The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

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Category Archives: Local History

STEEP AND CROOKED … by Late Writer, Artist & Castle Builder Bill Laux

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EPILOG

HISTORY BECOMES NOSTALGIA

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Phoenix BC at the Height of the Mining Boom – Photo Credit: Global News

          Today the Boundary Bonanzas are nearly forgotten except in Republic where miners still extract the low grade deposits of Cooke Mountain.   The Burlington Northern has cut back its Republic line to the sawmill at San Poil Lake.   A weekly freight makes the run from Kettle Falls to Republic picking up loads of lumber and abrasives from the industries at Grand Forks and lumber from the San Poil mill.

          Phoenix is utterly gone.   Only the WWI cenotaph with its list of the fallen of 1914 – 18 stands at the rim of an abandoned pit a half mile across and 400 feet deep, where the town once roared with life.   The graveyard, a mile down the road, had no copper under it, and has survived, visited by curious tourists each summer.

            Rossland continues a vibrant city, a bedroom community for the smelter workers commuting to Trail each day.   The mines have been leveled and sealed. The huge dumps of waste rock have been hauled away to fill the gulches that once fingered through the town.   And excellent museum and underground tour of the Black Bear workings give visitors a sampling of Rossland’s glory days.   Red Mountain today is renowned for its ski hill and the champions who got their start there.

            The great smelter at Trail roars night and day, processing the ores of the Sullivan mine at Kimberley and the Red Dog mine in Alaska.   The sulfurous fumes that once kept Trail children indoors on bad days are now collected and converted into sulfuric acid from which fertilizer is made at the Warfield plant.   Each morning a pair of diesel locomotives with three or four cars of chemicals crawls up the 4.6 percent grade from the smelter to Warfield and the fertilizer plant.

            At Northport the smelter has long since been demolished, and a sawmill operates on its site.   The great railroad bridge is gone, but the Burlington Northern trains still run up Dan Corbin’s Spokane Falls and Northern tracks to Sayward, Fruitvale and Salmo.

            In Grand Forks Shelley Dahl and Mario Savaia pilot their switch engine down the fragment of the Hot Air Line that has outlasted the mighty CPR in the Boundary, and the Canadian traffic goes out on the Burlington Northern.   The CPR which rushed into the Boundary District in a panic in 1900, abandoned it in another irrational panic in 1995 and Jim Hill’s line, under the old Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern charter, remains, still hauling Boundary products to Spokane

            Of the men and women who found and developed the Boundary Bonanzas, only photographs of those confident, Nineteenth Century faces remain.   Joe Moris lived out his long life in Rossland under the slopes of the mountain that made him famous.   Joe Bourgeois went on to discover the Sullivan mine in the East Kootenay, now, after a hundred years of exploitation, nearing exhaustion.

            Colonel Topping never did find his “Second Le Roi,” although he spent most of his fortune looking for it in Oregon, Washington and northern B.C.   After Frank Hanna’s death in Texas, he and Mary Jane were married in Rossland in September, 1906.   They moved to Victoria to live out their lives in retirement.   Colonel Topping died January 17, 1917, at the age of 73.   Mary Jane moved to Ventura, California to live with her daughter, Estella.

            Fritz Heinze died in New York in 1914 of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 45, surrounded, as he had been all his life, by a cloud of litigation.   He and his brothers had held off the established Eastern financial community until the panic of 1907 when he was driven from his bank.   In the end, worn out, sick and perhaps unfairly discredited, he died in disgrace.

            Jay Graves was caught up in the Interurban Railway boom of the Teens and Twenties.   With his profits from Granby, he built a 117 mile electric line from Spokane to Colfax, Washington and Moscow, Idaho, and a hydroelectric plant of the Spokane River to furnish its power.   His Inland Empire Railway was a pioneer of 25 cycle, single phase, alternating current for electric traction and his electric locomotives were the most advanced of the day.   Unfortunately, the building of his interurban railway came at the beginning of the automobile revolution.   As all season roads were built, patronage dwindled and his line slid into bankruptcy in the 1920s.   He was able to sell it as a steam operated freight line to the Great Northern, which held most of its debt.

            Jay Graves invested what funds remained to him in a series of unsuccessful mining ventures.   Like Colonel Topping seeking another Le Roi, Graves counted on a second Knob Hill.   He never found it, dying in retirement in California in 1948, leaving his widow $45,000 and the worthless stock of six mining companies.   In a curious irony, eighteen years later, the International Nickel Company opened a glory hole on Jay Grave’s old California mine ground on Red Mountain and mined molybdenum from it until 1972.

            The pompous Charles Mackintosh remained Rossland’s resident “Guinea Pig,” the nominal head of the BAC company, until its mines passed to Cominco.   He and his wife than bought the Halcyon Hot Springs on Upper Arrow Lake, built a spa and hotel, and bottled the springs’ lithia water for sale in England.

            James J. Hill died of infected hemorrhoids in 1916.   With his passing, the great railway war subsided.   His son, Louis, took over the Great Northern, and free from his father’s obsession with the CPR, suspended work on the “Third Main Line” (Spokane to Vancouver).   Hill’s incursions into southern British Columbia are barely mentioned in his biographies and are given only cursory mention in Great Northern Railway histories.   Hill’s total investment in his Canadian subsidiaries exceeded $38.5 million.   Of these lines, only the Crowsnest Southern ever paid a dividend.   The rest were, in the words of Hidy, Hidy, Scott & Hofsommer”s recent history, The Great Northern Railway, “costly failures.”   The reason cited by American railroad historians for building these B.C. lines, was to offset the Soo Line’s rate making advantage from Minnesota and North Dakota to the West Coast.   If that were truly the case, the Canadian expenditures were wasted.   The Soo was not defeated.   Hill never obtained control over it.   It flourishes today as the successor to the Milwaukee Road’s Midwest lines.

            William Cornelius Van Horne resigned from the presidency of the Canadian Pacific on June 15, 1899, frustrated and worn out from his long struggle with J.J. Hill and the machinations of George Stephen.   After his departure he built railroads in Cuba, even selling four shares worth $200,000 to Jim Hill.  In his retirement he collected French Impressionist paintings and divided his time between Cuba and his summer home in New Brunswick.   He died on September 15, 1915.

            Thomas Shaugnessy took over the CPR from Van Horne, and held the presidency until 1918, when he turned the position over to Edward Beatty, the first Canadian to become CPR president.   Shaugnessy died in 1923, grief stricken at the death of his son, Fred, in the Great War.

            Tracy Holland became an unpopular mayor of Grand Forks, probably owing to the unusual method that put him into office without a vote.   He had to face at least one public meeting calling for his resignation.   At the conclusion of his term he moved to Vancouver and disappears from the record.

            Volcanic Brown lived to see four railroads running from Grand Forks to the Cardinal Points.   He was among a group of prospectors who located the great Sunset Copper mine near Princeton, B.C.   He sold his interest in it for $45,000 and had a dentist make him a set of solid gold false teeth.   Thereafter, children on the streets of Grand Forks would beg him to smile for them, which he obligingly did. Brown died a prospector’s death in 1930.   At the age of 82, the unstoppable Volcanic Brown went up the Pitt River alone, searching for John Slumach’s gold discovery.   When he did not return a search party went in to look for him. They found his abandoned camp and a screw top glass jar with 11 ounces of coarse gold on pieces of quartz.   His body was never found, nor to this day, the source of that gold. .

            The Boundary Bonanzas demonstrated in the space of ten years, a single pattern of economic development, three times repeated.   A rich mineral strike was followed by both an American and a Canadian railroad making their steep and crooked way to the mines.   A period of fierce rate competition ensued, with each of the lines intent on monopolizing the traffic.   In each case, as soon as the ores were exhausted, the foreign railroad withdrew at once, leaving the domestic line to furnish government mandated service until abandonment could be granted.

            It might be thought that the construction of these duplicate lines was wasteful and unnecessary.   Paradoxically, the opposite was true.   The savage competition reduced haulage rates to “bare cost” or below.   This in turn made the low grade ores commercial and permitted the processing of many thousands of tons of ore which would have been left in the ground if only one rail line, making its own rates, had served the mines.

            This mining beyond normal returns by artificially low haulage rates, extended the life of the mines, and supported with substantial payrolls, the growth of the cities of Rossland, Trail, Phoenix, Greenwood, and the town of Republic.   Equally important, an agriculture was initiated in these districts otherwise remote from markets, to feed the thousands of miners and related workers.   Although fewer than one in a hundred mining claims made a mine, and fewer than one mine in twenty made money, it was the “wasted” investments in unsuccessful mines that made the boom.   “Wasted investments employed miners, created retail businesses, established farms and ranches, built railroads, set up banks, and started lumbering and saw milling that exists to this day.   Capital does not always move rationally; “wasted” money is never wholly lost.

            Although by 1912, the Roaring Days of Rossland were over with the mines consolidated into one enterprise and the town settled into a normal course of life, the wild days of gold and glory were fondly remembered in Spokane.   For those who had been there in ‘94 and ‘95, the experience had been unforgettable.   The intensity of life in a bonanza mining camp was like nothing else on earth.   Poor men were made rich overnight.   Substantial investors were fleeced of their very boots.   Wages were the highest in North America, and were spent with careless extravagance.   It was a roaring, woman-less town of three thousand with forty-two saloons, seventeen law offices, and five dance halls.   Men worked harder than they ever had in their lives before; more money passed through their hands than they had ever seen.   Optimism was not just the pervading spirit, it was the only spirit, and it infected everyone.   And then, slowly, the bankers took control, the mines consolidated, and it was all over.

            The American Mining Congress met in Spokane in 1912.   To entertain the delegates, local mining men constructed a replica Rossland, called “Spokane Diggin’s” in a hockey rink.   The intent was to recreate those gaudy days on Red Mountain with a saloon, gambling tables and a dance hall.

