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Anarchist Mountain Sets the Border on Fire

A mountain on the Washington/B.C. border has caught fire - it is called Anarchist Mountain.
Apparently there is a mountain called "Anarchist Mountain" that is right on the border of Washington State and British Columbia that is on fire right now - legend has it that it is so named because it is on the border and is therefore more or less "stateless" and because an anarchist used to live in a cabin at the top.

"The rich strikes at Camp McKinney attracted settlers to the region. At the forks of Nine Mile Creek, almost on the international boundary line, R. (Dick) G. Sidley who came from Ontario and whose brother was professor of English at McGill University took up a homestead in 1885. He gave Anarchist Mountain its name, and established the first post office. He also became the first Customs Officer on the Mountain, and the first Justice of the Peace. A wagon road was cut a distance of eight miles through the timber from Camp McKinney to Sidley in 1893. It was through the Sidley port of entry and over this road that Monahan and King brought in the ten stamp mill for the Cariboo mine at Camp McKinney. "



Washington wildfire threatens to move into B.C.

CTV.ca News Staff

B.C. fire crews are working to contain blazes in the province but may have to rush to the U.S. border. A 22,000 hectare blaze in Washington state could sweep north within days.

"If everything is lined up right, if the fuel is continuous and the terrain is steep and there's sun and wind on it and the fire wants to, it can really romp and stomp," U.S. fire information officer Don Ferguson said.

The Farewell Creek fire is burning a few kilometres from the Canadian border, south of Keremeos.

Fire officials from B.C. met with their U.S. counterparts Thursday to discuss a joint strategy to attack the fire from the north, said Steve Bachop, a spokesman for B.C.'s fire control centre.

The result will likely be agreements to share resources, such as water bombers, and firefighters, he said.

B.C. crews had no shortage of work Thursday. Fires were scorching the steep Rocky Mountain terrain near Golden, B.C. Water bombers were doing most of the work containing the blaze.

Firefighters were also continuing to battle a blaze near the southern B.C. town of Osoyoos.

That fire, on Anarchist Mountain, was about 1,200 hectares and 80 per cent contained due to barriers surrounding most of it, fire information officer Kirk Hughes said.

The blaze had destroyed two buildings but there had been no injuries.

In the Northwest Territories, emergency officials evacuated about 150 people from the town of Norman Wells on Thursday.

An out of control blaze had devoured about 1,600 hectares of brush, and blanketed the region in thick smoke. Crews were struggling to cut a fire break to protect Norman Wells, about 600 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife.

Fire officials said the blaze was about 17 kilometres from the McKenzie River Valley town, home to about 800 people.

While not particularly large at 16 square kilometres, the fire was producing smoke thick enough to harm seniors, children under five and people with respiratory problems.

They were taken north to Inuvik and were to remain in that Arctic community until further notice.

Crews continued to make headway in fighting the blaze, which has not grown in the last few days, and officials said Norman Wells was not in danger.

Fire crews and planes dropping retardant began fighting the blaze Tuesday after it was ignited in an old-growth black spruce forest by a lightning strike the night before.

Meanwhile, tourists in southwest Alberta fled three campgrounds just ahead of a raging wildfire near Pincher Creek. Crews from northern Alberta were called in to reinforce the fire line.

In Manitoba, strong winds were fueling two towering infernos near Thompson. The intense heat and unpredictable shifts in the blazes were hampering fire crews trying to contain the flames. New thunderstorms threaten to spark even more fires.

With a report from Canadian Press

Anarchist Mountain Settlements
By Katie Lacey
(as published in the Okanagan Historical Society's 16th Report, 1952, pp. 112-117.)

The new paved highway from Osoyoos over Anarchist Mountain passes through some of the finest scenery that British Columbia has to offer. As travellers leave the valley floor, lush with orchards and ground crops, they glimpse from the benches desert-like country. A few miles farther, sand and sagebrush, cactus and greasewood are left behind, and green and shady ranges watered by springs and creeks are reached. Here and there are tall trees and a wealth of wild flowers, as well as abundant grass and wild life. Parklike vistas open, and to the west the Cascades rise tier on tier. A few miles farther along, there is beautiful farming country which reaches in places to the summits of the rolling mountains. Grain fields and summer fallow, pastures and patches of evergreens, give the countryside a crazy-quilt effect. These "sidehill ranches" seem almost to stand on end.

