Time Travel: It happened this week in Cranbrook

Hyde Baker's new car; Eagle versus goat; The Ptarmigan; and other news and notes from 1905-1906

Ready to hit the road in the Rambler.

Ready to hit the road in the Rambler.

Week of October 2-8

Dave Humphrey

Items compiled from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre Archives


Gold mine story … Three members of the Fernie Free Press staff, J. R. Wallace, J. W. Robertson and Bert Whimster, had a pleasant tramp over to Crows Nest last Sunday. They arrived at Mr. Good’s hotel, the Summit house, at 5 o’clock in the evening, having covered the 25 miles in ten hours. The trip over is most enjoyable. The trail is good and fairly level, and nature is at her best at this season of the year. At the Summit House they met an old prospector named John Cochrane who had just been brought out of the Flathead the day before more dead than alive. Under Mr. Good’s careful attention the old man was rapidly recovering and he told our representatives a thrilling tale, bordering on the incredible, of an unknown gold mine he had discovered in the heart of the Flathead and of the terrible privations he had undergone. Mr. Cochrane is a typical prospector who has seen 65 winters. He was brought to the Summit House by two other prospectors who happened to run across him in a helpless condition, suffering from the privations he had undergone. “I left Spokane four weeks ago,” said Mr. Cochrane, “for the Flathead to prospect certain coal and oil claims held by a Spokane syndicate. With me was an expert who went in to examine the seams. We took possession of a vacant shack near our claims, 21 miles south of Crows Nest and one mile down the Flathead river from the junction of the Crows Nest trail with the river. After two or three days my partner took sick, caused, we both believed from drinking spring water that was covered with oil seepage. He left me to go back to Spokane, promising to send me more grub and assistance. I did not hear from him again. A few days after he left me I discovered near our cabin an old blaze mark on a tree. A mile further on I noticed another, and upon examination I found others, evidently marking an old trail. With a good deal of difficulty I followed the blaze, though all signs of a trail had long since disappeared. I kept on believing that the trail had not been made without a purpose. After four miles laborious work I came upon a deserted placer gold mine on a small creek. I examined it with interest. The diggings had evidently been deserted for many years, probably 15 or 16 years I should say by the general appearance. A great deal of work had been done by the unknown miners. I should say at least enough to keep six men busy for two seasons. A trench 50 feet long, 10 feet deep and 3 feet wide at the bottom and 5 feet at the top had been dug, and the earth had evidently been washed for the yellow metal. I saw no signs of the departed miners, no pans, no habitation and no tools of any nature. I came away after spending an hour or two there, intending to go back at a later day. A few days later my food supply ran out and I took ill, partly from privation and partly from drinking the oil water. I was in a very bad condition when found by a couple of prospectors who came to my cabin last Tuesday. They gave me some medicine and food, but returning from their claims on Thursday and finding me better they brought me out on horseback.” There, is a legend still, current among old time prospectors which may throw some light upon the strange story told by this old miner. The story goes that years ago three miners with picks, shovels and pans made their way into the Flathead country. Some weeks later one made his appearance back into civilization and told of a harrowing conflict with Indians. They had discovered a rich gold claim and were busy developing it when they were attacked by Indians. His two comrades were slain and he escaped. Undaunted by his experience he secured the assistance of three others and went back to follow up his discoveries. That was the last ever heard of them. Mr. Cochrane came to Fernie on Monday and proceeded to Spokane the following morning. His two rescuers were rewarded for their kindness by a full description of his find and they left Crows Nest the next morning to sift it to the bottom.

The Ptarmigan sternwheeler on the Columbia River, 1905

Lost or not lost … Wishing for a nice fat grouse or partridge for his supper last Sunday Capt. J. O. Trow, of the Perry Creek Hydraulic Mining company took his dog and gun and strolled into the nearby hills. Upon his failure to return at the supper hour the family became somewhat anxious and when darkness had settled and he had not yet appeared all feared that he had met with some serious accident. Accordingly several men in the employ of the company took lanterns and began a search in the hills, which lasted until near midnight, when it was abandoned to wait for daylight. At daybreak the entire crew was out and soon all the people along the creek, including W. F. Collins, Gust Thies, O. Burge, Arthur Burge, and Jack Thompson and his crew, were earnestly searching. Mrs. O. Burge, of Old Town, also kindly went to help to soothe the sufferings of fear and suspense of the wife and daughter, Mrs. F. F. Servis, of LaCrosse, Wis. The search, under the direction of Mr. H. A. Bright, of Black River Falls, Wis., was continued until noon when the honorable captain strolled in claiming he was not lost but that the camp had been dodging him. The explanation disclosed the fact that Mr. Trow had missed his way, in fact had even missed Old Town, when darkness overtook him and he was obliged to camp in the hills for the night, in the morning it was dark and stormy and a heavy fog lay in the valley, which did not rise for several hours. After the sun became visible Mr. Trow made his way to the creek, crossed it, and discovered himself three miles below Old Town and six miles from home, he arrived home safe and sound, but slightly worse for wear, shortly after noon, where he was received with great rejoicing. The searchers were accordingly called in and dinner served and Mr. Trow retired to secure the much needed rest. “Let the fatted calf be killed.”