            The “Diggin’s” were a huge success with the public who were delighted to celebrate those days of gold and unreason.   By the second night, 5000 people crowded into the “Diggin’s” to relive an exotic past.   The evening was climaxed by a dance hall girl stripping nude on the stage and scampering off to the whistles and stamping of an enthusiastic audience.

            This slightly scandalous recreation of Rossland’s notorious International Dance Hall brought out the Spokane clergy, its women’s groups, even, curiously, its Socialists, to indulge themselves in a public display of moral indignation.   There were some aspects of the past, they felt, that ought not to evoke nostalgia.

            This early Theme Park demonstrated the public hunger for a nostalgic re-creation of the Roaring Days of but a few years before.   That wild intensity of life, which was a bonanza camp, seems available to us now only in the chemical bonanza of drugs. The rest of us pay to have our past slicked up and served to us in a thousand theme parks and Hollywood fantasies.   We are today much too cynical, much too timid, to pick up a shovel and begin digging furiously on a wild hope. The real bonanzas are out of bounds for us now.

 

STEEP AND CROOKED … by Late Writer, Artist & Castle Builder Bill Laux

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

SLOW DEATH:THE DEMISE OF THE HOT AIR LINE 1902 – 1921

CPR Logging Train

        After the arrival of the W&GN rails in Republic in 1903, the production of the mines was split between the two railroads.   Approximately 1000 tons per week was going out, with the GN taking the largest share.   Most of this ore had been stockpiled at the mines awaiting the rails.   Almost all of the 30 carloads a week being shipped, went to the Granby smelter.   Very high grade ores went to Everett and Tacoma, Washington where the smelters were willing to pay premium prices for Republic ores with their high silica and lime content, to blend with their “wet” (high in sulfur) ores to make a desirable slag in the furnaces.

        Once the stockpiles of ore had been shipped, traffic began to dwindle from 35,000 tons with a value of $350,000 in 1903 to a mere 195 tons with a value of $9,000 in the panic year of 1907.   It was not an indication that the mines were exhausted.   Recovery of the gold values was the problem, not exhaustion of the deposits.   When better concentrating methods were installed in the larger mines, production increased.

            With better concentrating machinery installed in 1908, shipments began to pick up with 584 tons shipped for a value of $20,000.     Shipments steadily climbed to 44,000 tons in 1911 with a value of $900,000. Meanwhile, the Hot Air line limped along, with Republic Agent O.E. Fisher, picking up what business he could.   He contracted log hauls to sawmills along the line, and organized rail excursions on Sundays to the popular picnic grounds on Curlew Lake  The Great Northern’s W&GN, however, with its direct connection to Spokane, took the majority of the the passenger business.

            Train No. 256 from Spokane dropped its buffet car at Curlew, and continued on west to Oroville where it terminated.   Return train, No. 255, originated there at 6:30 AM, and stopped in Curlew to board passengers bound for Grand Forks or Spokane, and to pick up the buffet car.   The 2-1/2 percent grades on the Midway – Oroville portion of the line made it prudent to leave the heavy buffet car at Curlew, since the locomotives assigned to this service were older machines from Dan Corbin’s SF&N with limited pulling capacity.   At Karamin, not listed in this timetable, but at Mile 163, passengers and freight were set out for the narrow gauge Belcher Mine Railway which pulled its single passenger car 8 miles up Lambert Creek whenever Conductor Ike Mc Clung had paying traffic.

            In the Teens and Twenties of this century, Marcus, Washington was the center of action for all these mining lines.   Daily, at noon, the town came to life with sudden energy.   No. 259, the morning train from Nelson would arrive at 12:40 with the passengers and express that had come down the Red Mountain Railway to board at Northport.   The passengers would hurry into the restaurant, a neatly panted two story building just west of the station, congratulating themselves on being the first to arrive with a choice of tables.   No. 259 would be quickly wyed by its crew and set out beside the station on the north leg of the wye to return to Northport and Nelson as No. 260 after lunch.   Once parked on the house track, its hungry crew would make their way to the table in the restaurant reserved for GN employees.

               At 12:50, No. 255 from Oroville, Curlew and Grand Forks would come rumbling across the great Columbia River bridge to halt on the west leg of wye opposite the restaurant and its passengers would pour off and crowd into the building.   At he same time, 12:50, No. 256 was arriving from Spokane and its passengers were on the vestibule steps ready to make a run for the restaurant, shouting their orders as they crowded through the door.

              No. 255 was due to depart for Spokane in ten minutes, so its passengers had time only to pick up their box lunches ordered by telegraph from Laurier.   At 1:l0, both No 260 for Northport and Nelson, and No. 256 for Grand Forks, Curlew and Oroville were whistling for departure.   The diners cursed, shoving last mouthfuls of food into their faces, put down their napkins and hurried out to their trains, suffering the first pangs of heartburn and damning Jim Hill for his belief that twenty minutes was ample time to order and consume a noon meal.   The trains, probably a few minutes late, chuffed off, leaving the restaurant employees time to sit down, put their feet up and enjoy a smoke.   The whistle blasts from the three trains, resounding from the mountains, died away, the long rumble from the Columbia Bridge was silenced, and the sleepy, riverfront town of Marcus relaxed into a quiet afternoon snooze.   It would all happen again at noon the next day.

           In Grand Forks, the Hot Air management, defeated by Jim Hill’s competition at Republic, had turned to their North Fork line.   They had built 18 miles up the river and then stalled for want of funds at Lynch Creek.   An arrangement with the CPR allowed the Canadian Pacific’s trains to use the Hot Air track through town, and its station on 4th Avenue in exchange for Hot Air trackage rights from Westend to Smelter Junction on the CPR line.   The North Fork line then ran alongside Smelter Lake, serving a sawmill there, and on up the valley through the settlements at Niagara, Troutdale and Humming Bird where ore from nearby mines was loaded.   At two places north of Humming Bird, the wagon road was side by side with the tracks, and to keep the locomotives from frightening horses on the road, a high board fence was erected to separate the track from the road.   The road was frequently impassable in bad weather and couples would then resort to pumping a hand car down the Hot Air rails to attend dances at Volcanic Brown’s Camp.   The Hot Air was a home town railroad and when locals needed transportation, borrowing a railroad hand car and pumping down the line was customary practice.

             The Franklin Camp gold mines, 40 miles to the north were the line’s immediate goal.   An ambitious extension was planned to cross Monashee Pass and reach the Okanagan at Vernon, and beyond to the coal mines of the Nicola Valley. However, no one wanted to risk investing in a line Jim Hill had publicly announced he would destroy.   A hotel was built at Lynch Creek, the jumping off place for prospectors and miners, and a wagon road to Franklin Camp brought out its ore to be loaded on the Hot Air cars for the Granby smelter.

               In 1919, the Trail smelter was interested in getting fluorite from the Rock Candy mine to use as flux.   The CPR built the Lynch Creek bridge and extended the Hot Air rails two miles to Archibald where an aerial cable way brought the fluorite to a loading bunker.   This, together with log shipments to the sawmill and cedar utility pole shipments, allowed the Hot Air to maintain a weekly service, since the copper mines along the line had shut down with the closing of the Granby smelter.

               In the 1930s, the Hecla Mining Company, of Wallace, Idaho, bought the Union mine at Franklin Camp.   They built a concentrator and mill, and shipped their concentrates by truck to the Hot Air at Archibald, staving off the line’s abandonment for a few more years.  In 1921 the Hot Air’s wooden bridge over the Kettle River between Cuprum and City Station was damaged and there was no money to repair it.   That part of the line was abandoned and the CPR trains backed and out of City Station.   That accounts for the mileage on the timetable above being figured from Westend, which was the CPR interchange.   By 1935 mine traffic on the North Fork line had ceased and the sawmill at Lynch Creek had closed.   With no remaining traffic, the CPR pulled the rails.   The present steel highway bridge across the North Fork at Bumblebee is the only remaining artifact of the North Fork branch.   In September, 1952, the CPR ceased backing its passenger trains into the downtown station and those tracks were pulled. The Great Northern pulled out of Grand Forks on June 15, 1943, closing its station, and pulling its tracks back across the Kettle River to the “Big Y”, three miles south of town where a tiny station was maintained for passengers.             Ever since the Hot Air lost most of the contracts for hauling ore from the Eureka Creek mines to the Great Northern, the managers of the Trusts and Guarantee Company back in Ontario had wanted desperately to unload this ailing railroad.   In 1906 they sent out James Warren, the former manager of the White Bear mine at Rossland, to either make the Hot Air profitable, or abandon it.

