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

STEEP AND CROOKED: THE MINING RAILROADS OF THE CANADIAN BORDER

 By Bill Laux

CHAPTER NINE

  GRANBY 1895 – 1902

Granby-Smelter

Jay P. Graves at the California mine on Red Mountain had held his breath in 1895 and taken the plunge.   He bought into a pair of copper prospects on Knob Hill in the Boundary range of the Monashee Mountains a few miles north of the border.   An old and trusted acquaintance, H.P. Palmerston, had come to him with a proposal.   Palmerston had been offered one quarter of their claims on Knob Hill by the Greenwood prospectors, Henry White and Matthew Hotter, on a promise that he would raise development money.   Palmerston was ill and unable to interest anyone in these remote claims.   He sold his interest in them to Jay Graves.

Graves put his Spokane boarder, Aubrey White, a bookseller, to peddling stock in these claims to Spokane mining speculators in 1896.   White could get no more than 10 cents a share; on the Spokane Mining Exchange they traded for just 5 or 6 cents.   This was failing to raise enough capital to begin work, so Graves sold his house and moved his family into the Spokane Hotel. With the money from this sale, he hired Henry White, the original locator, to begin to clearing the forest from the claims and digging a trench to expose the top of the ore body.   When the extent of the deposit had been established by trenching the shallow overburden of soil, Graves bought a boiler, a steam powered hoist and a steam pump to begin sinking a shaft into the ore. This machinery had to be hauled by wagon from Bossburg on the SF&N line to Grand Forks.   Then a road had to be brushed out up to Knob Hill on the ridge top west of town. The claims that Graves had bought did not contain the rich, narrow veins plunging steeply into the mountain, as at Rossland.   The trenching had showed that the copper was a large, saucer-shaped ore body just below the surface.   How thick it was, no one knew.   It was only 1 or 2 percent copper, but there was a great deal of it, and it contained minor amounts of gold and silver.   A pit could be opened and the ore quarried cheaply out of the hillside.   Still, more development money would have to be raised to determine the full extent of the ore body.

Graves had incorporated the two claims with 1,500,000 shares for the Knob Hill and 1,000,000 shares for the Old Ironsides.   In 1899 he sent out Frank Hemmenway, a Spokane bank teller who doubled as a miner in the summer, to work with Henry White, trenching and taking samples for assay.   Hemmenway had a sound reputation with Spokane mining investors, and his favorable report boosted the stock price on the Spokane Exchange. It also started a rush of prospectors and promoters to the Knob Hill discoveries.   All those who had been too late to cash in on the Red Mountain bonanza now swarmed over Knob Hill, and claims were staked for several miles in all directions. The trenching White and Hemmenway had done on Grave’s Knob Hill claims suggested the presence of a very large ore body, much large than the original 600 by 1500 foot claims.  Graves used the money stock sales were bringing in to buy the adjoining claims and acquire the entire ore body.   Encouraged by reports of other ore bodies in the district, other serious investors were moving in.   In 1897 the Dominion Copper Company was formed to acquire the Idaho, Brooklyn and Stemwinder claims across the valley of Twin Creek from Graves’ developments.   All of the deposits found, while large and close to the surface, were of low grade.   None of them would pay for the long wagon haul to the railroad at Bossburg or Marcus.

Railroads were coming; Dan Corbin was surveying his line from Marcus to Greenwood.   Fritz Heinze was surveying his route over Mc Rae Pass.   The CPR was, with agonizing slowness, creeping in from Alberta.   The railroads had made Rossland, and Jay Graves was confident that when one reached his mines, there would be a boom bigger than had yet been seen.   A smelter would be required.   To raise money for it, Graves and Aubrey White went east to enlist Montreal investors.   Their pitch to the Montreallers was that it was a patriotic duty for Canadians to invest in these British Columbia mines, and not let them fall into the hands of the greedy Americans. The spectacle of a couple of Americans, Graves and White, glibly promoting Canadian patriotic sentiment was a replay of Captain Ainsworth’s arguments to the B.C. Legislature, twenty years before.   Graves and White were helped by the fact that Canada was in the midst of its great Free Trade Election and the issue of American domination of Canadian business was being fought out at the polls.   The anti Free Trade forces won and so did Graves. He enlisted the support of Stephen Miner, a Quebec industrialist with connections to the Montreal banking community.   Miner wanted a recognized mining engineer to submit a report on Graves’ to circulate to his wealthy friends.   Graves sent out another Spokane Colonel, Nelson Linsley, the head of the Spokane Mining Bureau, and a respected mining engineer, to assess the value of his claims on Knob Hill.

The report was favorable.   In Montreal, Stephen Miner showed it to his friends, and introduced them to Graves who, with his tongue stuck solemnly in his cheek, warned them of the dangers of Americans getting control of this valuable Canadian resource.   Might not even political annexation follow? he asked with a melodramatic shiver.   Miner’s friends were impressed.   The combination of patriotism plus profit was irresistible.   There is something embarrassingly familiar about this to Canadians.   It seems it always takes an American to arouse Canadian patriotism.            With a group of wealthy Montreal investors behind him, Graves went across town to the CPR.   He began lobbying the CPR directors to lay rails to his mines.   The directors were skeptical.   Three mountain ranges would have to be crossed, and they doubted that Grave’s low-grade copper would pay for the construction costs.   Jay Graves was at an impasse.   The railroad was essential to his mines.   Without a firm promise of one, he and Miner could not sell stock in the Old Ironsides and Knob Hill.   And until his mines demonstrated their profitability, the CPR would not move.            And just as it was the threat of American control that brought the Montreal investors into Graves’ scheme, it was Dan Corbin, lobbying for a charter for a railroad to the Boundary mines, that aroused the CPR.   They easily blocked his charter application in Parliament, but when Jim Hill bought Corbin’s railroad, the CPR had to act.   Almost in a panic, they sent their engineers and surveyors into the Monashee snows to rush a line to the Boundary Copper camps.

The arrival of Canadian Pacific rails in Grand Forks in 1899 was marvelous luck for Jay Graves and Stephen Miner.   With the CPR laying track toward their new mining camp of Phoenix, the future of their Granby Company was assured.   However, Graves knew very well the CPR’s intention to create a transportation monopoly in the Boundary district, just as they had attempted in the Kootenays.   And with the knowledge that only a second and competing railroad could bring the CPR ore hauling rates down to the lowest possible figure, Graves went to Jim Hill in St Paul.   He showed him Colonel Linsley’s reports on the Old Ironsides and the Knob Hill.   Would Mr. Hill build Dan Corbin’s line to the Boundary?   Jim Hill said nothing.  His game was bigger.   If Grave’s ore body was as big as Colonel Linsley said, and as cheap to mine, a rail haul, while profitable, would not be enough.   Jim Hill wanted the mines and the smelter as well.   Very quietly, he began buying stock in Graves’ and Miner’s companies. Graves and Miner had organized three companies in 1899, the Old Ironsides, the Knob Hill, and Granby, to control the properties they owned on the ridge between Grand Forks and Greenwood.   Graves brought Yolen Williams over from the California mine at Rossland, made him a director, and hired him to work out plans to extract the ore. Then, at the head waters of Twin Creek, just below their claims, Graves and Miner preempted a town site, called it Phoenix, built a water system, and began selling lots to merchants, saloon keepers, hotel men, and others moving to the new camp.            The town site was a huge success.   Buyers flocked in, scenting a new Rossland.   Within 24 hours of going on sale, nearly every lot was sold for between $500 to $600.   It was said that the town site sale brought in $100,000 to Granby.   Graves and Miner now had enough for a down payment on a smelter, and began to build one on the North Fork of the Kettle River, just over Observation Mountain from Grand Forks. Breathlessly, miners, businessmen and investors, watched the CPR’s branch line to Phoenix being graded around the eastern slopes of Deadman’s Hill toward the mines.   With the CPR laying tracks to their ore, and with directors, Miner and Gault, handling stock sales in Montreal, Aubrey White moved to New York and began selling shares there.   They began moving briskly in the range of 80 cents.   This was delightful news to the Spokane speculators who had bought their shares for a nickel.   And at 80 cents, Jay Graves was now a rich man.

The Guggenheim brothers at that time dominated American metal smelting and refining.   Walter Aldrige at Trail had served in one of their Colorado operations.   Now Graves hired another one of Guggenheim’s smelter engineers, Abel Hodges, to put up a first class smelter on the North Fork site.   With all this activity, the CPR queried Walter Aldridge, whether the Phoenix development was serious. Aldridge, who badly wanted the Phoenix ores for his Trail smelter, told President Shaughnessy that it was quite serious, and that the Old Ironsides held enough ore to support a small smelter.   Shaughnessy was asked by Graves to build a 2-mile CPR spur into the smelter site from the C&W main line at Ward Lake.   It was needed as quickly as possible, Graves emphasized, as the smelter machinery to be installed would be much too heavy for freight wagons.   Aldridge and Shaughnessy wanted the Phoenix ore for the Trail smelter, and were in no mood to facilitate a competing smelter.   They told Graves Granby would have to pay for the smelter spur itself, but the cost would be refunded if the smelter production should reach 100 tons per day.   Aldridge underestimated Granby.   The Phoenix ores were lean, averaging only 1-1/4 percent copper, and would require several smeltings to concentrate them enough for refining.   Abel Hodges assured Jay Graves that he could smelt 150 tons of Phoenix ore a day, and that the spur cost would be recovered. 

The CPR’s Phoenix branch left the main line at the Eholt summit and climbed up Coltern Creek on a 3.4 percent grade.   At the head of the creek a small side hill cut, exposed a mass of chalcopyrite, a sulfide of copper and iron.   An alert workman quickly drove stakes on it and sold it to the Dominion Copper Company as the Emma Mine.  Aldridge and Shaughnessy were in no hurry to serve Jay Graves’ interest, and at this spot they abandoned the climb to Phoenix and ran a 2-1/2 mile spur out to the B.C. mine.   Aldridge urgently wanted that mine’s ore, almost pure copper pyrites, for his Trail smelter, as its high sulfur content would only require enough coal to ignite it in the smelter furnace.   From then on the burning sulfur itself would smelt the ore.    Graves was furious.   The CPR was hauling Boundary ore to Trail before putting rails into his deposit.   If Jim Hill were only on the scene, the CPR would not be trifling with him in this way.   Angrily, he had to send his first ore shipments down the mountain by wagon to the Granby Smelter for its opening on April 11, 1900, exactly as the Le Roi had had to do from Rossland, four years previously.            Finally, the CPR sent its crews back to the Emma mine, and began grading up the east side of Deadman’s Ridge toward Phoenix.   Not a quarter mile from the Emma, their grading exposed another mass of copper ore, and with no Trail engineer present, it was staked as the Oro Denoro, and sold to the Dominion Copper Company.

