In 1864, gold was discovered on a creek in British Columbia's Rocky Mountains, at a place the miners called Stud Horse. (Government officials, always politically correct, renamed the site "Wild Horse".) Several thousand would-be miners rushed to the area (much like Stud Wild Horses), desperately seeking to become rich. Many did become rich, either through mining, or through ancillary services. The rush built Fort Steele up from nothing (a ferry site) to a major town. In 1864 enough gold was taken out that in 1865 about 5000 more men came. In 1865 millions of dollars (that's 1865 dollars - think what they'd be worth today) were taken out. Some men took forty to sixty thousand dollars by themselves, in one year.

By 1866, the gold was pretty much cleared out, and people moved on, until by 1882, only 11 white settlers lived in the entire East Kootenays, most of the 11 around Wild Horse Creek. Fort Steele itself faded, almost becoming a ghost town.

Today the site is easily accessible from Cranbrook, and is definitely worth the trip!

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