Daniel Corbin had invested in the Jumbo mine in the Illecillewat district in the 1880s.  He had built a narrow gauge railway line in 1886 to tap the Coeur D’Alene mines in Idaho, which had been an instant success.   The mining men of Stevens County, Washington, wanted a rail connection to the NP for their ores, and to bring in coke and coal for their smelter near Chewelah.   Several Northwest lines had expressed interest in building to Colville.   The Klickitat and Golden was interested, but had no money.   The Seattle, Lakeshore and Eastern, locally called “The Seattle and Elsewhere” for the unconnected bits of lines it had commenced in various parts of the State, was drawing lines of track on its maps.    Even a Victoria group had proposed a narrow gauge line from Little Dalles on the Columbia to the mines at Chewelah.    The Stevens County people were prepared to accept any but a Canadian Pacific line.    The CPR was out of favour because of its high rates and monopoly tactics, insisting on guarantees it would be the sole railroad permitted in the area before it would build.

A consortium to build a line from Spokane to Colville was formed by Helena banker, James Monaghan, and James Golver, A.A. Newberry and Frank Moore.   Daniel Corbin was brought in by his friend Monaghan as the man to construct the line.   Corbin was a man with Kootenay mining properties, and had learned from his profitable little narrow gauge in Idaho that mining railroads were as good as gold mines.    General William J. Palmer, who had built more mining railroad mileage than anyone in North America put it, “A population engaged in mining is by far the most profitable of any to a railway.   A hundred miners, from their wandering habits and many wants, are better customers than four times that number otherwise employed.”     Corbin saw farther than Colville.  He wanted a line to Kootenay Lake to serve those profitable miners and to seize the ore and trade for Spokane.   The first link would be a line from a NP connection at Spokane to a steamer landing on the Columbia.   If he could link the CPR at Revelstoke with the NP at Spokane by a rail-boat service he could offer shippers of ore the option to ship via either line for the best rates.    This would introduce the first freight rate competition into the Kootenays, and it won him the enthusiastic support of both Canadians and American shippers frustrated at the monopoly rates of both transcontinentals.   

The Spokane investors were unable to raise the financing necessary to begin the line, and they were displaced by New York financier, Horace Thurber, who was able to place $2,500,000 in bonds for the line.   Eastern investors were beginning to hear the name, Kootenay, and were willing to risk their money in a railroad line which, if the mines prospered, would find a ready sale to the Northern Pacific.

  Corbin agreed to build the line himself for $40,000 per mile to be paid by Thurman in half shares and half bonds.   He  hired, E. J. Roberts, who had been Chief Engineer for Jim Hill’s Great Northern extension from Minot, North Dakota to Great Falls, Montana, to be his engineer and to build the line as quickly and cheaply as possible.    When the country was settled up, there would be time to upgrade the track.   Meantime, he said, the trains would run slowly and carefully.    Roberts agreed, saying, “I’ll build it cheap, and you run it cheap.”    

Construction of the Spokane Falls and Northern  got underway in 1889.   Roberts laid out a sinuous line avoiding all difficult rock work, and reportedly going around big trees rather than digging out their stumps.    He claimed to have saved Corbin $1000 per mile by this means.    

The SF&N climbed from Spokane at 1900 feet to cross the low Huckleberry Mountains at 2432 feet and then descended down the valley of the Colville River to Colville at 1500 feet.  Two Baldwin 2-6-0 Mogul locomotives arrived in April to operate the line, and by October 18, 1889, the first train arrived in Colville.   It was a remarkable feat, to have built 100 miles of railroad in a single season.   

Colville the seat of Stevens County, had already a population of miners and prospectors working the silver-lead mines in the region and prospecting for more.   The Old Dominion mine and the Mutual Smelting Company were the chief operations.    From its beginning Colville had been a somewhat rowdy place.   The Silver Crown Hotel, described as “a bar that had a hotel attached,” erected a veranda out front so that patrons could watch the street brawls from the comfort of armchairs and not need to muddy their feet.   

The next year the track reached the Columbia at Marcus with the first train arriving on the river on April 20.    Work was underway to extend the line to the ghost town of Little Dalles to bypass navigational hazards in the river, and Corbin now sought a steamer connection with the CPR at Revelstoke.    The trio of Hume, Cowin and Sanderson with their cranky Dispatch, did not have the financing to build new boats and  provide a scheduled service to Corbin’s railroad, so a new company was formed to take over the old one, with substantial backing from men long in the B.C. transportation business.   These were Captain John Irving, son of the famous Fraser River boat owner;  Member of Parliament, J.A. Mara, a Kamloops businessman, who had run the old HBC Marten on the Thompson; and Frank S. Barnard whose father had founded the B.C. Express Company with its service to the Cariboo.    These men had steamboat experience, political influence, and the funds to expand the Columbia River service.    The new company, the Columbia and Kootenay Steam Navigation Company (CKSN), was funded with $100,000 to build and operate steamers on both the Columbia and Kootenay Lake.

  In July, 1890, in Victoria,  Daniel Corbin signed an agreement with the new CKSN for a through service connecting the two transcontinental railways via the Columbia River and his SF&N stump dodging railway.  It was a superb coup.   At one stroke, Corbin had put the growing railroad town of Spokane,with its population of 7,000, in a position to control the trade both of the new mining districts in Stevens County, Washington, and of the Kootenays of British Columbia.   