From that point the graders carefully examined every stone for traces of copper, but no further bonanzas were uncovered in the steep climb to the ridge top flat at the Wellington Camp (later Hartford).   At the chaotic Wellington Camp the ground was covered with stores, tents and cabins whose owners demanded exorbitant prices for a right of way.   The CPR hastily put in a switchback on perfectly level ground rather than pay for the land needed for a loop.   (Later on, when the Wellington Camp declined, a loop was built.)   The switchback reversed the line north where it climbed through the Rawhide, Gold Drop, Curlew, and Snowshoe claims, and turned into a shallow pass at an elevation of 4500 feet to enter the head waters of Twin Creek, the new town of Phoenix and the Granby Company’s mines.

In June of 1900, the rails were spiked down, and the line was complete.   On July 11, the first trainload of ten 30-ton cars of ore from the Old Ironsides mine departed Phoenix behind CPR L class Consolidation No. 317.   At Smelter Junction, the train was split, with five cars set off to be forwarded to the Trail smelter, while the remaining five cars were trundled down the 2 mile spur to the to the Granby Smelter. They arrived at 5:30 PM and were received with elaborate ceremony. Jay Graves and his family, together with C.H.S. Miner, Abel Hodges, and their families, were present.   A local brass band played, and the whistle cords of the engines were tied down to express the jubilation of all present.   It had been a tremendous gamble, but Jay Graves had won.            The two smelter furnaces were fired up the next day, and another trainload of ore arrived, the beginning of daily shipments from Granby and the other mines in the region.   Jay Graves at once ordered two Thew steam shovels on flanged wheels for 36” gauge track.   Quarry faces were blasted into the ore bodies at the Old Ironsides and the Knob Hill, 36” track was laid, and the two shovels began digging out the broken ore and loading it into 4 ton mine cars.   Davenport 0-4-0 saddletanker locomotives hauled the mine cars out of the quarries to a loading platform where they were dumped into the CPR 30 ton ore gondolas below.   At least one of the Davenport saddletankers was a special model for underground use, cut down to a five foot height, and requiring its engineer to operate it and fire it from a sitting position.   This squat steamer could enter the caverns blasted into the quarry walls and pull out ore from underground.

All this mechanization was wonderfully efficient.   Jay Graves boasted accurately to reporters that the Granby ores moved from quarry to smelter untouched by human hands.   Dumping the mine cars was mechanized a few years later when a Granby employee invented the self-dumping Granby mine car.   A wheel on the outside of the car would ride up on a slanting rail fixed to a vertical bulkhead in the dumping shed and tip the car as the Davenport pushed it over the chute.   This “Granby Car” was sold all over North America in subsequent years. As soon as the CPR tracks reached the mines at Phoenix, production went on a six-day week.   The ores rolled in short trains down the steep 12 mile grade to Eholt where they were made up into trains for the Granby smelter and cuts of cars for Trail to be picked up by the next way freight.   A second Shay locomotive, No. 112, identical to the 111 working the Rossland hill, was ordered and put to work on the Phoenix line hauling ore down the hill, and bringing coal and freight up to Phoenix.

With the completion of the Phoenix line, the CPR shifted its crews to Greenwood to build another steep and crooked branch up Motherlode creek to serve the Deadwood, Sunset and Motherlode mines.   The branch left the main line just a few hundred feet north of the C&W station, and climbed the rock bluff above Boundary Creek on a 3.8 percent grade to enter Motherlode Creek above the new smelter being built by the B.C. Copper Company.   From the smelter, the line climbed the left bank of Motherlode Creek to the town of Deadwood, and the Greyhound and Deadwood mines, also open quarries like the Phoenix mines.   From Deadwood the line was built on that same 3.8 percent grade up Castle Creek to a switchback (later replaced with a loop) which reversed it out of Castle Creek and up Motherlode Creek again to the huge Sunset open pit, or “glory hole,” as they were then called.   A quarter mile farther on it reached the Mother lode mine and its even bigger glory hole.   Shay 113 was purchased in 1903 to work this branch.

The CPR surveyors had continued past the Motherlode mine, locating a line winding in and out of creek valleys and looping around the noses of ridges to Dan Corbin’s King Solomon mine.   This location was known as Copper Camp, at 4400 feet elevation, with the King Solomon and Enterprise as the major producing mines.   The line past Motherlode, however, was never graded or built.   Probably because the CPR demanded the mine owners pay for it, with reimbursement after a certain tonnage had been shipped.     Agreement was evidently never reached, and the end of track remained at Motherlode with the King Solomon and Enterprise ores coming down to that point on wagons.

From the Canadian Pacific’s point of view, the building of the Columbia and Western with its spurs and branches was more a defense against Jim Hill than a profitable investment.   They had spent an estimated 7 million dollars to put rails into the Boundary country from Robson West, and yet the mining companies had spent but 4 millions in their developments.   Worse, the startling news came that Jim Hill had bought the supposedly defunct charter of the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern and his surveyors were staking grades into the Boundary country and up into Phoenix itself.

The CPR built a further spur from the Eholt-Phoenix line to serve the Jackpot and Athelstan mines, and surveyed two more grades long the spine of the Midway range across the border to reach the City of Paris and No. 7 mines at White’s Camp, and the Washington and Lone Star at the head of Big Goosmus Creek in Washington.These two last branches were never built; again, the owners would not pay, and found they could build a 5-mile aerial cableway to transport their ore back across the border into Canada and down to a second Boundary Creek smelter being erected by the Dominion Copper Company.   It went into operation in 1901.   With three smelters competing against him for Boundary copper, Walter Aldridge was finding it difficult to obtain sufficient ore for his Trail smelter.   His Canadian Mining and Smelting Company was obliged to buy or lease producing mines to secure a dependable supply of smelter feed.

By 1902 the Granby smelter was operating at capacity, and still more ore was coming down from the huge Knob Hill and Old Ironsides pits.   Graves and Miner merged all their Companies into Granby Consolidated Mining, Smelting and Power Company, Ltd. and issued $15 million in stock.   $11 million went to the stockholders in the old syndicate; the rest was put on the market to raise funds for enlargement of the smelter, the installation of a converter to produce nearly pure copper, and for a hydroelectric plant at Cascade, on the Kettle River, to furnish additional power for the smelter and to electrify the mines at Phoenix.   This enormous capitalization looked suspicious to many.   No one knew how deep the Old Ironsides and Knob Hill ore bodies were.   Did they really have $15 million dollars worth of ore?   Neither Graves nor Miner could answer this question definitively.   Speculators wondered if Graves and Miner were preparing to sell out at this inflated value before the ore bottomed out.

For his part, Graves had a new scheme.   This minor real estate developer from Spokane was going to try to play the two hostile railroad barons against each other for his own interests.   Graves was never shy; he approached Thomas Shaughnessy,  President of the CPR, with a plan to keep Jim Hill out of Phoenix.   He proposed that Granby should continue to smelt its own ores in its own smelter.   But since there was more ore now coming out of the ground on the heights around Phoenix than the Granby smelter could handle, and the cost of transporting ores to Trail over McRae pass was uneconomic, the CPR could build a second Grand Forks smelter, a custom smelter to handle all the ores from the mines not owned by Granby, B.C. Copper, or Dominion.   These ores could not stand the shipping charges to Trail and were going begging for treatment.   If the CPR would build this custom smelter, Graves promised he would offer as security for loans to build it, 28 options he held on mines in both the Phoenix area and also down in Republic, Washington in the new Eureka Creek mines.   If the CPR accepted his offer, he would guarantee them the haul from all these mines to the custom smelter as well as the Granby haul to its smelter.   Graves estimated revenue from these hauls to be $800,000 per year.   It was not unreasonable; CPR was already getting $380,000 a year from its haul to the Granby smelter alone.   It was a clever scheme; by using the capacity of a second Grand Forks smelter to contract for all the Boundary ores offered, nothing at all would be left for Jim Hill to haul.   He might run his rails up to Phoenix if he wished, but when he got them there, there would be nothing to load into his cars.

If the impetuous Van Horne had still been in charge, he might well have agreed.   But the cautious, conservative Shaugnessy was now President.   He sought advice from Walter Aldridge.   Aldridge told him the Boundary mines were overrated, that they were shallow deposits that would soon play out, that Graves could not demonstrate proven reserves of ore.   Shaugnessy turned down Graves’ offer.   As it turned out, this was a spectacular mistake.   Copper prices would soar during World War I making even the poorest Phoenix ores profitable.

Undismayed, Graves turned around and sounded out Jim Hill.   His new scheme, which he put to Hill, was nothing less than a proposal that the two of them should buy Granby outright.   He asked Jim Hill for a loan of $2 million to buy 500,000 shares of Granby at $4.   With the 150,000 shares he owned or controlled through relatives and employees that would give Hill and himself control. With control of Granby, Hill, when his rails reached Phoenix, could then take all of the Granby traffic and the CPR would be starved of ore.   After promising funds, Hill had second thoughts.   His suspicious nature which George Stephen had played upon so successfully, asserted itself.     He could not bring himself to participate in another man’s scheme.   When Graves got to Montreal to make his stock purchases, there was no money waiting for him.   He found the Granby directors ready to sell, as he had predicted to Hill.   They thought the future for copper was speculative, and wanted to get out while the stock price was favorable.   They were selling, however, to William H. Nichols, a New York copper refiner.   Frantic letters to Hill produced no result. Graves’ scheme was slipping away from him.   When the other directors, unaware of Graves’ intentions, invited him to go along with them and sell to Nichols, he had to agree.   Hill eventually sent him a stingy $25,000 in New York in case Nichols should change his mind, but it was too late.   Nichols and his New York associates had bought Granby outright.

One has to wonder at the eagerness of the Canadian stockholders to sell out to the Americans when it had been appeals to their patriotism that had brought them into Granby in the first place.   Emotionalism is probably much more a factor in business than most will admit. In 1902 Jim Hill’s men crossed the border into Canada at Cascade and began grading toward Grand Forks.   There they were halted by an injunction obtained from the court by one of the most preposterous railroads ever to run a train, Tracy Holland’s “Hot Air Line.”   Jim Hill had encountered his newest and most pestiferous adversary.

 

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

STEEP AND CROOKED: THE MINING RAILROADS OF THE CANADIAN BORDER

 By Bill Laux

CHAPTER EIGHT

A CLASH OF CAPTAINS:

HILL, VAN HORNE, AND “THE ASSOCIATES”

James Jerome Hill, of St Paul, Minnesota and the Great Northern Railway, was at home on both sides of the border, and saw no reason why his railroads should not be as well.   In 1870, as a Canadian living in St Paul, he was asked by Canadian Parliamentary Secretary, Joseph Howe, to travel north to Fort Gary (near present Winnipeg) to report on the Riel Rebellion.   So isolated was the Manitoba territory from the rest of Canada by the trackless 800 miles of rocky wilderness north of Lake Superior, that St Paul was the nearest source of information, and the place through which travel to that remote region passed.

