Kootenay Ghost Stories

Kootenay Ghost Stories

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Marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate – check! Bonfire – check! Now do I have a ghost story to tell you?

Did you know that the Kootenay Rockies is home to over 20 ghost towns, all of which have since stopped their thriving existence but have left behind unique stories to tell? They might be gone but they are not forgotten…

Steamboats and paddle-wheelers visited most of these communities (Beaton, Old Beaton, Arrow Park, Arrowhead, Comaplix and Renata) along the Arrow Lakes, but in the 1960s they were submerged beneath the waters of the lake as part of the construction of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam.  Several of these low-lying communities were physically moved to higher ground.  But during fall and winter low water levels show evidence of these original locations. A great read by local Nelson author Anne DeGrace who writes about a fictional community of Bear Creek, which was on the historical settlement of Renata in her book “Treading Water”.

One of the oldest settlements on Kootenay Lake is Sanca, which was once a gold-rush town of 1,500 miners. Today it’s home to the Glass House, constructed in 1952 with approximately 500,000 empty embalming fluid bottles.

Gold was also discovered at Fisherville in 1864, this area and Galbraith's Ferry (also known as Fort Steele) was a bustling flurry of activity when gold was discovered on the Wild Horse Creek.  Thousands of people journeyed there hoping to find the mother lode.  As for Fisherville, the only remnants are old graveyards and mining activities, while Fort Steele Heritage Town re-lives the 1880s each and every day.

The biggest boom was the community of Sandon. It was once the capital of the Silvery Slocan and the focus of world-wide attention. In the 1890s, Sandon sprang into existence as Canada's richest silver mining community with a population of approximately 5,000 boasting 85 brothels, 29 hotels, 28 saloons, several banks, 3 breweries, 2 railways and dozens of stores and businesses. 

Sandon's demise started in 1899 with a series of labour problems, a devastating downtown fire, declining metal prices and the exhaustion of several major mines. Today, you can still see the original city hall, historic homes, the Silversmith Generating Station, Steam Train Exhibit and Sandon Museum. 

Here’s a full list of all our Kootenay Ghost Towns; be sure to explore our unique Kootenay culture this summer.


Story by KootRocks Staffer. 
Photos by: Top/cover – Andrew Penner (Fort Steele); 1st Photo – David Gluns (Bonfire), 2nd Photo – Kari Medig (Fort Steele Heritage Town); 3rd Photo - David Gluns (Sandon) and 4th Photo - Andrew Penner (Sandon).

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Tags: Canadian Rockies Columbia Mountains Explore Canada ExploreBC The Kootenays

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