The total cost of building the SF&N had been $1,297,842.    By agreement with its owners, who were to pay Corbin $40,000 per mile in bonds and shares, he received $3,524,000 worth; this made him the nominal owner.   The SF&N, with E.J. Roberts’ pioneer construction methods, had cost him but $8,604,50 per mile to build.    It was an extremely profitable method Corbin was to use successfully in subsequent railroad construction: contracting to build for an inflated sum in bonds and shares per mile, thus earning equity in the road he built as cheaply as possible.   Passengers were to curse Corbin’s jerry-built constructions when in later years, they had to be strapped into their sleeping car bunks to keep them from tumbling out into the aisles on his rough and crooked  track.

Now, with the substantial profit he had made, D.C. Corbin was ready to extend his line.

The engineer, John F. Stevens, another graduate of the CPR’s Selkirk crossing, was hired by Roberts in 1889 to survey a possible line to Metalline Falls where extensive silver-lead ore bodies had been found.   This was never built.  Another undefined right of way was applied for to cross the Columbia at Marcus and run up the Kettle river through both countries, to cross into the Okanagan and run to the new silver mines being opened at Ruby City in Washington.   But it was Kootenay Lake that was Corbin’s immediate goal.   To cross the border with his line he would have to obtain a B.C. and a Dominion Government charter.

At the same time the CKSN let a contract to the shipbuilder Alexander Watson of Victoria, to build a first class passenger and freight sternwheel steamer at Revelstoke for the Columbia River run.   While she was under construction, the syndicate bought the old Kootenai for $10,000.    The Kootenai was at once put to work hauling materials and supplies for the American contractor building the Ainsworth’s portage railway, now the CPR’s Columbia and Kootenay Railway, from Sloat’s Landing to Nelson on Kootenay Lake.    These supplies and provisions, of course, came up Daniel Corbin’s SF&N line from Spokane.    His gamble was proving profitable from the very beginning.

At Revelstoke, the new sternwheeler, Lytton, was launched in May, 1890.  She was 131 feet long, by 25 feet wide, 284 gross tons, and drew but 19 inches of water light.   With a load of cargo she drew but 2 feet, ideal for the narrow, twisting channel of the Columbia.    She was powered by two 16 x 62 inch cylinders, a powerful engine for her size, and giving her a speed of 12 miles per hour.    She had cost $38,000, and with a good depth of water in the river, could crowd on board 200 passengers and 125 tons of freight.

Her first trip began on July 2, 1890 with Captain Frank Odin in command..  Aboard at Revelstoke were 65 tons of railroad rails and iron fittings for the new Columbia and Kootenay Railway.    Among the passengers were owners Frank Barnard and J. A. Mara, joined by CPR president William Van Horne and Director R. B. Angus who were on their way to inspect the work on the C&K.   Departure was delayed by a crowd of excited prospectors anxious to get to the new gold-copper strike at Red Mountain.   

Sproat’s Landing, at the confluence of the Kootenay an Columbia Rivers,  was reached the following day where the men of substance took horses to inspect the C&K construction.    Sproat’s Landing, a townsite laid out by Gilbert Sproat and managed by his brother, consisted of the Genelle sawmill with cabins for its employees, a depot for the railway under construction, an express office, Lemon’s General Store, a drug store, a government building with a post office, the Kootenay House hotel, and three restaurants.    A few frame houses and a number of tents and log cabins plus Joe Wilson’s corral for his pack stock, completed the town.    Today it is altogether gone.

The Lytton, like all the river steamers at this time, burned wood, and each trip up or down the lakes required a number of stops to “wood up” where men under contract were clearing land and piling cordwood on the beach for the steamers.    On August 15, the SF&N was complete to Little Dalles, which was enjoying an unlikely second boom, and Corbin ran a special train to meet the Lytton and inaugurate through service from the NP in Spokane to the CPR in Revelstoke.    The first published timetable listed departures from Revelstoke on Monday and Thursday with arrival in Little Dalles on Tuesdays and Fridays.    The one way, combined fare from Revelstoke to Spokane was $13.50.

  J.A. Mara was amply satisfied with the progress of the new company and recorded,

“Business has been good, fully up to our expectations, although the river did not open as early as usual.   We have taken to date, passengers, 1325, animals 63, tons of freight, 1275.   Future prospects are


The 1325 passengers carried by the two boats, Kootenai and Lytton, exceeded the entire population of the Kootenays at that time, and his remark about the late opening of the Columbia was to be prophetic of future problems.    Winter ice on the Columbia would disrupt schedules and enforce cancellations of steamer runs from their beginning in 1890 until the end in 1954.

In 1891 the CKSN launched their Kootenay Lake sternwheeler, the Nelson, at that town. She was a near duplicate of the Lytton, at 131 feet and 496 gross tons.  She had the old engines of the Skuzzy II, and SkuzzyI, not quite as powerful as those of the Lytton, but adequate for the lake and the slow waters of the Kootenay River.    She made her maiden voyage in August and was put on a schedule leaving Nelson every Monday at 8:00 AM for Pilot Bay, Ainsworth and Kaslo and return.   On Tuesdays and Fridays she left Nelson at 3:00 AM for Pilot Bay, Ainsworth and up the Kootenay River into the U.S. for Bonner’s Ferry.   On Wednesdays and Saturdays, leaving Bonner’s Ferry at 3:00 AM for Pilot Bay, Ainsworth and Nelson.   With its two new boats the CKSN controlled both the Canadian gateway to the Kootenays  via Revelstoke down the Columbia, and the American gateway via Bonner’s Ferry, to Kootenay Lake and Nelson, while the CPR’s subsidiary, the C& K railway hustled passengers and freight from lake to river down its 28 miles of track.   

