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A Dead Mining Town in the Living West

With Illustrations by the Author.

By Frank Williamson

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which absorbs all minor sounds, the swirling, seething waters of the Fraser river hurry past the old mining town of Yale, and give the one touch of strenuous life and movement to the scene.

This little town, now almost deserted, is from several points of view, one of the most interesting and picturesque spots in British Columbia-with its wonderful environment of grim mountain walls, the purples and greens of whose summits are now wreathed in gray moving vapors, clear and sharp, then change into hazy evanescence. Rifts of snow still lie deep in the higher ravines. The craggy heights, torn and fissured by the elemental warfare of centuries, are lightly touched with vegetation, gray and sombre, brightened here and there during the autumn months with the vivid scarlets and yellows of the maples. The lower slopes, however, are generally thickly wooded with spruce and cedars which, reaching down almost to the water's edge, leave visible only a dark belt of partially submerged rocks, and these. scem to be ceaselessly struggling for an existence amid the raging waters, which are formed by the melting snow and ice away up in the far North.

The principal charm of the place lies in its proximity to the notable Fraser Canyon district, and Yale is perhaps one of the best points from which to get in touch with this wonderful series of canyons, which, beginning at Yale, extend some fifty miles northward, nearly to the town. of Lytton, at the junction of the Thompson river with the Fraser.

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All this portion of the Fraser river is historically interesting, from its being one of the chief fishing and hunting grounds of the Fraser river Indians. The remains of their partially underground "Keek-Willee" houses are very numerous. There are deserted villages and old graveyards; some of the latter having figures nearly life-size, carved out of cedar trees, still remaining. Their caches, placed high up on the branches of trees, sometimes fifty feet above the ground, and accessible only by means of a notched pole or of a rope, may still be seen in many places along the banks of the river. Flint implements and arrowheads, and sometimes a curiously carved piece of stone in the shape of a turtle, and perhaps spoon or mortar for grinding corn, are often dug up from the river gravels during the process of gold washing. The few Indians, or Siwashes, as they are called, who live in the district, and who are rapidly dying out, still follow in a desultory way the habits of their ancestors. mon fishing is their chief industry, and on both sides of the river along the Canyon are seen their wooden stages, formed of light poles, where they hang the strips of salmon to dry after the fish have been cleaned. and cut up by the women. For knives they still use pieces of sharp slate, procured in the neighborhood, and exactly similar to so many that have been dug up-with heads and implements-many feet deep in the gravel of the river bars. On some rock jutting out over the boiling rapids may be seen the slender scaffold of poles and ropes where the Indian fisherman perches himself, and, with his big dip net, waits for the salmon as they work



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up the river. Sometimes, during the salmon run, a curious sight is seen in some bend of the canyon, where a little bay has been formed. This bay is sometimes packed full of big fish, who are resting there until they feel inclined to continue their rush up the rapids. In such a case, the little bay seems quite black with the fish; their backs and fins are protruding out of the water, and they look solid enough to walk on. At other times in some of the side streams which empty into the Fraser, the fish will work up the stream-perhaps during the temporary high water of a freshet-and then as the stream lowers, twelve to twenty pound salmon may be seen by the dozen stranded on the bars. The Indians still navigate the river in their big canoes, cut out of cedar trees, and it is quite an experience to travel through a portion of the canyon in one of them-the roar of the waters and the rapid movements and dexterity of the Indians with their paddles in avoiding the whirlpools and rocks give one a good deal of respect for the Siwash, even if one feels inclined to give him a wider berth upon shore.

At Yale, there are still one or two Indian women who make the famous Fraser River baskets, for which there is a large demand. On visiting one old woman in her little cabin, we found her working on a basket and introducing into the design of the basket a pattern of butterflies; her model was a local butterfly she had caught, and the result on the basket was truly decorative. Three colors, black, brown and white, are generally used in the ornamental designs on the baskets. Black is obtained by using strips of hickory bark; brown is the bark of the mountain cherry, and the white is marsh grass. This combination forms a very harmonicus arrangement upon the general body of the basket, which is of cedar strips.

is situated at the north end of the town, just across Yale Creek; here may be seen a somewhat irregular collection of wood cabins of all shapes and sizes, and in all stages of dissolution, together with all the nameless bric-a-brac and junk so dear to the heart of the Siwash. The ground is rough and full of boulders,


The little Indian village at Yale Crossing the canyon.

but here and there are patches cf rank grass and a few apple and plum trees. Fragrant heaps of salmon relics spread an odor which produces an impression upon the senses which is not soon forgotten. There is an interesting little Indian church and graveyard close by, but the latter lacks the delightful touches of barbaric color, that may be seen in burial places at a greater distance from the influence of civilization. Immediately adjoining the Indian village and on the South side of side of Yale Creek, is the Chinatown of Yale, where Ah


mining town, having а population of four or five thousand people. Gold was at that time vigorously mined along the banks and upon the exposed river bars, above and below Yale, and several millions of dollars were then taken out. When the gold placers were partially washed out, new discoveries were made in the Cariboo and other districts in the north, and the population dwindled down, until now there are less than four hundred people, including Chinese and Indians, in the district.

Down by the water's edge are the

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