Some of the transportation to get in here to wash gold is deserving of mention, too. Two-wheeled carts, Bennett Buggies, team and sleigh, canoes and rafts — all were used. The outstanding method was one that a man from Alberta used for several years, a wheelbarrow mounted on a ski. As long as there was snow the ski was left on. Whenever he hit bare ground he would remove the ski and use the wheel. Eric Dahle pushed this rather unusual vehicle over a hundred and fifty miles each spring. He had it loaded with about 250 pounds of supplies. We were to hear years later that this same man built a one-man sawmill that had an astounding production capacity.
The placer miners that made the most money were the ones that had gas driven pumps and power driven boats so they could skip around creaming the bars.
At the head of the Peace River Canyon at what was known as Grubstake Bar, almost everyone who came in placer mining stopped for a few days and took out a little gold. Many stayed only a day or two but some never got any further upstream.
King Gething was running a mail boat on the Upper Peace at that time hauling mail to Fort Graham and Finlay Forks. This was the way most of the prospectors reached their destination. King would haul their supplies during the summer. He would also be entrusted with their gold to barter and trade at the Hudson Bay Co. or at Henry Stege’s store for supplies.
During the 1930’s, literally hundreds of men and women with their families survived the depression by washing gold, a meager living on the gravel bars of the upper rivers. The living may have been meager but it was one of the freest times of their lives. Many have come back over the years just to try and recapture some of those days of freedom. Of course, they were living better than they would have been had they stayed on relief, on the outside. Meat was available for the price of ammunition and a little energy. Wild leeks grew along the gravel bars of the Peace. These gave a little savory onion touch to the moose and deer meat mulligans. Vegetables could be purchased from Jack Thomas or Jim Beattie so about all that was needed from the store were flour, salt, sugar, tea or coffee and yeast or baking powder.
When the Second World War broke out prospecting was no longer profitable, as better wages could be made anywhere along the Alaska Highway working on construction. So ended one of the most exciting periods of history which dated back to the days before the Klondike rush. The old tailing piles on the gravel bars left by these earlier prospectors could be seen right up to the time of the flooding of the valley by the W.A.C. Bennett dam in the mid-1960’s.