A unique and isolated community was now forming in the Kootenay mountains, centred on Nelson and almost exclusively busied with mining.    The ore came down from the mountainside mines in sacks carried on horses, and was piled on the wharfs at Ainsworth, Bluebell, Crawford Bay and Nelson.   The Nelson on her twice weekly rounds, would pick up these sacks and take them to Bonner’s Ferry and the wagon haul to the NP at Kootenai Station, bringing back provisions, liquor, tools and miner’s supplies from Spokane.     Over on the Columbia at Revelstoke the CPR dropped off passengers and freight for the Lytton which took them down the Arrow Lakes to Sloat’s Landing and the C&K cars to Nelson. 

The Revelstoke route was suspended in winter when low water and ice closed the Columbia and Arrow Lakes.   The Bonner’s Ferry route operated most of the winter, sometimes having to be suspended when ice formed in the shallow West Arm of Kootenay Lake.


Daniel Corbin had gone to Victoria in 1889 while his graders were beginning his line out of Spokane, to petition the Legislature to grant him a charter for a Canadian railway from Waneta at the border to Nelson, B.C.    A railway needed a government charter to give it the power to expropriate rights of way across private property in cases where the owner refused to sell at a reasonable price.   The court would set a price and the graders could then enter private property to build the line.   Just as important, was a grant of public land to the railway, in addition to the the right of way, which the Legislature might be persuaded to give.   Few men, and certainly not Daniel Corbin, would build a railroad with their own money.   A grant of public lands could be used to back the bonds issued by the company to raise construction money.     These lands could be chosen by the railway officials; they did not have to be adjacent to the track.   Then, when the track was laid and inspected by the government, the lands would be transferred as a bulk grant.

It was the responsibility of the grantee to have them surveyed and measured.  When this had been done, title could be issued.   These grants of Crown Land were the necessary inducement to financiers to build railways into empty country where costs could only be recouped if the land could be sold to settlers.

Corbin’s proposed Nelson line would ascend Beaver Creek from the Columbia and alongside the Dewdney Trail run through an easy pass to the Salmo River and follow that stream to its source.   From there, it would descend Cottonwood Creek on a 2 per cent grade, reaching  Kootenay Lake at Five Mile Point.   Here it would reverse and run back along the lakeshore to Nelson.   Corbin knew the objections  British Columbians had to an American railroad entering the Kootenays and draining its traffic south to Spokane.    So he sweetened his proposal with a second charter request for a “Coast to Kootenay” railway which would run from Vancouver eastward to the Okanagan and then over the Monashee Range to the Kettle Valley and connect to his line at Marcus Washington.   This was the line coastal merchants had been soliciting the CPR to build.   Perhaps this American’s proposal, some thought,  was just what was needed to goad the CPR into action.   

Corbin was very vague about the route of this “Coast to Kootenay” line; he did not have a survey to present.   He said only that the Nelson line and the line to Vancouver “…would form one continuous line of railway from the south (sic) end of Kootenay Lake to the Coast, with a short detour into American territory, rendered necessary by the difficulties of penetrating the chain of mountains on the west bank of the Columbia River.” 

The people of Nelson and the Kootenays generally, a majority of whom were Americans pursuing their fortunes in the mines, were strongly in favour of Corbin’s lines.   Any railroad, by whomever built, with dollar a ton rates on ore and coal would boom Kootenay commerce and mining.   But the merchants of the Coast remembered Captain Ainsworth; this appeared to be just another plan to divert B.C. Interior trade to the U. S.   Corbin already controlled the Columbia trade with his railhead at Little Dalles; the new line would put him on Kootenay Lake and with his ally, the CKSN which was building a sternwheeler for that trade, he would control commerce there as well.

The distrust of the coastal merchants convinced Corbin that he needed a Canadian ally to front for him.    The ally presented himself in the person of Colonel James Baker, member of the Legislature for East Kootenay.   Colonel Baker was a flamboyant personality, the brother of the famous British Imperial official, “Pasha Baker.”   Baker had extensive claims to the coal lands of the Crowsnest Pass region and needed a railroad to develop them.   He proposed his own paper railroad, the B.C. Southern, to run from the town he was promoting, Cranbrook, to the Coast, but he lacked the funds to build it.   He was willing to trade his political influence in the legislature for Corbin’s financing of his B.C. Southern.   Corbin accepted, but when he saw the railway bill Colonel Baker had introduced, which gave the land grants to Baker, while Corbin was to build the line, he quickly backed out.   Without B.C. backing, Corbin’s two charter proposals were voted down.

CPR President, William Van Horne, had been giving consideration to a line entering the Kootenays from the east through Crowsnest Pass in the Rockies but would not begin  construction until government subsidies and land grants could be obtained.   On the 20 August, 1890, the Dominion Cabinet authorized the CPR to lease the Columbia and Kootenay Railway for 999 years, just as Daniel Corbin was signing his agreement with the CKSN for joint rail, steamer service from Rovelstoke to Spokane.   Some writers have thought that if Corbin chose to abandon his plans to build across the border into B.C. he might have negotiated use of the Columbia and Kootenay Railway to reach Kootenay Lake with a steamer connection from Sloat’s Landing to Little Dalles.    This would most probably have resulted in the CPR leasing or buying the SF&N.  The Canadian Pacific, as future developments were to show, was not willing to share the Kootenay trade with any other railway.    The CPR began construction of the C&K in 1890, and Corbin went to Ottawa to present his dual charter petitions to the Dominion government.  The Coastal B.C. opposition followed him.   Premier Robson, deeply suspicious of American schemes telegraphed the parliamentary Railway Committee insisting that the charters, if granted should insist that both railways be built simultaneously.   The City of Vancouver opposed Corbin’s charters as well, suggesting that the vague “Coast to Kootenay” line was merely bait to get the lucrative Nelson to Spokane line.   Finally President Van Horne of the CPR weighed in and promised that if Corbin’s charters were rejected, the CPR would build its own line into the Kootenays from Lethbridge.   This was what most parliamentarians wanted, and many admitted they had entertained Corbin’s proposals only to force the CPR to commit itself to build the Crowsnest Line.

