Dive into discovery and take the Silvery Slocan history tour.
Trace a loop back in time to where the silver industry built bustling towns overnight. The boom left a colourful legacy now reflected in the modern day villages set against stunning wilderness. The offbeat and laid-back vibe of the route is formed by clear lakes, towering mountains, therapeutic hot springs, scenic winding highways and charming small towns.
Kaslo to Sandon takes you through the mountains (40 min / 43 km). From Highway 31A, Sandon is a 6.3 km drive from Three Forks. New Denver and Silverton is less than 20 minutes further down the highway from the Three Forks turnoff. From Silverton, the highway winds along Slocan Lake and through the Slocan Valley, past the town of Winlaw (35 min / 46 km from Silverton). It eventually winds up at Playmor Junction (25 min / 30 km from Winlaw). Or, head north from New Denver to Nakusp through the scenic north Slocan Valley (35 min / 46 km).
Sandon is known as the ‘Silver City’ or the ‘Heart of the Silvery Slocan’. After the discovery of vast amounts of galena in 1891, it became the center of silver-lead production with over 5,000 residents. Sandon was the terminus of two railways; the Kaslo & Slocan Railway and the Canadian Pacific backed Nakusp & Slocan Railway. Both raced to build their way to Sandon and ship out the freshly mined silver.
The ghost town of Sandon still has old buildings and artifacts left behind after the silver rush and the fleeting prosperity that came with it. Today, with only a handful of residents as caretakers, the remaining buildings include the 1897 Powerhouse and the City Hall from 1900, both available for viewing. The Prospector’s Pick Café is open seasonally for snacks and coffee. The Sandon Museum is open seasonally and operated by the Sandon Historical Society. Both railways that served the town have been dismantled and turned into hiking trails, leaving traces of a rich mining history dotted along the paths.
Located a kilometre up the road from Sandon is the old mining town of Cody. In its day, Cody was home to about 250 people, mostly employed by the Noble Five Mine. Surrounding Cody are several old mine sites including the Slocan Sovereign, Noble Five, Noonday and American Boy mines. Today, multiple ruins and the still standing Noble Five office are what is left.
A short drive from Sandon is New Denver and Silverton, also former silver boomtowns. Visitors to the Silvery Slocan Museum and Silverton Gallery can relive the silver mining rush. The 100 year old museum features exhibits on the area’s heritage, including its mining, logging and agricultural history, as well as the recently restored Lancet motor launch.
At the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre visitors learn the history of Japanese Canadians held in the Slocan Valley during World War II.
Take the Slocan History Walk and learn about the Village of Slocan’s colourful past. This walking tour takes explorers past the beginnings of Slocan’s community and the significant developments along the way. It’s about the people who built and re-built the community through resilience and determination. Many of the buildings are now missing, but the sites remain. The walking story of the Village of Slocan is certainly an interesting one!
Download the Slocan History Walk Guidebook
After the Slocan Valley widens at Summit Lake, Nakusp can be found situated on Arrow Lakes. In the early days without roads or railway, Nakusp was only connected by paddle wheelers on the shipping route with Castlegar and Revelstoke. Low water and ice made this route challenging.
With the discovery of silver in Sandon, the Nakusp and Slocan Railway (N&S) was built in 1895. Operated by Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), it connected Nakusp to New Denver and Sandon. CPR later took over the Kaslo & Sandon (K&S) railway and re-built the line to properly connect Nakusp to Kalso in 1913.
Two steamship services operated during this time. One located on Arrow Lakes at Nakusp, connected Nakusp to the CPR mainline at Revelstoke. The second on Slocan Lake at Rosebery, connected with the CPR’s Columbia and Kootenay (C&K) Railway at Slocan City. The N&S railway also served as a connection between the CPR’s C&K railway connecting to Nelson, the smelter at Trail and other points.
Arrow Slocan’s history has left clues to its past on the landscape. Discover more through a visit to some of the region’s museums and historical locations.
Sandon Historical Site & Museum
The Sandon townsite is never closed and outdoor exhibits may be viewed at any time. From late spring to early fall the Silversmith Power & Light Generating Station, Prospector’s Pick Cafe cafe/gift shop/visitor centre and City Hall are open for inside visitors. The Sandon Museum is at the end of Slocan Star Street and before the Idaho Peak Road service road.
Museum and Historical Society 1-833-501-1700