and China Creek:
McQuillan/China Creek - History
Post 1890 mining at China Creek changed when large companies, directors and shareholders became involved and expensive equipment was utilized. There were a number of hydraulic leases on China Creek including the Duke of York, Prince of Wales, Cataract and Constance. These operations were a high pressure form of placer mining in which water was brought by pipes or flumes into a pipeline at the end of which is a nozzle called a "monitor" that when trained on banks of gold-bearing gravels, washed the gravels down ready to be sluiced. By "hydraulicing," companies could move immense amounts of gravel per day, however, by 1897 the last lease, the Duke of York, shut down when it could no longer pay for itself. Such extensive workings required many workers and had all the appearances of a little town: workers' houses, stables, an assay office and a blacksmith shop. After the Duke of York shut down only hard rock lode mining continued.
In the Golden Eagle Basin at the head of China Creek, gold-quartz veins were found and staked in 1892 and within a short time claims on Mineral Hill (the slopes adjacent to Mineral Creek) and in the King Solomon Basin at the head of McQuillan Creek (the south branch of China Creek) were staked. The property at the head of Granite Creek (now Corrigan Creek) was staked in 1898 and claims up the Franklin River were staked between 1896 and 1899.
By 1896 an entrepreneur named Robert (Bobby) DeBeaux had built a log structure at the end of China Creek Road, on the junction of Mineral Creek and China Creek. It became known as the "Hotel DeBeaux" and included horse stables, a bar room and sleeping accommodation. It operated until 1898 or 99, to accommodate not only the men working in the nearby Alberni-Consolidated Mine and Stamp Mill but as a halfway house for those prospectors working at nearby mines and for any additional men hired temporarily for large jobs. With a dozen other more or less developing mines, a common sentiment emphasized the need for a post office, the feeling being there was sufficient number of men employed to warrant such an institution, however, no post office was ever built. Although good gold values were found in places, there was nothing spectacular and the area didn't boom the way the Cariboo did in the 1860's or Zeballos in the 1930's.
All the gold-bearing claims are located predominantly around Mount McQuillan at the headwaters of four rivers: China Creek, Franklin River (formerly Hiawatches Creek), Nitinat River and Rift Creek. Mount McQuillan, at 1,575m, is the highest point of land directly south of Mount Arrowsmith and immediately to the east of the Alberni Inlet. However, on a sketch map drawn by the geologist Hebert Carmichael in 1893 the peak appears as Mount Saunders (after either Henry M. Saunders a Victoria businessman or his brother Fred Saunders, who ran his brothers store in Alberni) as it does again on an 1895 sketch map, but by then Mount McQuillan was marked as the lower summit immediately to the southeast of Father and Son Lake. In March 1947 the highest point was officially adopted as Mount McQuillan after Frank McQuillan, an Alberni resident in the 1890's who worked various jobs including a farmer, manager of the Alberni post office for a time, and the first manager of the Duke of York mine. As a prospector, he uncovered a copper deposit at Uchucklesit Inlet. The names of many of the adjacent mountains were already sketched on the 1895 map including Mount Douglas (now Douglas Peak), Limestone Mountain, Mount Patlicant, Mount Underwood, Hiwatchas Mountain, Logan Peak, Mount Spencer, McKinlay Peak and McLaughlin Ridge.
In the 1930's the claims on Mineral Creek were the most active and were reached by a 1½ mile trail from the logging-railway line of the Alberni-Pacific Lumber Company which ran from Port Alberni. Today logging roads give easy access up the Franklin River to Father and Son Lake and the Northwest Ridge of Mount McQuillan; Museum Creek into the Rift Valley and up the Panther Main to the southern aspect and South Ridge of the mountain; China Creek to the Golden Eagle Basin and McQuillan Creek to King Solomon Basin and the North Ridge, and to the mine site on Mineral Creek. Unfortunately access up China Creek is restricted due to the valley being the watershed for Port Alberni and a gate at the entrance to China Creek is usually locked when timber workers have finished in the valley for the day.
Eagle Mine - China Creek
The Golden Eagle workings are between elevations of 2,279 and 2,990 feet at the head of China Creek. They are near the timber line at the base of steep, rocky bluffs that extend up to the eastern peak of Mount McQuillan. Initially a pack-horse trail led to the workings all the way up the valley but by the 1930's motor vehicles could drive to the mouth of McQuillan Creek and then follow an abandoned logging-railroad 3 miles to the mine cabin. In 1897 an explosion at the Golden Eagle marked the first fatalities in the mining industry when William Dixon and William Sareault were killed when attempting to dry out two sticks of dynamite in a pan on top of the stove.
Further claims (1941) known as the B and K are on the divide between China Creek and the East Fork of the Nitinat River near Summit Lake. The cabin was reached by a climb of 1,500 feet along a steep and narrow foot-trail.
Island Gold Mine - Mineral Creek
lay dormant until 1933 when R.W. Williams leased the reverted Crown Grants
which he then optioned to Vancouver Island Gold Mine Ltd. In 1934 a tunnel
was driven into the hillside at a cost of $15,000 and between 1834 and
1936 the company employed an average of 10-12 men for the 3 years. From
1933 to 1936 a total of 403 tons of ore was mined and a 35 ton mill was
constructed beside the creek at around the 800m level. In 1936 the mine
was closed down but in 1939 a crew of four men was engaged to clean up
and repair the lower and upper Mac adits and a small shipment of 48 tons
of ore was shipped to the Tacoma Smelter.
Three main veins in the Yellow Claim were found containing gold: Waterfall Vein, Belcher Vein and Mac Vein. Extensive adits were dug following the Mac Vein (Mac Adit) and the Belcher Vein (Belcher and Dunsmuir Adits) while only surface digging occurred at the Waterfall Vein. Activity at the sites has depended on the fluctuations in the price of gold.
During the period 1963 to 1966, Gunnex Ltd. carried out a regional mapping program with some prospecting and silt sampling. They compiled a list of all known mineral occurrences in the area and visited many of them including the Thistle Mine, Black Panther Mine, Havilah Mine, King Solomon Basin and Golden Eagle Basin. Some sampling was carried out on Mineral Creek in 1964.
Ten years later Keywest Resources Ltd. carried out surface and underground mapping and sampling in 1973-74 and then in 1976 Western Mines Ltd. carried out reconnaissance geological mapping and soil sampling in the area.
Silver Clouds Mine Ltd. has owned the property since 1979. An access road was constructed to the mine that followed the old prospectors trail and further exploration was carried out in 1981 and 1983. Soil samplings in showed gold values greater than 100 ppb and in the old workings it was as high as 1000 ppb. The high gold values where shown to be associated with high arsenic. Mapping and reconnaissance soil sampling continued in 1985 and further geological, geochemical and geophysical surveys were recommended to define drill targets.
Since then there has been no evidence of any further work undertaken and the adits remain but with locked gates. Old trails criss-cross the steep slopes leading to various sites where digging was started and signs of the old tramway can still be found.
Gold Mines - McQuillan Creek
The mine is described as two workings: The lower Gillespie Vein at 3,500 feet and the upper Alberni and McQuillan Veins between 4,000 and 4,300 feet. By the end of 1936, 7 tons of ore was shipped out yielding 15 oz. of gold and 6 oz. of silver. Between July 1938 and August 1939, 1038 tons of ore was shipped to the Tacoma Smelter from the Gillespie Vein where an average of 18 men were employed.
Some work was undertaken in ....
Mine - Franklin River
Panther Mine - Rift Creek