Your very own private nature reserve! 100 acre mountain top 360 degree views, surrounded by nature. The largest conservancy project in Canadian history on one side and not too far away a Provincial Park on the other.
District Lot 2928 51.65 acres
District Lot 2929 51.65 acres
Total 103.3 acres
Rich with History
Gold fever grips the Kootenay region of British Columbia and the gold rush is on - ‘Pay dirt’ is hit in July 1884 high up in the rugged Columbia Mountains and the Wisconsin & Lucky Strike claims are staked in a lost world amidst a sea of rugged mountain peaks covered in snow for much of the year. More than a century later, nearly all the gold and silver is still lying beneath the ground!
The story of the Wisconsin Mine and these properties starts back during the gold rush to the Kootenay region of British Columbia in the early 1800's … one of the most rugged areas in North America, described by David Thompson the famous map maker who explored the area in 1808 as "Stupendous and solitary wilds covered with eternal snow where mountain is connected to mountain to immense glaciers."
David Thompson spent 22 years in the west travelling some 50,000 miles by canoe and horseback in summer, snowshoe and dog team in winter. His exploration covered much of the territory which is now Montana, Idaho and Washington which he took possession of for England. Sadly, however, British politicians attached little value to the region and thus it became part of the United States!)
The old mine is situated high up in the Columbia Mountains, south of Kokanee Glacier and the rugged Valhalla Wilderness, with its deep river valleys, sub alpine lakes and jagged granite peaks.
The old time prospector had little knowledge of geology; his outstanding traits were the ability to travel and live under pioneer conditions, buoyant optimism, dogged perseverance and open-handed hospitality. He was an adventurer willing to undergo hardship for the opportunity to live an independent and roving life and for the chance of, just maybe, striking it rich. In the days of the true pioneers there were those who spent their entire lives prospecting - always hoping and believing they would strike another Klondike - that another Dawson City or Barkerville would be named after them.
Returning to civilization once in a very long while, to scrounge some drinks and tell a tale - exhibiting their glittering samples of rock - they would scrape up a few more bags of flour, beans and bacon, and some cartridges and tobacco, and with canoes loaded down slip off into the unknown, perhaps never to be seen again ...
Some of the equipment hauled up the mountain to the site by packhorse in the mid 1930's - a Gardner Denver compressor and a McCormack Deering diesel engine. The site had its own engineering workshop and forge, the building standing until the mid 1990's when it finally succumbed to the heavy winter snow loads and collapsed. But the length of time it stood is testament to the skills and abilities of the early miners who had very few tools.
In 1985 when SELCO blasted the final 4-miles of road through to the Wisconsin mine - they found an Aladdin's Cave awaiting them. All the original equipment, hauled in so painstakingly half a century earlier, was lying there undisturbed just as the miners had left it some 50-years earlier; in buildings that were still intact - since then some/all have collapsed. Much of this was donated to the Britannia Beach mining museum north of Vancouver, and is now on show there to the general public.
SELCO/British Petroleum paid for the transportation and other costs, though they never did any mining, only exploratory work.
While the Wisconsin Mine has never produced on a commercial basis, much work has been done over the years in exploratory tunneling and shafting at different levels.
The site has had a number of operators over the years and supported small ‘settlements’ (in the late 1800’s, early 1900's up until about 1940) with bunkhouse, cookhouse, dining room, store-house, blacksmith shop, maintenance shed, dynamite magazine sheds and assorted buildings for a crew of about 16-men. Some of these still remain standing while others have collapsed through the rigors of time and the weight of winter snow.
More recently (1985), an extensive diamond drilling, survey and exploratory program was undertaken by SELCO (the mining division of British Petroleum Resources, Canada) at a cost of half a million dollars. They completed the last four miles of road to the mine, did extensive geological work and, during drilling, maintained a crew of nearly 20 on site - work at times was around the clock (a helicopter load of beer was flown in every Friday).
They substantiated a deposit in the main zone of 400,000 tons of ore bearing an average of 4-grams of gold and 25-grams of silver per ton - many millions of dollars in value of both gold and silver.
