Unincorporated and Uncompelled

History of Coalmont and Area

There is only one town remaining, but the history of Granite Creek, Coalmont, and Blakeburn is so inextricable that the three towns can generally be considered as one.

* The area received its first influx of people in 1885 with the beginning of the rush for gold at Granite Creek which is within walking distance of Coalmont. That little town only thrived for a couple of years but still managed to keep a post office up until 1918 though it eventually became a ghost town. Many of Coalmont's early residents came from Granite, as it was called locally.

* Coal had been known in the area, but serious explorations did not start until 1901. Eventually, the Columbia Coal and Coke Co. Ltd. took control and the name Coalmont was first mentioned in the Similkameen Star on February 15, 1911 with the announcement of their intention to develop the area. The town plan was registered in Kelowna June 6. Numerous buildings such as housing, schoolhouse, and barn, were constructed and the company moved their offices from Granite Creek to Upper Town in Coalmont. It is clear that 1911 was the year that Coalmont arrived, although coal production did not start until the next year.

* Everything came together at once. The Post Office opened Aug 1, 1911, and the Vancouver, Victoria & Eastern Railway tracks reached here Nov. 10.

* Rural and Assisted Schools arrived in 1912. The same year saw the completion of, among others, the Coalmont Hotel and the General Store.

* Regular VV&E rail service from Princeton started May 1, 1912. The station and water tower was at mile 82.16 on the Princeton subdivision. Coalmont was now set for rapid growth.

* The start of WWI in 1914 put a damper on development but after the war ended in 1918 the coal company was reorganized and became known as Coalmont Colliers Ltd.

* Despite Coalmont originally being touted by developers as The City of Destiny, the mining operation was now on the mountain nearby and the work camp there soon developed into another town which was named Blakeburn. The famous 3 mile long aerial tramway for transporting the coal down to the tipple in Coalmont was started in 1919 and completed in Nov 1920. With the Blakeburn post office opening in 1920 and it's own school in 1923, this new town soon superceded Coalmont in population.

* Located on the railway and being the distribution point for the coal as well as the lumber from the area, Coalmont grew rapidly during the next decade. Its heyday was the 1920's when it had numerous stores and businesses.

* Forty five miners died in the mine explosion of August 13, 1930. After that the coal business declined and Coalmont's population was already down to 100 when the mine closed in 1940.

* Blakeburn was abandoned and soon became a ghost town, but Coalmont continued to struggle along after that.

* Without the Colliers there was no public electricity from 1940 until 1965 and, with the exception of a few independent souls, Coalmont has been semi-abandoned and virtually a ghost town.

* Gone are the wooden boardwalks and most, but not all, of the original buildings. One lone store remained for many years but on the last weekend of September, 1988, it too closed. With it went the post office.

* The last train ran on May 9, 1989, and Coalmontians returned to the old days of personal transportation.

* From "city of promise" to the present, Coalmont continues to be the gateway to the Tulameen mining district and has a rich history involving gold, platinum, coal, and pioneering adventure. The ghosts of Coalmont past are apparent everywhere, and the town offers many hints and clues to illuminate the shadows of British Columbia's history.

More historical information is available from the web pages below.

Page courtesy of the New Coalmont Courier ©2008 Ole Juul