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The Town & Mine Of Cassiar

It is said that British Columbia Canada is home to about 1500 ghost towns. Most of these towns would have been built around a mining operation or maybe a sawmill as the province is rich in both minerals and wood. Some of these towns go back into the 1800's and others more recent. Cassiar is one of the latter being founded in 1951 when a company decided to go into the Cassiar mountain range and start a mine.

Cassiar was known for asbestos and high up in the mountain beside the town was enough asbestos to last what seemed forever. The deposit was known for a long time and different companies looked at going there to mine but because of it's remoteness and the fact that there was no infastructure seemed to be a deal breaker for most. One company however decided to take a chance and went into develope the deposit. That company was ConWest and the asbestos they were mining was an iron free long fibre asbestos which was of high grade quality.

The mine was in high elevation of over 5000 feet. The mine also had a mill where the asbestos fibers could be milled and processed. When the mine first started production they would just mine in the summer and stockpile the fibre and mill it during the winter but soon demand picked up for the product and the mine started to work all year round as an open pit. The fiber would be baled up and trucked off up the Alaska Highway and then down to Skagway where it was loaded onto ships and sent off to market.

By 1953 the company had built a town for its employees. The town itself had around 2000 people there. Rows of new houses and new streets. A typical company run town. They had a couple of churches, recreation facilities, two schools and stores. They had their own hospital with doctor and nurses too. The next closest town was Watson Lake in the Yukon which was almost 100 miles away. At the time it was the largest town in the northern BC.

Then in 1992 after 40 years of mining the mine was forced to close down. Demand for asbestos had dropped and with the lack of buyers for the product the mine was forced into bankrupcy. There were efforts to find a buyer but there was no interest. The following year the mine held an auction where the entire was town was auctioned off. A lot of the houses were bought and moved to Watson Lake to the north and others went to Dease Lake to the south. What ever was left was bulldozed down. Some of the larger apartment type buildings were left.

Today there is only a streets left in the area of where the town once stood. A few buildings remain and the tramway that went up the mountain still remains waiting for the new owner who bought it at auction but never took possession. You can still drive to the townsite and during the summer months you will see placer mining operations along some of the creeks. There is also a jade mine at the junction going to Cassiar at Jade City.