STEEP AND CROOKED: THE MINING RAILROADS OF THE CANADIAN BORDER
By Bill Laux
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TWO RAILROADS — TWO SMELTERS 1896 – 1898
With the completion of Heinze’s Trail Creek Tramway, the future of the two communities, Trail and Rossland, seemed assured. On June 19, 1896, editor Thompson of the Trail Creek News, rhapsodized, “It is marvelous — the amount of tonnage arriving at Trail this spring, with three steamers running into Trail, yet the C&KSN Co. cannot keep the consignments of freight to Trail cleaned up. In two days last week, the steamers of the C&KSN Co. landed in Trail 500 tons of coal, coke and lime rock and general merchandise. Every day sees the steamers of this company in Trail loaded down to their full capacity. Yesterday, the steamers, “Nakusp,” “Trail,” and “Lytton, ” and the train of the Columbia and Western Railway were all in Trail at one time, and the aggregate number of passengers served by the three boats and the train was over 400, while the tonnage handled in that day amounted to over 250 tons. And this is a town not yet a year old, and the season has just begun.”
This was June, with a full river, and even steamers drawing a full four and a half feet of water, as did the Nakusp, could make it down the difficult channel from Robson to Trail. In December the low stage of the water would hold the big boats at Robson, with the little Lytton relaying their cargoes down across the sandbars, and through the shallow riffles. A smelter had to have uninterrupted supplies of coal, coke, and flux (lime and silica rock), to operate. With winter steamer operations interrupted by ice and low water, Heinze had to find a better way to bring in his fuel. He could, of course, have Dan Corbin bring in Roslyn coal and coke to Rossland, and then have it hand shoveled into his narrow gauge cars. But this would put him into Corbin’s hands, an unacceptable situation. His trip to England to raise money for his Columbia and Western extension was a failure. He therefore mortgaged some Montana properties and let bids on the first section of the new railway. It was not to run through the mountains from Rossland. Instead, it would run up the right bank of the Columbia from his smelter to Robson West. This would give him year round access to the deep water of the Arrow Lakes and an assured coal supply.
Although the new town of Trail was growing and prospering, things were not well with the three companions who had founded it. Success had had an unfortunate effect on Frank Hanna. He and Mary Jane became estranged over his increasingly blatant immorality. He owned two brothels in Trail and his own daughter, Olive, complained of her father’s sexual misconduct with a Mrs. Crossman in the same bed in which Olive was sleeping. Mary Jane applied to the court for sole custody of her children, and on the grounds alleged, it was granted. In the interests of propriety, Colonel Topping found it best to move out of the Trail House hotel and set up living quarters behind his office.
With the new Le Roi Company smelter at Northport in operation, the Le Roi mine was paying a dividend every month, and its owners were rapidly growing very rich. Le Roi stock, which the Colonels had bought up for 25 cents a share, was now selling for over $5.00. The Rossland mines and in particular, the Le Roi, were becoming well known all over the world for their extraordinary richness. In London, speculators begin to consider the Red Mountain mines for investment.
Whittaker Wright, one of the more successful of those speculators, had formed the British American Corporation to invest in B. C. and Alaska mining properties. Wright was one of those flamboyant mendacities that flashed like meteors across the financial heavens at the end of the Victorian era, occasioning awe, moral outrage, and corrosive envy in the British public. H.G. Wells was so fascinated by him as a symbol of the absolute sovereignty of the money power, as to use him as a model for Edward Ponderovo in his novel, Tono Bungay.
An Englishman, Wright came to the United States, worked in the Pennsylvania oil fields, and was present at the Leadville, Colorado silver boom. He was in Philadelphia in the 1880s, forming companies to buy Colorado and New Mexico mines, and to market their stock to Pennsylvania investors. Learning the techniques of stock jobbing, Wright moved to London in the 1890s and began floating mining companies based on the West Australian gold mines around Kalgoorlie. Wright’s game was not to mine gold, but to organize the mine company and then to sell stock in it, a greater value of stock than there was gold in the ground. This was enormously successful as long as he could pay huge dividends, most of which came out of stock sales, rather than from whatever bullion was being produced. As long as new companies could be floated, with their stock sales covering the dividends of previous companies, the game could go on.
Wright’s ostentatious mode of living was legendary with the British public. They could not hear enough of his private yacht, his private stable of fifty horses, his private observatory, his private velodrome, his private theatre, and his private hospital. He had built an artificial lake on his Surrey estate, and, at the bottom of it, had constructed an underwater billiard room with a glass ceiling through which his guests could view his private fish.