Back in Nelson, the residents, mostly Americans, were outraged at loosing a potential rail connection to the outside and vented their anger by boycotting Canadian goods, and continuing to send their mail out via the U.S.A.

Corbin now called on his partners in the CKSN, John Mara, Frank Barnard, and Captain Irving.   If he could get rails to Kootenay Lake, they would be able with the boats they planned to put on Kootenay Lake, to move ore to his railhead, rather than to Bonner’s Ferry and the wagon haul to the NP.   This steamer-rail route with no wagon haul, would mean a lower rate for ore moving out and coal moving in.   

Again the B.C. legislature was asked for a charter for a Nelson and Fort Shepherd Railway.   This time, however, it was presented by five well respected British Columbians as a British Columbian line.   Very cleverly, Daniel Corbin presented his Marcus to Vancouver charter application at the very same time.  The legislators were so righteously preoccupied with turning down the American’s charter flat, that they granted the Nelson charter to the five British Columbians without a thought.

  The next year, 1892, Corbin bought the N&FS charter from his CKSN allies and got the legislature to give it a land grant of  10,240 acres per mile.   The year following, he persuaded the Dominion parliament to add a federal cash subsidy of $3,200 per mile, and permit it to connect to the American rails of his SF&N at the border.   This seeming reversal of policy by the B.C. and Ottawa legislators reflected the fact that the CPR had completed the Columbia and Kootenay line in 1891 to serve Nelson from Revelstoke via boat and rail;  Corbin’s line was welcomed as a desirable competition to break a CPR monopoly and keep rates down.   The same thing happened all over the Canadian west:  the Canadian Pacific would be lobbied to build a line into a district, but no sooner was it in place than the agitation began for a competing railway to come in and force down the CPR’s monopolistic rates.

Corbin had located his own townsite seven miles north of Little Dalles, called it Northport, and extended his rails to it in 1892.   This was now his wholly owned Columbia River Port and gateway to British Columbia.   Without telling Washington D.C., he had the Little Dalles Post Office, put onto a flat car and hauled to Northport and set out there with its new name lettered on.    As Little Dalles, without a steamer connection, collapsed, a ghost town for the second time, the Washington D.C. government recognized  reality, and Northport, Washington was in business.     

With his way cleared into Canada, Daniel Corbin pushed his rails from Northport to the border at Waneta and let a contract to Peter Larsen and Patrick Welch of Helena, Montana to grade his line to Nelson.    Chief Engineer Roberts, reported indignantly that each morning when  his steam shovel crossed the border to begin making grade, the Canadian Customs agent demanded he pay duty on it.   This problem was eliminated by moving the construction camp to Sayward, across the border into Canada.    To avoid paying duty on American rails for the line, Corbin had English rails shipped as ballast in empty grain ships to Portland.   These, in bond, were allowed across the line into Canada.    Speedy construction was essential, the charter required completion by the end of 1893.   The steep, 2 per cent grade down to Kootenay Lake was put on trestles for much of its length to eliminate the need for time consuming and costly drilling and blasting of the rock bluffs.  However, when the graders reached the lakeshore, they found their way blocked by the CPR.

Van Horne had not forgotten his promise to the Dominion parliament.   He was determined to shut Corbin out of southern B.C. and monopolize its trade for the CPR.   He sent out surveyors to discover whether the much discussed, “Coast to Kootenay” railway was feasible, and what route it might take.    They reported, that though costly, such a line was possible.  The C&K portage railway would be its center segment.  A line in from Lethbridge, Alberta over Crowsnest Pass would join it at Nelson, and from its terminus at Sloat’s Landing on the Columbia, a line could be built west to the Okanagan and on west to rejoin the CPR main line at Hope.   To block Corbin, Van Horne, working through Harry Abbott in Vancouver, presented his proposed line to the B.C. legislators and got them to establish a “CPR Railway Reserve” on the lands covered by the route.   This reserve now covered the south shore of Kootenay Lake from its head to Nelson, and E. J. Roberts, who had intended his line to run back to Nelson from Five Mile Point, found the lakeshore preempted and was obliged to end his railway at the water’s edge.   However, an arrangement was made for the CKSN’s new sternwheeler, Nelson, to meet all trains at Five Mile Point and transfer freight and passengers to the Nelson dock.   With a daily train service to Spokane on Corbin’s line, the run up the river to Bonner’s Ferry was discontinued.  The old charge on ore for the smelters had been $30.00 per ton, largely owing to that awkward wagon haul from Bonner’s Ferry to Kootenai Station.  Now Daniel Corbin offered a $9.00 per ton charge on ore from Nelson all the way to the Tacoma Smelter.   This rate meant that lower grades of ore were now suddenly commercial.   No longer did the output of each mine have to be sorted by hand to pick out the high grade which would pay its transportation to the smelter.   Since now fifteen dollar ore would return a profit, investors from Spokane took the train to the Kootenay mines to buy properties that previously were too low grade to mine.

