Like most of these old lost mine stories they all seem to have a common thread and that is the hard luck factor of the lonely prospector. The Mascot Mine is really no different and the Mascot Mine is not really a lost mine thanks to the British Columbia government of the day. The mine and buildings were to be burned years ago long after the mine had shut down but the Minister of Tourism of the day interevened and instead allocated money for a rebuild project of the mine and buildings and today thanks to that decsion, you can travel there and take a tour of this famous mine.
In the very south of British Columbia, right along the Washington state border in the mountain ranges, a lot of exploration has taken place over the years and lots of discoveries have been made also. The country is full of small prospects and mines. In many of the rivers and streams there placer gold was discovered most noteably in the Similkameen River in the Hedley area during the 1860's. This discovery brought more prospectors to the area. Then in 1897 gold was discovered on Nickel Plate mountain and even more prospectors came into the area. It was about this time that Duncan Woods, a down and out prospector arrived to the area only to find out that he was once again late for the party as all the ground in the area had already been staked up.
Duncan was not the kind to just give up though. He started looking at maps of the area and happen to notice that there was a small 40 or so acre sliver of ground that hadn't been staked. Being there already he staked that sliver of ground and then started to prospect it for gold and called the claim, "Mascot".The terrain was very steep and the work was hard but Duncan kept looking.
There were nearby mines already running in the area and one of those mines was the Daly Reduction mine. They were tunneling underground and following a vein of gold and noticed that the vein was running right upto Duncan Woods claims. So there was only one thing that the Daly mine could do. They would need to option the claim or buy it out. So the company sent over a mine boss to talk to Duncan. No one nows to this day what was discussed but what ever it was it wasn't good. Duncan said he would never sell as long as that mine boss was around and involved with the Daly mine. Duncan did finally sell but it wasn't until 1933.
The company that bought Duncan claims was a group of investors and they started the Hedley Mascot Gold mine. The mine was a very tricky mine to work because of it's steep terrain. In reality the mine was right on the edge of a sheer cliff side mountian. A tramway was constructed to take men and equipment up to the mine portal and bring ore back down to the mill below. The tramway was one of the largest in the world as it was 4700 feet in length, supported by six large steel towers, and ran at an angle of about 40 degrees up the slope. The portal was 5000 feet above the town below which is almost a mile high and the mine itself is 7000 feet above sea level. A marvel of construction at the time and still is today.
The Mascot mine produced over 7 tons of gold from 1936 to 1949. At that time the ore was running thin and grade was too low to make a profit so the mine was closed down. There was some activity in the 1970's be various mining companies but cost and other factors proved to be unfavorable with reopening the mine. Today the town of Hedley still sits below in the shadows of this great mine. If your traveling on the Crowsnest Highway in southern BC, be sure to stop and take a tour of the old mine and the surrounding area.