Such an obvious command of large sums of money seemed to signify to the British investors a soundness of his financial empire, which it did not deserve. To keep on grossly overcapitalizing his mines, Wright required continuing press reports of bonanza finds and sensationally rich mines which he could market. The Rossland mines were being reported in the London press in 1897 as being the richest in the world. It did not matter whether they were or not; the perception was enough to bring investors running. Wright needed to own these mines to inflate the value of his stocks. He capitalized his British America Corporation at 1,500,000 pounds sterling, and sold its stock at an unprecedented 5 pounds sterling par value. Its prospectus boldly stated that the Corporation was acquiring the Le Roi and other Rossland and Alaska mines. The well publicized Le Roi name brought the investors crowding in; they bought up more than a million shares at the first offering.
As his managing director and confidence inspiring “Guinea Pig,” Wright brought in a man with Canadian connections, the Hon. Charles Mackintosh, retiring Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories. He then sent Mackintosh to Rossland by private railway car to acquire the mines his investors were told they owned. Mackintosh was an imposing figure, with all the social skills of the British upper class, but he knew next to nothing of practical mining. The British Columbia Review commented, “…of his many social qualities we are well aware, but there is no mining man in Canada but would laugh at the idea of ‘Charlie Mackintosh’ having any idea of the value of an ore body.”
In Spokane the Le Roi Colonels were astonished. They had not heard their mine was being bought. Colonel Peyton remarked quite accurately, “To my mind it looked much as if the people who drew that prospectus used the name of the Le Roi Mine to attract the attention of the English investing public.”
Mackintosh arrived in his private railway car, had it run up the steep Red Mountain line to Rossland, and, flush with Whittaker Wright’s money, began buying mines. He purchased the Josie, the Great Western, the Poorman, the Columbia and Kootenay, and the Nickel Plate mines. He then sent a pompous telegram to London, which Whittaker Wright read to the assembled B.A.C. investors to loud applause. “The British America Corporation has secured and holds the key to a majority of the golden treasure houses of British Columbia. We will practically control the mineral resources of this Province.”
This bombast, while applauded in London, was greeted with derision in British Columbia, and with wicked glee in Spokane. The Colonels now knew that Mackintosh had to make good on his boast; he was obliged to buy their Le Roi, whatever the price. What followed can be interpreted in two ways: either an honest disagreement, or a very clever hoaxing of Charlie Mackintosh and Whittaker Wright. Historians have tended to accept at face value a bitter disagreement dividing the Le Roi directors, as reported in the press; mining men have tended to smile knowingly. The author sides with the mining men; believing that Mackintosh, in what followed, was gloriously hoaxed.
Two of the Le Roi Company’s directors, Colonel Peyton and Judge George Turner, went to London to entertain offers for their company. This is odd; Mackintosh was in Rossland, ready to buy their mine. Apparently they wanted to see what other tenders might be made. Colonel Peyton went directly to the B.A.C. and Whittaker Wright. He was offered three million dollars cash, and accepted, pending agreement by the other directors in Spokane. But Judge Turner, independently negotiating, reported that a mysteriously unspecified source had offered him five million.
On their return to Spokane, a director’s meeting was convened on June 27, 1898, and Colonel Peyton displayed a check for $500,000 as a down payment on their mine. By the rules of the company, the three principal directors had to agree on any action.
Colonels Peyton and William H. Turner (not the Judge, but the Colonel) accepted the check, but Judge George Turner refused it on the grounds that they could get more than the B.A.C. was offering. The directors now split into two camps, the majority, led by Colonel Peyton, and Judge Turner’s minority, including Colonel Ridpath, Major Armstrong, Bill Harris, the flamboyant hotelier and Le Roi mine manager, and Frank Graves. Ostensibly, the sale was blocked by the disagreement between the two groups. While they argued, Le Roi mine manager, Bill Harris, halted all development work (tunneling for new deposits), and put his miners to work stripping the veins of what high grade ore was in sight, and shipping it to the Northport smelter. The mine was going to be sold; the only dispute was about the price. The more ore that could be removed before the sale, the more profit for the owners. The longer the sale could be delayed, the more they would make.
