Ready to step into BC’s grittier history? Located in the heart of BC’s famed ‘Valley of the Ghosts’ is the former silver mining town of Sandon, which has quite the ‘wild west’ past. Think saloon brawls, brothels, and a booming industry that faded as quickly as it came.
History of Sandon
According to the Town of Sandon, the “Silver City” was once the richest silver-lead-producing region in Canada. However, like many silver towns of the era, it faded with silver prices over time until it was finally disincorporated in 1920.
During its peak, it was home to over 5,000 residents and a prospering economy, however short-lived it might have been. Its website dates the town’s creation back to the 1890s, when Eli Carpenter and Jack Seaton discovered vast amounts of ‘galena ore’ – thus leading prospectors to flock from across the continent.
In Sandon, electricity was “state of the art,” and it became the first place in the province to provide electricity to all of its residents, thanks to its water supply and surrounding mountains.
During World War II, the town briefly served as an internment camp for 950 Japanese Canadians.
Finally, in 1955, a giant flood destroyed the majority of Sandon’s remaining buildings (though not all), according to the Town of Sandon, leaving the once-prominent mining town to fade from the map.
Today, the West Kootenay community is almost hauntingly still and quiet, offering visitors a peaceful retreat to the wilderness, with a spooky twist.
With less than 20 residents total, visitors of Sandon can explore remaining buildings like the City Hall or Powerhouse, which date back to 1900 and 1897 respectively. Grab a snack at the Prospector’s Pick cafe, go hiking or cycling through the town’s many interconnected trails, and take a ride on one of the restored Sandon Brill Trolleys.
As well, visitors can check out the old Slocan Star plant (now named the Silversmith), which has been in operation since 1897. Tours are available through Silversmith Power & Light seven days a week until October 12th.
So there you have it, BC! If you’re looking to explore some of the province’s gritty history this season, you know where to look.
Where: Kootenays, BC