Hill traveled in March of that year by railroad, stagecoach and, dog sled over the snows.   On the trail  with his dogs, he encountered Donald Smith, of the Hudson’s Bay Company, returning from his own investigation of the rebellion.   Their campfire talk led them to agree that the Red River Valley, as both prime agricultural land, and as the surest route from St Paul to Fort Gary,. Manitoba, and the Canadian West, would some day support a very profitable railway.

In the following years Hill enlisted the support of Donald Smith and his equally wealthy cousin, George Stephen, of the Bank of Montreal, in getting control of the steamboat business on the Red River, the route to Winnipeg.   Their syndicate, “George Stephens and  Associates,” comprised Stephen and Smith, as the financiers, Norman Kittson, The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Minnesota agent,  operating the steamboat line, and Hill, their St Paul freight forwarder.    Once in control of steam navigation on the Red River, the Associates then went after the bankrupt  St Paul and Pacific Railroad which they intended to complete to the Red River and a connection with Kittson’s steamboats.

  It was the mephistophelean George Stephen who devised a way to buy the incomplete and bankrupt St Paul and Pacific Railroad from its Dutch bondholders with their own money.   The Dutchmen had invested $11 million in the railway to get its valuable land grant, and so far had received neither land nor a penny of interest.   George Stephen offered to take their bonds in exchange for bonds in a new railway company which the Associates would form.    The Associates were gambling that J.J., Hill could complete the railroad before the deadline, eight months away, and earn for them the huge land grant that went with it.    

  The new company’s worth, in five equal shares, was divided among Stephen, Smith, Hill and Kittson.     The concealed fifth share was kept by George Stephen who passed it clandestinely to New York banker J. S. Kennedy who had been the Dutchmen’s representative and who had, somewhat unethically,  persuaded them to accept  Stephen’s offer.   Stephen became president of the Associates’ new company, Smith became vice-president and Hill, the man on the ground, General Manager.  When the original bonds received from the Dutchmen could not pay their interest, the Associates foreclosed, and became instant owners of the bankrupt railway.    It was an extraordinary bargain; the Associates had put up but  $280,000 to acquire a railroad with assets of 11 million.    At once, Hill, with tremendous energy, pushed the railway to the Red River within the deadline, and the land grant was handed over.    Sale of those lands brought the Associates $13 million over the years, but more importantly, they now had a railway to the Red River and the exclusive steamboat transportation along its waters to Winnipeg.     The Associates, with this one coup, now controlled absolutely Canada’s only land transportation to its west.

The Associates renamed their railroad the St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba and capitalized it at $15 million.   The railroad and the steamboat company became  instantly profitable.   Stock was quickly bought up by the public and the proceeds were used  to pay off the construction debt. 

Through another of George Stephen’s manipulations, the Associates were able to buy back $11 million of the bonds they had given the Dutchmen for $1 million.    Hill, on Stephen’s instructions, refused to redeem the interest coupons on the bonds with the railway grant lands, alleging that the Dutchmen had violated the terms of the bond exchange agreement.   The bamboozled Dutchmen, who were primarily interested in land, sold out in disgust.  

The new Canadian government had been seeking a way to build the transcontinental railway which it had promised British Columbia and the rest of Canada from its inception.   The only syndicate sufficiently strong to undertake such a project was The Associates with George Stephen in charge.     

The Canadian government courted George Stephen.    But Stephen was wary.     Hill and Angus (of the bank of Montreal) pointed out to him that if some hostile syndicate, such as the NP or the Milwaukee built the Canadian transcontinental, their St P M &M would lose its international value and become but one more prairie granger line.   If George Stephen accepted the offer of substantial land grants and a cash subsidy the Canadian government was offering, Hill and Angus promised, they  would build the line.     Hill, Angus and Stephen at that time saw the Canadian transcontinental as a valuable feeder line to the St Paul and Manitoba and felt its only rational route would be to dip into the U.S. at Sault Ste Marie and run via their SPM&M to Canada at Emerson.    It would be madness, Hill thought to build a railroad across the Canadian Shield where no one lived and no agricultural land existed.  Thus, from its inception, The Canadian Pacific Railway was paradoxically conceived by its builders and owners as an international extension of their American railroad.     

George Stephen was more than naive in taking on the building of the Canadian Pacific.  As with the St Paul and Pacific, he would find the financing,  J.J. Hill would build the line, and they would all profit from the truly enormous land grant to be earned, in this case, 25 million acres.   But  the St Paul and Pacific had required but 87 miles of line to complete.   This time the distance  was 1900 miles, over unknown territory, and through two mountain ranges where no railroad passes had yet been  located.    George Stephen was able to wring concessions from the Canadian government: a monopoly on all rail transportation west from Winnipeg, and a further guarantee that the builders would own and run CPR forever.   With these, Stephen thought the thing could be done for $45 million, of which the Government would advance half.    It was an enormous and nearly disastrous underestimate.

Hill built the Associates’  SPM&M to the Canadian border at Emerson.   The Canadian Pacific built from there to Winnipeg.   George Stephen named J.J. Hill managing director of the CPR, and Hill moved to Winnipeg to direct the building of the line west to the Pacific.  He discovered at once that the CPR was a swamp of confusion, ineptitude, and graft.   In its first year,1881, it had spent $10 million and only built 130 miles of track.   The chief looters were former Confederate General, Thomas Lafayette Rossiter, and his superior, Alpheas B. Stickney, who later would become president of the Chicago Great Western.  The pair  were working an outrageous scam, selling privileged information as to the line’s location to land speculators.   The speculators could then buy up raw prairie land for $1.25 and acre and sell it as track-side locations a month later, for 50 times that amount.    Hill still had the Mantoba road to run; he desperately needed a supremely tough superintendent to clean out the deadwood and grafters in the CPR, and to drive its grading crews ahead at top speed.    

The man he hired was William Cornelius Van Horne, a hard-driving American whom he had met when Van Horne was resurrecting the Southern Minnesota line out of La Cross, Wisconsin.   Van Horne was exactly Jim Hill’s kind of man, one who eagerly sought every possible responsibility, and when given it, produced solid results.   Hill first offered Van Horne the presidency of his own St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba railroad.    When Van Horne laughed in his face at the proposal, Jim Hill knew that here was a man with enough self-confidence to take over the chaotic CPR whose current managers were more interested in organizing pheasant hunts and champagne parties than building track.   

Van Horne accepted, and brought along with him from the Milwaukee, Thomas Shaugnessy, to act as his purchasing agent.   The team of Van Horne and Shaugnessy, the blustering, belligerent “Terror of Flat Crib,” and the suave, meticulous Chief Clerk ingeniously stalling every creditor of the nearly insolvent line with exquisitely polite requests for more detailed invoices, completed the Canadian Pacific and successively held its presidency until 1918.

Van Horne at once took the CPR by its ears and shook it thoroughly, earning his title, “The Terror of Flat Crick.”    Van Horne’s arrival at any of the hundreds of end-of -track camps was described by R.K. Kernighan,

  “…when manager  Van Horne comes to town there is a shaking of bones… He is the Terror of Flat Crick… they are as frightened of him as they are of the old Nick himself.

“Yet Van Horne is calm and harmless looking.   So is a mule and so is a buzz saw.   You don’t know their inwardness till you go up and get the feel of them.   To see Van Horne get out of his car and go softly up the platform, you might think he was an evangelist on his way to preach temperance to the Mounted Police.   

“But you are soon undeceived.    If you are within hearing distance you will have more fun than you ever had in your life before.   He cuffs the first official he comes to just to get his hand in and leads the next one by the ear, and pointing eastward informs him that the walking is good as far as St  Paul.   To see the rest hunt their holes and commence scribbling for dear life is a terror.

“Van Horne wants to know.   He is that kind of man.   He wants to know why this was not done and why this was done. If the answers are not satisfactory there is a dark and bloody tragedy enacted right there.   During each act the all the characters are killed off and in the last scene the heavy villain is filled with dynamite, struck with a hammer, and by the time he has knocked a hole plumb through the sky, and the smoke has cleared away, Van Horne has discharged all the officials and hired them over at lower figures.”   

Hill was at first pleased with his choice; he had both found the man to terrorize  the CPR into order, and also very cleverly removed a dangerous rival from the competing Milwaukee Road which was by then invading what Hill considered  St Paul and Manitoba Road territory.

  Hill’s pleasure was not to last long.   As 1882 began, Van Horne had boasted that he would lay 500 miles of track that year, an unheard-of feat.  Moreover, he had ordered in advance, every tie, bridge timber, rail and keg of spikes for 500 miles of railroad.   His orders, filling 500 rail cars, choked Hill’s St Paul yards.  The Manitoba found itself unable to move its trains until Van Horne’s cars were removed.    Hill threatened to have his own men dump the cars where they stood.   Van Horne, choosing his own time, eventually sent his own men down to offload the cars and permit Mr. Hill to run his railroad.   But by the end of the year, Van Horne had laid an astonishing  548 miles of track, a record never bettered. 

Hill constantly complained to Van Horne that he was not sufficiently concerned

for the well-being of the Manitoba Road, for in Hill’s mind the Canadian Pacific was to make the Manitoba Road thrive.   But Van Horne had no intention of being the Associates’ pawn.    Almost from the beginning he became a thorough CPR man.   When the Canadian Pacific completed its line east from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay on Lake Superior, George Stephen promised a worried J.J. Hill that it would not be opened for another year so that their Manitoba Road would have all the haulage of CPR materials.   Van Horne, however, instructed his traffic officials to bring in materials via the Great Lakes and the Thunder Bay route, a considerable cost saving, but cutting the Manitoba line out of the traffic.     Hill protested Van Horne’s attitude, “…there is I know a feeling…of ill concealed hostility toward this company.” J.J. Hill had picked the one man thick-skinned enough to see the CPR through to the Pacific.   But he had failed to realize that  Van Horne was a man just like himself, stubborn, headstrong and supremely ambitious.   It was inevitable they would clash.    As well, Hill failed utterly to take into consideration that the Canadian Government, which was subsidizing the CPR construction by loans and grants,  would absolutely insist on an “All Canadian” route to the north of Lake Superior.    No matter that it made no economic sense, that it would not furnish a single carload of freight.  Canadian nationalism demanded it.    Canadian taxpayers would never permit their government to subsidize a railway through the United States. 

George Stephen and Associates were not going to be able to construct the Canadian Pacific as an extension of the St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba;  they were going to have to build an “All Canadian” route or forfeit government support.   Hill, his advice ignored, his protests unheeded, found his position on the Canadian Pacific board untenable.   He angrily resigned his position on May 3, 1883, and began selling his CAP stock.   In a note to Kennedy, the clandestine fifth Associate, on the following day,  Hill explained, “Mr. Van Horne… is inclined to take the view that the St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba are powerless to help themselves and must simply accept any situation that may be assigned to it by the Can Pac.”