At a second meeting, this time with Charles Mackintosh in attendance, the two groups displayed a mutual enmity for his benefit. Colonel Peyton, of the majority group, revealed that he had already tendered the 284,000 shares of his group to Mackintosh at $6.00 per share. Those shares constituted a majority interest, and Mackintosh then declared that under British law, the B.A.C., as majority stockholder, now had the right to control the company. But Judge Turner rose for the minority, and pointed out that the Le Roi Company was a Washington Company, and governed by the laws of Washington State. And further, that the laws of Washington held that aliens could not own real estate within the State of Washington. Since the Le Roi Company’s Northport smelter was in Washington, the B.A.C., as alien, could not control it, although it could control the mine in Canada. On this basis, Judge Turner secured a court injunction restraining Colonel Peyton from making a legal transfer of his group’s shares.
At this point affairs took on a momentum of their own and events moved swiftly. The following account is taken from the newspaper reports of the day in the Rossland Miner and Spokane Spokesman Review. The author is responsible for the probable dialog hinted at in the press reports.
L. F. Williams, secretary of the Company and a member of Colonel Peyton’s group, realized that Judge Turner, using the Washington law was in an unassailable position, and made a quick call to Austin Corbin, President of the Spokane Falls and Northern Railway. He ordered a fast special train to be made ready for a dash to Canada. In haste, he gathered all the Le Roi Company records plus its official seal from the Spokane office, and jumped into a horse cab for the depot. The one car train whistled off, and Williams inside, relaxed, convinced he was removing the company records from beyond the reach of Judge Turner and U.S. law. But, the cunning Bill Harris had not been deceived. Suspecting Williams might attempt precisely this, he had taken the precaution of removing the Le Roi Company’s official seal from its accustomed hook above Williams’ desk, and substituted the seal of another company. On his arrival in Rossland, Williams discovered to his horror, that he had the wrong seal, and that no company business could be transacted until a duplicate seal could be made. Judge Turner’s group, in possession of the precious seal, now hired deputy sheriffs to enforce the Washington Court’s injunction against Mackintosh and the B.A.C. people. Mackintosh decided that the whole matter of the sale of the Le Roi had best be taken out of the State of Washington where Judge Turner appeared to have the advantage, and moved to Canada where British law would prevail. He had his private railway car coupled to Austin Corbin’s fastest locomotive, No. 7, a 4-4-0 with 63 inch drivers and capable of forty miles an hour on good track. He invited the majority directors, including the three trustees of the pooled Le Roi shares, to accompany him to Rossland, where, with a majority of the directors present and voting, the sale of Colonel Peyton’s shares could be ratified, and company business conducted — as soon as a duplicate seal could be obtained.
Mackintosh, with his majority directors, boarded his private car, and gave the signal to depart. But Spokane County deputy sheriff Bunce entered his car to display a County Court order obtained by Judge Turner, and to tell Mackintosh that he must not proceed. Armed deputies, he told the Governor, were waiting at the city limits, with legal authority to stop any train headed for Canada.
Mackintosh, quite baffled by the machinations of the American Law as expounded by Judge Turner, was now in his element as a British gentleman. Calmly lighting a cigar, he offered the deputy one. With exquisite politeness, he explained to deputy Bunce that under the Common Law of both Britain and the United States, “A man’s home is his castle,” and that a gentleman’s private railway car is just as much his castle in the eyes of the law, as any monument of ancestral English stone. That being the case, would not the deputy, as a gentleman bound to be scrupulous in his observance of the law, realize that his presence here without a warrant was an unfortunate trespass?
Deputy Bunce, awed, backed himself out the door, which was locked behind him. Then he descended, went forward to the engine, boarded it, and ordered the crew not to move the train. The train crew referred the matter to Austin Corbin, president of the line. Corbin came down from his office and explained to Bunce that his injunction was against foreigners, the B.A.C. Company, and not against a law-abiding American railroad. Bunce might order the gentlemen in the car behind, not to leave the United States, but his injunction gave him no right to prevent a railroad not named in the order, from running its trains where so ever it chose.
Deputy Bunce boarded the platform of Mackintosh’s private car once more and pounded on the locked door. The engineer whistled off and the train began to move.From inside the car Mackintosh shook his head reprovingly at Bunce; the door remained locked. As the train gathered speed, deputy Bunce climbed up on the tender and standing uncertainly on top of the pile of coal, drew his revolver. He pointed it at the engine crew and ordered them to stop. His shouts were lost in the sharp exhaust of the accelerating locomotive. He clambered down into the locomotive cab and gestured with his drawn pistol. The engine men shook their heads. Holding his gun on the two men, Bunce pointed to the group of deputies blocking the track ahead and ordered the engineer to halt. In response, the engineer pulled the whistle cord and threw the throttle wide open. Down on the track the deputies scattered for the lives, and the train raced out onto the prairie ahead.