            Warren saw at once that the Republic line, in direct competition with Hill’s Great Northern branch, was a loser.   It’s only salvation could be as a Canadian Gateway Line for one of the four American transcontinentals in Spokane.   Accordingly, the Hot Air had been reorganized in 1905 as the Spokane and British Columbia Railway with lawyer, W.T. Beck, of Republic as president.   The line claimed three locomotives, two passenger cars, and sixteen freight cars.   These, lettered for the Spokane and B.C.., ran on all Hot Air branches, from Eureka Creek to Lynch Creek.               Beck and Warren sent out surveyors to stake out a grade from Republic to Spokane.   The location survey ran down the San Poil river to the Hedlund Lumber Company Mill at West Fork which was expected to provide substantial traffic.   To encourage investors, a short length of isolated track was laid here, just as had been done on Clark Avenue in Republic in 1902.   The survey followed the San Poil south to the Columbia at Keller where the Indiana corporation was planning to build a smelter to process ore from the Keller mines.   The Granby company, as well, had issued bonds in 1902 to finance the extension of the Hot Air to the Keller mines so that it could bid for their ores.   From Keller, the S&BC was to run along the north bank of the Columbia to the mouth of the Spokane River.   A bridge was to cross the Columbia here and the line was to ascend the Spokane River and enter Spokane across the flat prairie north of town.   The line was announced with great fanfare in Spokane, and purchases of land were made, not so much for right of way, but as speculations on the development of north Spokane should the S&BC ever build track.   A further scheme was announced by which the S&BC would skirt the north edge of town and connect with Dan Corbin’s Spokane International which he had built to bring the Canadian Pacific into Spokane from Yahk, B.C.   The idea was to provide a water level coal route from the Crowsnest mines to the Granby and Greenwood smelters, bypassing the CPR’s costly barge route across Kootenay Lake with its “double dockage” charges on every carload of coal, and that costly haul, with double-headed freights, over Mc Rae Pass.   Such route, if built, would break Jim Hill’s monopoly on coal to the Granby smelter, something that the CPR dearly wished for.   Jim Hill, for his part, sent his surveyors to stake out a parallel line.   It was graded, Bluestem to Hawk Creek, and that was a sufficient message to potential investors.   The message was received, and the S&BC languished.

            Warren and the Hot Air were not alone in these schemes to bring cheaper coal to the Kootenay and Boundary industries.   Frederick Blackwell, who had completed his Idaho and Washington Northern Railroad from a Spokane connection to Metalline Falls, a few miles from the Canadian border, maintained a cutoff line from Blanchard to Athol on Corbin’s SIR, so that coal could come over over his line to Trail, B.C. if only the CPR would build a 35 mile connecting line from Trail, up the Pend Orielle River to tie into his rails at Metalline Falls.   CPR officials looked at the proposal.   It would give them an easy grade to Trail and bypass the awkward Kootenay Lake barge link. But in the end, they rejected the scheme.   For the same amount of money required to build up the Pend Orielle, they could put CPR rails around the south end of Kootenay Lake to Nelson, eliminating the barge line and having an All-Canadian line.   Having made this decision, they then characteristically omitted to build the Kootenay Lake Line, and barging went on until the 1930s.

            Meanwhile, the Milwaukee bought Blackwell’s Idaho and Washington Northern in 1912. Warren and the Hot Air approached the Union Pacific with their Spokane and B. C. Gateway proposal.   The UP considered, but in 1917, opted for 50% of Corbin’s SIR and an interchange with the CPR at Yahk. This American timetable gives times and mileage only from the border at Danville.   The Belcher mine had closed the previous year, though there are reports that the Mine Railroad still hauled logs for the sawmill at Karamin.

           As with the Canadians up the North Fork, the American residents of Danville used the railroad’s hand cars to attend dances in Curlew. Since trains did not run on Sunday, the baseball teams would use the handcars as well to get to games in Republic. With the destruction of the Hot Air’s Grand Forks depot and offices by fire in August, 1908, the early records of the line perished.   However, U.S. sources record that from the period March 1, 1909 until June 30, 1915, total revenues of the American segment of the line were $122,956, and expenses $292,461.   Possibly, revenues from the North Fork line may have offset this loss to some extent, but it is doubtful that the Hot Air ever operated in the black.   Certainly, the Republic line was always a loser.   One trip, related by Harry Lembke, illustrates the parlous state of the Hot Air line in its last years.   The Lembkes were buying logs from the Trout Creek area and having them brought to Curlew by the Hot Air train.   On one trip to pick up logs, the Hot Air locomotive began to lose water through cracked boiler tubes.   With the tank empty, they stopped on the Trout Creek Trestle and tried to dip water from the creek with a rope and bucket. But they found the engine was losing water from her boiler as fast as they could pour it in the tank.   The crew took the train to the siding just south of the trestle where all piled onto a flat car and coasted all the way back to Danville.   (More likely to Curlew, and pumped a hand car from there to Grand Forks.)   Another locomotive was fired up at Grand Forks and run down the line to bring back the leaking locomotive and its train.

            With the failure to peddle the Spokane and B.C. to an American railroad, J.J. Warren turned to the last remaining asset the Hot Air Line possessed, that charter authorization to build west to the Coast.   It was fanciful to believe that the Hot Air, a bankrupt railroad, barely able to run its trains, could be the corporation to accomplish that “Coast to Kootenay” railroad that British Columbians had wanted for so long.   But, astonishingly, Warren thought it could.   He somehow convinced the CPR that the way to beat Jim Hill’s “Third Main Line” to the Coast, was to lease the Hot Air for its charter, and then finance it to build the long hoped for line.   In 1913, the CPR agreed, and leased the Hot Air.   Warren and his directors renamed the corporation again (the Canadian part).   This time it became “The Kettle Valley Railway,” and with CPR backing, began building west from the Columbia and Western’s dead end at Midway.   Under Warren’s direction, and with CPR money, the Hot Air finally succeeded with a hair-raising mountain line through to Hope B.C. and a connection with the Canadian Pacific’s main line to Vancouver.

            The Republic line, under its U.S. charter as the Spokane and B.C.., was allowed to declare itself bankrupt in 1920, and ceased operations.   It was not worth saving; the CPR in 1921, allowed its assets to be auctioned off and its rails pulled up for salvage.   Washington State Highway 21 was built on its grade from Danville to just north of Curlew, and from the present Curlew High School south to Karamin.   The Karamin turnoff follows the grade to Trout Creek and the upper part of the Barrett Creek road is on its grade to Swamp Creek.

            The Great Northern trackage up Eureka Creek was seeing slight use in the 1930s as the mines were now using a cyanide process to recover the gold and smelting was no longer required.   When a sudden flood washed out the north approach to the great looping trestle over Granite Creek trapping a train up Eureka Creek, the railroad decided to pull its tracks back to the Republic station. A temporary fill was put in to rescue the stranded train, and in 1940, the tracks were lifted and an ore loading platform was built near the station to accommodate carload shipments to the Tacoma smelter.

           The Day Brothers of San Francisco, bought and consolidated a number of Eureka Creek properties in the 1930s, and kept them in production with modern concentrating machinery and methods. Hecla Mining Company acquired the Day Company’s Eureka Creek properties in 1981 in an unrelated transaction. Hecla engineers, in inspecting the Day properties in Eureka Creek, found them worth working.   Hecla worked the mines until 1995 when the Knob Hill mine was finally closed.   It had been an extremely long run; 99 years of nearly continuous production from a single mine, extracting 2 million ounces of gold, surpassing Phoenix and Rossland.

               Today, (1997) Echo Bay Mining operates several low grade properties on Cooke Mountain, not far from the old Belcher Mine.     Santa Fe Pacific Gold Corporation has leased the Golden Eagle claim from Hecla and is drilling on it to assess its value as a possible open pit mine.   Republic, the longest lived of the three Boundary Bonanzas, still thrives as a mining town.

                 Paradoxically, a fragment of the Hot Air Line has outlasted the Canadian Pacific in the Boundary District.   When, in 1995, just after completing a tie replacement program on the C&W Midway-Castlegar line, the Canadian Pacific, apparently suffering another panic attack, pulled its tracks back to Castlegar, the industries of Grand Forks were left without a rail connection.   The Burlington Northern was still running down its line to Republic, south of town and a surviving piece of Hot Air track still ran from Cuprum to Coopers’ Wye (“Big Y” locally), the BN interchange.   To serve the Grand Forks industries, the CPR stationed a diesel switcher at Cuprum and taxied a crew over from Nelson once or twice a week to perform industry switching and interchange cars with the BN.   This was wasteful and ridiculous.   The crew taxied over from Nelson had to be paid railroad mileage for the trip as union rules required, and the switcher, unprotected from the weather, had to be idled all winter long to keep the coolant from freezing.

            Pope and Talbot, operators of the sawmill undertook to form the Grand Forks Railway Company to take over the switching job.   Each morning the personnel of the Railroad, Dennis John, Manager, Mario Savaia, Conductor, and Miss Shelley Dahl, Engineer, switch the Grand Forks industries and run the loads down the 1-1/4 miles of Hot Air Track to the BN interchange at Cooper’s Wye.   Pope and Talbot provide a shed for winter storage of the switcher.   Headquarters is at Cuprum.

 

STEEP AND CROOKED … by Late Writer, Artist & Castle Builder Bill Laux

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  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

RED MOUNTAIN: BOOM AND DECLINE 1900 – 1997

Trail_Smelter_in_Year_1929

Trail Smelter 1929 – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

When standard gauging its Rossland line, the CPR moved the Rossland yards to a flat between Second and Third Avenues, extending from Washington to Butte.   A commodious station was built on the site now occupied by the Rossland fire hall.   On the north side of the four track yard, a freight shed was erected, and at the east end, near Butte, a two stall engine house.   Alongside the yard tracks private interests put in a coal yard, a feed store, and a drayage warehouse.     Down in the lower town at Cook Avenue, a roofed platform for passengers was built at the water tower.   As in its narrow gauge days, this was still called “Union Avenue.”

 With both the CPR and the Great Northern in town, their bitter rivalry was not long in breaking out.     At the west end of Rossland, the Red Mountain Railway had a spur up behind the present museum which hauled ore from the Black Bear mine, delivered coal for its power plant, and timbers for mine props.  Further east and some hundreds of feet up Red Mountain was the second class dump of the great Le Roi mine.  The Northport smelter had installed a concentrating plant and now wanted that ore.

Accordingly, in the first days of November, 1900, the Red Mountain Railway sent out its engineers to stake out a line climbing west from the Black Bear spur to a switchback on the Annie claim.   Reversing there, the line climbed back east to the Le Roi second class ore dump and on to the end of the CPR track at the War Eagle ore bunkers.   This line would allow the Northport smelter to bid for both the Le Roi second class ore and for the War Eagle ores.