That first winter of N&FS operation, 1893, the Columbia froze solid from Revelstoke down the Arrow Lakes, severing the CPR’s Canadian connection until May, while Corbin’s trains ran daily to Spokane.   With nothing moving on the Columbia, the C&K line with its one locomotive and 19 cars, shut down operations until Spring.   Mail had to got out via the U.S. and a letter to Revelstoke travelled to Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver (by water) and back to Revelstoke, 10 days in all .   The CPR’s water route into the Kootenays had proved an admirable  tourist attraction, a delightful trip in the summer, but not dependable, year round transportation.  That severe winter, and Corbin’s railway, rough and crooked as it was, definitively attached the Kootenays to Spokane.   

The Kootenay Lake silver-lead mines were not the only beneficiaries of Corbin’s line with its new, lower freight rates.   With rail transportation now a reality, the prospectors in Colville were taking another look at other mining discoveries that had been neglected in the pack horse era.   Newlin Hoover, of Toad Mountain, and Oliver Bordeaux of Colville in the enthusiasm of the railway’s arrival in Colville in 1889 restaked a claim that had been abandoned along the Dewdney Trail west of the Columbia, believing its ore might now be commercial.   It was an act that would have enormous consequences for all of Northeast Washington and the Kootenays of B.C.

Natural Splendour of the ArrowLake

Wednesday’s Photos

Ice, Rocks and Water

On our walk along the beach I noticed that the lake level had not dropped since the last snowfall. So the edge of the lakeshore and the snow were close together. That was a great opportunity for Mother nature to form icicles with each wave spilling over the rocks. That immediately gave me the theme for today’s photo presentation. Enjoy!


Sleeping Beauty


Long-nosed Icicles


Multicoloured Stones


Ice Fingers


Miniature Stalactites

The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Chapter XXXVI

Storm Clouds over the Rocky Mountains

Storm Clouds Gathering over the Rocky Mountains

The Bombshell from Germany

Broken Road

It can be easy
to breeze through life
when you are cruising along
on the wide open, straight path of the highway.

But often times
it is the bumps and dips and obstacles
on the broken roads
that lead to the best and most beautiful things in life.

Quote by kind permission taken from the post “Broken Road” in Jodi’s blog


Disquieting News for Peter

For three months from the time I had written my first letter to Biene’s parents to the moment she had returned to Germany, Biene and I were united by a common goal. We had mutually agreed on the details of a carefully laid out plan. It was simple and straightforward. Biene would come to Canada, marry me within a month or so and would take on together with me the challenging, but rewarding task of building our future together. We both received letters from Germany, which all expressed the same thought, total opposition to a foolish undertaking that would not only make us unhappy, but Biene’s parents as well.

Working together from a common base, even though thousands of miles apart, we fought off any attempt to make us give in to all kinds of threats, financial blackmail, or urgent pleas to come to our senses. The only person who showed some understanding to our plans and had struck a more conciliatory tone was Biene’s mother. But she would only go so far as to make a vague promise to let her daughter go one day. As long as Biene was in England, Biene and I were of one heart and one soul. We were both far removed from the place, where our controversial wedding plans were being challenged and hotly debated. Under the barrage of criticism we suffered together, we responded together and promised each other not to soften our resolve to get married. Above everything else stood out Biene’s urgent plea to set all the wheels in motion for her coming and to tell her what steps she needed to take in her dealings with the Canadian Embassy in Cologne. Then on the 23rd of December after a tearful parting from the Lande family, Biene finally flew home to join her family just in time for Christmas.

In spite of complete lack of communication from her for more than two weeks, I was still feeding on the strength and inspiration of Biene’s comforting last letter from England. However, in my worries about her impending troubles at home I also became increasingly more sensitive and vulnerable, feeling lonely and helpless in the drab and dreary basement room. Three days before New Year’s Eve I finally received her first letter since her arrival in Germany. When I had finished reading it, my hands were trembling, and my heart was pounding. I could not believe what I had just read. I was in such a shock that for the longest time I was unable to think clearly. In a state of utter despair about the events that threatened to derail all our plans I was pacing to and fro on the basement floor not knowing what to do. After I had sufficiently calmed down I reread the letter in search for some comforting clues I might have missed at the first perusal. Like a drowning person who clutches at straws trying to keep afloat I searched for a hint, a hidden meaning, or even the mere absence of an entire sentence that Biene in her own emotional turmoil may have intended to write, but had failed somehow to put it down in writing. But there was none. My devastation was complete.


Highway 1 near Banff in the Mid 60’s

Roses and Violets

December 26th Velbert

My dear Peter,

…With mixed feelings, but also in joyful anticipation, I arrived at the Düsseldorf Airport, where my mother, Walter and my friend Ulli received me with roses and violets. I was deeply touched! At home the same warm atmosphere welcomed me, which our apartment is always radiating. And when I then entered my room and found your letter on my desk, it seemed to me as if I had never been away. Yet the exciting new tidings stirred up my emotions. The photo of us in Michelbach rekindled all the memories and let me think of so many things. Only now did my mother notice that the other letter was addressed to her. Oh Peter, you should not have written the letter to my parents. I had wanted to prepare them slowly for everything. I know, Peter, that only out of love to me you wrote the letter, and yet, Peter, you should not have written it. See, Peter, I always told you that my parents are acting out of love, and therefore we must not hurt their feelings. Your words hit my mother hard, because it sounded like hell was awaiting me here at home. In some way you are right, Peter. However, I implore you to apologize to my mother as quickly as possible. I know how proud you are; yet I ask you to do this for the sake of our love. So far my mother has supported our side to the extent that she was even able to change my brother’s mind. He was actually prepared to help us in case I wanted to come to you for a year.

