The first discovery in the area was near the mouth of Keithley Creek in July, 1860, by W.R. (Doc) Keithley, who, in October of that year, recorded a claim of his discovery of placer gold on the Cariboo River (then called the North Fork of the Quesnel River) about 12 miles upstream from Quesnel Forks. In October 1860, thirty to forty men were working on Keithley Creek.
Placer gold workings have been situated at a number of sites along Keithley Creek for 8 kilometres from its mouth. One of the main areas of activity was on the Kitchener Pit claim located about two kilometres upstream from the mouth of the creek. A considerable amount of underground work was carried out on a bench situated over 30 metres above the creek. Around 1920, hydraulic operations largely replaced underground mining.
The historic Kitchener Pit, for the period 1874 to 1945, recorded production of 1,100,891 grams of gold. This mine is currently in production.
In 1987, Placer Lease 29 was put into production on a joint venture basis and approximately 7600 cubic yards of pay gravels were washed yielding 118 ounces (3670 grams) of 800-900 fine gold. Noble Metal Group Inc., processed gravels in 1997 and 1998. In 1998, processing of 8994 cubic yards yielded 18,018 grams.
The tremendous new discoveries made on Antler, Cunningham, Snowshoe, Little Snowshoe, French Snowshoe, Williams, Lowhee, Lightning, and other creeks in 1861 and 1862 drew men away from Keithley Creek. The early placer activity on Keithley Creek subsided rapidly and was overshadowed by the discoveries on other creeks to the north.
The Keithley Creek area is undoubtedly rich in gold and continues to hold a significant position as an established producing area. Larger, richer placer deposits than those traditionally mined here are likely buried under a thick layer of overburden which earlier miners could not easily move. When considering the wealth of the many smaller nearer to surface deposits that had been proven to exist, the potential for larger moderately to deeply buried deposits have immense appeal.
In addition, the placer rich creeks of Snowshoe, Little Snowshoe, and French Snowshoe form a significant part of the drainage network that feeds Keithley Creek.