            For once in its long life, the CPR moved with dispatch. On the Ninth of November, the train from Nelson brought a full crew of workmen, engineers, and their tools.   The next morning, as the dawn sun was glimmering through the fog-shrouded town, the CPR men with teams and scrapers assembled at the War Eagle ore bunkers.     Running west and slightly downhill was the line of Red Mountain survey stakes.   After a careful sight through his instrument, the CPR engineer pronounced the Red Mountain grade suitable.   At once the CPR crew began to grade it with shovels, picks, wheelbarrows and horse drawn scrapers.  It was not until the next day that an outraged Red Mountain crew arrived from Marcus to find the CPR had graded their own line down to the Black Bear mine on the Red Mountain survey and were preparing to lay ties and rails

.               Howls of indignation went up, but this was Canada, and no pistols were drawn.   The Red Mountain telegrapher in Rossland sent out an SOS to Spokane.   Spokane wired Jim Hill in St Paul.   The mighty Empire Builder raged.   His Spokane lawyers were roused from their beds at midnight and bustled onto a hastily assembled special train at the Spokane depot.   They were to be in court in Rossland promptly at ten in the morning.   On came the Lawyers’ Special, storming up the hill to Rossland, and screeching to a halt at the Spokane Street station.   A squad of shivering and sleepless attorneys descended, and clutching their briefcases, hurried down to the courthouse on Columbia Avenue.

           But, as they were to learn, the CPR was a power in Canada.   The legal arguments were many, learned, and passionate.   Still, the owners of the mining claims over which the disputed rails passed, raised no objection; they were quite delighted to have rails at their mine mouths.   His Honour could find no injured party.

            On December 14, the judge upheld the CPR rails and the Spokane lawyers departed.   On the 16th, the Red Mountain capitulated, and connected its rails at the Black Bear with the CPR tracks.   Both lines could now compete for ore from the Black Bear, the War Eagle, and the Le Roi second class dump.   Belatedly, on the 23rd, the CPR published its “Notice of Application to Build a Branch Line to the Black Bear Claim.”   That closed any legal loopholes, and the Red Mountain Railway resigned itself to the interchange track.

                 With the end of regular sternwheeler service, the CPR removed the tracks from Bay Avenue and the Trail station to a more central location at Cedar and Farwell (where the Super Valu market now stands).   A wye was installed here to turn the engines. The War Eagle and Centre Star mines were bought in 1906 by the newly organized Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (COMINCO) which began a policy of buying mining properties to assure the smelter of a continuous and predictable supply of ore.   The Northport smelter was still bidding for ores and faced uneconomic shutdowns when they were not forthcoming. As Rossland entered the present century, the results of the early high grading days became evident.   The Red Mountain mines had been opened in a virtual wilderness by the Spokane Colonels and Canadian Honourables when only the richest shoots of ore could pay their way to a railway siding by pack team or rawhiding.

              In 1896 the ore shipped out ran an average of 1.45 oz. in gold, 2.34 oz. silver, and 40.9 pounds of copper per ton.   That rich ore was worth $32.64 per ton.   The charges at the pioneer smelters were high, between $10 and $14 per ton, reflecting the high cost of getting coke and coal to the smelters by the roundabout rail and water routes.   Two years later, the average ore being mined contained only half as much gold, but owing to a doubling of the copper price, was still bringing a profit of about $20 per ton.

            The Le Roi, hoisting twenty six carloads daily in 1901, could claim ore values of only $13.16 per ton.   With the CPR bringing coal and coke directly from the Crowsnest fields, the smelter charges were more modest.   Combined mining, haulage and smelting charges averaged just $10.72 per ton.   This yielded a profit of $2.44 per ton, a tenth of what it had been three years earlier.   $2.00 per ton remained an average profit for the red Mountain mines for some years thereafter. High grade ore shoots were still being uncovered from time to time; each was announced with great fanfare in the mining press. But breathless publicity was largely a device to bolster stock prices and keep investors buying.   As the mines went deeper, the tenor of the ore steadily declined.   Smelter managers sent ore buyers into the field to purchase ores with a high sulfur content which would reduce the amount of coal required in the furnaces.     For this reason it was economic to bring in the bornite and chalcopyrite ores from Phoenix to blend with the lower sulfur Rossland ores.   The much lower mining costs at Phoenix where the massive deposits could be worked with power shovels from huge glory holes, more than offset the cost of hauling these ores over the Monashees to Trail or around by Marcus to Northport.

           With a progressive decline in the quality of ore as their mines went deeper, the Rossland mine managers blamed their inability to pay dividends on high labor costs.They refused to honor the legally mandated eight hour day, and instituted a change from an hourly wage to a contract system, paying their miners so much per ton or per foot of tunnel dug.   The Rossland miners refused and struck on July 11, 1901. The strike was long and bitter, but eventually failed as the local union broke away from the Western Miners Federation in Denver, uncomfortable with its openly Socialist ideology.   With the miners now on a contract system, the mine managers were no longer able to blame their failure to produce rich dividends on excessive labor costs.   The truth was was that the Le Roi, the Centre Star and War Eagle had been bought from the Spokane Colonels at vastly inflated prices in the speculative boom of 1898.   The ore being mined after 1898 could simply not pay the dividends demanded.     General informed belief was that the miners had been scapegoated.   The British Columbia Mining Record editorialized that the real reasons for the unprofitability of the Rossland Mines after 1898 were, “…the exaggerated anticipations on the part of investors; extravagance and incompetence on the part of the representatives of the investors” (the mine  managers); “over taxation… and extensive swindling on the part of company promoters.”

                To reduce mining costs Aldridge of the Trail smelter proposed uniting all the major producers into one company.   All were interconnected underground; amalgamation would allow all hoisting to be done through one shaft, and a single compressor station and lighting works would serve all the mines.   The owners refused, believing the proposal to be a CPR grab for monopoly control.   Aldridge was persistent; he believed that if the CPR did not buy the mines, the Great Northern would.[v]     Gradually, opposition weakened, except for Mc Millan, manager of the Le Roi.   He was especially obstructive, attacking the condition for merger that gave the CPR all the haulage of the combined ores, and the Trail smelter all the treatment.   Aldridge saw Mc Millan as representing Jim Hill’s interests.   This was true.   J.J. Hill, in far off St Paul, had been myopically buying shares in the declining Le Roi for the express purpose of preventing the CPR from getting hold of it, and denying Hill’s Red Mountain Railway of its traffic.

            In 1905 Aldridge was able to buy the War Eagle/Centre Star (already consolidated) from the Gooderham-Blackstock families in Toronto for $825,000. With these and other purchases, the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, Ltd. (COMINCO) was created in 1906.   Cominco was capitalized at 5 million dollars, a wringing out of the excessive capitalization which had hamstrung the separate companies.   It comprised the War Eagle,. Centre Star, the Trail smelter, The Rossland Power Company (an ore concentrating works), and the St Eugene mine, a lead-silver property in the East Kootenay which Aldridge optimistically expected to replace the Le Roi as the primary supplier of ore to the smelter.   The St Eugene was largely owned by the Spokane Colonels.   They had its manager, James Cronin, working his miners overtime in the months before the merger, a repetition of their 1898 stripping of the Le Roi, by removing as much of the high grade ore as possible to show a high valuation.   The St Eugene, as a result of the Colonels’ manipulations, was assigned 49.8% of the new Cominco stock, while the War Eagle-Centre Star got 33.2%, the Trail smelter, 15.8 % and the unsuccessful Rossland Power Company 1.2%.   Turning over their virtually depleted St Eugene mine to Cominco, the Spokane Colonels retired with half the Cominco stock, having fleeced the Canadians once again.

           Five years later, the worked out St Eugene was abandoned to a few leasers to pick its bones foe what they could find.   Cronin, when the deception was discovered, was unceremoniously removed from the Cominco board. Mc Millan of the Le Roi, doing Jim Hill’s bidding, refused to join the merger.   But Hill’s intransigence could not save his mine.   Five years later, in 1911, the Le Roi went into liquidation and was sold to Cominco for $250,000. As the supplies of copper-gold ores diminished in quantity and value, Cominco switched its interest to the huge deposit of low grade lead-silver ores of the Sullivan mine at Kimberly in the East Kootenay.

            This had been another of the Spokane Colonels’ properties, but here they had lost their shirts.   They had spent millions building a smelter to process its zinc-contaminated ores.   Then the usually shrewd Colonels became victims of their own exuberance.   Hiring by mistake, the brother of the engineer they had intended to employ, the smelter he built for them was an utter failure.   They sold out to the Guggenheims’ American ASARCO combine. Asarco as well was unable to treat the Sullivan ores successfully, and Cominco picked up the mine nobody wanted in 1910 for $116,000.  The separation of the troublesome zinc was finally achieved with a flotation process, and the Sullivan, together with the Bluebell (the deposit the Indians and Hudson’s Bay Company employees cast their bullets from in the 1840s) on Kootenay Lake furnished the bulk of Cominco’s ores until the 1970s.

         Still, copper-gold ores continued to come down the steep and crooked rails from Rossland, though, after 1916 in diminished tonnage.   By 1910, the CPR M4 series Consolidation locomotives were assigned to the Rossland run, and for these heavier engines the existing 60 pound rail was replaced with 85 pound steel.   Rails on the tight 20 degree curves had to be braced against the weight of these engines with ties wedged between the outside rail and the embankment.   On other curves the outside rail was cabled to an iron pin driven into bedrock.

               Braking on the downhill runs was always a problem.   The older cars with wooden brake beams often arrived at Smelter Junction with the beams so badly scorched they would need to be replaced before the car could be sent up the hill again. A judicious handling of the brakes was required so as not to burn off the brake beams and lose the train brakes.   In the Twenties all steel gondolas arrived with steel brake beams and the problem was eliminated.