Van Horne, seeing the CPR in a  wider perspective than J.J. Hill, realized that his line could never fulfill the destiny he saw for it as long as it operated as a feeder to the St Paul and Manitoba.   In an act that would render Hill an enemy forever, he declared the CPR’s independence by signing a preferential traffic agreement with the Northern Pacific, rather than with the Manitoba Road.  When  Hill discovered this, he sold his final 10,000 shares in the CPR in utter disgust, and became Van Horne’s implacable foe.    “I’ll get even with him if  I have to go to hell for it and shovel coal!”  Hill swore.

The position of George Stephen in all this is curious.   He was president of both the Canadian Pacific and of the St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba, now rival lines.   Van Horne’s disregard of Hill’s interests had to have the President’s sanction, yet Hill, mesmerized by the aristocratic presence of George Stephen, never blamed him for the rift.   

Stephen’s manipulations continued.   In 1886, with the Canadian Pacific completed, George Stephen and Donald Smith secretly bought control of the Minneapolis, St Paul and Salt Sate Marie (the So line), railroad, a line charted by Minneapolis millers to bring wheat from the Dakota prairies to the Minneapolis mills and carry their flour to the year round port of Salt Sate, Marie.   This line, a rival to both the CPR and the Manitoba Road, had been looked at by both Hill and Van Horne and rejected as  weak line, unfinished and no threat.   However, Stephen and Smith put $750,000 into it to complete it.   Once finished, they intended to sell it to either the CPR or to Hill, whichever would bid highest for it.   Hill discovered that the money had come from the bank of Montreal, and queried Stephen as to who was involved.   Stephen mendaciously denied that he or Smith had advanced the money.    With Hill still in the dark, Smith and Stephen went bargain hunting again, and bought the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic, another line running from Duluth to Salt Sate Marie.   Their purpose was the same, to sell it to either the Manitoba or the CPR.    Hill began a savage rate war with both lines in an effort to drive them into bankruptcy.   But from some unknown source, money kept being poured into these competitors.   Eventually, Stephen had to confess to Hill that he and Donald Smith were behind the rival lines.   Hill then questioned Stephen’s anomalous position as President of both the CPR and the Manitoba.   In 1888 George Stephen sold the So line to the Canadian Pacific and resigned as CPR president.  His place was taken by Van Horne who began to pour money into the So, as a “defense” against the Manitoba line.

Hill responded with a campaign against the CPR, delaying his passenger trains so that travelers would not make their connections at Winnipeg, and on one pretext or another, blocking freight cars a the border, tying up the CPR line.

The anxiety Hill felt about the So line which paralleled the Manitoba on the south was doubled when in 1893, Van Horne bought the Duluth and Winnipeg for the CPR, a line, that would when completed,  parallel the Manitoba on the north.   This put Hill in vice, and Van Horne, it seemed to him, was twisting the handle.    For, if  Van Horne could complete the Duluth and Winnipeg north to the border, the CPR, using D&W and So tracks would have its own line into St Paul and connections to the Chicago roads.  Hill had to have the Duluth and Winnipeg, or he would be squeezed out of  the Canadian traffic.    Realizing at last that  the CPR was now never going to use his Manitoba road as an American connection, he changed the name of the St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba to the Great Northern, and encouraged by George Stephen, struck out for the Pacific Coast on his own. 

George Stephen had no intention of letting Van Horne destroy the Great Northern, which he could have done with the So and D&W.     Stephen now  began a treacherous campaign to get rid of Van Horne.   In 1897 he forced Van Horne out of the Presidency of the CPR, took over himself,and sold the D&W to Hill.   

George Stephen’s ambiguous position as President of the CPR from 1880 to 1888, and Chairman of the Board of the Manitoba Road from 1878 to 1886 gave him almost unlimited power to play with both lines for his own profit.   He played the deluded combatants,  Hill and Van Horne, shamelessly against each other, sliding adroitly from one camp to the other in his letters  to them.   Here he is to Van Horne on J.J. Hill,

“…he is the most ‘shame faced’ grown man I ever met, more like a very shy boy of 10 or 12 years than a full-grown man of 50.

“In dealing with him it is necessary to keep his odd ways in mind & to treat him rather as a spoilt child brimful of ridiculous suspicions of everybody he comes in contact with.”

Here he is to Thomas Shaugnessy on William Van Horne,

“It is quite evident that Sir William, either from failing health or from allowing other things to occupy his mind, is no longer able to give the affairs of the Company his undivided attention…  His actions gave me the impression that he felt like a man who knew he was in a mess and had not the usual courage to look his position in the face.”

Manipulated by the Machiavellian Stephen, the two former farm boys, Hill and Van Horne charged at one another like maddened bulls, creating a bitterly hostile relationship between the Great Northern and the CPR which was to last for their lifetimes.   Hill seems to have conceived the idea that by invading the CPR’s British Columbia territory with his profitless lines, he could trade them to the CPR for its So Lines in the U.S.   He made the offer in 1897 and was refused.   Rebuffed, he continued to build Canadian lines.   When, in 1906, the CPR acquired Dan Corbin’s Spokane International and trackage rights with the UP to Portland, Hill responded  with a threat to build a new Canadian transcontinental which would run from Winnipeg through Brandon, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton and the Peace River country.   

Near the end of his life, with his “Third Main Line” (the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern route) in its final stages of construction, Hill made one more move to confound the CPR in British Columbia.   He conferred with the builders of the Grand Trunk Pacific who were building a  second Canadian transcontinental on the Edmonton to Prince Rupert route, about extending a link northward from his VV&E to link up with both the GTP and the Canadian Northern.  This link, if built, would have enmeshed the CPR in British Columbia, in a choking web of Hill lines. 

Hill died in 1916, but in his last years the GN board withdrew support for any further construction in Canada.    The defeat  of the Liberals killed the Free Trade policy which Hill has supported and counted on.    Without  Free Trade, the GN would always be at a disadvantage in Canada.   Hill’s son, Louis, taking over the Great Northern in his father’s last years, immediately stopped work on the VV&E and negotiated a joint trackage agreement with the CPR for that route.    It was never used.   Louis Hill and his successors began a slow withdrawal of the profitless GN lines from B.C.   Today only a hundred miles of ex-GN track remain in B.C., the steep and crooked line from the border to Nelson, the 12 mile arc into the Kettle Valley on the Republic line, and the route from the border at Blaine to the Vancouver terminal.

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

STEEP AND CROOKED: THE MINING RAILROADS OF THE CANADIAN BORDER

 By Bill Laux

sc9-1-edited

  CHAPTER SEVEN

RAIL OPERATIONS, TRAIL TO ROSSLAND  (1896 – 1929)

On the narrow gauge line to Rossland, three freight trains ran daily, bringing ore down to the smelter, and hauling coal, machinery and supplies to the Rossland Camp from barges on the Columbia.   At the riverfront, a steep track ran diagonally down the riverbank to a switchback, and reversed down to the extreme low water line.   A steamer or a barge moored alongside the track at any stage of the river allowed transfer of freight or passengers directly to the little cars of the Trail Creek Tramway.

Dispatching was from the Tramway office at Smelter Junction, a two story building, with operations on the first floor. The second floor was comfortably fitted up as accommodations for Fritz Heinze where he spent one week of every month in Trail looking after his Canadian enterprises.  The freight schedule had one train loading at the ore bunkers above Rossland, while another was on the line, and a third unloading at the smelter. The ore cars were the 12 ton wooden coal gondolas that had come from Alberta.   They had link and pin couplers, hand brakes, and typically ran in trains of seven cars with no caboose.   Upgrade, the little Hinkleys would have been taxed to their tractive limit by eight empties, or fewer if a car of coal was in the uphill consist. The Tramway ran several passenger trains daily between the Trail waterfront station and Rossland.   Passenger service began on June 5, 1896, with a morning and an afternoon train each way.   The fare was $2.00.   As the Tramway had no proper passenger cars as yet, three freight cars had windows cut in their sides, wood stoves installed, and a double bench was run down the length of the car, the passengers facing outward, back to back, and bracing their feet against the sides of the car for the rough ride up the hill.

The afternoon train of these improvised coaches left Trail at 5:00 PM, and , according to the Trail Creek Times, regularly carried a hundred or more passengers, local people, and travellers disembarking from the sternwheelers down at the riverfront.   At times space in the train was fully occupied and passengers sat on the car steps, on the roofs, and even on the locomotive pilot.   Frequently, in those early days, extra cars had to be added to handle the baggage off the boats, and a second locomotive had to be coupled onto the train to haul it up the steep grades to Rossland.    These were bonanza times, and in their eagerness to get to the golden promise of the mines, travellers were undeterred by such inconveniences; the more overcrowded the trains, the more wonderful the mines above must be.   Miners, promoters, salesmen, saloon keepers, gamblers, prostitutes: everyone was frantic to get in on the roaring days while they lasted.   Farmers and ranchers from the surrounding district rode the Tramway as well.   They made regular trips to Rossland to solicit restaurants, hotels, grocers, for contracts for their produce, fruit and meat.   Many of the orchardists along the Arrow Lakes would contract their entire crop to a retailer in Rossland and ship the fruit, as it came ripe, on the daily CPR sternwheelers that would pause at every rural wharf where boxes of fruit were stacked.   Taken off the steamer that same day at Trail, these perishables would ride the cars up the steep and twisting rails to Rossland.   With this coordinated boat-rail service, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, apples and pears, could be in the Rossland grocers’ windows the day after being picked.   It is deceptively easy for us to dismiss the 19th Century as crude and rustic.   A look at the wilted produce at the market today should remind us that we often grossly overestimate the fruits of progress. Similarly, in the cold months of the year, when lack of refrigeration was no problem,. fresh killed pork, beef and lamb rode the boats and rails to the mines.   Retired farmers and orchardists assert that the golden days of the Rossland Bonanza were the making of their homesteads.   The Red Mountain mines made millionaires out of the Spokane Colonels, but more importantly, it kick-started a brand new Kootenay agriculture which flourished in those years as it has not done since.

The Spokane passenger train left that city at 8:45 AM daily, and its Northport connection on the Red Mountain Railway did not get into Rossland until 4:10 PM, too late to catch the last passenger train down the hill.   They would likely have taken the stage down the steep, twisting wagon road the last eight miles to Trail.   The 10:00 AM Red Mountain Railway departure from Rossland got its passengers into Spokane at 5:35 PM, making the 147 mile trip at and average of 19 miles per hour.   Chartered private trains, not obliged to make station stops, probably made the journey in two thirds of that time.

The timetable above shows that the passenger schedules on the Rossland hill left two daylight windows for freight operations, one from 9:15 AM to 11:00 AM, probably for a run of empty ore cars up to the mines, and another from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM, to bring down the first loads of ore.   Nighttime was open, and the other two freight runs were certainly made in the dark.

