Title of picture

Lake Cowichan view from our dock.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Sandon Ghost Town and New Denver

Get ready for a long blog .... a short trip turned out to be full of interesting things to us... maybe not you.

We woke up to cloudy skies but oh so quiet out, just the sound of the Kaslo River a short distance from the campsite.  A nice change from being beside the highway. Yeah, the rain quit and the forecast is for clouds with sunny breaks.

After a big breakfast we decided to drive up the highway to the Sandon Ghost Town about 50 minutes from here. It was far more interesting than we expected. They were the first town in British Columbia to have electric power in 1897 and they are still generating power today and selling it to BC Hydro. There are only 2 residents left that stay there permanently. The town burned down twice in it's history and was flooded out in 1955 which virtually ended anyone staying around. The lady, Veronica, managing the store/visitor's info said they get about 30 feet of snow over the winter! Yikes ... no thanks.

The turn-of-the-century Capital City of the Silvery Slocan (Vancouver Archives)

Known in the 1890s at the Monte Carlo of North America, the City of Sandon lies in the Selkirk Mountain Range high in the heart of the Silvery Slocan. Famed for its unbelievably rich deposits of silver-lead ore, following the 1891 discovery of silver by Eli Carpenter and Jack Seaton, thousands of men soon filled the small valley almost to bursting.

In its heyday, Sandon boasted 29 hotels, 28 saloons, three breweries, one of the largest “red light districts” in Western Canada, many theatres and opera houses, a soft drink plant, a cigar factory, three sawmills, three churches, two newspapers, a schoolhouse, a hospital, and even a curling rink and a bowling alley. In addition, Sandon was home to over 5,000 people, including miners and millionaires, con men and gamblers, land speculators and “ladies of the evening.”

As well as countless other stores and businesses, Sandon boasted two major rail lines, one of the first trade unions in the province, numerous lodges, clubs and organizations, and was the first community in British Columbia to be serviced by a hydro-electric utility. Of course, there were also hundreds of mines in the immediate vicinity, as well as towering aerial tramlines and numerous concentrator mills. In addition, Sandon was known far and wide for its unique solution to limited building space in the narrow valley— a flume was constructed over the swift waters of Carpenter Creek, and a busy downtown street was constructed right over the creek!

Over its tumultuous history, the downtown core of the city was destroyed twice— it was levelled by a disasterous fire in 1900, and suffered catastrophic damage when a wash-out destroyed the main street flume in 1955. During WWII the old buildings housed almost 1,000 Japanese-Canadian internees, most of whom had been relocated from the west coast under provisions of the War Measures Act. Following the war and the 1955 wash-out, salvagers and treasure-seekers almost succeeded in dismantling what remained of the once-thriving city, but recent years have seen a remarkable re-birth. (Pictures from Global News and Vancouver Archives:)


Fire in 1900 leveled the town.

Now for Ray's pictures of what is left.

This is an active mine located right next to the townsite.

This is the turbine creating power for the grid.

This is the backup generator installed in 1955 and they just start it up once a year and let it run for 1 1/2 hours and then shut it off. 

Another interesting fact is that there are a whole bunch of old Vancouver Trolley Buses parked there.... what for???? Here is what I found out.

Ghost Town Mysteries: The old trolley buses of Sandon, B.C.


  1. Those old towns certainly are interesting

  2. We really enjoyed this area. We off loaded our quads at Sandon then rode as far as we could until we hit snow. Then hiked what felt like forever to Idaho Peak. The views of the lake and valley were fantastic!