Gold Rush, Cariboo

GOLD RUSH, CARIBOO, was an extension of the gold rush in the Fraser Canyon from 1858 to 1860 (see GOLD RUSH, FRASER R). As prospectors worked their way north up the Fraser R looking for gold, they entered CARIBOO country. The first major gold find occurred at HORSEFLY in the summer of 1859. Thousands of miners flooded into the area from 1860 to 1861, pressing the search north through the CARIBOO MTS from Keithley Crk on Cariboo Lk down into Antler Crk and then Williams Crk, where BARKERVILLE sprang into existence in 1862. That spring, work began on the CARIBOO WAGON ROAD, eventually linking the Interior goldfields to the outside world. The rush peaked in 1863 with an estimated production of 10 tonnes of gold. Soon the surface diggings were depleted and replaced by underground shafts, a type of MINING that required more capital and labour. Well-financed companies took over the mines and hired crews at daily wages. Banks opened to value and receive the gold, which was shipped to the coast by express companies using pack trains and stagecoaches. The government tried to establish an armed gold escort but it was not popular with miners and was discontinued after just 2 seasons. An estimated $30 million worth of gold came out of the Cariboo during the 1860s, but by the next decade the gold had petered out and most miners had departed.