Motive power on the narrow gauge consisted of the two Hinkley 2-6-0 locomotives bought second hand from the Alberta Railway and Coal Company, successors to the Northwest Coal and Navigation Company, when they standard gauged their “Turkey Trail” line to Great Falls, Montana. Hinkleys No. 1 and No. 2 were construction numbers 1780 and 1781 respectively, with 12 x18 cylinders and tiny, 31” drivers which gave them 13,000 pounds of tractive effort.   The Hinkleys were built as 0-6-0 machines with the pilot truck added later.   They probably handled the passenger runs on the narrow gauge with the more powerful Brooks locomotive making the freight runs.   The Brooks was construction number 578, with 14 x18 cylinders, 42 inch drivers, and weighed 20 tons.     Two more moguls were reportedly obtained in 1899.   No. 4 was a Mogul of unknown origin, and No. 5 was a 2-6-0 from the Canadian Locomotive Company of Kingston.   No photographs are known to exist.   Possibly one or both were bought for spare parts. On December 6, 1896, the refurbished private car made its first trip up the line to Rossland with Heinze and a party of contractors who had come to bid on the C&W line to Robson West.

The Trail Creek Tramway from the outset was worked as hard as its diminutive equipment would allow, to bring down the tonnage Heinze required for his smelter.   In the summer of 1896 a new blast furnace was installed at the smelter and capacity was raised to 500 tons per day. This was more than the little 12 ton cars could handle.   In the middle of August, 1896, the tramway was delivering 200 tons a day.   50 tons came from Le Roi, 50 from the War Eagle and a hundred tons from other mines.   A further 50 tons of very high grade ore in sacks was brought down daily and taken to the riverbank to be put aboard the Lytton for Northport and rail shipment from there to the Tacoma smelter. Heinze boasted his tramway was earning $25,000 a month.   In October of 1896, fourth freight run was instituted and the tramway was able to bring down 325 tons daily.   About half this ore was was coming from the stockpiles accumulated at the mines during the years before the railway had come.   The mines themselves were not producing more than 175 tons daily, all told.  When the tramway should have caught up with this backlog, the smelter would need new ores or have to cut back to a reduced capacity.   This prompted Fritz Heinze to go after those Slocan silver-lead ores with his C&W line to Robson West.

The Trail Creek Tramway did not keep its employees long.   The pay was low, only $1.75 per day, from which $1.25 was deducted if one used the company boardinghouse.   As well, the operation was a difficult and hazardous one, bringing heavy trains down one of the steepest railroads in the West at night and without air brakes.   Brakemen had to ride between the cars, with a foot on each, and twist down the brake wheel, with a pick handle for leverage, at whistle signals from the engineer.   In winter the job was particularly brutal.   Most men stayed only long enough to earn a grub stake, then moved on.

In one instance, remembered by freight conductor, Tom Peck, the entire train crew rebelled.   During the obligatory stop at the Tiger switchbacks to let the wheels and brake shoes cool, the grumbling men discovered that they were of one mind: Fritz Heinze could have his damned railroad in a place that would cause him severe discomfort.   Led by conductor, “Lean Dog” McLean, they took a sight on a lighted window in Anable and walked off in a body, leaving the train to look after itself.  For such a steep and difficult line, accidents were surprisingly few.   A passenger train demolished an ore car which had somehow strayed onto the main line in July of 1896.   In August of 1897, the second loaded ore car of a ten car train left the rails on the Davis Street curve in Rossland, just above the Spitzee mine. Conductor Abercrombie and his crew made two unsuccessful attempts to re-rail the car with track frogs.   On the third try, Hackett, the impatient engineer,. took slack, threw the Johnson bar over and opened the throttle wide.   The sudden jerk, instead of pulling the car up onto the frog, threw it over on its side, tumbling it down the embankment, and pulling the first car and the locomotive with it.   Engineer Hackett, Fireman Harkness, and another man leapt free from the locomotive as it rolled, and scrambled away, uninjured.   No. 3, the Brooks Mogul, came to rest upside down, its drivers still turning until someone closed the throttle.   The wreck came at the wrong time, as No. 2 was in the shop for repairs, and Hinkley No. 1 was left to run the Tramway by itself.   Tragedy came during the efforts to right the wreck, and get No. 3 back up on the rails.   The company’s blacksmith, trying to loosen a bolt, had his wrench slip, and falling backward, crushed his kidney on a tree stump.   The injury proved fatal, the first casualty of the little line.

After three years of operation as a narrow gauge line, the Canadian Pacific, when it took over, standard gauged the line in 1899.   The loops at Warfield were widened from 25 to 20 degrees, and at Tiger, the alignment was changed.   The switchbacks could not be dispensed with, but the line linking them was lengthened to reduce the grade.   All but one of the line’s tight curves were eased to 20 degrees, but still the standard CPR Mikado locomotives were never able to be used since their trailing trucks lacked the swing necessary to negotiate a 20 degree curve.   The grade on the line after standard gauging was still 4 percent with short stretches of 4.6 percent, and two sections of 4.8 percent, one at Anable and the other on Le Roi Avenue in Rossland.

In the process of conversion, standard gauge ties were slid under the rails, and the old six foot ties were sent down to the smelter to be used as fuel.   60 pound rails replaced the old 28 pound steel, but one 28 pound rail was left in place so that the narrow gauge traffic could continue uninterrupted during the changeover.   60 pound rail for all the standard gauge switches was cut and set out, and on June 15, 1899, a hundred men, in six gangs, replaced the 14 narrow gauge switches with standard gauge, and the changeover was complete.   By 3:15 PM, on that same day, the first standard gauge train, following the changeover crews up the hill, arrived in Rossland.

The narrow gauge equipment was sold by the CPR.   Hinkley No. 1, went in November, 1899, to Mc Lean Brothers, contractors working on the C&W extension to Midway.   It worked at Bulldog tunnel, on the long fills above Dog Creek and doubtless at other locations as well.   It was reported in 1905 at Midway, working on the abortive Midway and Vernon grade.   In 1907, a locomotive of identical appearance shows up in a photograph as No. 2 of the Belcher Mine Ry, an 8 mile narrow gauge line serving the Belcher mine up Lambert creek near Karamin in Ferry County, Washington.   This may have been Trail Creek Tramway No. 1 or a sister locomotive from the Turkey Trail in Alberta.

Master Mechanic Garlock, left Trail to work in Seattle for the White Pass and Yukon Railway.   He was charged by them with the job of finding narrow gauge equipment for the new line.   He bought Hinkley No. 2 in October, 1900 and shipped it to Skagway where it worked on the White Pass as its No. 64.   It was scrapped there in 1918.   No. 3, the Brooks Mogul, was also bought by Garlock in July,1900, and shipped north to become WP&Y No. 65.   When it was replaced some years later by heavier locomotives, the White Pass sold it to Tanana Mines in Alaska to become their No. 51. It was scrapped by the Alaska Railroad, probably in 1917, when it standard gauged the Tananna Mines line. The fate of Mogul No. 4 is unknown; some reports have it sent back to the Alberta Railway and Coal Company.   No 5, the C.L.C. locomotive, went to McDonnell and Gzowski, contractors, and was put to work on the construction of the spiral tunnels above Field as No. 15.   Its ultimate fate is unknown. There are reports in Trail that Garlock sent the first class passenger coach and Heinze’s private car to the WP&Y as well.   However, there are no records in Skagway to bear this out.

The early coaches on that line have been thoroughly rebuilt and no evidence of origin remains.  However, early photos of the WP&Y show a “duckbilled” roof Billmeyer and Smalls coach, which could have come from either the Trail Creek Tramway or the Coeur D’Alene Railway which was standard gauged about the same time. In 1900, the CPR bought the first of three large three truck Shay locomotives to work the Rossland Hill.   No 111, the first of the Shays, was a 90 ton machine, (120 tons in working order with a full boiler and tank) with three 15 x 17 inch cylinders and 41” drivers.   The big Shay had greater tractive power than any other locomotive the Canadian Pacific possessed at that time.   As the CPR intended to run mixed trains on the Rossland hill, the Shay was fitted with an elegant wooden cowcatcher as the law required for a passenger locomotive.   Wooden cowcatchers were favored by the CPR for mountain districts in the early years of the century.   It was noted that on encountering a boulder on the track at speed, a wooden cowcatcher would disintegrate into splinters, while a steel pilot would be mangled into mass of bent metal, which, passing under the wheels, would frequently derail the locomotive.   But Shay 111, though powerful, was slow, and it is doubtful that the mandated cowcatcher was ever able to overtake a cow in good health.

The Shay could bring eight steel gondolas up the hill, while the light Consolidations assigned to the branch could bring up but four.   Capacity of the Shay on the hill was 213 tons, the Consolidations, 184 tons.   For winter service it was found necessary to sheathe that elegant wooden pilot with steel to throw the snow, and to also extend steel sheathing outside the front truck to keep wet snow from balling up in the gears.   The curves on the Rossland line were too tight to permit a standard snowplough to operate; its long wheelbase caused it to overhang the sharp curves and derail when pushing snow.   A special short coupled plough was built for the Rossland line, and a tiny flanger was constructed on a single truck, weighted with lengths of rail.

The CPR bought two more Shays to the same pattern as 111, for the Motherlode and Phoenix branches, and these locomotives probably worked the Rossland hill as well.   No 112 came in 1902, and was scrapped after a wreck in 1911.   No 113 arrived in 1903.   In 1913 it was sold to become No. 5 on Dan Corbin’s coal line in the East Kootenay.   It was sent to Contractors’ Machinery in Seattle the same year in trade for a lighter Shay, and disappears from the record.   Probably it served out its time on some Northwest logging line.

Winter brought special problems at the ore receiving pockets at the smelter.   All of the Red Mountain ores came out of the mines wet, and in the winter whole train loads of ore would come off the hill frozen solid.   A special thawing house was built at the smelter into which the cars of frozen ore would be shunted and the doors closed.   Stoves would lit to raise the temperature, and steam lances employed in the wooden cars to loosen the ore. Later, when steel ore jennies were introduced, oil fired torches would be played against their sides and workers with sledge hammers would pound the cars until the ore could be broken up.   The scorched and battered sides of these cars testified to dozens of combats with frozen ore.   Finally, the engineering department built a car shaker to break up frozen ore.

Other problems abounded on the steep and crooked line, even in summer.   T.L. Bloomer, who worked on the Rossland hill, remembered, “One of the most trying difficulties on the Rossland Hill in the old days was bad rails caused by smoke from the smelter combining with dew or mist from the heavens.   All sorts of schemes have been tried for overcoming this combination — steam jets to blow it off and different methods of sanding.   I have seen it so bad that the train crew had to get shovels and throw dirt from the side of the track onto the rails, and still the engine would slip.” As the smelter stack was belching tons of sulfur dioxide, the oxygen of the air and the dew on the rails, converted it into sulfuric acid, an oily liquid. Another slippery rail problem was caused by caterpillars in the summer, which, Bloomer reported, “…would cluster on the rails for warmth when the sun went down.   And how they would smell!”

