A Short History

Ymir, Erie, and Salmo were small mining towns that grew up along the right-of-way of the Historic Nelson/Fort Shepherd Railway in the Gold Rush years of 1896 and ’97.

Placer miners had been panning local creeks since Joseph Morel found gold on the Pend d’Oreille River in 1855. In the mid 1880’s and 90’s there was a flurry of staking activity when promising outcroppings were discovered on Kootenay mountains.

Ymir, the largest and most prosperous of the communities that grew up to serve the developing mines south of Nelson, had a population of 1000 with 13 hotels and rooming houses. Later, during the 1940’s, Sheep Creek had a school, post office store and pool hall. Erie, Granite City, Remac – eveywhere there was a mine, a settlement grew up beside it. At present, the old workings of mines can still be seen high on the hillsides. These mines have been major producers of gold, silver, lead, zinc, and tungsten.

The Salmo River Valley was famous for the large cedars that grew here. The early logging industry and forest fires have destroyed much of it but isolated stands can still be found and huge stumps show the size of the old trees. Logging has continued to flourish although different sawmills have opened and closed over the years.

Before the dams on the Columbia River were built, the Salmo River was heavily stocked with fish, which gave the river it’s original name, The Salmon River. First known as Salmon Siding, the name of the town was changed to Salmo to avoid confusion with other places bearing the same name.

Today Salmo has replaced Ymir as the major center because it lies at the junction of two main highways. Until 1998 Salmo retained its link with the railway through the shunting area and the station, which was one of the few stations still in use.