Quesnel Forks

Quesnel Forks

Quesnel Forks

As the prospectors followed the gold trail up the Fraser River they soon discovered that the Quesnel river was the key source. Following that river to where it was joined by the Cariboo river they found gold bearing gravels in the creeks, on the lakes, on the rivers and Quesnel Forks sprung up to supply them.

Quesnel Forks became another of the instant settlements spawned by the gold rush. Soon boarding houses, bars and stores covered the flats between the rivers and toll bridges were thrown up by wiley businessmen. There was a great deal of profitable activity in the immediate area but like any rush claims were quickly staked and later comers either worked for an existing operation or pushed further inland.

Though Keithly Creek, Antler Creek and Lowhee Creek were soon to be the focus of the big rush activity Quesnel Forks was still ideally suited as the key supply post. Even after Barkerville became the most prominent gold rush town the Forks continued to quietly supply the large number of men in the mountains to the north. Until the Cariboo wagon road was complete to Soda Creek Quesnel Forks remained the major supply depot in the Cariboo.

Even as the gold rush faded in the 1870s Quesnel Forks, like Barkerville, was able to survive by supplying the needs of the larger companies. Later on hydraulic mining would provide another boost to the town. However the main support for Quesnel Forks came from the Chinese miners. They followed along after the main rush on all the creeks, patiently working over the ground and often the tailings piles of previous miners. No matter where they were in the Cariboo the Chinese moved south in the bitter winters. For many Chinese miners, however, the coast was too far and too expensive and Quesnel Forks was close at hand for the spring charge into the mountains. Like Barkerville, Quesnel Forks retained activity right up until World War II.

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All text and images © Quesnel & District Museum and Archives unless otherwise noted. Thanks to the B.C. Archives for permission to show various images. Thanks to the BC Encyclopedia for permission to quote information on the roadhouse communities. Thanks to the Living Landscapes Project, the Royal British Columbia Museum, Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services for their support of site development.

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