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British Columbia's Historic Engineer Mine


Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it. A historic postcard showing the mine in about 1925.

    The mineralized location which was to become the Engineer Mine was located in late July 1899 by C. A. Anderson and J. Pearson. Anderson was an experienced miner from Texada Island, British Columbia, and Pearson was a farmer from Spokane, Washington. There was some confusion about what they had found, due to the nature of the gold, which was in a form known as electrum. The first report claimed a stringer of molybdenum

    Anderson and Pearson met a White Pass & Yukon Route railway survey party at Caribou Crossing, and optioned off 50% of the property to them in exchange for assistance and financial support. The Chief Surveyor of the party was A. B. Lewis, who was in charge of the Caribou Crossing to Whitehorse section of the line. His fame now comes from the fact that he accidentally drained Lewis Lake (usually called Lewes Lake).

Two of three assays conducted at the Bank of British North America in Atlin gave results of almost $13,000 a ton in gold, with one of them adding $220 in silver. The third assay was $2,900. Headlines in the August 5, 1899 edition of the Bennett Sun proclaimed "The Mother Lode Located". "Alaska Magazine" devoted eight entire pages to the story in March 1900.

    The first company to operate the property was the Engineer Mining Company, with John Hislop as President. Hislop, a civil engineer from Galt, Ontario, was also one of the engineers on the WP&YR. His tenure as president was short, however; in 1901, four weeks after getting married, Hislop fell under the wheels of a Chicago train and was killed.

    In September 1900, the main adit was reported to be in 230 feet, and a 20-stamp mill had been ordered (Atlin Claim).

- August 1901, new ore shoots discovered, much underground been carried on

- 1902, stamp mill installed
- 1902, smelter is to be built on Taku Arm to serve Engineer, Gleaner, White Moose and Alamo, and commonly assumed that a railway would be built, due to the large number of WP men involved.. White Moose and Alamo are controlled by Erastus Hawkins
- 1902, money seems to have run out; work stopped

- 1904, company reorganized, but work didn't resume

- 1906, claims lapsed, re-staked and then bought by the Northern Partnership, with Captain James Alexander the most visible partner. Alexander had served in the Boer War, and was a Captain in the 3rd Dragoon Guards.

- October 1911, snowslide at the Ben-My-Chree killed Mine Manager Stanley McLennan  and his wife, badly damaged the aerial tramway. The slide, triggered by a blast hit the manager's stone house.

-  1912, solely owned by J. Alexander. He had apparently blackmailed one of his partners, who had sworn falsely that the annual assessment work had been done on the property. A curse was put on the property by a lawyer in Skagway, and Peter Steele reports 17 people involved with the Engineer who have died.
- 1913, a 2-stamp mill went into production (BC Min. of Mines)
- 1913, The Daily Alaskan reported assays of up to $45,000 a ton in gold (3 assays were $17,000, $35,800 and $45,000). Capt. Alexander stated that he wanted to have a 100-stamp mill operating in 1914

- October 25, 1918, Alexander killed on Princess Sophia

- mine tied up in litigation until 1924, when the mines glory days began
- 1924, 60 men worked. A power plant was built on the Wann River, 5 km south
- 1925, 100-140 men. The mine was a regular stop for the Tutshi tours
- 1925, stocks up to $100 a share, but Diane Smith says that it was being heavily promoted, not heavily mined
- Burns Bldg floated up from Conrad

- freighting done by Bob Roxborough, with cat or Model T snowmobile, or George Simmons, who owned Northern Airways in Carcross
-

- 1929, 20-25 men worked April-Sept, but no ore shipped. Lower workings had filled with water. Economic prospects not considered good (BC Min. of Mines)
- 1930, though the mine is closed, GSC reports good prospects for the future. The main adit at that time was 1,450 feet long, with another 3,000 feet of drifting from that.

Mineralization

"The veins are characteristically narrow and range from mere stringers up to 2 feet or more in thickness. The better mineralized parts of the veins are in many cases only 6 to  inches thick. Most of the veins are filed with quartz." (GSC Summary Report 1930 - Cockfield)

"The main economic mineral, electrum, occurs in small high-grade pockets." (Ampex, 1998). Electrum is the name of a native gold alloy that contains more than 16% silver. "It is a soft, pale yellow mineral with a specific gravity of 12.5 to 15.5, somewhat lower than that of gold. Some varieties of electrum contain copper, palladium, bismuth, and rhodium." (GSC, "A Catalogue of Canadian Minerals").

Miscellaneous

  • Carcross, 128 km away by lake or 80 km by air, was the service centre. Although Atlin is much closer (32 km), there was no road to Atlin during most of the Engineer's history

  • Peter Steele, in Atlin's Gold, reports that cyanide was used in the separation process

Other Properties

  • White Moose was opposite the Engineer - bonded for $80,000 in 1902 by E.C.Hawkins of WP&YR

  • Engineer Group to the north was owned by P.F.Scharschmidt


A Guide to Carcross, Yukon

A Guide to Atlin, British Columbia

Mining in British Columbia