Acid rain, shivering caterpillars, unremarked on a normal railroad, became serious on the 4.6 percent grades, stalling trains and magnifying the trivial into the serious.            Bloomer, and other engineers on the Rossland hill, noted that a light day snow gave ideal traction on the tight curves.   It held the sand on the rail and provided just enough moisture to lubricate the flanges. The trains always ran better through the loops, the crews found, when the outer drivers had just the right amount of slippage on the super-elevated outer rail.   The Rossland hill was a challenge for engineers and train crew, winter and summer.

Coming down the hill with a loaded train or ore, a stop had to be made .4 miles below the old narrow gauge wye for a safety switch.   Here retainers were set up to hold 15 pounds of air on the brakes, the switch was thrown, and the train proceeded down the hill.   The switch was normally lined for an old quarry and if the descending train was unable to stop, the switch would divert it into a pile of loose rock in the quarry.

Freights were limited to 10 miles per hour downhill, passenger trains to 20.   At the Tiger switchbacks, freights had a mandatory stop of ten minutes, to allow brakes and wheels to cool before proceeding down to Warfield.   Most tricky of all, was bringing down a light engine.   The engine brakes in that case could be used only sparingly, for if the steel driver tires overheated, they would expand and come off the drivers, derailing the locomotive.   Engineers put the Johnson bar in the second notch of reverse and open the cylinder cocks slightly and came down on compression, rather than on brakes.

Up above Rossland, the Highline leading to the War Eagle and Le Roi ore bunkers crossed Acme Creek (Centre Star Gulch) on a high trestle built on a 26 degree curve.   Only the Shays and rod engines with blind second and main drivers could negotiate it.   Later, new ore bunkers were built down on the lower line and the ore sent down to them by cable trams to eliminate this awkward spur.

The Canadian Pacific operating department never did like the Shays bought for the steep mine branches.   With their limited speed, they were not interchangeable with rod engines for mainline service.   In 1910, with the coming of the heavy Consolidations of the M4 class, these engines were assigned to the Rossland hill and the Shays confined to the the Phoenix and Motherlode branches in the Boundary district.   The M4 3400s and 3500s were rated at 184 tons on the Rossland hill, and could when required, work the line to Castlegar and Nelson, or wherever else they might be needed. The Shays could out pull them, but that was all.   Later, the N2 class Consolidations worked the hill, the heaviest engines permitted on the line.

With the standard gauging of the line in 1898, passenger connections to Nelson, where all court and government business had to be transacted, and to the outside world, were greatly improved.   A 1905 timetable shows daily except Sunday departures from Rossland at 6:55 PM, dropping down to Trail to pick up passengers, and then climbing back to Smelter Junction to take the line to Castlegar.   The train arrived at the dock at Robson West at 9:00 PM, and passengers would board the sternwheeler “Rossland,” “Kootenay,” or “Minto,” leaving at 11:00 PM for the sixteen hour run up the lakes to the rail connection at Arrowhead.   Arrival at Revelstoke was at 5:30 PM to make connections with trains to Vancouver or Calgary and the East.

On the inbound trip, passengers would leave Revelstoke at 8:15 AM on the branch line train to Arrowhead where they would board whichever one of the three sternwheelers was running that day at 9:15 AM for a 10:15 AM departure.   Arrival at Robson West was at 8:30 PM, after a fast ten hour run down the lakes.   Waiting at the dock would be the Rossland-Trail train, departing at 8:50 PM, and reaching Rossland at 10:50 that evening.   The Nelson and Grand Forks trains would be at Robson West as well, for passengers bound to those destinations.

Robson West was a busy place with a twice daily interchange of steamer and three trains.   At 9:24 AM the Rossland train arrived, followed six minutes later by the arrival of the Nelson train.   After transferring passengers, the train from Rossland departed for Grand Forks and Midway.   At the same time, the train from Midway which had been standing all night, departed for Nelson, and a third train departed for Rossland.

At 8:30 in the evening, the Revelstoke steamer would arrive and ten minutes later, trains began arriving.   First, the Nelson train, then five minutes later,the train from Grand Forks, Greenwood and Midway. Fifteen minutes later, the Rossland train would pull in.

Passengers from the boat boarded their trains; train passengers boarded the boat, and at 8:45 all three trains departed, for Rossland, for Nelson and for Midway.   The steamer took on coal, and at 11:00 PM she departed up lake.   Nothing remains of Robson West today but a double line of rotting piles where the trains used to back down the long, sloping ramp to lie alongside the steamers to transfer freight and passengers.   Directly across the river was the terminus of the Columbia and Kootenay line to Nelson and in the early years, after the steamer had discharged its passengers, it would barge rail cars across to the line on the other side.   In 1902, the CPR bridged the Columbia at Castlegar and the Robson terminus was abandoned.   Robson West continued to function as the rail-boat transfer point until the last sternwheeler, the “Minto,” was withdrawn in 1954.

All of the trains from Rossland, bound for Nelson, or Grand Forks, or Robson West, stopped at Smelter Junction, (now called Tadanac) and backed down the switchback line to Dublin gulch, took the switchback, and proceeded down Trail Creek to the Trail City Station on Cedar Avenue.   Passengers and express would be loaded and the train would back up the gulch to the switchback and then up the 3.9 percent grade to Smelter Junction.   In the 30s trim Ten Wheeler D10g class locomotives were assigned to the Trail- Nelson run.   Gibson Kennedy reports that some engineers with their light, two car train, would work the grade with a short cutoff which yielded a satisfyingly sharp bark from the stack, but produced a surge in train motion with every revolution of the drivers.   This caused the clerks in the mail and baggage car to lose their footing while trying to sort mail. They registered a complaint to the company and engineers were subsequently ordered to moderate their efforts to save fuel on this particular grade.

 

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

STEEP AND CROOKED: THE MINING RAILROADS OF THE CANADIAN BORDER

 By Bill Laux

Please note if you are interested in reading an action packed adventure story, but don’t have the time to read the entire chapter, scroll down to the first word in blue and bold letters and read from there.

train-at-mine

CHAPTER FIVE

TWO RAILROADS — TWO SMELTERS 1896 – 1898

With the completion of Heinze’s Trail Creek Tramway, the future of the two communities, Trail and Rossland, seemed assured.   On June 19, 1896, editor Thompson of the Trail Creek News, rhapsodized, “It is marvelous — the amount of tonnage arriving at Trail this spring, with three steamers running into Trail, yet the C&KSN Co. cannot keep the consignments of freight to Trail cleaned up. In two days last week, the steamers of the C&KSN Co. landed in Trail 500 tons of coal, coke and lime rock and general merchandise.   Every day sees the steamers of this company in Trail loaded down to their full capacity.   Yesterday, the steamers, “Nakusp,” “Trail,” and “Lytton, ” and the train of the Columbia and Western Railway were all in Trail at one time, and the aggregate number of passengers served by the three boats and the train was over 400, while the tonnage handled in that day amounted to over 250 tons.   And this is a town not yet a year old, and the season has just begun.”

This was June, with a full river, and even steamers drawing a full four and a half feet of water, as did the Nakusp, could make it down the difficult channel from Robson to Trail.   In December the low stage of the water would hold the big boats at Robson, with the little Lytton relaying their cargoes down across the sandbars, and through the shallow riffles.   A smelter had to have uninterrupted supplies of coal, coke, and flux (lime and silica rock), to operate.   With winter steamer operations interrupted by ice and low water, Heinze had to find a better way to bring in his fuel. He could, of course, have Dan Corbin bring in Roslyn coal and coke to Rossland, and then have it hand shoveled into his narrow gauge cars.   But this would put him into Corbin’s hands, an unacceptable situation.   His trip to England to raise money for his Columbia and Western extension was a failure.   He therefore mortgaged some Montana properties and let bids on the first section of the new railway.   It was not to run through the mountains from Rossland.   Instead, it would run up the right bank of the Columbia from his smelter to Robson West. This would give him year round access to the deep water of the Arrow Lakes and an assured coal supply.

Although the new town of Trail was growing and prospering, things were not well with the three companions who had founded it.   Success had had an unfortunate effect on Frank Hanna.   He and Mary Jane became estranged over his increasingly blatant immorality.   He owned two brothels in Trail and his own daughter, Olive, complained of her father’s sexual misconduct with a Mrs. Crossman in the same bed in which Olive was sleeping.   Mary Jane applied to the court for sole custody of her children, and on the grounds alleged, it was granted.   In the interests of propriety, Colonel Topping found it best to move out of the Trail House hotel and set up living quarters behind his office.

With the new Le Roi Company smelter at Northport in operation, the Le Roi mine was paying a dividend every month, and its owners were rapidly growing very rich.   Le Roi stock, which the Colonels had bought up for 25 cents a share, was now selling for over $5.00.   The Rossland mines and in particular, the Le Roi, were becoming well known all over the world for their extraordinary richness.   In London, speculators begin to consider the Red Mountain mines for investment.

Whittaker Wright, one of the more successful of those speculators, had formed the British American Corporation to invest in B. C. and Alaska mining properties.   Wright was one of those flamboyant mendacities that flashed like meteors across the financial heavens at the end of the Victorian era, occasioning awe, moral outrage, and corrosive envy in the British public.   H.G. Wells was so fascinated by him as a symbol of the absolute sovereignty of the money power, as to use him as a model for Edward Ponderovo in his novel, Tono Bungay.

An Englishman, Wright came to the United States, worked in the Pennsylvania oil fields, and was present at the Leadville, Colorado silver boom.   He was in Philadelphia in the 1880s, forming companies to buy Colorado and New Mexico mines, and to market their stock to Pennsylvania investors.   Learning the techniques of stock jobbing, Wright moved to London in the 1890s and began floating mining companies based on the West Australian gold mines around Kalgoorlie.   Wright’s game was not to mine gold, but to organize the mine company and then to sell stock in it, a greater value of stock than there was gold in the ground.   This was enormously successful as long as he could pay huge dividends, most of which came out of stock sales, rather than from whatever bullion was being produced.   As long as new companies could be floated, with their stock sales covering the dividends of previous companies, the game could go on.

Wright’s ostentatious mode of living was legendary with the British public.   They could not hear enough of his private yacht, his private stable of fifty horses, his private observatory, his private velodrome, his private theatre, and his private hospital. He had built an artificial lake on his Surrey estate, and, at the bottom of it, had constructed an underwater billiard room with a glass ceiling through which his guests could view his private fish.

Such an obvious command of large sums of money seemed to signify to the British investors a soundness of his financial empire, which it did not deserve.   To keep on grossly overcapitalizing his mines, Wright required continuing press reports of bonanza finds and sensationally rich mines which he could market.   The Rossland mines were being reported in the London press in 1897 as being the richest in the world. It did not matter whether they were or not; the perception was enough to bring investors running. Wright needed to own these mines to inflate the value of his stocks. He capitalized his British America Corporation at 1,500,000 pounds sterling, and sold its stock at an unprecedented 5 pounds sterling par value.   Its prospectus boldly stated that the Corporation was acquiring the Le Roi and other Rossland and Alaska mines. The well publicized Le Roi name brought the investors crowding in; they bought up more than a million shares at the first offering.

