A series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
The ghost town of Three Forks, east of New Denver, was founded during the Silvery Slocan mining rush and so named because it was at the junction of Carpenter, Seaton, and Kane creeks.
Due to its location, the site was highly prized and much contested. John A. Watson applied to buy 320 acres on Oct. 26, 1891, but his notice failed to appear in the BC Gazette, although it was published in the Nelson Miner. Late that year, Billy Lynch apparently staked a townsite there, but also failed to get title to it. Eli Carpenter (1841?-1917), for whom Carpenter Creek was named, filed his notice to acquire the same ground on Jan. 5, 1892. However, by that time the government had placed a reserve on all land within ten miles of Slocan Lake.
On June 14, 1892, Charles Hugonin and Eric Conway Carpenter (no relation to Eli) applied to pre-empt 160 acres for agricultural purposes, although according to the Nelson Tribune of Feb. 17, 1894, “it is well known that the land is unfit for such purposes.” They erected a hotel, first mentioned in the Nelson Miner of June 25, 1892: “The Three Forks hotel is now in running order. The boys are getting ‘bit’ drinks and are glad of it.”
Hugonin and E.C. Carpenter spent the summer there, then leased the hotel to H.H. Pitts for the winter. Hugonin and Carpenter returned in the spring and built another hotel. They also worked out a deal to sell their land to Frank S. Barnard and John A. Mara, prominent merchants and politicians. Efforts to secure a Crown grant, however, were stymied when E.R. Hamilton protested that he located a mining claim on the property before Hugonin and Carpenter’s pre-emption.
Lands commissioner F.G. Vernon then introduced a bill to authorize the grant, declaring “the prosperity of that settlement is greatly retarded by the inability of the pre-emptors to confer a title upon either railway company or business people who have built upon and desire to become purchasers of lots therein.”
The Crown grant was issued April 6, 1894, much to the Tribune’s irritation: “If the site of the town of Three Forks was not owned by the promoters of the Nakusp and Slocan railway the bill introduced by Mr. Vernon would not have been been introduced, for the government was never known to take extraordinary steps to procure title for persons applying for land unless the parties so applying were its particular cronies.”
Alexander Eric MacKay surveyed the townsite on March 16, 1894. The streets were named Ore, Mineral, Quartz, Slocan, Silver, Nakusp, and Galena, plus there was a Kaslo Road.
An application for a post office was filed on March 1893, and the office opened on Oct. 1 of that year. A modest-sized town emerged, but Three Forks suffered two serious blows: it was destroyed by a forest fire in 1894 and although rebuilt, lost ground to Sandon when the Nakusp and Slocan extended its line there the following year.
The post office closed in 1909, reopened in 1911, closed again in 1917, reopened again at the start of 1921, and finally closed for good nine months later.
Regarding the three creeks that meet at Three Forks, Carpenter Creek was first mentioned in the Nelson Miner of Oct. 17, 1891. Seaton Creek, first mentioned exactly one week earlier in the Miner, was named for Carpenter’s prospecting partner Jack Seaton (1858-93). Kane Creek was after either or both of the Kane brothers, David (1871-1937) and George (1862-1937), founders of Kaslo. However, it wasn’t named until much later. On Perry’s Mining Map of 1893, it’s simply called the north fork of Carpenter Creek.
— With thanks to Peter Smith
TEN MILE CITY
This ghost town in the Lardeau was at the junction of Gainer Creek and the south fork of Lardeau Creek, about seven miles from Ferguson — and ten miles from Trout Lake. It was founded by Asa Hillman, who was born in Quebec around 1862. His brothers Charlie and Ed were also in the area; Ed was a teamster in partnership with Andy Craig.
Ten Mile City was first mentioned in the Revelstoke Herald of Feb. 20, 1897: “It is reported that Asa Hillman is going to lay out a city on his ranch at the Ten-mile in the spring.”
The Herald of Oct. 15, 1898 added: “About six miles above Ferguson and near the head of the south fork of Lardeau Creek is Ten Mile City … At present it is possessed of but one store and a livery stable.”
The store belonged to Cummings &Co., who also had a branch in Ferguson; Asa and Charlie had the hotel, although the Herald of Nov. 16, 1898 announced that they “have closed their hotel at the Ten Mile, on the south fork of the Lardeau, and have come down to [Thomson’s] Landing.”
The Lardeau Eagle of April 26, 1901 reported “The townsite of Ten Mile will shortly be surveyed and put on the market, a more high-faluting title being substituted for the present one.”
There is no sign the survey actually took place, that a new name was picked, or that lots were ever sold. The hotel, however, re-opened. The Eagle of April 10, 1902 indicated: “Asa Hillman, proprietor of the Ten-Mile hotel and of the townsite at Ten-Mile is in Ferguson. Mr. Hillman expects there will be lively times at Ten-Mile this summer.”
Ed and Charlie Hillman remained in the area until their deaths in Revelstoke in 1934 and 1940 respectively. Asa died in Calgary in 1943. A livery stable the Hillmans built in Calgary around 1908 still stands.