Then Biene wrote that her mother had confided to her the story of a shocking tragedy. Out of religious reason Biene’s mother was not allowed to marry the man she truly loved. Because she was not yet of age, she wanted to force her family to consent to the marriage by having a baby. So Biene’s sister Elsbeth was born out of wedlock. But before she gave birth to the baby girl, her fiancé died in a fatal accident.

Biene also let me know in her letter that she had found employment with the American company Yale and Towne, one of the largest lock manufacturing companies in Europe at the time. She was hired as an office assistant responsible for translating technical documents into English. She had signed a contract for a period of two months with a monthly salary of 450 marks. So she would be able to save up enough money for the flight to Calgary, if her father was not going to provide any financial support. She also added that because of her work she would not be able to write me as often as before. Then she returned to the main issue.

In conclusion I earnestly ask you just one more time to write a nice letter to my parents and also to Walter. Don’t mention much about our plans for the moment. I will prepare them for everything.

In my thoughts I am already living with you, Peter. Don’t lose your confidence in our future.

In love Your Biene

Did you receive my Christmas card, on which I forgot to write By Air?


Hoodoos above the Bow River

Biene’s Dilemma

It was New Year’s Eve. I kept reading her letter over and over again, but it did not help to calm me down. In fact the turn of events stirred me up more than her brother’s argumentative diatribe in the fall. In my tortured mind I saw everything that deviated from the course of action we had agreed on as a betrayal of our dreams. Through the dark lens in my anguished soul I gazed at gloomy images that made everything she described feel like a bad omen. The heart-warming reception with roses and violets at the airport was for me a well orchestrated attempt to strengthen the threads in the web, out of which Biene would find it difficult to break free. I also found it strange that one letter on her desk turned suddenly into two letters and that her mother would recognize it only now, which was clearly addressed to Frau Elisabeth Panknin. Nor could I understand why my so lovingly written letter could have insulted her so much. It contained only kind words. I admit I did plead with her to let Biene go in peace. But to make this single sentence, which expressed my deepest love and concern for Biene, the actual cause of a complete turnabout in her attitude towards our wedding plans was in my view a travesty of her true intentions.

Ultimately it bothered me the most that Biene told me that because of her new job, which had not even started yet, she would not to find the time to write as often as before. Clearly she wanted to keep me in the dark. That was my painful conclusion. I felt a surge of angry revolt take hold of my heart. I threw myself on my bed and stewed over the new situation for a very long time. There was not a single word about getting married in the spring. On the contrary, in an effort to appease her family she had already made a major concession. She wanted to come for a year to find out if she could stand it to live in Canada. The once comforting words she once wrote from England were beginning to mock me, “Even if you were as poor as a church mouse, I would still come to you, because I love you.” Had our love not been tested enough? Why all of a sudden was there talk about a trial period to see if she could be happy in Canada?

What I did not realize while I was tossing and turning on my bed was that she was confronted with one the greatest dilemmas in her life. On the one side was her mother, who loved her dearly and who did not want her to go away into a distant land, to marry into an uncertain future and become unhappy. On the other side was I, the man, whom she loved and wanted to marry. For her there seemed to be no other way to get out of this conflict than to play a dangerous game of deception. If she had only revealed to me that she needed to keep her mother in the belief that she would be able to retain her independence and freedom, while she was only visiting me until next Christmas, I would have cooperated and she would have spared me the distress I was in. A short message would have sufficed to keep me in the loop. All I needed was a word of reassurance that nothing would change in our plans. But no matter how often I read Biene’s letter, I found no such comfort and I was deeply worried.


Banff National Park – Mid 1960’s

A Troublesome New Year’s Eve

Then I considered that we originally had promised to wait two or even three years for each other and that only the episode of the engagement ring had rushed us to cut the waiting period down to less than a year. Biene had greatly suffered when she was without any sign of life from me for more than three weeks and had pleaded with me to let her come. I could see now that in my desire, which was just as strong as hers, to be together with her I had foolishly given in, when our future was still uncertain. Thus, the original plan, which was sound and would have given her parents plenty of time to get used to, had been rendered unrealistic and indeed ridiculous in their disapproving eyes. In a flash I felt responsible that my very own weakness had brought about the mess that she was in right now. Angry with myself I considered writing to her parents according to her wish, which she imploringly expressed several times in her letter.

The Chinook winds that had started to blow earlier this evening were now howling at full strength around the building and made the basement window rattle. In the distance a few firecrackers announced the start of the New Year. Lying on my back, while others were celebrating, I composed in my mind the message that was going to bring our derailed original plans back on track. I would apologize to her parents. I would tell the story of her engagement ring and would describe Biene’s desperation, when she did not receive any letter from me for such a long time. I would tell them that she had urged me to let her come to Canada as quickly as possible and that I had agreed on the condition that I would have to be admitted first to the Faculty of Education or have a well paying job. Finally I would kindly propose to her parents that I would wait until the successful completion of my teachers’ training program in exchange for their kind approval of us getting married after I had become a teacher. With these thoughts going through my mind I sat down at the table and feverishly reached out for pen and paper. I was just about to write down the opening sentence, when I suddenly remembered how in anger and frustration I had once reacted by writing a spiteful response to the prospective in-laws, which only served to harden their already inflexible position. No, this time I would sleep on it for a night or two. And if I couldn’t sleep, I would rather suffer through a wakeful night than committing another blunder.

