Rare early map of Rossland, British Columbia, in the Kootenay District, in the year of the great Rossland Gold Rush.
The present map shows Rossland at the beginning of its boom period, during which time it would become one of the largest cities in Western Canada. The map shows the town of Rossland, the Red Mountain Railway, Columbia & Western Railway and the several Wagon Roads which were constructed between 1892 and 1897, in order to exploit the rich Rossland discovery. The remainder of the map is filled with the various mining claims, including the Le Roi, War Eagle and Center Star claims (just above and to the left of the town), the first three major claims of the Rossland gold rush. The lands of the Canadian Gold Fields Syndicate are shown with a red finger.
The map was prepared by H.R. Knapp, which apparently had offices in both Rossland and Spokane and copyrighted by H.R. Knapp in the US and C.H. Ellagottat.
Rossland was first discovered in July 1887 by two prospectors, George Leyson and George Bowerman, who were exploring in the area of Deer Park Mountain, after coming over from the nearby Dewdney Trail. After working all summer and taking several tons of ore from an 18 foot shaft, they concluded that the mine was not productive and abandoned it. In 1889, Oliver Bordeau and Newlin Hoover relocated the claim and named it the Lily May. The two men hired Joe Moris to help with the assessment work necessary to validate the claim under provincial mining law. Moris next joined Joe Bourgeois in prospecting the Red Mountain area, where they laid down five claims on July 2, 1890.
Moris and Borgeois went to Nelson to have the claims assayed. After relatively disappointing results, they asked the E.S. Topping, the Deputy Recorder in Nelson, if he would put up the money to register 4 of the 5 claims ($12.50), in exchange for ownership of the 5th Claim, which would beome the Le Roi mine, the first of Rossland's famous mines.
In November 1890, Topping travelled to Spokane, where he met with Oliver Durant, who had made a name in the Coeur D'Alene mines. They reached agreement to do some exploratory work and if successful the mine would be valued at $30,000, with 51% sold to Durrant and his investment syndicate. At the same time, Moris and Bourgeois had located American investors for the War Eagle and Centre Star mines. Because the 3 major mines were controlled by American investors, a route to Spokane was created. In 1892, the Spokane Railway was extended to Northport, Washington, and a road was built to Rossland. A second wagon road was built in 1893 connecting Rossland with Trail Landing on the Columbia River.
Following the financial panic of 1893, work on the mines began again in earnest in 1894. With renewed interest, Patsy Clark, who worked the War Eagle mine, signed a contract in December 1894 with the East Helena Montana Smelting Company to supply at least 1,000 tons of ore per month. As word of this massive contract got out, the rush to Rossland began. In the next 3 years, two local smelters were constructed and two additional railroad connections were built.
In 1898 the Le Roi mine was sold to the British American Corporation for just over three million dollars. Once the mine came into production, Le Roi stock jumped from fifty cents a share to $40 almost overnight. The population of Rossland exploded as gold fever attracted men from around the world, and Rossland became one of the largest cities in Western Canada and a major business center in North America.
Many of the Rossland mines such as the Center Star, Le Roi, War Eagle, Josie, etc., became world famous. These mines were worked over the next forty years, creating the town of Rossland. By 1897, the population had increased to 7,000, with 42 saloons, 4 banks and 17 law firms. A smelter was built in the valley below, giving birth to the city of Trail. The mines and smelter were amalgamated in 1906 to form the company now known as Cominco.
OCLC locates 1 copy (British Library)