No. 7 was running wide open on the rough track, the private car lurching and swaying behind. Deputy Bunce, with pistol in hand, was no doubt reflecting that the engine crew belonged to the Rail Brotherhoods. It had been that group, but a few years before, in the Coeur D’Alene mines, he had dragged Tom Kneebone off his job and shot him dead for testifying against a railroad engineer in the Frisco Mill bombing. It was a period of extreme union militancy in the West, and the Brotherhoods’ contempt for the law was well established. Bunce prudently holstered his revolver and climbed back across the coal pile in the tender to Mackintosh’s private car. Standing on the platform in a shower of cinders and soot from the stack, he pondered what to do.Inside the car, he could see whiskey decanters passed around, and the directors, in wicker chairs, puffing on their cigars. Bunce knocked. The directors turned their backs to him. He held his court order against the glass and pounded the door. No one paid him any attention.
It was a hot June day across the grasslands of Stevens County. The train raced on. Back in Mackintosh’s car, the windows were opened to catch the breeze and fragrant fumes of the Governor’s best Havana tobacco streamed out across the farmlands and stump ranches. Bunce, on the platform, turned up his collar against the rain of cinders from No. 7’s stack.
It was 147 miles, Spokane to Rossland. Seven hours, 25 minutes by timetable. The men in the private car had promised the engine crew a champagne dinner at the Allen Hotel in Rossland if they made the run in under five hours. Loon Lake, Chewelah and Colville came up. The scheduled trains were waiting in the sidings as the Special flashed by. Past Colville, Number 7 screamed down the long grade to the Columbia at Marcus, and began the long series of S curves as the rails followed the east bank of the river. Grimly, Deputy Bunce, coattails flying, clung to the swaying platform of Mackintosh’s private car, still determined to do his duty. At mile 130, Northport came into view. Here the engine would have to stop to take on water for the final, steep climb to Rossland, 2400 feet above. Bunce swung down from the platform, as the engineer spotted the tender under the waterspout. Bunce planted himself in front of the locomotive, displayed his court order to the gathering crowd, and drew his revolver. With the crowd as witnesses to his lawful act, he announced, the train would move again only over his dead body.
But here, in full frock coat and embroidered vest, his shiny silk hat on his head and gold watch fob bouncing on his paunch, came the sometime Lieutenant Governor of a Canadian Territory, which, though scantily populated, was still fully as big as the entire United States minus Alaska. Mackintosh offered the deputy another cigar. Bunce had to holster his pistol to accept it. Mackintosh then explained, with that same charitable politeness, that the Canadian border was but eight miles ahead, and if the deputy persisted in his attempt to stop a lawful train by force of arms, he would be arrested at the border for carrying a deadly weapon into Canada, an offense that carried a severe penalty under Canadian law. “A word to the wise, Sir,” His Honour remarked amiably, and with a friendly pat on the shoulder, made his way back to his private car.
The fireman raised the waterspout as the tender overflowed, and shouted at Bunce, still planted in front of the locomotive, “Well, what’s it going to be, deputy? You going to shoot a Brotherhood man or get out of our way?” Deputy Bunce flourished his weapon, the crowd of small boys and station loungers looked on in fascination. A few quick wagers were made. The engineer blew three blasts, shoved the Johnson bar into its top notch, and opened the throttle. The train, to deputy Bunce’s great relief, backed away, backed toward Spokane. Then the deputy holstered his pistol with a grin to the onlookers. But why were they laughing? What was the joke? Bunce peered down the track. The train was still backing. At the far end of town it disappeared around a curve. An idler in the crowd remarked, “You sure stopped ‘em, mister. Only you was at the wrong end.” The crowd burst out laughing. They were laughing at him, deputy Bunce realized. What had happened?
Then, from down at the far end of town, came two derisive whistle blasts. Bunce saw the train come into view again on the distant trestle, leading, he now realized, to the great Columbia River bridge. The stop at the station was merely for water. The line to Rossland branched off a half mile south. The engineer had backed his train to the switch and taken the line for Canada. In the distance, the little one car train rumbled over the bridge, whistled once more and headed up Sheep Creek for Canada. Bunce walked to the station platform, sat down, and lit up the Lieutenant Governor’s cigar. To the assembled crowd he muttered contemptuously, “God damned foreigners, anyway!” He puffed for a moment. “Not a god damned thing to do with me,” he said, blowing smoke into the air. But the station platform was empty.