Late in the morning I awoke like from a nightmare. But I was relieved to know that while the letter that I was going to write would have brought complete satisfaction to her parents it would have caused most certainly grief and misery to Biene and to me as well. Who could expect us after all the emotional upheavals we had already gone through to wait another year or even a third year to be reunited? I could see clearly now the trap I would have walked into, out of which there would have been no escape. Wisdom dictated that I waited until I had more information from Germany. Having scored a major victory over myself and restrained my impetuous inclination to surrender to her parents’ wishes, I felt much better and with relative calm resumed my studies the following Monday.

Albert Schweitzer – Seminar #17

Wie Albert Schweitzer im Urwald ein Buch schrieb und eine Idee hatte

Nach dem Abendessen ging Albert Schweitzer immer in sein Arbeitszimmer und spielte etwas auf seinem Klavier. Er spielte am liebsten Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach. Das Klavier war für die heißen Tropen mit ihren vielen Schädlingen auf besondere Weise gebaut. Trotzdem haben Termiten, das sind weiße Ameisen, seine Inneneinrichtung zerfressen. Immer wieder musste es repariert werden. Alle kranken und gesunden Menschen und auch die Tiere im Urwald lauschten der schönen Musik, wenn Albert Schweitzer spielte. Danach setzte er sich an seinen Schreibtisch. Denn er schrieb neben seiner Arbeit als Arzt, Häuserbauer, Gärtner und „Bürgermeister” des Hospitaldorfes noch wissenschaftliche Bücher. In seinen Büchern wollte er den Menschen zeigen, was gut und was böse ist und wie sie gut handeln können. Als er so am Schreibtisch saß, lagen zu seinen Füßen eine kleine Antilope und eine Katze. Die Antilope schubberte ihr Näschen an Alberts Bein und die Katze sprang auf den Tisch und lief über das Papier, auf dem Albert schrieb. Das störte ihn natürlich und er schob sie weg, weil sie mit ihren Pfötchen die Tinte verwischte. Damals gab es nämlich noch keine Kugelschreiber und erst recht keine Computer. Man schrieb mit Federhalter und Tinte. Da schimpfte der Doktor mit der Katze und jagte sie vom Tisch. Doch sie sprang immer wieder hoch, tappelte hin und her, schnupperte am Tintenfass und kratzte sich hinter den Ohren. Da sagte Albert zu seinem Kätzchen: „Du hast einen dickeren Kopf als ich. Aber der Klügere gibt nach. Bleibe auf dem Tisch, aber lege dich hin und laufe nicht immer über mein Schreibpapier!” Die Katze schien das zu verstehen, legte sich auch wirklich brav hin und Albert kraulte sie mit der linken Hand ein wenig am Hals, während er mit der rechten Hand schrieb. Auf seinem Tisch brannte eine Öllampe, denn es gab am Anfang noch kein elektrisches Eicht in Lambarene. Draußen war es stockdunkel und man hörte im nahen Urwald die Insekten zirpen. Aus der Öllampe strömte ganz heiße Luft. Vom Licht angezogen, flogen Schmetterlinge und Käfer ins Zimmer und umschwärmten die Lampe. Da merkte Albert, dass sie sich an der heißen Lampe ihre Flügel verbrannten. So scheuchte er die Insekten aus seinem Zimmer und schloss die Fenster. Lieber saß er in der stickigen Luft, als dass er mit ansah, wie sich die Insekten verletzten.

Lange dachte Albert darüber nach, wie die Menschen zu anderen Menschen, aber auch zu den Tieren und Pflanzen, ja zu allem, was lebt, verhalten sollten. Denn alle wollen ja leben: Mein Freund, der Nachbar, der Hund, die Katze, der Regenwurm, der Marienkäfer, das Stiefmütterchen, die Butterblume, die Birke. Alles um mich herum will leben so wie auch ich leben will. Das muss man immer beachten. Eines Abends, als Albert Schweitzer mit einem Boot auf dem Ogowefluss zu einer kranken Frau fuhr, badeten dicke Nilpferde im Wasser und Albert erfreute sich an ihnen. Als er ihnen so zuschaute, kam ihm plötzlich eine ganz große Idee. Sie hieß: „Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben“. Das bedeutet, dass der Mensch Achtung, Bewunderung und Liebe zu allem zeigen soll, was lebt. Er soll keinem Lebewesen etwas Böses antun und ihm immer helfen, wenn es Hilfe braucht. Nun war er glücklich, denn er hatte endlich nach langem Nachdenken das richtige Wort gefunden zum Verhalten der Menschen gegenüber seiner Mitwelt.




Over on the east shore of Kootenay Lake at Big Ledge Dr. Wilbur Hendryx had cleared the titles to the Sproul and Hammil claims in 1887.   With Thomas Hammil dead, his heirs in England neglected his 1/3 interest in the Bluebell Claim, acquired when Colonel Hudnut refused to pay the court costs.   When Hammil’s heirs failed to have the required yearly assessment work done on the claim, it reverted to the Crown, from which Dr. Hendeyx bought it.   He now owned 100% of the Bluebell claim, and obtained a Crown Grant and title to it in 1888.    Two years later, he was able to buy the Comfort and Kooteany Chief claims from the Ainsworths for $100,000 resolving the last of the claim conflicts on the Big Ledge.