           In the early years, the Rossland branch used tiny 4 wheel cabooses just 15 feet long.   These had been built in 1907 and 1908.   They lasted until the CPR banned 4 wheel equipment in the 1920s.   They were replaced by standard plan cabooses which had been shortened by ten feet.   A home made flanger, built on the single car truck, lasted well into the 1940s.

            After WWI the end was in sight for the Rossland mines.   They were following leaner and leaner veins down into the mountain, almost down to the level of the Columbia.   A plan was mooted to drive a tunnel from Warfield to intercept the deep workings and allow the ore to come out near present Haley Park.   This would have eliminated the need for trackage above Warfield.   The tunnel was begun, but too late.   The Red Mountain mines were nearing exhaustion and further expenditure was not justified.

               The Northport smelter had closed after the war for lack of ore.   On July 1, 1921, the last Great Northern train departed from Rossland and the Red Mountain Railway was closed.   In 1922, the rails were pulled and a one lane gravel road graded, most of it on the old railway line.   The great Columbia bridge at Northport was given a wooden deck for automobile traffic.   It served, an increasingly shaky structure old timers remember, until 1948, when one span collapsed and a ferry had to be put in service until a new highway bridge could be built.

               With the closing of the Phoenix mines in 1919 and the diminishing amounts of ore coming out of the deep levels of the Red Mountain mines, Cominco decided in 1929 to close its Rossland mines.   The next year it ended its copper smelting operations, and smelted exclusively lead-zinc-silver ores from the East and West Kootenay.   A good many of the Rossland miners found work in the Trail smelter, and a Rossland-Smelter Junction commuter coach was added to the 6:00 AM passenger train to Nelson.   The coach would be dropped off at Tadanac, as Smelter junction had been renamed.   On the return run from Nelson, the train would pick up the miner’s coach at 4:15 PM and haul them back up the hill to Rossland.

           When the great depression struck in the Thirties, the demand for metals dwindled and many smelter workers were laid off.   To assist these men, Cominco leased its Rossland mines from 1933 to 1940 to its laid-off employees.   A truck dumping facility was established on Washington Street.   The miners would truck their ore to the ramp and raise the body with a chain fall to dump the ore into the CPR gondolas.   The ore cars ran again in the three times per week service the CPR maintained to Rossland.

               A paved highway down the hill to Trail opened in 1937.   The miners then established their own commuting bus service to the smelter, a fifteen minute trip, as compared to an hour by train.   That year, all passenger service to Rossland was withdrawn.   Still, the freight climbed the hill three times a week, as Rossland, high above the smelter fumes, became the favored bedroom community for Trail employees.

           Conversion from coal to oil fired locomotives came in the late 1940s.   In 1953, diesel locomotives replaced steam.   In 1962 the line down the gulch to the Trail City station was lifted, and in March, 1966, the Rossland line was abandoned.   Track was lifted down to Warfield where the Cominco fertilizer plant still requires regular freight service bringing in phosphate and potash rock for conversion into fertilizer with the sulfuric acid formerly wasted up the stack.

            The Red Mountain mines and the steep and crooked line that served them, had outlasted Phoenix which had sunk into its own pits.   Rossland today remains a thriving community, and the Trail smelter, one of the world’s largest, processes ores brought from Alaska’s North Slope to Sayward up those historic Spokane Falls and Northern rails.   At the Sayward transfer facility, the ores are transferred to trucks for the remaining six miles to Trail. The failure of Fritz Heinze, in 1895, to keep his promise to Dan Corbin to lay track from Trail to Sayward is perpetuated today in that costly and irrational trucking operation.

            The inexplicable failure of the CPR to underbid BN for the Alaska ore traffic, has ended the procession of heavy ore trains from Cranbrook to Nelson to Trail, and the line from Yahk to Warfield has been sold to its employees.   The Canadian Pacific, reluctant in the beginning to enter the Kootenay-Boundary country, has hastened to leave it, abandoning its rail future to the always aggressive Americans.   BNSF trains still call at the old Great Northern points, at Sayward, at Salmo, at Grand Forks, at San Poil, and Curlew.   The departing CPR has sold the Trail Smelter, and pulled all of its track west of Castlegar.   Kootenay rail transport is back to where it was in 1899.

 

STEEP AND CROOKED … by Late Writer, Artist & Castle Builder Bill Laux

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THE MINING RAILROADS OF THE CANADIAN BORDER

 By Bill Laux

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

TWO RAILROADS; FIVE SMELTERS 1905 – 1921

Phoenix,_British_Columbia

Phoenix BC 1905 – Once the Highest Town in Canada (4610 ft)

Having bought Granby for $4.00 a share, William Nichols and his associates in the copper refining and marketing business, got up a special train and traveled west to see for themselves what they had acquired.   At Grand Forks, Jay Graves, Stephen Miner, and Aubrey White toured them through the smelter.   Then the CPR put on two locomotives and pulled their train up the steep grades to Phoenix where they stepped out in the highest town in Canada at 4610 feet.   There they were shown the claims and the producing mines of the company.   These were knowledgeable men, and they were enthusiastic at what they saw.   Analyst Stanton admitted, “Nowhere have I seen superior methods.”   J.B. Hereshoff, perhaps a rendered a bit light-headed by the elevation, rhapsodized, “…a magnificent, monotonous mass of homogeneous ore…”

These men, now his bosses, instructed Jay Graves to do two things.   First, pay a dividend.   Second, do more development work to determine precisely how much ore they had.   He did both.   A modest dividend was forthcoming, and he had his men begin a tunnel from the 4400 foot elevation at the foot of Church Street in Phoenix, to burrow under the town and tap the ore body 400 feet beneath its discovery point.   He ordered that the shaft from the Victoria be deepened as well, to meet the tunnel on the 400 foot level.   Then crosscuts were to be made to explore the ore body from end to end and side to side to discover its extent at the deep levels.

Eholt had become a busy railroad town with a five stall roundhouse, five tracks, four hotels, 25 houses, and half a dozen commercial establishments.   Switchers bustled around the small yard day and night, making up cuts of cars for the five smelters the mines were serving, the Granby in Grand Forks, the B.C. Copper in Greenwood, the Dominion Copper in Boundary Falls, the Trail smelter and the Northport smelter.

For passenger service to Phoenix , the CPR ran a mixed train from Eholt.   The ten mile trip uphill took 50 minutes, but downhill, with a heavy train of ore cars and the passenger car trailing, the time was an hour and twenty minutes, though the timetable suggests otherwise.   Mixed trains were obliged to stop and cool brakes on the way down, and limited to ten miles per hour.   Pure passenger consists could keep the published schedule.

The 1:55 PM train leaving Eholt boarded passengers from westbound CPR train No. 41 from Grand Forks, Robson West, Castlegar and Nelson which had arrived at Eholt at 1:55 PM.   Obstreperous miners returning from alcoholic and other endeavors in Grand Forks could be a problem on the trains.   Conductors learned to turn the train heat control wide open.   In ten minutes, they reported, the cars would be hot and the miners snoring peacefully.   Awakened in Phoenix, they would be bundled out into the cutting mountaintop winds to find their way to the “Rampasture,” their name for the Granby Company’s large employee boarding house at the top of Second Street.

With the steep, 3.4 percent grade and 600 tons of ore behind the locomotive, a brake failure on this line could be disastrous.   On the 23rd of August, 1904, Shay 1901 (formerly No. 111 from the Rossland branch) lost train brakes half a mile above B.C. Junction.   Engineer Alf Kenward and Fireman Charlie Haggart jumped and escaped injury, but the Shay left the tracks at the curve just above the Oro Denoro mine and the following ore cars piled up on top of it.   Fortunately, this was not the afternoon mixed; no passenger coach was attached.   So imperative was it to restore service at once, that a short trestle was built around the wreck and traffic went on while the mess was cleaned up.   It was crucial not to interrupt the flow of ore to the smelters, as shutting down the furnaces and restarting them was both costly and shortened the life of the furnace linings.     Shay 1901 was repaired and put back into service.

On February 2, 1907, CPR Consolidation No. 1384 with a heavy train of ore wrecked a short distance below the Rawhide mine when it spilled a switch.

The VV&E had its share of wrecks as well.   On Sept. 20, 1909, both the engineer and fireman were killed at Phoenix when their locomotive overran the tail of switchback and rolled down the mountainside.   Just one month later, Engineer McAstocker was killed and Fireman Beatty injured when their locomotive derailed and rolled coming down the 2.2 percent from Phoenix.   Snow on the rails was believed to be the cause.   1909 was an unlucky year for trainmen; a week after the VV&E wreck just mentioned, CPR engine No. 1385 running light, Phoenix to Eholt, left the rails just below B.C. Junction and rolled.

The VV&E service did not require a change of trains.   Still, it was one hour, 25 minutes, Grand Forks to Phoenix, and one hour, 20 minutes, Phoenix to Grand Forks.   These were mixed trains, trailing a coach behind the ore cars, with a stop for water at Hale, and on the downhill run, one or more stops to cool brakes.   Weston station served West Grand Forks, the former Columbia.   The Spencer flag stop served the Athelstan and Jackpot mines, as the CPR spur line to them did not have passenger service.   The Hale flag stop served the Summit Camp including the B.C. Copper mine.   Glenside served the Tiger mine.

By 1905, Granby and the Phoenix mines were in full bonanza.   Jim Hill himself came out by special train on those VV&E tracks that had cost him so much ire and invective to build.   His seven car train came snorting up its spiral grade to Phoenix.   Down from its platform stepped the short, broad, and scowling Cyclops of St Paul.   Behind him came a hunched Jay Graves and a young and athletic George Baker Jr. who danced about in a series of hopping and arm swinging Swedish exercises popular at the time, all the while praising the invigorating qualities of mountain air.