With the dispute now transferred to Canada, Mackintosh tried to settle it under Canadian law. A directors’ meeting was called for July 3, in Rossland. SF&N No. 7 was washed and polished, hitched to a parlor car, and then the Turner minority group came up to Rossland by special train. At the meeting, Judge Turner managed to have the $500,000 check returned to the British America Company as premature. Beyond that, there was stalemate, and No. 7 trundled the minority directors back down the loops of Little Sheep Creek to the U.S. A. and Spokane.
A second meeting was called for Spokane. Another special train ran up to Rossland to bring the majority group down. They were, as they reminded themselves, the owners of the richest gold mine in the world, and must travel as such.The railroad performed these services as perfectly as its rough track would permit, but the meeting was a total deadlock.
In Rossland, Mackintosh tried a new tactic. Bill Harris, the mine manager, and member of the minority group, had had his men stripping the stopes of all the high grade ore they could find, and shipping it to Northport to be converted into dividends for the owners. The delay in consummating the sale was not only embarrassing to Mackintosh; it was depleting the mine of valuable ore. The Governor determined to get rid of Harris. Lacking a company seal, and unable to perform official acts, the Governor applied to Judge Spinks, of the Kootenay County Court, to have the Le Roi Company placed in receivership. The Judge agreed and W. A. Carlyle, a former Provincial Geologist, was appointed receiver. Carlyle dismissed Bill Harris and appointed a new mine manager with instructions to reinstitute development work and reduce ore shipments to a minimum in order to starve the smelter of ore, and the owners of dividends, while the sale was still pending.
Bill Harris had been shipping 350 tons of the Le Roi’s best ore every day; the majority group had been obliged to watch this high grading before their eyes. Their anger had become physical as Judge Turner and Colonel Peyton found themselves both occupying the same hotel, the Allen, in Rossland. Accidentally meeting in the lobby, a scuffle took place, with Judge Turner attempting to bodily eject Colonel Peyton from the hotel. Peace was restored; the combatants, or play actors –it is impossible to be sure which — were parted.
The minority group, with their manager removed from the mine, then went to Victoria, B.C. to institute a suit against Colonel Peyton, the B.A.C., Mackintosh, and Whittaker Wright, to recover $780,000 for an alleged conspiracy to buy Le Roi shares at less than their real value. While this suit dragged on, the group were able to get a Victoria court to overturn Judge Spinks’ receivership. Bill Harris was reinstated as mine manager, and at once he resumed stripping the Le Roi of its best ore. This was intolerable to the B.A.C. Their best ore was being removed out of Canadian jurisdiction, smelted at Northport, and the bullion recovered held in the U.S. for the owners. The owners were making roughly $6,500 each day the sale was delayed. To try to get the receivership reinstated by Washington law, the B.A.C. sent its lawyers down to Spokane — by special train, of course. This time, the minority completely reversed its previous bellicose behavior. They met their Canadian colleagues with profuse apologies for past incivilities, and solicitous concern for their comfort and well-being. This they accompanied by a continuous series of toasts to amity and international cooperation. So alcoholic was the fellowship, and so long continued, that the B.A.C. lawyers, in a boozy haze, completely lost track of time and missed their appointment at court. With their non-appearance, the court dropped the case from the docket, and the rivals were once again plunged into teeth gnashing rage, real or feigned.
The news of these scandalous proceedings was gleefully reported in the mining papers, and reached London, where the effect was to depress the value of B.A.C. shares. Soon they dropped below par. Whittaker Wright was compelled to find some way to conciliate the minority directors, and complete the sale, or his B.A.C. would be in serious trouble. Judge Turner was reporting he had received an offer from Wright of $8.12-1/2 for his shares. This the B.A.C. vigorously denied. The Judge responded by suggesting that another British consortium had offered him $8.50. True or false, the publicity was becoming painfully embarrassing for Whittaker Wright. He would have to compromise.
Finally, on November 22, 1898, all the shares in what had been the world’s richest gold mine, changed hands at $7.40, plus payment for ore en route to the Northport Smelter. The last of the minority hold-outs, Bill Harris, had to come down from Rossland to Spokane to sign the agreement. He made the trip, as might be expected, by special train.
