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Rossland History

Old RosslandFirst discovered by two prospectors from the nearby Dewdney Trail, the Le Roi mine was the claim that started the gold rush in Rossland in 1890. It was sold to Colonel Topping in lieu of a $12.50 recording fee. He then turned around and sold it to a Spokane company for $30,000. They began to develop the mine and the town was born. In 1898 the Le Roi mine was sold to the British American Corporation for just over three million dollars.  Once the mine came into production, Le Roi stock jumped from fifty cents a share to $40 almost overnight. The population of Rossland exploded as gold fever attracted men from around the world and Rossland became one of the largest cities in Western Canada and a major business center in North America.  Many of the Rossland mines such as the Center Star, Le Roi, War Eagle, Josie, etc. became world famous. These mines were worked over the next forty years, creating the town of Rossland. By 1897, the population had increased to 7,000, with 42 saloons, 4 banks and 17 law firms A smelter was built in the valley below, giving birth to the city of Trail. The mines and smelter were amalgamated in 1906 to form the company now known as Cominco.  The booming town of Rossland attracted miners from many countries and prominent among them were Scandinavians from the United States and from their native lands. They brought with them their knowledge and love of skiing and soon organized the Rossland Ski Club, which held the first recorded competitions in Canada. 

In 1922, the Great Northern saw fit to pull up the rails of the faithful Red Mountain Railway and, in 1927 and 1929, the second and third great fires laid waste the business section. Finally in 1929, the last man left "the hill" and after forty exciting years of operation with a combined output of almost 165 million dollars, the treasure vault on Red Mountain was closed.

By 1930 the City of Rossland had reached its lowest ebb. With a population reduced to 3,000 and faced with the Great Depression of the thirties the future looked grim. However, the Golden City was not to be condemned to the fate of a ghost town. The advent of modern highway transportation and the stability of the great Cominco plant at Trail combined to turn Rossland into an ideal residential town, with its working population comfortably commuting the steep valley climb pioneered by Dewdney and his trailblazers three-quarters of a century before.

In 1934 the fever of mining returned again for a brief period when the Cominco holdings were thrown open for leasing as a depression relief aid. Old timers and youngsters alike returned to the mountainous waste dumps and yawning upper level stopes to scratch out a million dollars in the first year. The spirits of the past walked the slopes of Red Mountain again but their stay was brief. By 1942 the Second World War was occupying the efforts of all concerned and the last of the leases were closed for good.Old Rossland

A hundred years later, at the 1992 Winter Olympics, Rossland's name was heard again - this time for the gold being produced on its ski slopes. Home of some of the best alpine and cross-country skiing in British Columbia, Rossland has been producing ski champions since 1897, including Olympic champions Kerrin Lee-Gartner and Nancy Greene.

Today the Golden City looks to a new future in the white gold of her winter ski slopes and in a reawakening of her historic mines. What remains of the golden past are many heritage buildings and sites, testament to the historic importance of the community to the developmnet of the Kootenays and the Province.    The Rossland museum has an extensive collection and arcives that are well worth a visit.