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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Bridge River region a geographical study Wood, George Alan


The Bridge River Region is a mining district situated in southern British Columbia on the eastern side of the Coast Range. The boundary of the region is defined by the drainage basin of Bridge River above Moha. The region is isolated. The geology is complex, and highly metamorphosed sedimentary, volcanic and intrusive rocks are present. The rocks range in age from Permian to Recent. Mineralization is thought to be linked with the location of the region on the eastern margin of the Coast Range batholithic intrusions. The topography is mountainous and strongly glaciated. The hanging valley of Bridge River is the deepest erosional feature of the district. Generally, the valley is at an elevation of 2000 feet, and the flanking Bendor and Shulaps ranges rise to 8000 and 9000 feet. The rugged nature of the country makes transportation especially difficult. Towards the Chilcotin Plateau, the mountains are more subdued in character. During the snow-free season, sheep and cattle are pastured in the alpine grazing ranges of this transition belt of mountains. The country is also the habitat of big-game animals which are a resource of the tourist industry. The Bridge River Region has many climates because of great relief. As a whole, the climate is continental, although continentality is modified by proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The annual average temperature in the main area of settlement is forty degrees and the annual average precipitation is twenty-four inches. Four months have average temperatures below freezing. The country is forested but timber is generally of little commercial value. Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and Lodgepole pine are the basis of a small-scale forest industry. The industry is largely subsidiary to mining. Trapping is a part-time occupation based on the fur-bearers of the region. The many creeks of the district head from snow-fields and glaciers. Hurley River and Cadwallader Creek have been developed for hydro-electric power. Bridge River, which has its source in extensive ice-fields, ultimately will produce 620,000 horse power. Most of this power will be supplied to Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Rapid run-off makes storage dams necessary. The resultant flooding obviates most agricultural development. Historically, mining has been the dominant industry of the Bridge River Region. Beginning in 1858, miners came into the district seeking placer gold. Their sporadic and desultory activity gave place to the more permanent lode gold mining around 1898. In modern times, Bralorne and Pioneer Gold Mines have developed as successful producers. Efficient transportation has come to the region by the building of the Bridge River highway which provides a link with the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Bralorne and Pioneer are small-scale, fully mechanized mines. Most of the ore is produced by shrinkage and cut and fill stoping. Bralorne ranks first as a gold producer in British Columbia and Pioneer holds fourth place. The known reserves at both mines will last eight years at present rates of production. Much exploration work is going on in the district to bring other mines into production. The population of about two thousand persons in the Bridge River Region is almost entirely dependant upon mining. Three quarters of the people live in the company towns of Bralorne and Pioneer. The destiny of future settlement rests largely with the mining industry.

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