Camp McKinney
 

 


Camp McKinney

(from The Ditch, by Julie Cancela, 1986)

Camp McKinney, BC Archives Collection 

mining mckinney1

Camp McKinney, like Camp Fairview, began as a single claim, in this case staked by Al McKinney and Fred Rice in 1888.  This claim grew into the Cariboo Mine for which McKinney was renowned.  At first known as Rock Creek Quartz Camp, McKinney was the first lode mining camp in B.C. to pay dividend.  Miners swarmed to the area, hoping to strike it rich, and the 1890s found the camp replete with five saloons!  However, again like Fairview, the peak days at McKinney did not last long.  In 1903 the Cariboo mine ceased operation, and the townsite began to dwindle in population and activity.  It was not long before Camp McKinney became added to the growing list of played out ghost towns.

Inside the Cariboo Mill, BC Archives Collection

mining mckinney2The Story of Camp McKinney (excerpt)

(by Hester White, Okanagan Historical Society Report #13, 1949, pp. 135-147)

 

Mount Baldy is 7,558 feet elevation, towering above the mountains of the Boundary area seven miles north of Molson.  On the southeastern slope in a timbered wilderness stood Camp McKinney.  In 1884 croppings of free gold bearing quartz were discovered by Gaericke and Runnels a short distance from the old diggings of the early ‘60s on Rock Creek.  The following year there was excitement at Granite Creek.  In 1888 Al McKinney and Fred Rice located the claim, which became famous as the Cariboo Mine.

Although the ‘bluish’ quartz of the Cariboo was low grade, pockets were discovered in the mine that had fabulous value. In 1901, 16,862 tons of ore yielded 9,439 ounces of gold bullion, and 428 tons of concentrates. There was then enough ore in sight to keep the mill running for two years. The plant included two boilers, a 60 horsepower Corliss engine, two Johnstone vanners, a Wilfley table, a Blake crusher and other appliances in concentrating mill. Each month 400 tons of ore, valued at $15,000 were crushed. In addition, there were the concentrates, which were hauled to Midway and from there by the new Canadian Pacific Railway Line to the Hall Mining and Smelting Company’s smelter at Nelson. Fifty to sixty men were employed. Up until October, 1900, dividends of $478,087 were paid, and in 1902, $496,837. It was the closing of the Cariboo in December, 1903, however, which sounded the death knell of Camp McKinney. fabulous value.  In 1901, 16,862 tons of ore yielded 9,439 ounces of gold bullion, and 428 tons of concentrates.  There was then enough ore in sight to keep the mill running for two years.  The plant included two boilers, a 60 horsepower Corliss engine, two Johnstone vanners, a Wilfley table, a Blake crusher and other appliances in concentrating mill.  Each month 400 tons of ore, valued at $15,000 were crushed.  In addition, there were the concentrates, which were hauled to Midway and from there by the new Canadian Pacific Railway Line to the Hall Mining and Smelting Company’s smelter at Nelson.  Fifty to sixty men were employed.  Up until October, 1900, dividends of $478,087 were paid, and in 1902, $496,837.  It was the closing of the Cariboo in December, 1903, however, which sounded the death knell of Camp McKinney.

 

The Cariboo Mill, BC Archives Collection

mining mckinney3


The Story of the Gold Brick Robbery (excerpt)

(by Arthur Cosens, Okanagan Historical Society Report #7, 1932, pp. 41-43)

 

The “Cariboo Mine” at Camp McKinney of which Robert Jaffray was president, George B. McAulay, managing director, and Joseph P. Keane, Superintendent, was a paying proposition from the grass roots down.  James Monahan of Spokane was also a director of the Company and very instrumental in getting it underway after purchasing the property from the first owners, McKinney and Rice.

Monahan brought in the first unit of the stamp mill from the state of Washington, hauling it in with teams, and passing the customs at Osoyoos.  It was said that he presented a check for the amount of the duty which was accepted by Theodore Kruger, Customs Officer, although it lacked a signature, and that by the time it again reached Monahan with a request that he remedy this oversight the mill was running and producing enough bullion to meet all requirements.  This story was currently accepted, but truth compels me to add that it was with the consent of the Deputy Minister of Customs at Ottawa that the mill was brought in and erected before the duty was paid. 

A certain amount of caution was usually taken when gold bricks left Camp.  Sometimes I have known them thrown into the jockey box of one of the wagons hauling concentrates or tailings to the railhead for shipment to the smelter at Tacoma.  In this case, the wagon would be met at its destination by one of the officials or trusted employees of the Company, the brick extracted and shipped, sometimes without the driver of the wagon knowing that he had been its custodian at all.  At other times it would be hidden in a sack of concentrates and the same procedure followed.  Then again it would be taken by the Superintendent on horseback, or driving a buckboard and followed by an armed employee a hundred yards or so behind.

Area Mines


Fairview

Fairview began as a small claim staked by Fred Gwatkins and George Sheenan in 1887 about two miles west of the valley bottom where Oliver is now located.

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McKinney

Camp McKinney, like Camp Fairview, began as a single claim, in this case staked by Al McKinney and Fred Rice in 1888. This claim grew into the Cariboo Mine for which McKinney was renowned. At first known as Rock Creek Quartz Camp, McKinney was the first lode mining camp in B.C. to pay dividend.

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Dividend

One of the least known facts about the history of Osoyoos is that not too long ago a flourishing gold mine operation existed here. A 24-hour-a-day mining operation was carried on between 1937 and 1940. Its operation was located where today stands the Osoyoos Golf & Country clubhouse.

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