As his managing director and confidence inspiring “Guinea Pig,” Wright brought in a man with Canadian connections, the Hon. Charles Mackintosh, retiring Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories.   He then sent Mackintosh to Rossland by private railway car to acquire the mines his investors were told they owned. Mackintosh was an imposing figure, with all the social skills of the British upper class, but he knew next to nothing of practical mining.   The British Columbia Review commented,  “…of his many social qualities we are well aware, but there is no mining man in Canada but would laugh at the idea of ‘Charlie Mackintosh’ having any idea of the value of an ore body.”

In Spokane the Le Roi Colonels were astonished. They had not heard their mine was being bought. Colonel Peyton remarked quite accurately, “To my mind it looked much as if the people who drew that prospectus used the name of the Le Roi Mine to attract the attention of the English investing public.”

Mackintosh arrived in his private railway car, had it run up the steep Red Mountain line to Rossland, and, flush with Whittaker Wright’s money, began buying mines. He purchased the Josie, the Great Western, the Poorman, the Columbia and Kootenay, and the Nickel Plate mines. He then sent a pompous telegram to London, which Whittaker Wright read to the assembled B.A.C. investors to loud applause. “The British America Corporation has secured and holds the key to a majority of the golden treasure houses of British Columbia. We will practically control the mineral resources of this Province.”

This bombast, while applauded in London, was greeted with derision in British Columbia, and with wicked glee in Spokane. The Colonels now knew that Mackintosh had to make good on his boast; he was obliged to buy their Le Roi, whatever the price. What followed can be interpreted in two ways: either an honest disagreement, or a very clever hoaxing of Charlie Mackintosh and Whittaker Wright.   Historians have tended to accept at face value a bitter disagreement dividing the Le Roi directors, as reported in the press; mining men have tended to smile knowingly.   The author sides with the mining men; believing that Mackintosh, in what followed, was gloriously hoaxed.

Two of the Le Roi Company’s directors, Colonel Peyton and Judge George Turner, went to London to entertain offers for their company.   This is odd; Mackintosh was in Rossland, ready to buy their mine.   Apparently they wanted to see what other tenders might be made.   Colonel Peyton went directly to the B.A.C. and Whittaker Wright.   He was offered three million dollars cash, and accepted, pending agreement by the other directors in Spokane.   But Judge Turner, independently negotiating, reported that a mysteriously unspecified source had offered him five million.

On their return to Spokane, a director’s meeting was convened on June 27, 1898, and Colonel Peyton displayed a check for $500,000 as a down payment on their mine. By the rules of the company, the three principal directors had to agree on any action.

Colonels Peyton and William H. Turner (not the Judge, but the Colonel) accepted the check, but Judge George Turner refused it on the grounds that they could get more than the B.A.C. was offering.   The directors now split into two camps, the majority, led by Colonel Peyton, and Judge Turner’s minority, including Colonel Ridpath, Major Armstrong, Bill Harris, the flamboyant hotelier and Le Roi mine manager, and Frank Graves.   Ostensibly, the sale was blocked by the disagreement between the two groups.   While they argued, Le Roi mine manager, Bill Harris, halted all development work (tunneling for new deposits), and put his miners to work stripping the veins of what high grade ore was in sight, and shipping it to the Northport smelter.   The mine was going to be sold; the only dispute was about the price.   The more ore that could be removed before the sale, the more profit for the owners.   The longer the sale could be delayed, the more they would make.

At a second meeting, this time with Charles Mackintosh in attendance, the two groups displayed a mutual enmity for his benefit.   Colonel Peyton, of the majority group, revealed that he had already tendered the 284,000 shares of his group to Mackintosh at $6.00 per share.   Those shares constituted a majority interest, and Mackintosh then declared that under British law, the B.A.C., as majority stockholder, now had the right to control the company.   But Judge Turner rose for the minority, and pointed out that the Le Roi Company was a Washington Company, and governed by the laws of Washington State.   And further, that the laws of Washington held that aliens could not own real estate within the State of Washington.   Since the Le Roi Company’s Northport smelter was in Washington, the B.A.C., as alien, could not control it, although it could control the mine in Canada. On this basis, Judge Turner secured a court injunction restraining Colonel Peyton from making a legal transfer of his group’s shares.

At this point affairs took on a momentum of their own and events moved swiftly.   The following account is taken from the newspaper reports of the day in the Rossland Miner and Spokane Spokesman Review.   The author is responsible for the probable dialog hinted at in the press reports.

L. F. Williams, secretary of the Company and a member of Colonel Peyton’s group, realized that Judge Turner, using the Washington law was in an unassailable position, and made a quick call to Austin Corbin, President of the Spokane Falls and Northern Railway.   He ordered a fast special train to be made ready for a dash to Canada.   In haste, he gathered all the Le Roi Company records plus its official seal from the Spokane office, and jumped into a horse cab for the depot. The one car train whistled off, and Williams inside, relaxed, convinced he was removing the company records from beyond the reach of Judge Turner and U.S. law.   But, the cunning Bill Harris had not been deceived.   Suspecting Williams might attempt precisely this, he had taken the precaution of removing the Le Roi Company’s official seal from its accustomed hook above Williams’ desk, and substituted the seal of another company.   On his arrival in Rossland, Williams discovered to his horror, that he had the wrong seal, and that no company business could be transacted until a duplicate seal could be made.            Judge Turner’s group, in possession of the precious seal, now hired deputy sheriffs to enforce the Washington Court’s injunction against Mackintosh and the B.A.C. people.   Mackintosh decided that the whole matter of the sale of the Le Roi had best be taken out of the State of Washington where Judge Turner appeared to have the advantage, and moved to Canada where British law would prevail. He had his private railway car coupled to Austin Corbin’s fastest locomotive, No. 7, a 4-4-0 with 63 inch drivers and capable of forty miles an hour on good track. He invited the majority directors, including the three trustees of the pooled Le Roi shares, to accompany him to Rossland, where, with a majority of the directors present and voting, the sale of Colonel Peyton’s shares could be ratified, and company business conducted — as soon as a duplicate seal could be obtained.

Mackintosh, with his majority directors, boarded his private car, and gave the signal to depart.   But Spokane County deputy sheriff Bunce entered his car to display a County Court order obtained by Judge Turner, and to tell Mackintosh that he must not proceed.   Armed deputies, he told the Governor, were waiting at the city limits, with legal authority to stop any train headed for Canada.

Mackintosh, quite baffled by the machinations of the American Law as expounded by Judge Turner, was now in his element as a British gentleman. Calmly lighting a cigar, he offered the deputy one.   With exquisite politeness, he explained to deputy Bunce that under the Common Law of both Britain and the United States, “A man’s home is his castle,” and that a gentleman’s private railway car is just as much his castle in the eyes of the law, as any monument of ancestral English stone.   That being the case, would not the deputy, as a gentleman bound to be scrupulous in his observance of the law, realize that his presence here without a warrant was an unfortunate trespass?

Deputy Bunce, awed, backed himself out the door, which was locked behind him.   Then he descended, went forward to the engine, boarded it, and ordered the crew not to move the train.   The train crew referred the matter to Austin Corbin, president of the line.   Corbin came down from his office and explained to Bunce that his injunction was against foreigners, the B.A.C. Company, and not against a law-abiding American railroad.   Bunce might order the gentlemen in the car behind, not to leave the United States, but his injunction gave him no right to prevent a railroad not named in the order, from running its trains where so ever it chose.

Deputy Bunce boarded the platform of Mackintosh’s private car once more and pounded on the locked door.   The engineer whistled off and the train began to move.From inside the car Mackintosh shook his head reprovingly at Bunce; the door remained locked.   As the train gathered speed, deputy Bunce climbed up on the tender and standing uncertainly on top of the pile of coal, drew his revolver.   He pointed it at the engine crew and ordered them to stop.   His shouts were lost in the sharp exhaust of the accelerating locomotive.   He clambered down into the locomotive cab and gestured with his drawn pistol.   The engine men shook their heads.   Holding his gun on the two men, Bunce pointed to the group of deputies blocking the track ahead and ordered the engineer to halt.   In response, the engineer pulled the whistle cord and threw the throttle wide open.   Down on the track the deputies scattered for the lives, and the train raced out onto the prairie ahead.

No. 7 was running wide open on the rough track, the private car lurching and swaying behind.   Deputy Bunce, with pistol in hand, was no doubt reflecting that the engine crew belonged to the Rail Brotherhoods.   It had been that group, but a few years before, in the Coeur D’Alene mines, he had dragged Tom Kneebone off his job and shot him dead for testifying against a railroad engineer in the Frisco Mill bombing.   It was a period of extreme union militancy in the West, and the Brotherhoods’ contempt for the law was well established.   Bunce prudently holstered his revolver and climbed back across the coal pile in the tender to Mackintosh’s private car.   Standing on the platform in a shower of cinders and soot from the stack, he pondered what to do.Inside the car, he could see whiskey decanters passed around, and the directors, in wicker chairs, puffing on their cigars.   Bunce knocked.   The directors turned their backs to him.   He held his court order against the glass and pounded the door.   No one paid him any attention.

It was a hot June day across the grasslands of Stevens County.   The train raced on.   Back in Mackintosh’s car, the windows were opened to catch the breeze and fragrant fumes of the Governor’s best Havana tobacco streamed out across the farmlands and stump ranches.   Bunce, on the platform, turned up his collar against the rain of cinders from No. 7’s stack.

It was 147 miles, Spokane to Rossland.   Seven hours, 25 minutes by timetable.   The men in the private car had promised the engine crew a champagne dinner at the Allen Hotel in Rossland if they made the run in under five hours.   Loon Lake, Chewelah and Colville came up.   The scheduled trains were waiting in the sidings as the Special flashed by.   Past Colville, Number 7 screamed down the long grade to the Columbia at Marcus, and began the long series of S curves as the rails followed the east bank of the river.   Grimly, Deputy Bunce, coattails flying, clung to the swaying platform of Mackintosh’s private car, still determined to do his duty.   At mile 130, Northport came into view.   Here the engine would have to stop to take on water for the final, steep climb to Rossland, 2400 feet above.   Bunce swung down from the platform, as the engineer spotted the tender under the waterspout. Bunce planted himself in front of the locomotive, displayed his court order to the gathering crowd, and drew his revolver.   With the crowd as witnesses to his lawful act, he announced, the train would move again only over his dead body.