While Director Baker danced and inhaled his mountain air, a driving rain commenced, and J.J. Hill, watching these antics without comment, allowed a company slicker to be draped around him and be led off for a tour of the property.   The party inspected the mines, watched one of the Thew steam shovels loading Granby ore into Granby patent cars, and then retired to one of the Granby offices for confidential talks.   Graves was in an ambiguous position with Granby.   He was vice President and General Manager, but a second to Abel Hodges.   The New Yorkers preferred to keep control in the hands of their own men.   Graves owed his position to the influence of J.J. Hill who as now a major shareholder in Granby.   Graves must have had something he wanted to discuss with J.J. Hill as well.   He had incorporated The Spokane and Inland Railway the previous December and had been trying to convince New York investors that Mr Hill was behind him in this enterprise.   Hill was not; his son Louis was trying to persuade him to break with Graves whom he did not trust.   Graves certainly, on his own ground in Phoenix, must have tried to persuade Mr Hill to grant his new railway some sort of public approval.   There is no evidence that he was successful.

When, by 1905, electricity reached Phoenix from Granby’s Cascade Power development, it replaced steam for haulage and underground work.   The three Davenport saddle tank 0-4-0s then moved ore and waste on the surface while a fleet of 4 wheel Baldwin electric ‘mules’, taking 600 volt power from trolley poles, moved the ore underground.   The locomotive fleet, divided among the five big Granby mines, comprised 3, 36” gauge Davenports, 3, 36” gauge electrics, nine 20” gauge electrics, one 20” gauge Baldwin steam locomotive, one 18” Baldwin steam loco, and two Thew 36” gauge steam shovels converted to electricity in 1905 to work underground.

The multiplicity of gauges reflects the five different mines, each with its own choice of track gauge, that now comprised Granby.

At the smelter the service tracks were 3 foot gauge with a Davenport 0-4-0 saddle tanker and five Baldwin electric mules handling the coal, ore, and flux to the furnaces. A standard gauge Davenport, piloted by Bill Euerby, moved cars on the elevated ramp over the receiving pockets and hauled the huge 6 ton slag pots loaded with red hot molten slag to the slag dumps along the riverbank east of the smelter.

The furnaces roared day and night and Grand Forks old timers remember how the dumping of the pots of molten slag at night would light up the skies with a red glow over the river.

Ore trains coming from Phoenix and Republic would leave their cars on the yard tracks, and depart with strings of empties.   Bill Euerby would sort the loads out and move them with his Davenport to one of the five elevated tracks on the north side of the smelter, and spot each car over the appropriate bin below.   Ore from each mine had to be kept separate, as each carload had to be assayed for metal content so proper payment could be made to the shipper.   Custom ores were blended by the smelter men with the Granby ores, depending on which of their individual contents was desired in the furnaces.   Republic ores, with their high lime and silica content, were used to flux the more sulfurous of the Phoenix ores.

Up at Phoenix, at the urging of the new American directors, production was pushed.   300,000 tons of ore were produced in 1903, 500,000 in 1904, and 550,000 tons in 1905.   Beginning about 1904, the price of copper was manipulated to 25 cents a pound by the Amalgamated Copper Trust ( Standard Oil) which had captured all but Fritz Heinze’s mines in Butte.   Amalgamated was withholding 7,500 tons of copper from the market to drive the price up Granby was engineered to produce copper profitably at 12 cents; at 25 cents, it was paying liberal dividends and ores previously thought too lean to mine were now commercial.   The smelter’s eight furnaces were smelting 80 carloads of ore every day.   Three GN ore trains brought down most of the Granby ore and two CPR trains hauled the non Granby ore destined for the Trail and Greenwood smelters.

In spite of the boom in the copper market, Granby’s exploratory tunnel and shafts probing the 400 foot level of the great Knob Hill ore body were returning troubling news in 1905   On the 200 foot level the ore deposit was 300 x 300 feet.

But down at 400 feet the ore body had shrunk to 150 x 150 feet.   Worse news was to come.   At 430 feet down, the ore bottomed out.   This was kept a close secret between Yolen Williams, Graves and Abel Hodges, all of whom had substantial stock holdings in Granby.   Graves quickly bought the Gold Drop, Curlew and Monarch claims, on the east side of Knob Hill for Granby and opened them.   The extent of their ore bodies were unknown, but Graves hoped they would keep Granby going when the Knob Hill was exhausted.   As a further precaution, Graves sent Yolen Williams out to find other copper claims that Granby might buy into.   Williams found three promising deposits, and Graves presented them to the New York Directors, who were being kept in ignorance of how near the big Phoenix ore body was to exhaustion.   The Directors chose the Hidden Creek deposit, on the Alice arm of Observatory Inlet, just north of Prince Rupert, B.C.   It was purchased for $400,000, and just in time, for in 1910, the storm broke.

In 1909 Abel Hodges had stated in the Granby annual report to its stockholders, that, “Our ore reserves are largely increased and we have ore in sight for many years to come.”   Still, in Grand Forks, the local rumors could not be silenced.   Miners working at Phoenix knew what the exploratory tunnels had found.

In 1910, Abel Hodges, Granby’s Superintendent and the most important person in Grand Forks, unexpectedly announced that he was leaving to take a position in Peru. A great farewell banquet was mounted. Hodges was toasted in champagne and presented with a gold watch, his wife with a diamond ring.   But as the celebrants made their way home through the windy March streets, certain suspicions crystallized.

The next morning, those who held Granby stock, quietly instructed their brokers to sell.

The rumors from Phoenix, the stock sales, reached the market in New York and Granby prices began to sink.   The directors sent a geologist, Otto Sussman, to Phoenix to take over from Hodges and investigate. His report exploded on the boardroom table like a bomb. Hodges had high-graded the mine, he reported; Granby ores would be mined out in five years.   The mining industry raged.   Granby, capitalized at $15 million in 1905, was a bust, five years later.   Hodges was blamed, but he was unreachable, safe in Peru.   Jay Graves was summoned from his comfortable wintering spot, the Hotel Maryland in Pasadena where he spent his days playing poker with Otto Mears, the Colorado mining and railroad entrepreneur, also a winter resident.   Busy with his Inland Empire Railroad, Graves had not been to Phoenix for 18 months; he disclaimed any knowledge of Hodge’s deception.   After all, he had been cut off from the board, by the 1905 reorganization.

The mining world was deeply shocked by the disclosures.   The Engineering and Mining Journal editorialized, “No event has done so much to destroy public confidence in mining investments.” The company was obliged to bare the facts to the public.   Its 1910 report advised stockholders that but 4-1/2 years of ore were left.

Howls of outrage went up from the stockholders and the Granby share price plunged.

Jay Graves, again, was phenomenally lucky.   He was able to calm the storm with the Hidden Creek property, an ore body richer than Phoenix, which had been bought on his urgent recommendation.   Granby was saved by Graves’ perhaps not so innocent foresight.   Plans were made to develop Hidden Creek as the Phoenix ores were exhausted.   The crisis passed; Graves and Aubrey White buying all the Granby stock they could manage at its low level.

The massive tonnages being mined, feeding five smelters, would have indeed exhausted the ore bodies along the crest of the Boundary Range if it were not for the outbreak of World War I.   The copper price in 1914, which was between 11 and 13 cents per pound, rose precipitately, climbing steadily to an unprecedented 26 cents in 1918.   This meant that lower grade ores, below the 1 percent copper, that Granby had been mining, were now commercial.   The 4-1/2 year deadline could be extended. Old workings were reopened and new mines were brought on line.   The depressed Granby stock, which Graves had bought on credit in 1910, rose to $120.   Jay Graves, grasping once more for control of Granby, approached Jim Hill.   Many of Nichols’ associates had either died or disposed of their Granby stock in the debacle of 1910.   If Mr. Hill would supply him with money Graves, argued, he would now be able to acquire a majority control of Granby for himself and Mr. Hill.   Graves suggested that he then “…might be elected president and be a dominating influence in the company.”   Hill refused the bait.   As previously, Jim Hill would use Jay Graves where he could, but he would not permit himself to be used by Jay Graves.

The 0-4-0 Davenports working at the smelter were now needed at the Curlew and Gold Drop mines as they went into full production.   An Alco 0-6-0T, No. 20, was bought for smelter switching duties.   Two more 0-6-0 switchers appear on the roster, but they were evidently sent to work the new Hidden Creek mine and its smelter at Anyox.

The end for Phoenix came in 1919.   Copper prices plunged with the end of the war, and the low grade ore Granby was mining was now uneconomic.   Worse, a persistent series of strikes in the ill-managed Crowsnest mines shut off the supply of coal and coke.   Coal could be obtained from other mines, but Crowsnest had the only coking ovens in the Northwest.   As well, Jim Hill was dead.   His son, Louis, taking over, could see no reason for continuing the feud with the CPR , and began closing down the uneconomic British Columbia lines.

There were vast reserves of low grade copper still under Phoenix, the rail network was in place, the miners and the machinery were at hand.   With careful management and an ore concentrating plant, the low grade might still be smelted at a profit.   The strike in the coal fields, however, continued unresolved, and in Grand Forks the smelter furnaces went cold for lack of fuel.   The directors decided to move everything to Anyox and close the Phoenix mines.

The town of Phoenix, 1750 inhabitants, emptied at once.   People simply took what they could carry, walked out of their houses, and boarded the train, thankful that the tracks were still in place.   Many expected to return when the strike in the East Kootenays was settled and the coke began to arrive again.   But the strikes continued, and in Phoenix neither houses, stores or businesses could be sold.   Most of the miners who remained moved to Greenwood where electricity and other amenities were to be found.

