Granite Creek was discovered about the middle of July, 1985, by a cowboy by the name of Johnny Chance. Like many other discoveries that have added material wealth to the world, it was purely a “chance” discovery. While riding up the canyon of Granite Creek a mile or so, he noticed small pieces of gold in the cracks of the rocks. Realizing that he had made a bonanza discovery, he informed three of his friends, who were mining down the Similkameen.
Photograph of Johnny Chance circa 1890
The men came up and located the Discovery claim about one-half mile up from where the town now sits. Work commenced at once, and the first sluice boxes on the creek were worked by Wm. Jenkins & Co., who with Mr. Chance, constituted the discovery party. An astonishing fifteen to twenty ounces were recovered in the first day of operation. Mr. Chance sold his share of the Discovery claim to the Chinese who have worked it ever since.
About three-fourths of a mile above the Discovery claim Joseph Florence located a claim that proved very rich, and above him on the creek was opened the Brumley and Briggs claim. This proved to be one of the richest, if not the richest, claim on the creek. A single pan of dirt when washed out was known to have one and one-half ounces of gold. As much as fifteen ounces of gold would be washed out in a day with a rocker. It is hardly likely that this record has been surpassed anywhere on the creek.
Nearly all the gold found on Granite Creek was obtained below the First Fork, or, in the first 3 1/2 miles of the creek. Here, the bedrock was found at a depth of a few feet. Above Newton Creek the gravels were deeper. In 1886, platinum sold in Granite City for 50 cents per ounce. In 1887-1888, its price was $4.00 per ounce. For many years it was thrown away as worthless, and many thousands of ounces were lost. Both gold and platinum occur in the creek, the ration varying from 4 parts gold to 1 part platinum, to equal parts each metal. The proportion of platinum increased higher up the stream, and was greatest in the Newton Creek branch.
The gold is coarse and rough, denoting a local origin, and nuggets from 5 to 7 ounces have been obtained. Some of the nuggets appear to be aggregates of smaller nuggets grown or welded together. The platinum is in smaller nuggets, generally rounded and pitted with holes. No nuggets have been found weighing more than one-half ounce.
The earliest attempt at hydraulicking on this creek was made by R. Stevenson and W.E. Hogg in 1891, where they worked claims lying about 3/4 of a mile upstream. Dredging operations were performed on the creek in the early part of 1930, but was economically unfeasible as the majority of the low-lying gold was already taken.
Total gold production between 1885 and 1945 is estimated at 824,500 grams. Most of this production occured between 1885 and 1890 from gravels in the canyon. A section of the canyon , 6.0 kilometres in length, averaged 9000 grams of gold per 30 metres length. Old channels preserved in a few benches higher up on the valley sides were mined at several locations by tunneling.
Today, the higher banks, which have for the most part been ignored, as well as the bars, offer tremendous potential for the modern prospector.