Mining History of the Tulameen Valley.
It is easy to see walking, biking or driving through this area, the mining history that abounds. The Tulameen district of British Columbia hosts some of the great legends of British Columbia's pioneer years. Prospectors sluicing for gold found heavy grey nuggets in their sluice boxes. Some threw it back into the river where others collected them in sacks, thinking them worthless, left them in the forest. Now worth close to $1,000 per ounce, platinum is one of the most sought after metals in the world. The Tulameen is one of only two rivers in the world where significant platinum occurs with the second being the Amur River in Russia.
The Upper Similkameen Indians inhabited the area seasonally prior to the settlement of whites in the area. The first Europeans to make contact with the Indians were the Spanish but they never established themselves in the area. It was not until 1858 when John Fall Allison settled in the area, that the presence of Europeans was made. The Allisons set up a large stock ranch as well as staked claims in gold, coal and copper. Known by the name Vermilion Forks, after the red, yellow and orange ochre gathered by the natives for face painting the area was also referred to as Allison's or Allison Flats. In 1860 the name was change to Princeton, in honour of Prince Edward the Prince of Wales. Contrary to local belief Prince Edward never visited the town.
The Tulameen awoke in 1885 with the discovery of gold in the local creeks. A gold nugget of over 4 pounds was found in the camp. Later, coal of economic grade and quantity supported a thriving industry supplying fuel to the railroads and smelters. During the Granite Creek gold rush of the 1880's, Tulameen became a meeting place for prospectors. It had a number of stores, 2 hotels, a saloon and post office. It was originally known as Otter Flats but in 1901, Tulameen was adopted as it's official name. It was expected to become a major center in the region but never reach that status.

Found a mile east of Coalmont on the south side of the Tulameen River, Granite Creek was once claimed as being the third largest community in B.C. The Gold Rush of 1885 attracted hundreds of miners and at its peak, the town claimed three dozen businesses and over 2000 residents.When the gold declined so did the city and by the turn of the century it was reduced to a ghost town.
Most of the old buildings have been destroyed by fire over the years, but a few foundations and ruins of cabins still remain. A local group is working on restoring some of the history and buildings. The cemetery overlooking the old Granite Creek townsite is still in use today by the residents of Coalmont and Tulameen. A lot of the old gravesites are still visible, one dating back as far as 1886.

The community of Coalmont derived its name due to the existence of a mountain of coal nearby. The Columbia Coal and Coke Co. Ltd, first established a new townsite in 1911. The company office was in Granite Creek with their sawmill in Tulameen supplying lumber for the necessary buildings and mine workings. The Copper Mountain ore body was discovered prior to the discovery at Granite Creek, but it was not until the 1920's when Granby Mining Company began mining on Copper Mountain. For some forty years the Granby Mining Company mined for copper transporting the ore via a narrow rail line to nearby Allenby for processing. Today Allenby / Copper Mountain are ghost towns . Blakeburn was a prolific coal mining community established in the first decade of this century located in the hills south west of Granite City. In its prime days, the mine at Blakeburn produced a ton of coal a minute. The 1920's were good years for both Coalmont and the new town of Balkemurn until an explosion in 1930 killed 45 men. Production at the mine slowed considerably until 1940 when No. 5 mine, the last, closed for good.

Today, travellers are greeted with a sign at the entrance that reads: "You are now approaching the peaceful little village of Coalmont. Population: varies. Industry: None. Chief Sports: Sleeping and Day-Dreaming. Climate: Hot-Cold-Wet-Dry at various times. All Clubs and Lodges hold their meetings at midnight on the sixth Tuesday of each month. Coalmont welcomes you and will be delighted to serve you - provided you are lucky enough to find us open." "WARNING To all doorstep Salesmen especially those selling magazines, encyclopedias and Fire Bells. Your safe passage is not guaranteed in this village. WOMEN BEWARE There is predominance of Bachelors living here."
At Blakeburn today you can still see parts of the old railway system and supporting towers of the aerial tramway. You can also see part of the Mullin Open Pit and its loading chutes. The Thynne Creek Ranch dates back to the 1880's at the time when feed was needed for the activity in the Tulameen camp and the travelers passing through into the interior. A number of historic barns and ranch buildings can be seen along the route.