At this time, the Canadian Pacific, remembering the old Columbia & Western location along the Kettle River in the U.S., queried the Great Northern about using their water level grade from Grand Forks to Midway.   This would eliminate the helper grades over the Eholt summit.   But the Great Northern, even with the great Empire Builder gone, was still infected with his dark suspicions of the CPR.   If the CPR transferred their Boundary service to the GN tracks, they reasoned, then they might be permitted to abandon their Phoenix line at once and leave the GN with a legal obligation to continue a Phoenix service.   The Great Northern refused, and hastily pulled its Phoenix rails.   By the end of 1919, they were gone, removed back to Copper Junction.

The spur to the smelter was kept for another year in case it should open again and receive Republic ores.   In 1920 it was pulled and the tracks cut back to the Weston yards and the Grand Forks station.   The CPR, as the last rail link, was obliged to continue service to Phoenix until the government convened hearings on abandonment.

In the thirties, with traffic diminishing on its Curlew – Oroville line, the Great Northern reversed itself and opened discussions with the CPR about leasing them the Kettle River Line.   But the CPR remembered the 1919 snub, rejected the idea.   It would be better, they believed, to let the GN abandon its Curlew – Oroville line, and leave the CPR as the sole railroad serving the Midway – Rock Creek district.   In 1935, the GN pulled its rails back to Curlew and the subject was closed.   The old antagonism between Van Horne and Hill still hung ghostly over railway policy in the Boundary district.

The smelters at Greenwood and Boundary Falls were closed at the end of the war and their machinery moved out.   Up in Phoenix the CPR hung on for a few years, moving small lots of ore from local miners leasing the old diggings.   All those pillars of ore that had been left underground to support the roof of the workings were mined out, one by one, with wood cribbing put in place to hold up the roof.   The cribbing was intended only as a temporary measure while the miners removed the last bits of commercial ore.   After that, the wood slowly rotted and collapsed, with the abandoned town of Phoenix above sinking slowly into the old pits.   The buildings first sagged, then leaned, and finally, year by year, sank into the flooded workings below.

By 1921, the CPR had won permission to pull its tracks.   The last train left Phoenix forever with engineer, Thomas Needham pulling the throttle.     Needham, who had brought the first train into Grand Forks twenty years before, sounded a continuous note of farewell on his whistle as he brought his cleanup train of miscellaneous cars down the steep grade past a score of abandoned mines and through a young forest growing up on the mountainside so laboriously cleared by the woodcutters of 1900 – 1905.   Like mining camps all over the West in the post war years, it was finally all over.

Well, not quite. William Bambury, Robert Denzler and some 30 miners moved into the best houses in town and stayed, leasing old pits and working outlying pockets of high grade ore too small to have been of interest to the large mining companies.   Adolph Sercu, known as “Four Paw,” or “Forepaw,” for the iron hook he had in place of an arm, closed his livery stable and moved into the old City Hall.   There he appointed himself constable, and with a large billy club and a tin star cut from the bottom of a tomato can pinned to his shirt, he patrolled the sagging, sinking buildings until his death in 1942.

Phoenix was now mined for boards, windows, doors and plumbing fixtures.   Over 200 buildings had been salvaged for their lumber or moved away by 1927.   As one hotel was being stripped for its fine interior paneling, a hidden room was discovered with full gambling equipment in including a roulette wheel.   The gamblers had been in too great a hurry to leave to bother taking it with them.   The indoor skating rink was sold to a Vancouver buyer.   With the proceeds, a cenotaph was commissioned to commemorate the Phoenix war dead of 1914 – 1918.   It still stands on the road overlooking the site.

William Bambury, a genuine eccentric, “a man of polished education and widely read,” remained in Phoenix, its last inhabitant.   He had come from England as a carpenter and located in Phoenix in 1902.   He had seen the entire rise and fall of the town, and now, as a pensioner, was determined to stay.   With he departure of the population, he had the pick of the houses in Phoenix, and chose to live in Dr. Boucher’s fine home rent free, his presence a guarantee to Mrs. Boucher that the building would remain unvandalized.   An omnivorous reader, he made minute corrections in the margins of everything he read, and carried on a voluminous correspondence, sticking stamps with the likeness of King George VI on his envelopes upside down as a mark of loyalty to Edward VIII, “the true King of England.”    Daily, he observed the slow caving of the abandoned town into the underground workings.   His diary for May 28, 1950 reads,

“Little traffic besides a Grand Forks boy named Cochrane, who came up with his girlfriend on a motorcycle. “In strolling around this morning I observed the wreckage of the King’s Hotel with that of the Bolivia Hotel seems to have sunk considerably, giving the impression that a mine cave-in has caused the subsidence. Water not far below apparently.   No sign of a break in the ground outside the wreckage.   Cut some wood.”

Local miners bought the Granby claims and continued to pick at the remaining pockets of ore.   In the 1950s, with copper prices over $1.00, the Granby Company bought back its claims from W. E. Mc Arthur and dug out a huge open pit under what had been Phoenix. The ore went out through a tunnel to a concentrator on the east slope just below the old C&W grade.   The Phoenix ore was supplemented by ore trucked from the Lone Star mine across the border on what was to have been the C&W spur surveyed to that mine in 1905.   The open pit operation closed in 1978.   There still remain a million tons of low grade in the Monarch and Rawhide claims awaiting exploitation.   Nothing whatever remains of Phoenix but the cenotaph.   Where the town existed, is now a huge, raw hole in the ground half a mile across and 400 feet deep.

 

STEEP AND CROOKED … by Late Writer, Artist & Castle Builder Bill Laux

1

THE MINING RAILROADS OF THE CANADIAN BORDER

 By Bill Laux

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

THE BELCHER MINE RAILWAY 1906 – 1914

Lambert Creek WA seahorsecorral.org

Lambert Creek WA – Photo Credit: .seahorsecorral.org

 

            The Belcher mine was located on Cooke Mountain, in Ferry County, Washington.   The ore deposit was pyrrhotite, a sulfide of iron, which on Cooke Mountain contained appreciable quantities of gold.   When smelters opened at Grand Forks, Greenwood and Boundary Falls, there was a market for this ore, since the iron was in demand as a slag forming mineral, and the smelting process recovered the gold.

            H.C. Lycett opened the mine and built a three foot gauge railroad in 1906 from Karamin up Lambert Creek to the Belcher Camp, below the mine.   The transfer point to the standard gauge was just a quarter mile north of Karamin where a pile of rusty looking dirt (pyrrhotite) beside the BN track indicates the former ore bunker.   The two lines were just a few feet apart, the highway being on the old Hot Air grade.

            There was a reversing loop on the flat above this transfer point, and the line ran south along the hillside with a double switchback to gain elevation to enter Lambert Creek. In early morning light, the switchback grade can be easily seen today, looking east from the Karamin intersection.   The track ran up the north side of Lambert Creek for 8 miles to the Belcher Camp which was on the flat by the creek.   The camp comprised some 40 to 50 persons, a school, a store and post office and bunkhouses for the miners and railroad crew.   The railroad looped around the camp and had a loading bunker on the south side of the creek where a three-rail gravity tram came down from the mine 1500 feet up on the mountain.   The tram had two, 5 ton cars connected by a steel cable that ran over a sheave at the top.   The loaded car, coming down, pulled the empty car up. A passing tracks with spring switches in the center, allowed the cars to pass each other.   Kenneth Fairweather, the tram operator, had to climb the steep trail to the mine on foot each morning and hoist the crew in the empty car. At the end of the day he had to let them down again and then descend on foot. He got an extra half hour pay for this.

            A daily ore train ran down the line to the Karamin transfer bunker.   When someone needed to go to town, or when there were company officials on the property, the single passenger car was attached to the ore train by Conductor, Ike McClung.   Ed Williams was engineer, Dan Mc Dougal was fireman, and only the brakeman’s first name, Ralph, is remembered.   In addition to the ore shipments which went to the B.C. Copper smelter in Greenwood, the settlers along Lambert Creek hewed railroad ties for a cash income and sent them out via the Mine Railway.  At the Karamin transfer point the ore was loaded into W&GN ore gondolas to be taken up to Grand Forks.   There was no interchange between the GN and CPR in Grand Forks, so the single car of Belcher ore would be coupled to a GN train of empty ore cars bound for Phoenix.   The car would be dropped at the Coltern interchange with the CPR, and a CPR train would take it down the hill to Eholt.   A westbound freight would then pick it up and take it to Greenwood.   The CPR Shay would move it up to the B. C. Copper Company’s smelter on its Motherlode turn.

            The Belcher Mine Railway owned two locomotives.   No. 1 was a Baldwin 2-8-0, c/n 11005, of June, 1890, built new for the Alberta Railway and Coal Company.   It had 16 x 20 cylinders and 37” drivers.   No. 2 was another one of the Alberta Railway and Coal Company’s Hinkleys, a 2-6-0, and may very well have been former Trail Creek Tramway No. 1, as that machine was noted at Midway in 1905.   As well, the line owned a baggage car, little more than a boxcar with a side door and windows, also probably from the AR&C.   The single passenger coach, carefully lettered, “No. 1,” may well have come from the “Turkey Trail,” as it was of the same pattern as those cars.   The ore cars appear to have been identical to the old link and pin coal cars of the Trail Creek Tramway.   They may have been those cars or others from the Alberta line.

            As flags from both Canada and the U.S. were equally displayed on the passenger train for its inaugural run, some Canadian ownership may be inferred.   The mine and Belcher Camp lasted until 1914; Ike Mc Clung’s wife, Madge, taught school and the Belcher Camp store supplied the stump ranchers along Lambert Creek.   The railroad may have lasted a little longer.   A photo of the old Karamin lumber mill shows a narrow gauge track alongside.   The Belcher Camp was reported to have carried logs out of Lambert Creek to this mill, possibly prolonging its life for a year or two.