It is impossible to know whether or not the whole affair was a charade played out for the benefit of the pompous and gullible Mackintosh. For 130 days, during the time the sale had been held up, Bill Harris had been Le Roi manager, stripping the mine of its best ore. $845,000 of ore had been removed, smelted and sold, and monthly dividends paid, while Mackintosh was stalled. This amounted to $1.69 per share realized from the high grading, while the compromise with Whittaker Wright added only an additional $1.40 per share. The figures powerfully suggest that the protracted dispute played out in the courts, on special trains, and hotel lobby tussles, may have been a gigantic, profitable, and hilarious hoax.
With the final agreement and sale, the B.A.C. got full control of the mine and smelter, but the dubious look of the affair made Whittaker Wright’s mining empire look shaky in London. The success of any stock jobbing operation depended on its shares rising in value. Should they begin to fall, as had those of the B.A.C., the price of the stock could only be supported by the company’s assets. B.A.C. investors now began to query just what were the Le Roi Company’s assets. An answer was not forthcoming.
The B.A.C., on purchasing the Colonels’ Le Roi Company for $4,000,000, had formed a new British company, the Le Roi Mining Company, and sold the mine and smelter to it for $4,750,000. Wright chose a former anti-union thug, Bernard Mc Donald, who had worked for him in the New Mexico mines, as Le Roi manager. But now manager Mc Donald, began sending alarming reports to London. The mine had no more high grade ore in sight. Bill Harris had indeed stripped the mine. The British investors who had bought up all 200,000 shares in the new Le Roi Company at $25 each, in just three days, wanted their dividends. Monthly, they had been promised.
In Rossland, manager Mc Donald was obliged to report the shattering news that the mine was actually operating at a loss. In 1899, the ore coming out of the Le Roi was netting $12.50 a ton, but mining, smelting and shipping costs totalled $15.14 a ton. With the huge value of the shares outstanding, and an operating loss, the mine could pay no dividends at all. Worse, after purchasing the mine from the B.A.C. for $4,750,000, the new Le Roi Company had but $250,000 left in its treasury for working capital, not nearly enough for a vigorous program of development to find new high grade ore bodies in the network of veins it owned.
At this time similar discoveries were coming to light in Whittaker Wright’s Western Australian mines, and a bear attack on his stocks began in London. Furious investors, finding themselves to have been duped, lobbed the British Parliament for redress. An official investigation of Whittaker Wright’s financial and mining empire began.
In Spokane, the Colonels, congratulating themselves on their coup, having sold their mine just as it was going barren, retired to their clubs and began to invest in other mining properties in B.C., notably the St Eugene mine on Moyie Lake. Perhaps the game could be played again. Colonel Ridpath, and Judge Turner, no longer adversaries, bought the Sullivan mine in Kimberly, B.C., and planned a smelter there to handle its lead-zinc-silver ores.
Half way around the world, Whittaker Wright went on trial for frauds unrelated to the Le Roi affair. He was found guilty, and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. He did not go to jail. Immediately after the sentence was read, he conferred briefly with his lawyers over some last arrangements, then stepped into a side room and swallowed a capsule of cyanide. Returning, he collapsed on the floor and died. A loaded revolver was found in his pocket.
The collapse of Whittaker Wright’s stock jobbing empire damaged the reputation of the mining industry in the London market for years, but for a future American president, it presented a golden opportunity. Herbert Hoover, a mining engineer, only 23 years years of age, was sent out to Western Australia by the engineering firm of Bewick-Moreing to see what could be done to rescue the mines that went down in the Whittaker Wright scandal. There, Hoover met with the new chairman of the Lakeview mine. Convinced that the Lakeview had an unrealized potential, Hoover convinced Bewick-Moreing to take over its management. The Lakeview proved to be a solid success, and launched young Mr Hoover on an impressive career in mine engineering. By 1928, he was President of the United States. By 1985, Bewick-Moreing was boring the Channel Tunnel. The sale of the Le Roi brought to an end the period of gaudy unreality in Rossland. The mines were still there, but the ore was becoming leaner as they went deeper. For Rossland, the bonanza days were over. Conservative, scientific management was in charge, and profits could henceforth only be made from volume of ore shipped, not spectacular finds.
Down in Trail, Colonel Topping continued to insist that he expected to find another Le Roi very soon, and that in the meantime he had some very promising mining claims to sell. He was planning a trip, he announced, to the newly formed mining districts in the Colville Indian Reservation to investigate some remarkable gold properties there. Deputy Bunce was looking for work. A furious Judge Turner had seen to it that he was a deputy no longer.