On the ground a three year program of mine development was begun in 1887 with a  crew of twenty men.    A wharf was built out into Bluebell Bay from which to transfer the ore to barges, and on shore, ore bins, accommodations, and mine buildings were erected.   A tunnel was begun to intersect the ore body below the surface, and an 18 inch gauge tramline was built to bring the ore down to the wharf.   There remained the problem of the $30 per ton tariff on lead

ores entering the U.S. at Porthill.   To make the Bluebell profitable, a smelter would have to be erected on Kootenay Lake, and the ores processed there before shipment to the U.S.    Down at Pilot Bay, some 15 miles south of the Bluebell, Davies and Sayward, B.C. businessmen, had erected a sawmill and were furnishing lumber to the Kootenay Lake camps.    This was an ideal location for a custom smelter to treat all the ores from Kootenay Lake mines.    It had a good, sheltered bay at the central point of the lake where the three arms converged. 

  Dr. Hendryx reorganized his companies to bring the B.C. sawmill investors with their capital into the syndicate.   A B.C. company was established, the Kootenay Mining and Smelting Company, with Edwin Herrick of Minneapolis, the Hendryx’ partner, as president; Robert Rithet, steamship magnate of Victoria, Vice President; Andrew Hendryx of New Haven, Connecticut, as Treasurer.    All of the other directors, Baker, Chapman, Davies, Ellis and Hutchinson were from Victoria.   Dr. Wilbur Hendryx remained as resident mine manager.   The Kootenay Mining and Smelting Company represented the first  substantial B.C. investment in what had been up until then a wholly American mining industry in the Kootenays.    At the Pilot Bay site in 1892, a crew of 200 men began erecting a smelter with an ore concentrator, a sampler, roaster, engine room, boiler room, machine and blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, assay and general offices.   It was a first class operation for the time, with two boilers of 100 horsepower each, the concentrator had two  9” x 15” crushers, six  jigs, two slime tables and two Frue Vanners.   The roast building had four  17’ x 65’ reverberatory furnaces of 12 tons capacity each, and the smelter was a single 100 ton water jacketed blast furnace.   The engine house contained a 150 horsepower Corliss engine running the concentrator and sampling works with a rope drive. An 85 horsepower blower engine furnished air under pressure for the blast furnace, and a 30 horsepower engine turned a dynamo to light the works.  The whole expensive complex cost the company $650,000.   Smelter capacity was expected to be 100 tons of ore per day, with the Bluebell mine capable of furnishing 220 tons daily.   By the time the works was completed, 52,000 tons or ore was on site ready to be processed.    In March  1895 the smelter was blown in and processing begun.    Fuel was charcoal, locally produced in two beehive kilns, and coal barged in from Bonner’s Ferry where the Great Northern Railway had arrived in 1892.    By the end of the year 3,220 tons of silver- lead bullion had been produced and shipped to markets in the U.S.

A town of about 200 sprang up around the rim of Pilot Bay with the Galena Trading Company’s general store, two Hotels, a butcher shop and a boarding house.    As Dr. Hendryx wanted to run a model community, brothels were banned, but prospector Henry Rose built a number of small houseboats, and anchored them in the bay to serve this purpose, beyond the authority of Dr. Hendryx. 

Limestone flux was barged in from Big Ledge and iron oxide from the U.S.  Ores from other Kootenay Lake mines were purchased, 2,500 tons in 1895, but the bulk of  the smelter feed consisted of the Bluebell ore, and problems with it developed at once.   All the Kootenay lead ores were sulphide ores requiring a preliminary roasting to remove as much sulphur as possible before charging it as lead oxide, into the blast furnace along with coal, coke or charcoal, limestone and iron oxide.   If all went well, the limestone and iron oxide would form a molten slag which would absorb the impurities and earthy matter, and the carbon in the coal or charcoal would react with the lead oxide to form carbon dioxide which went up the stack, while molten lead containing the silver, was tapped out at the bottom of the crucible.   But at Pilot Bay too many things went wrong.   The roasting did not always remove all the sulphur,  and the resulting matte would have to be re-smelted at an increased consumption of fuel.   In normal smelting practice “dry” lead carbonate or lead oxide ores would be mixed with the “wet” or high sulphur ores to dilute the sulphur in the mix and allow its removal in a single pass.    But in the Kootenays, dry ores were not available.   The zinc content of the Bluebell ores also caused problems.  Zinc boils (vaporizes) at 907º C.   This is below the melting point of silver.   If the furnace was run hot enough to recover the silver, the zinc would be lost up the stack as a fine dust.    A metallurgist, Robert Hedley was brought in to manage them smelting operation, but he was unable to convince the stubborn Dr. Hendryx that the Bluebell ore was too refractory to smelt without the addition of dry ores.   The Hendryx company would have to bring in dry lead ores (they were available in Stevens County, Washington) from the U.S. if the smelter was to run at a profit.    Hendryx refused, Hedley departed, and in 1896 the smelter was closed for “reconstruction.”

Throughout the summer a crew of men made bricks for an extension of the smelter’s chimney and laboured at other improvements, while Dr. Hendryx went east to to try raise more capital.   However, in September, his brother, Andrew Hendryx arrived with a grim face.   The works were closed, all employees were discharged except for one watchman; the Hendryx brothers were pulling out.   

The Bank of Montreal foreclosed on the Kooteany Mining and Milling Company, and leased the property to Braden Brothers who shipped their ore from the Ainsworth and Slocan properties to Pilot Bay and ran them through the concentrator.   The concentrator was worked sporadically for the next ten years on local ores, but the smelter was never fired again.  There were hopes that a promised CPR rail line through Crowsnest Pass would bring in cheaper coal and coke, and make the smelter economic.  But the CPR , unwilling to build track until it got government subsidies, did not arrive until 1899.   By that time a new Hall smelter was in operation in Nelson.   The Sawmill closed in 1903, and Pilot Bay temporarily became a ghost town with only a few residents remaining, hoping for a revival.