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Leechtown, British Columbia, Canada
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member The A-Team
N 48° 29.742 W 123° 42.716
10U E 447403 N 5371642
Quick Description: The site of a brief gold rush in the 19th-century, Leechtown sprung up in a very short period of time in 1864 at the confluence of the Leech and Sooke rivers, but very little remains today.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 12/18/2014 9:50:20 PM
Waymark Code: WMN3CA
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Blue J Wenatchee
Views: 1

Long Description:
In 1864, as colonists were still gaining a foothold in the region, an expedition was formed to explore more of Vancouver Island. 22-year-old Dr. Robert Brown, acting on behalf of the British Columbian Botanical Society of Edinburgh, was appointed commander of the expedition, dubbed the Vancouver Island Exploration Expedition. Lieutenant Peter John Leech, a former engineer and astronomer, was assigned the duty of examining the resources of the southern part of the island. The expedition set out from Victoria on June 7, 1864. Just over a month later, on July 17, 1864, Leech reported to Brown that he had discovered gold on a tributary of the Sooke River. It was suggested that this river be named in honour of Leech's discovery, and thus the Leech River was born.
I have to report for your information that we have found indications of gold on the Sooke River, at a point about six miles from the Inlet and about a quarter of a mile above the canyon. Mr. Foley estimates the average to be about eight cents to the pan. The largest prospect was about twenty-five cents.
Once word got out that gold had been found, miners flocked to the area. Less than a month after the discovery, the bustling community of Leechtown had been established at the confluence of the Leech and Sooke rivers. By September, over 500 miners were working the Leech River, and the Leechtown site had been surveyed with 31 lots put up for sale at the land office in Victoria for $100 per parcel. Two months later, there were 1200 miners and several thousand other people living and working in the area. The capital city of the colony, Victoria, was reported to be virtually deserted because many of its residents had headed west to Leechtown - including even the governor of the colony - since that was the hub of economic activity in the region at the time. Leechtown and a few smaller towns boasted many amenities, including several general stores, saloons, and hotels.

However, the gold rush was short-lived. By 1865, less than a year after gold had been discovered, the gold rush had already reached its peak. Mining activity gradually declined and by 1874, only a few parties, mainly Chinese, remained working the claims. Production continued on a smaller scale for the next few decades, with some believing that the mother lode had yet to be located. Activity picked up again during the depression years of the 1930s, but soon declined again. In the 1940s and 1950s, the economy of the area had changed to forestry, with Leechtown becoming a thriving logging community.

The logging towns were abandoned in the 1950s and little remains today. All of the wooden buildings have since rotted away to nothing and any remains have been hidden by vegetation. There are still several pieces of logging and mining equipment scattered around the area, as well as a cairn at the Leechtown site. The original cairn had been erected in 1928, but was damaged by vandals and replaced by this replica in the 1980s. The replica has also deteriorated significantly, so a new monument was unveiled on July 19, 2014 on the east side of the river to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Leechtown. The coordinates point to the replica cairn at the Leechtown site.
Reason for Abandonment: Economic

Date Abandoned: 1/1/1950

Related Web Page: Not listed

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