Wellington Camp once a busy place

Exploring Abandoned Mines in B.C. column by Frank Schlichting.

by Frank Schlichtung

This week we are travelling to Wellington Camp.

The camp was situated at the end of a rail spur that ended 2.5 kilometres southeast of Hartford Junction. There were a number of active mines in the area including the Jackpot, Refleck, Athelstan and others.

There are so many abandoned mine workings consisting of collapsed adits, caved-in stopes, surface trenches and pits, it is difficult to know which mine is which. The area is also overgrown with trees and bushes in the last 100 years since it was active.

One of the interesting features of the area in addition to the mine workings is the many remains of buildings. Most of the buildings were constructed of logs. None of the buildings are usable and are in an advanced state of decay.

Looking back to the turn of the century one can see there was a tremendous optimism regarding the future of mining in the area. The construction of the spur line from the bottom of the main Phoenix road south to Wellington camp was an expensive undertaking. The country south of Phoenix was very steep and rocky. A long trestle was required to put the railway line in.

At the time Phoenix was going, full steam trains were running 24 hours a day and everyone was getting rich. I doubt that anyone could have predicted an end to the mining boom. Who would have thought that in less than 20 years the ore would run out, prices collapse, smelters would be demolished camps abandoned and rail lines would be torn up?

No doubt much of the optimism was fueled by speculators that raised money for railroads, mines and roads promising riches to their shareholders. One of the surprising things about the camp is that most of the ore that was shipped from the camp came from the Winnipeg/Golden Crown mine.

An aerial tramway was constructed to transport one from the Golden Crown to Wellington Camp. The interesting thing about that was that there was another railroad only a short distance away at Hartford Junction. It really made no sense to construct the tramway.

In any event, visiting the site today it is quite interesting to look at the ruins of the camp and imagine what a busy place this once was with the railroad, tramway, power, telephone lines all the buildings and mines. I often wondered if the miners would saddle up and ride to Phoenix for a few beers or a game of cards after work.

Today the site is being slowly but surely reclaimed by mother nature. Buildings are falling over, a large tipple still stands but leans, the roads and trails are overgrown and most of the mines have caved in. I found it quite interesting to follow the abandoned rail grade north to the tailings pond at the Merritt Mines mill from Wellington Camp. The trail is quite overgrown beyond the old trestle heading north and one must travel on foot.

The old telephone line was also interesting to hike along it went from the camp to the Golden Crown and is  still visible on Google Earth. The remains of the telephone poles and some old insulators are still visible.

Although the mines are mostly caved in, I was able to explore a few adits and climbed down a 50-foot shaft to some historic workings. There is a lot of evidence of low grade ore on the site so I wouldn’t be surprised to see an open pit mining operation there some day.

I was quite keen to document this site before it is either destroyed by open pit mining or completely caves in.

The site is easily accessible by either the Iron Clad road that leads to the rail grade from the east or along the pipeline right-of-way that is just north of Hartford Junction. As one gets closer to the camp the vegetation has encroached on to the roads making them quite narrow and more suitable for off road vehicles or even a mountain bike. However, you could drive in most of the way and walk 20 minutes or so.

I think the roads and the rail grade would be a great project for local groups to rehabilitate with a Cat and allow for more recreational use.

There were several bears in the area when I was there.

The mines in the area are mostly caved in so there isn’t a great deal of underground areas to explore. The areas that I was able to access underground were quite unstable with a lot of hanging rock and I would not recommend anyone enter into the underground mines in this area.

GPS position of the tipple is 49.062661 N and 118.564912 W.

Since there was so much to see at Wellington Camp, I have decided to split the video into two segments: a part one and part two. I am providing both my comments and the video on my channel (http://bit.ly/BCMINES)  for entertainment and historical purposes only in is not intended to be instructional. I have no training in mine safety and would not recommend anyone enter into underground mines especially without the proper equipment and training.


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