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Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Lost Gold Ledge in Danville, Washington


Mt. Baker, Washington
Photo by Adam Lindsay


The town of Danville, Washington nestled right up against the Canadian border had a checkered past to say the least.  It started as Nelson, Washington, but the railroad changed its name to avoid confusion with Nelson, British Columbia.  The town had a store with entrances opening into both countries that the authorities closed down because of suspected smuggling.  The heyday of the town came with prohibition when many of its residents worked as guides for the whiskey smugglers guiding them over back-country trail out of sight of the revenuers so they could smuggle Canadian whiskey into the United States.  Once prohibition was over the town slowly faded away.

Before prohibition though in 1912 a prospector named John Falconer was working in the town during the summer as a laborer.  At some point a vicious thunder storm hit the area and a bolt of lightening set fire to a tree on the hillside southeast of the town.  Falconer rode a horse out of town along a game trail to put the fire out before it spread.  On the way it started raining and somewhere along the trail his horse trod on a rock sticking up from the ground.

By the time he reached the blazing tree the rain had put out the fire, so with nothing more he could do there he started back to town.  When he reached where his horse had scrapped the soil from a rock he could see it was full of pyrite so he stopped to get the rock.  It was not until several months later that Falconer realized the rock was full of gold not pyrite.  The gold slab was worth over $1,000 that contained over 50 troy ounces of gold that at the time was selling for $20.67 per ounce.

Around Danville the old timers called it “the golden plate” and thought it was only a small part of a gold ledge.  Falconer and his wife hunted for the place where his horse struck gold, but never could find the place again.

Since then many have looked for Danville’s golden ledge in the hills south east of the town but have never found it either.

It makes sense that there is gold there because it is close to the Cascade Mountains that supplied the heat necessary for the formation of gold deposits.  Two volcanoes that could have supplied the gold deposit are Mt. Baker in Washington and Mt. Garibaldi in British Columbia.


4 comments:

  1. Now this is an interesting story, John, do you suppose that piece of rock was just float? Somewhere....very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
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