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Atlin Silver Lead Mines (the Ruffner Mine)


    In their book Atlin: The Story of British Columbia's Last Gold Rush, Christine Dickinson and Diane Smith summarize the history of the mine, which began its life in the period between the decline of Atlin's placer mines in 1917 and their resurgence in the mid-1930s:

    During this phase of mining history, Julius Ruffner, a success in Atlin placer operations, became interested in a silver-lead property in the vicinity of Crater Creek, a tributary to Fourth of July Creek.
    Ruffner came to Atlin about 1903 to manage the North Columbia Gold Mining Company, which had an office in Discovery, a number of claims on Gold Run, and a bond on property held by the Stevendyke Hydraulic Mining Partnership. He was described as a bright young fellow, managing a large operation. He became a colourful local character who usually traveled the camp on horseback, wearing black bearskin chaps and a pair of six guns. He was a man of energy and enthusiasm, who attracted more outside capital to Atlin than any other mine owner or promoter.
    The Crater Creek property was on Vaughan Mountain, 23 km from Atlin. In 1920, Ruffner organized Atlin Silver Lead Mines with a group of Seattle investors. Although assays indicated silver-lead values of $400 a ton, capital was hard to find. Ruffner, however, was an experienced promoter and his persistence over the next few years paid off. In 1927, he had a crew of about 20 men working on the property.
    Ore was hauled to the lake over a wagon road built in 1926 by the Department of Mines. To avoid White Pass freight costs, Ruffner used the
M. V. Gladys to barge the ore to the railroad portage at Scotia Bay. From that point on, though, he had no choice but to give White Pass his business.
    Atlin Silver Lead Mines was doing well in 1929 when Julius Rufner died. At first the company was taken over by C. V. Bob of New York. After a series of financial problems, bad luck and another change in ownership, the mine was finally abandoned by Bobjo Mines of Ontario in 1934.

    The annual reports of the British Columbia Minister of Mines provide much more detail on the operation:

  • 1921 - two pages of text and a full-page map provide information on the 12 claims in the Big Canyon group and 13 claims in the Ruffner group.

The view to the north from the highest working level of the mine. The photos below were all shot on August 31, 2003 unless otherwise noted.

The upper adit.

A workshop is one of the ruins at the mine's mid-level, which is where the oldest ruins and artifacts are found.

A quonset-inspired plywood hut at the lowest level.

A long-abandoned GMC dump truck at the lowest level, perhaps used to haul ore at the mine. It used to belong to Savona Timber, whose name can still be made out on the door.

The M. V. Gladys, used to transport the mine's ore in the 1920s, still sits on the beach of Atlin Lake. Photo taken April 20, 2003.


A Guide to Atlin, British Columbia

Mining in British Columbia