Ronaghan:A great event for Grand FOrks

Residents of the Riverside Drive area in Grand Forks have a daily reminder that they live across the river from a mining operation

Residents of the Riverside Drive area north of Barbara Ann Park in Grand Forks have a daily reminder that they live across the river from a mining operation, but one of a different kind. What they are witnessing is the extraction of what was a waste product 114 years ago when the first furnace at the Granby smelter was blown in and the smelting process that produced the slag began. The slag deposit is now classified as a mine site and is so signed. Slag is valuable for its abrasive qualities and each day several truckloads are hauled to the Pacific Abrasives and Supply Co. Inc plant at 2465 Carson Road south of the city for shipment to the United States. In 1997 Jim and Alice Glanville, local historians and long-time residents of Grand Forks, published The Life and Times of Grand Forks–Where the Kettle River Flows, a Centennial History of Grand Forks. The book covers the history of the city from its incorporation in 1897 to its 100th birthday in 1997. The authors gave the Granby smelter extensive coverage.  The Glanvilles describe the view looking east from Spencer Hill in the 1800s across the valley that was called Grand Prairie. “Perhaps we could spend a little time visualizing the Grand Prairie of one hundred years ago as we stand near the look-out on Spencer Hill. In the distance, nestled at the forks of the Kettle River and the North Fork of the Kettle River, lies the fledgling city of Grand Forks with a population of 500. Sheltered at the base of Observation Mountain, this bustling community is poised for great events just around the corner.” The view from Spencer Hill today and the city itself bear little resemblance to the 1800s description provided by the Glanvilles. The “Grand Prairie” is no longer recognizable. On April 15, 1897, the small community located where the Granby River (North Fork) joins the Kettle River was incorporated as the City of Grand Forks. The new city occupied 160 acres of land given to Roger Moore, a former sapper with the Royal Engineers who came from England at the request of Governor James Douglas. The boundaries of the new city located on Lot 108 were the Granby River on the east, the Kettle River on the south, and what are now known as 13th Street and 75th Avenue. Moore’s land grant was known as “special settlement land” near the international boundary. The “fledgling city” did grow and some great events did occur. The discovery of copper ore on Phoenix Mountain, the construction and operation of the Granby copper smelter, and the arrival of the railways were three.Reports state that the smelter site was chosen because of available water and electric power. A group of men from Granby, Quebec formed the Granby Consolidated Mining and Smelting and Power Company Ltd. and built the smelter that operated from 1899 to 1919. According to reports, its stack stood 150 feet high and required 458,000 bricks in its construction. At its peak, the smelter operated eight furnaces that produced 430,000 pounds of blister copper each day.  550 tons of coke from the Crowsnest area were burned each day in the smelting process. Ore was hauled by horses from Phoenix in two-ton loads until July 1900 when a load arrived by train. Five-car trains carried 150 tons. They entered the smelter site from the north, traveling across the river at the Granby Dam. The slag piles are now the only reminder that the largest non-ferrous smelter in the British Empire once provided employment for 400 men. The smelter shut down on June 21,1919 when the price of copper dropped and the Phoenix mines closed. The significance of the Granby smelter to the development of the City of Grand Forks was definitely one of the great events that were “just around the corner.”

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