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Driving into the 'Valley of Gold’ and glaciers

Riding along the edge of the mountain was scary for a guy used to driving on the Prairies
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

On our first day in Stewart, we drove past the grizzly bear viewing platform into the Valley of Gold and Glaciers to find the old Granduc mine site where Chris Svab once worked.

The dusty winding gravel road edged up into the 2,000 foot level clinging to the steep mountain side.

The view was spectacular — the Salmon River valley way below, the landscape across and the mining activity.

When Chris worked at Granduc from 1967-71, there was a tunnel through the mountain under a glacier to make the trip shorter. That tunnel is blocked off. Rushing water can be heard from it.

After Granduc closed, a new owner re-opened the mine for awhile and built a so-called road around the mountain.

Mining at Granduc was difficult. That part of the mountains averages 60 feet of snow a year. One year a record 110 feet of snow fell, damaging the mine buildings.

We got within about 14 miles of the mine site before turning back, after facing no trespassing signs on both sides of the road.

Signs along the road quoted Section 1:13 of an act that makes entering a mining lease without permission an offence. We didn’t want to stay in the “crowbar hotel.”

We saw one large exploration project on the old Scottie Gold mine site, an old mine mill, a construction camp and the building site for a tailings pond in the valley.

A mine worker told us the tailings pond to hold waste will be seven feet thick of crushed rock.

The multiple glaciers of all sizes were a marvellous sight.

The Salmon Glacier, the largest, runs down the valley and up around a mountain.

When Chris worked here, Caterpillars crawled across the Salmon with supplies for the Granduc mine.

The Salmon Glacier is the fifth largest glacier in North America. A 1956 drill program found the ice depth ranged between 1,500 feet and 2,300 feet.

Beyond the Salmon Glacier lies Summit Lake, known locally as Tide Lake

In spring when the snowmelt fills the lake, water explodes underneath the Salmon Glacier to the ocean. The rush has flooded Stewart’s Main Street on occasion.

A tour guide said the lake never flowed under the glacier this year. He doubts it ever will, given the dry spell.

Riding along the edge of the mountain was scary for a guy used to driving on the Prairies.

A few tourists parked RVs and campers on road turnouts, perched on the ledge like an eagle’s nest way up a cliff.

The road was rough with small rocks and parts of trees lining the inside edges in the avalanche warning areas.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 


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