The Property Today
This is the territory of the grizzly bear - with the nearest neighbor some 40-miles distant - a setting where time has little meaning - a place far removed from the madding crowd. British Columbia has the world’s only temperate inland rainforest, all of which is found in the Columbia Mountain ranges (Purcell, Selkirk, Cariboo, and Monashee).
Western hemlock, Western red cedar, Engelmann spruce, pine and subalpine fir dominate the landscape. A great variety of wildflowers bloom in the meadows of the sub-alpine including Indian paintbrush, glacier lily, fireweed and spring beauty.
Most of the Wisconsin site is forested with lodgepole pine, spruce and hemlock, apart from an area adjacent to the mine site due to a forest fire back in the late 1930’s. In fall the forest understory takes on the appearance of a glorious rich checkered carpet with every imaginable color - red, bronze, yellow - a site to behold. In late summer bears feast on the wild huckleberries.
The old mine buildings, squeezed against the mountainside, have stood for almost a century of watching the snows of winter gild the peaks of the surrounding mountains - the warm winds of spring lick them bare again. With the coming of each summer her hopes for survival diminished; her golden past became a little more forgotten, until she finally became a ghost.
It is not safe to enter the old mine workings today. The main adit, opens up after 100-yards or so into an enormous chamber carved out of the rock. High up here, in what resembles a bell-tower, still hangs the original pulley that lowered the miners down a shaft to workings on a lower level - this shaft is now flooded, as it often was. When looking at the tunnels and crosscuts today it's hard to imagine the vast amount of work then went into boring these - originally with just a hand-steel - and the conditions that the men had to work under.
In July of 2008, a German noble sold his 55,000 hectares of wilderness adjoining these particular properties called Darkwoods to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. This acquisition remains the single largest private land purchase for conservation in Canadian history.
Due to the Conservation project public access through the Darkwoods forest is limited. Public access is granted with a permit process from July through September. The forest service roads that lead through the Darkwoods project lead to the Wisconsin Mine site. From our due diligence access through the Darkwoods property needs to be investigated further. The roads leading to the mine site have not been maintained or are in the process of being deactivated.
In years past the current owner was able to navigate the road system to the properties however Helicopter access to the property was the preferred method. It was a short 15 minute ride from Nelson which makes it cost effective. The current owner flew in materials and constructed a cabin. Prior to the Purchase of the Darkwoods property by the Nature Conservancy of Canada access was not restricted and vandals on ATV’s vandalized the cabin he built.
Vandalism is no longer a concern as the permitted traffic into the Darkwoods property is foot traffic only which limits the range of the public.
My impression today is; here you are on a private 100 acre mountain top surrounded by nature looking over the largest conservancy project in Canadian history on one side and not too far away a Provincial Park on the other. The idea is very intriguing! Your very own private nature reserve!
Past mining activity on the site has opened up roughed in road ways on the property enabling one to get about on the property easy. At the 6,500 foot elevation near the top of the mountain the views are spectacular.
A small spring above the cabin site has been tested and reportedly safe for drinking in accordance with Canadian drinking water standards.
|Location :||38 km south of Balfour on Kootenay Lake at Midge Creek is the original packhorse trail used by protectors over 100 years ago. The trail follows the creek and leads you up into the mountains and to the old mining site located on the property. Roughly 25 km inland.|
|Access :||Please contact listing agent. The GPS co-ordinates for the property are: 116 degrees, 57 minutes, 50 seconds west by 49 degrees 24 minutes and 42 seconds north.|
|Legal :||District Lot 2928, Land District 26 (Wisconsin Mineral Claim)
District Lot 2929, Land District 26 (Lucky Strike Mineral Claim)
|Taxes :||DL 2928 - $339.02 (2011)
DL 2929 - $339.02 (2011)
|Boundaries :||See Maps|
|Listing # :||12140
Buyers should verify any information provided that is important to them to their sole satisfaction. Our best efforts have been made to provide the most current and accurate information from sources believed to be reliable.