But here, in full frock coat and embroidered vest, his shiny silk hat on his head and gold watch fob bouncing on his paunch, came the sometime Lieutenant Governor of a Canadian Territory, which, though scantily populated, was still fully as big as the entire United States minus Alaska.     Mackintosh offered the deputy another cigar.   Bunce had to holster his pistol to accept it.   Mackintosh then explained, with that same charitable politeness, that the Canadian border was but eight miles ahead, and if the deputy persisted in his attempt to stop a lawful train by force of arms, he would be arrested at the border for carrying a deadly weapon into Canada, an offense that carried a severe penalty under Canadian law.   “A word to the wise, Sir,” His Honour remarked amiably, and with a friendly pat on the shoulder, made his way back to his private car.

The fireman raised the waterspout as the tender overflowed, and shouted at Bunce, still planted in front of the locomotive, “Well, what’s it going to be, deputy?   You going to shoot a Brotherhood man or get out of our way?” Deputy Bunce flourished his weapon, the crowd of small boys and station loungers looked on in fascination.   A few quick wagers were made.   The engineer blew three blasts, shoved the Johnson bar into its top notch, and opened the throttle. The train, to deputy Bunce’s great relief, backed away, backed toward Spokane.   Then the deputy holstered his pistol with a grin to the onlookers.   But why were they laughing?   What was the joke?   Bunce peered down the track. The train was still backing.   At the far end of town it disappeared around a curve.   An idler in the crowd remarked, “You sure stopped ‘em, mister.   Only you was at the wrong end.”   The crowd burst out laughing.   They were laughing at him, deputy Bunce realized.   What had happened?

Then, from down at the far end of town, came two derisive whistle blasts.   Bunce saw the train come into view again on the distant trestle, leading, he now realized, to the great Columbia River bridge.   The stop at the station was merely for water. The line to Rossland branched off a half mile south.   The engineer had backed his train to the switch and taken the line for Canada.   In the distance, the little one car train rumbled over the bridge, whistled once more and headed up Sheep Creek for Canada.       Bunce walked to the station platform, sat down, and lit up the Lieutenant Governor’s cigar.   To the assembled crowd he muttered contemptuously, “God damned foreigners, anyway!”   He puffed for a moment.   “Not a god damned thing to do with me,” he said, blowing smoke into the air. But the station platform was empty.

With the dispute now transferred to Canada, Mackintosh tried to settle it under Canadian law.   A directors’ meeting was called for July 3, in Rossland.   SF&N No. 7 was washed and polished, hitched to a parlor car, and then the Turner minority group came up to Rossland by special train.   At the meeting, Judge Turner managed to have the $500,000 check returned to the British America Company as premature.   Beyond that, there was stalemate, and No. 7 trundled the minority directors back down the loops of Little Sheep Creek to the U.S. A. and Spokane.

A second meeting was called for Spokane.   Another special train ran up to Rossland to bring the majority group down.   They were, as they reminded themselves, the owners of the richest gold mine in the world, and must travel as such.The railroad performed these services as perfectly as its rough track would permit, but the meeting was a total deadlock.

In Rossland, Mackintosh tried a new tactic.   Bill Harris, the mine manager, and member of the minority group, had had his men stripping the stopes of all the high grade ore they could find, and shipping it to Northport to be converted into dividends for the owners.   The delay in consummating the sale was not only embarrassing to Mackintosh; it was depleting the mine of valuable ore.   The Governor determined to get rid of Harris.   Lacking a company seal, and unable to perform official acts, the Governor applied to Judge Spinks, of the Kootenay County Court, to have the Le Roi Company placed in receivership.   The Judge agreed and W. A. Carlyle, a former Provincial Geologist, was appointed receiver.   Carlyle dismissed Bill Harris and appointed a new mine manager with instructions to reinstitute development work and reduce ore shipments to a minimum in order to starve the smelter of ore, and the owners of dividends, while the sale was still pending.

Bill Harris had been shipping 350 tons of the Le Roi’s best ore every day; the majority group had been obliged to watch this high grading before their eyes.   Their anger had become physical as Judge Turner and Colonel Peyton found themselves both occupying the same hotel, the Allen, in Rossland.   Accidentally meeting in the lobby, a scuffle took place, with Judge Turner attempting to bodily eject Colonel Peyton from the hotel.   Peace was restored; the combatants, or play actors –it is impossible to be sure which — were parted.

The minority group, with their manager removed from the mine, then went to Victoria, B.C. to institute a suit against Colonel Peyton, the B.A.C., Mackintosh, and Whittaker Wright, to recover $780,000 for an alleged conspiracy to buy Le Roi shares at less than their real value.   While this suit dragged on, the group were able to get a Victoria court to overturn Judge Spinks’ receivership.   Bill Harris was reinstated as mine manager, and at once he resumed stripping the Le Roi of its best ore.            This was intolerable to the B.A.C.   Their best ore was being removed out of Canadian jurisdiction, smelted at Northport, and the bullion recovered held in the U.S. for the owners.   The owners were making roughly $6,500 each day the sale was delayed.   To try to get the receivership reinstated by Washington law, the B.A.C. sent its lawyers down to Spokane — by special train, of course.   This time, the minority completely reversed its previous bellicose behavior.   They met their Canadian colleagues with profuse apologies for past incivilities, and solicitous concern for their comfort and well-being.   This they accompanied by a continuous series of toasts to amity and international cooperation.   So alcoholic was the fellowship, and so long continued, that the B.A.C. lawyers, in a boozy haze, completely lost track of time and missed their appointment at court.   With their non-appearance, the court dropped the case from the docket, and the rivals were once again plunged into teeth gnashing rage, real or feigned.

The news of these scandalous proceedings was gleefully reported in the mining papers, and reached London, where the effect was to depress the value of B.A.C. shares.   Soon they dropped below par.   Whittaker Wright was compelled to find some way to conciliate the minority directors, and complete the sale, or his B.A.C. would be in serious trouble.   Judge Turner was reporting he had received an offer from Wright of $8.12-1/2 for his shares.   This the B.A.C. vigorously denied.   The Judge responded by suggesting that another British consortium had offered him $8.50.   True or false, the publicity was becoming painfully embarrassing for Whittaker Wright. He would have to compromise.

Finally, on November 22, 1898, all the shares in what had been the world’s richest gold mine, changed hands at $7.40, plus payment for ore en route to the Northport Smelter.   The last of the minority hold-outs, Bill Harris, had to come down from Rossland to Spokane to sign the agreement.   He made the trip, as might be expected, by special train.

It is impossible to know whether or not the whole affair was a charade played out for the benefit of the pompous and gullible Mackintosh.   For 130 days, during the time the sale had been held up, Bill Harris had been Le Roi manager, stripping the mine of its best ore.   $845,000 of ore had been removed, smelted and sold, and monthly dividends paid, while Mackintosh was stalled.   This amounted to $1.69 per share realized from the high grading, while the compromise with Whittaker Wright added only an additional $1.40 per share.   The figures powerfully suggest that the protracted dispute played out in the courts, on special trains, and hotel lobby tussles, may have been a gigantic, profitable, and hilarious hoax.

With the final agreement and sale, the B.A.C. got full control of the mine and smelter, but the dubious look of the affair made Whittaker Wright’s mining empire look shaky in London.   The success of any stock jobbing operation depended on its shares rising in value.   Should they begin to fall, as had those of the B.A.C., the price of the stock could only be supported by the company’s assets.   B.A.C. investors now began to query just what were the Le Roi Company’s assets.   An answer was not forthcoming.

The B.A.C., on purchasing the Colonels’ Le Roi Company for $4,000,000, had formed a new British company, the Le Roi Mining Company, and sold the mine and smelter to it for $4,750,000.   Wright chose a former anti-union thug, Bernard Mc Donald, who had worked for him in the New Mexico mines, as Le Roi manager.  But now manager Mc Donald, began sending alarming reports to London.   The mine had no more high grade ore in sight.   Bill Harris had indeed stripped the mine.   The British investors who had bought up all 200,000 shares in the new Le Roi Company at $25 each, in just three days, wanted their dividends.   Monthly, they had been promised.

In Rossland, manager Mc Donald was obliged to report the shattering news that the mine was actually operating at a loss.   In 1899, the ore coming out of the Le Roi was netting $12.50 a ton, but mining, smelting and shipping costs totalled $15.14 a ton.   With the huge value of the shares outstanding, and an operating loss, the mine could pay no dividends at all.   Worse, after purchasing the mine from the B.A.C. for $4,750,000, the new Le Roi Company had but $250,000 left in its treasury for working capital, not nearly enough for a vigorous program of development to find new high grade ore bodies in the network of veins it owned.

At this time similar discoveries were coming to light in Whittaker Wright’s Western Australian mines, and a bear attack on his stocks began in London.   Furious investors, finding themselves to have been duped, lobbed the British Parliament for redress.   An official investigation of Whittaker Wright’s financial and mining empire began.

In Spokane, the Colonels, congratulating themselves on their coup, having sold their mine just as it was going barren, retired to their clubs and began to invest in other mining properties in B.C., notably the St Eugene mine on Moyie Lake.   Perhaps the game could be played again. Colonel Ridpath, and Judge Turner, no longer adversaries, bought the Sullivan mine in Kimberly, B.C., and planned a smelter there to handle its lead-zinc-silver ores.

Half way around the world, Whittaker Wright went on trial for frauds unrelated to the Le Roi affair.   He was found guilty, and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. He did not go to jail.   Immediately after the sentence was read, he conferred briefly with his lawyers over some last arrangements, then stepped into a side room and swallowed a capsule of cyanide.   Returning, he collapsed on the floor and died.   A loaded revolver was found in his pocket.

The collapse of Whittaker Wright’s stock jobbing empire damaged the reputation of the mining industry in the London market for years, but for a future American president, it presented a golden opportunity.   Herbert Hoover, a mining engineer, only 23 years years of age, was sent out to Western Australia by the engineering firm of Bewick-Moreing to see what could be done to rescue the mines that went down in the Whittaker Wright scandal.   There, Hoover met with the new chairman of the Lakeview mine.   Convinced that the Lakeview had an unrealized potential, Hoover convinced Bewick-Moreing to take over its management.   The Lakeview proved to be a solid success, and launched young Mr Hoover on an impressive career in mine engineering.   By 1928, he was President of the United States.   By 1985, Bewick-Moreing was boring the Channel Tunnel.            The sale of the Le Roi brought to an end the period of gaudy unreality in Rossland.   The mines were still there, but the ore was becoming leaner as they went deeper. For Rossland, the bonanza days were over. Conservative, scientific management was in charge, and profits could henceforth only be made from volume of ore shipped, not spectacular finds.

Down in Trail, Colonel Topping continued to insist that he expected to find another Le Roi very soon, and that in the meantime he had some very promising mining claims to sell.   He was planning a trip, he announced, to the newly formed mining districts in the Colville Indian Reservation to investigate some remarkable gold properties there. Deputy Bunce was looking for work.   A furious Judge Turner had seen to it that he was a deputy no longer.


 

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