            Today Echo Bay Minerals works several gold mines on Cooke Mountain, not far from the old Belcher, and trucks the ore to their concentrator above Curlew Lake.

 

 

STEEP AND CROOKED … by Late Writer, Artist & Castle Builder Bill Laux

6

THE MINING RAILROADS OF THE CANADIAN BORDER

 By Bill Laux

CHAPTER TWELVE

JIM HILL BUILDS TO PHOENIX 1903 – 1905

eholt.jpg

It was certain that as soon as Jim Hill got his tracks into Grand Forks and around Observatory Mountain to the Granby smelter, he would begin building to Phoenix.   From the days back in the 1870s when he took over the ailing St Paul and Pacific, Hill had maintained that, “every mile of track must pay its way.”   So, with his “Third Main Line” plan, he intended to make every mile along the VV&E pay by competing for every carload of traffic offered.   As well, Hill had bought heavily into Granby, seeing its smelter as a market for coal.   He had bought an interest in the Crowsnest Coal Company in the East Kootenay, and built a railroad from his main line to its operations to supply his locomotives.   Hill could move Crowsnest coal over his water level routes to the Granby smelter, while the CPR route had a 30 mile barge trip plus climbs over two mountain ranges on 2.2 percent grades.

As soon as the Hot Air blockage was removed by Holland’s compromise, the VV&E men began bridging the Kettle River and laying track north toward the smelter. Just outside the Grand Forks municipal boundary, a wye was installed, called Columbia Junction.   From the east leg of this wye, track extended down what is now 68th Avenue, and a station built at Boundary Drive.   On the west leg of the wye, the station of Weston was established with a five track yard, a locomotive servicing facility, coal bunker, water tank, and engine house.   This line continued northwest, and

at mile 2 (Km. 3.2), from Cooper’s Wye (now called “Big Y,”) where the Grand Forks line diverged from the main line to Curlew and Republic, another wye was laid, called Copper Junction.   The east leg of this wye, at mile .6 (Km. 1), bridged the CPR line with a 1000 foot trestle and single span Howe truss bridge.   The grade then went around the east shore of Ward Lake and paralleled the CPR smelter spur on a slightly higher alignment just a few feet south.   At the North Fork (Granby) River, a trestle and two span Howe truss bridge, 660 feet in all, bridged both the CPR smelter spur and the river.   On the north bank the VV&E ran parallel and just uphill of the CPR line into the smelter yards at mile 3.3 (Km. 5.3), from Copper Jct.

Hill then set his men to grading a loop from the west leg of the Copper Jct. wye to climb around Eagle Mountain and enter Fourth of July Creek.   This was slow work since much of the grade had to be blasted out of granite bluffs.

While Hill’s men were methodically grading toward Phoenix, expecting to reach the camp in 1904, Nichols and the New Yorkers who had bought Granby, decided to Americanize the company.   With an American railroad shortly to be completed from the Phoenix mines to the smelter and to Spokane, they saw no more need to conciliate the Canadian Pacific or their Canadian directors.   In June, 1904, Nichols requested the resignations of Granby’s Canadian directors.   All but one, Robinson, resigned.   In their place, the American directors made Abel Hodges, whom Graves had hired in 1898, Granby’s General Superintendent, reporting directly to the board.   Jay Graves kept his vice-presidency, and became non-resident General Manager.   Yolen Williams, Graves’ trusted lieutenant, was retired and given the honorary position of consultant.   That Graves held his place at all was due to J.J. Hill, whose man, George Baker Jr., represented Hill on the board.   Hill’s interest, though studiously and repeatedly denied by the company, was quite evident. Graves, for his own purposes, floated the legend that he, through Granby, was the trusted associate of J.J. Hill.

With his line to the smelter, Hill had captured the Granby coal market with his lower rates.   Now his men were on their way to Phoenix where he intended to take the ore haul away from the CPR as well.   The VV&E grade, which is very visible today from Highway 3 just west of Grand Forks, climbed Fourth of July Creek toward Summit Camp, on the divide between the Brown’s Creek and Eholt Creek. Here, at mile 14.3 (Km. 23), a station called Hale was laid out with a 2000 foot passing track and water tank.   The loaded ore trains would take the siding here, while the up trains passed.   At mile 15.9 ( Km.25.6) the track passed right though the Oro Denoro mine, a large and irregular glory hole, with a 1000 foot siding for loading ore and a station named Denoro.   The CPR’s Phoenix line was just a few feet uphill, climbing in the opposite direction.

At mile 16 (Km. 25.7), and the Emma mine, the VV&E tracks passed under the CPR trestle bridging the gulch.   An interchange to the CPR was laid here, and the place was called Coltern (the CPR called this point B.C. Junction).   Now on the north slope of Montezuma Hill, and running west on a continuing 2 percent grade, the line crossed the canyon of Glenside Creek at mile 18.1 (Km. 29.1) on the huge, Deadman’s Creek trestle, 672 feet long, 195 feet high, and built on a 14 degree curve.

A loop into Providence Creek came next with another curving trestle at mile 21.4 (Km. 34.4).   Turning the corner into Twin Creek at mile 22 (Km. 35.7), the line came out of the dense fir forest and onto open, grassy slopes facing south.   The VV&E entered Phoenix on the 4300 foot contour, just above the road up from Greenwood.

Phoenix was built in a shallow gulch; the VV&E entered town with a wye on trestle work at the intersection of Dominion Avenue and Banner Street. The left leg led to the depot at mile 23.4 (Km. 38.8) and the foot of Phoenix Street.     The west leg of the wye crossed Twin Creek and climbed to a switchback at the 4400 foot level, and then ran back to the Idaho mine ore bunker at the 4500 foot level.   From this spur, a second switchback climbed the slope of Knob Hill, and reversed back to the Victoria ore bunkers at the 4600 foot level.   With the Americanization of Granby, the VV&E was invited to install loading tracks on the lower side of the Victoria mine ore bunkers, while the CPR loaded from the uphill side.   Here, an interchange track connected the two lines.

On February 15. 1905, the VV&E hauled its first train load of Granby ore.   By building a climbing spiral clear around the mountain on which Phoenix was located, VV&E engineer Kennedy had constructed a longer but easier grade than the short but steep CPR branch.   Both railroads now had their tracks at the mine mouths and ore bunkers of the Granby Company’s biggest producers, and it was clear that the lowest rates would determine who got the haulage.

With its 2.2 percent grades, the VV&E could bring down more loaded cars in a single train and haul more empties uphill.   That gave it a cost advantage over the C&W with its 3.4 percent grades.   The CPR typically ran ore trains of 15 cars down to Eholt; the VV&E ran 22 car trains down its grade to the smelter.   The CPR immediately reduced its rate for hauling Phoenix ore to the Granby smelter from $1.00 per ton to 25 cents, which President Shaugnessy agonized loudly, was “bare cost.”   If 25 cents was “bare cost” the previous $1.00 had represented a substantial profit.   But Hill was not to be outdone.   He reduced his rate below “bare cost,” and got the bulk of the traffic.      From 1905 on the VV&E was hauling 70% of Granby’s ore.[i]

Although running different routes, the two lines were almost exactly the same length.   The CPR line from Phoenix to Eholt was 9.7 miles (15.6 Km.) of 3.4 percent grade, plus Eholt to Smelter Junction, 12.5 miles (20 Km.) of 2.2 percent grade, plus 2.2 miles (3.5Km.) of nearly level grade into the smelter, 24.4 miles(39.1Km.), in all.   The VV&E had 22.3 miles (35.7 Km.) of 2.2 percent grade, Copper Junction to Phoenix, and 2.2 miles, (3.3 Km.) into the smelter, a total of 24.3 miles (39 Km.).   The CPR ran its short ore trains down to the Eholt yard, where they were broken up and separate cuts of cars made up made up for the four smelters to which they were consigned.   When a sufficient number of cars had accumulated for the Granby smelter, a train would be made up for that destination.   Cars destined for the Trail smelter would be attached to eastbound freights, those for the B.C. Copper or the Dominion Copper smelters, attached to westbound freights.

The CPR went after the traffic from those outlying mines not served by the VV&E.   From Hartford Junction, a spur was extended east .8 miles (1.3 Km.) to serve the Winnipeg and Golden Crown mines.     A short spur running south along the ridge top from Hartford Jct. reached the Buena Vista.   As previously described, other spurs served the B.C. Copper mine in Summit Camp and the Jackpot and Athelstan mines above Spencer.   In 1909 a short spur was built west from Hartford Junction to the terminal of an aerial cable way which brought ore down from the Boundary/War Eagle mine on the south slope of Knob Hill.

As the CPR line made the loop at Hartford and climbed the east slope of Knob Hill, short spurs ran in to the Rawhide, Gold Drop, Snowshoe and Curlew mines, all of which were big producers.   The west leg of the wye at the Phoenix station was extended down the north side of Twin Creek to reach the Brooklyn mine.   A few hundred feet west of the Brooklyn, it switch backed down to the Stem winder, below the Brooklyn.

Granby, however, was still the largest producer, with the VV&E loading at tunnels 2 and 3; the CPR at tunnel 2.   Hill’s line was tying Grand Forks and the Boundary District closer to Spokane and the U.S.   By 1905, the Hill lines had 60 percent of all classes of Boundary rail traffic.   The Rossland experience was being repeated.   There the steep Trail Creek Tramway had won the race to the mines, but the better engineered Red Mountain Railway took the bulk of the traffic and by far the most passengers who were bound for the American trading center of Spokane.   Now, at Phoenix, though the CPR had won the race and covered the mountains with its twisting spurs, the Hill line with its better grades and its direct connection to Spokane, was taking most of the business.

 

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