creek, 6 km northwest of the Harv Claim within the East Hozameen Fault. As this trenching was extended, astonishing values in free gold in a talcose shear zone were revealed. This startling discovery changed the entire picture of the camp because it called, attention to a rock type that had received little attention in the past and was known to be widespread.
Claims were staked rapidly over several miles along the strip of country in which the serpentine was present. At Aurum Mine, spectacular small pockets of gold were encountered. A newspaper article in the Star on October 22, 1930, describes some of the high grade: If it is of interest to note that from the top of stope of No. 1 to , No. 5 raise, some 10 sacks of ore taken showed values over $5,892 per ton.
This was when gold was $20.67 per ounce.
The Harv Claim area has been investigated since the early days starting around 1913. This early work was mainly confined to surface stripping and trenching of quartz veins on the “Morning Group”. Cairnes (1920) records that: The largest showing in this group is found on the Broken Hill claim at an elevation of 2,500 feet on the precipitous slope of the hill overlooking Dewdney Creek. There, a quartz vein, varying in width from a few inches to nearly 10 feet and traceable for at least 200 feet is exposed.
In 1980 and 1983, Altar Gold and Resources completed programs of soil and rock sampling, geological mapping and a 15.6 line-kilometre ground magnetic survey. In 2000 and 2001, Hillsbar Gold completed a program of prospecting and geological mapping on the area as the Plat 3 claim. In 2012, New Caroline Gold completed 434.4 line-kilometres of combined electromagnetic, magnetic and radiometric airborne geophysical surveys on the area.
The Brady placer gold occurrence is located on a bar on the Coquihalla River, nearly opposite the mouth of Peers (Pierre) Creek. From 1914 to 1916, John Brady and L.W. Cherry recovered coarse gold by sluicing gravel taken from shafts and from the bank of the Coquihalla River. A wing-dam and a flume 30 metres long were constructed by 1915.
Historic placer claims extend approximately 8.0 kilometres along Sowaqua Creek, extending up from the creek mouth on the Coquihalla River. The creek flows through the Coquihalla Serpentine Belt which is comprised chiefly of serpentinite intersected by a number of large and small dikes, less regular masses of diorite and a few dikes of quartz porphyry.
In the 1920s, considerable surface sluicing was done with several open-cuts and trenching along the low benches, which occur along Sowaqua Creek. Three or more shafts were sunk; the deepest was approximately 18 metres below the water level of Sowaqua Creek. This shaft consisted of an upper 3.6 metres of blue clay that carried gold values; the rest of the shaft comprised of well-sorted sands with angular small and coarse gravels. Values of gold and platinum were obtained from these gravels. Other shafts along the north bank of the creek also produced substantial gold. At this time, a small amount of placer gold was also produced from the Serpentine Lake area by Reward Mining Company.
These operations are reported to have yielded approximately 7298 grams of gold and $600 in platinum.
During 2008 through 2012, panning of gravels and blue clays from the creek’s north bank, above the junction with Fools Pass Creek to Montigny Creek, resulted in a number of small nuggets, 1 to 3 millimetres in size, a small amount of fine gold and one 2 millimetre platinum nugget. During 2011 through 2014, approximately 260 kilograms of sediment concentrates, taken from a plateau 40 to 50 metres above Montigny Creek, yielded numerous small flakes of gold, totalling 13.8 grams.