Steamboat travel … For the balance of the season Captain Armstrong has decided that the Ptarmigan will make no more regular trips, but will leave Golden about every four days. The exceptionally low water is the reason given for this announcement. The steamer this season, all things considered, has had a good season’s business, and it is understood that the freight for the winter is now nearly all delivered and there will be no such trouble at the close of navigation as there has in every previous year. The ore to go down is also nearly cleared up and another trip or two will finish it. Without doubt the Ptarmigan has done a much larger business with tourists this year than ever in the history of navigation on the Upper Columbia river. This, of course, is most gratifying to the captain and everyone with interests in the country. The number of tourists who have arrived may not be counted by the thousands yet a good substantial start may be said to have been made in this direction and each year the effect will be seen. Besides the benefits to be derived from the tourist’s trade has been demonstrated and any means taken toward increasing this trade will now be more readily participated in.

Eagle vs goat … Jim McLeod, Bob Windfield and Bob McKeeman certify to having seen a novel fight between a monster eagle and a full grown mountain goat while at work at the White Cat mine on Boulder creek. They state that they had seen the goat nearly every morning and evening across the creek, and one day Bob Windfield was working at the mouth of the tunnel when he noticed a big eagle swoop down at the goat, and the goat immediately reared up and struck at the eagle. Bob then called the other men out to witness the fight. The fight continued perhaps ten minutes. The eagle would rise in the air and then swoop down, and each time “Billy” would get up on his hind legs and bunt, with his head and horns. When the eagle rose each time the goat would run and the fight ended when the goat reached the shelter of a projecting ledge of rock.

Of course … A young man here wants to know how long girls should be courted. Same as short girls, of course.


NARROW ESCAPE FROM FIRE … Cranbrook narrowly escaped having the fire alarm sounding on Sunday night last. It seems the railway men were holding a meeting in the hall over Patmore Bros store Sunday afternoon, and on the floor was a spittoon filled with sawdust. Someone threw a lighted match or cigar into this and it was not noticed. The contents were consumed by the fire and then the floor caught and after burning a hole through to the store burned itself out. Lucky for Cranbrook it did so. When will smokers learn to be careful of burning matches?

Now three autos in Cranbrook … Cranbrook is the automobile center of the Kootenays. The arrival of Mr. Baker’s new 40 horse power, Rambler, making the third big machine to have its headquarters here. The following is an interesting account of the trip from Spokane to Cranbrook. “Our party left Spokane on the 21st inst. on a 40 h. p. Rambler, our pilot and Chauffeur was Mr. J. F. Strode who represents Messrs T. B. Jeffery & Co. of Kenosha, Wis. and who was not long in landing us in Sand Point where he opened our eyes by calmly driving the machine up two twelve inch planks and depositing it safely on a flat car on which it was taken to Rexford; there on its arrival our friend Strode repeated the trick with two planks, only in this instance he backed off the car. (The above was about as pretty a piece of business as one need wish to see, trick riding on a bicycle is slow compared with this.) Well! from Rexford we started for Gateway where we had to wait while Dame Canada made up her mind how much there was in it for her; then on to Wasa the home of our pioneer motorist in this neighbourhood; we stayed with host Hanson for a few days during which the owner was getting all the instruction he could both in running the vehicle and also getting what knowledge he could of the working of the mechanism. On the morning of the 27th, Cranbrook was startled by a most melodious tooting and round the corner into Baker Street swings the new automobile steered by its proud owner V. Hyde Baker Esquire, who had with him the above mentioned Mr. Strode and our esteemed fellow townsman James T. “Jim” Laidlaw.”

Curling starts … On Friday evening of last week a large and representative meeting of citizens was held in the Council Chambers to consider the advisability of erecting a rink for the purpose of curling where all may take part in the “warm game.” Judge P. E. Wilson took the chair and gave a few important facts regarding the proposition of erecting a suitable building. So full of enthusiasm was he that all caught the spirit, and when the time came for subscriptions all were ready. So far about $2,400 has been subscribed which is sufficient guarantee for the committee to go ahead. The building will be 160 feet long and 60 wide and will be situated on Armstrong Avenue. This will provide a long felt want in the city and will be a means of giving a great deal of time and pleasure to midwinter sport.

Another auto … The firm of King & Green have concluded to purchase an automobile for their business. In the minds of everyone the move is a good one. The practice of these two physicians extends over a large territory and often they receive an emergency call from Wardner, Perry Creek, Marysville, Kimberley, Fort Steele and other places. For a long drive horses are slow and a man’s life may depend upon the time a doctor reaches him. With these facts in view the doctors thought that it would be good business to meet this demand and they have sent for a machine that will make good time on long distances.