This is a large district. Haynes Mountain extends from Osoyoos to Nine Mile Creek. (1) Anarchist Mountain from Nine Mile Creek to Johnson Creek, and the region known as Rock Creek from Johnson Creek to Kettle River.

The rich strikes at Camp McKinney attracted settlers to the region. At the forks of Nine Mile Creek, almost on the international boundary line, R. (Dick) G. Sidley who came from Ontario and whose brother was professor of English at McGill University took up a homestead in 1885. He gave Anarchist Mountain its name, and established the first post office. He also became the first Customs Officer on the Mountain, and the first Justice of the Peace. A wagon road was cut a distance of eight miles through the timber from Camp McKinney to Sidley in 1893. It was through the Sidley port of entry and over this road that Monahan and King brought in the ten stamp mill for the Cariboo mine at Camp McKinney.

The Dewdney Trail which Edgar Dewdney had blazed over the Hope Mountains and over Haynes Mountain and Anarchist Mountain to the gold diggings on Wild Horse Creek was still the only recognized route of transportation. The trail wound around the hill on the south side of Anarchist Mountain, sometimes on the Canadian side of the Boundary and sometimes on the American side, depending on the grade. At the time of the Rock Creek gold rush, Chinamen used to pack in supplies over the Dewdney Trail. Once they were waylaid on American territory and their supplies taken from them. After this experience they made a new trail over the mountain on the Canadian side. This trail was known as China Road.

Charles W. Coss with his wife and three children arrived at Anarchist Mountain in 1894. At Lynden, Washington, they had heard that there was good farming country on the mountain which could be pre-empted. Coss and his brother-inlaw, Johnston, drove several head of cattle in over the Dewdney Trail. Mrs. Coss, holding her baby in her arms, rode horseback over the trail, and the two small children rode another horse. On their way, they heard of the fat cattle which were being driven to the Coast market.

Dave McBride was already in the Sidley district when Jim Kehoe and Zeb Kirby arrived in 1898. Chester Charlton came in 1899, and in the next few years Bill Acres, the Cudworth family, the Graham family, the Higginbottom family, the Kelsey family, the Moriarity family, and Tedrow, Arkinsinger, Goodyear, Letts, Steve Johnson and Martin Kirby arrived.

Manning Cudworth came in the spring of 1895 from Lynden, Washington. That fall he returned to Lynden to get his family. They travelled by train to Okanagan Landing, and from there by horseback to Osoyoos and on to Anarchist Mountain. They settled just a mile north east from the farm of Charles Coss. Manning Cudworth obtained the contract to bring the mail to Sidley from Midway three times a week. He had one horse and a buckboard. He travelled by way of the Hee-Hee stone and Myers Creek down to Rock Creek and along the Kettle River to Midway. The return journey he made the following day. Chester Charlton carried the mail from Sidley to Camp McKinney on a saddle-horse three times a week.

It was possible to take wagons by way of Nine Mile Creek to Oroville, where 0kanagan Smith still had a trading post at his ranch. The wagon trail branched off from the creek, and crossed what was sometimes known as Hayward's Flats, and then crossed into Canada again. It was not until 1910 that the road was built from Osoyoos to Bridesville. Chester Charlton tells of a trip he and Saul Hamilton made to bring two four-horse loads of oats from Sidley to the farm of C. de B. Green, on the west side of the Meadows. They left Sidley early in the morning, followed the wagon trail down Nine Mile Creek, crossed Hayward Flats to Inkameep Creek, and went on to the Shatford ranch where there was a bridge. This distance to this point was about 20 miles. There was a steep pull in heavy sand after the crossing of Inkameep Creek, and halfway up, the stretchers broke and the leaders ran away. After rounding them up, the men had to walk back to Peter Stelkia's farm and get repairs for the harness. When they were ready to start the wheelers had developed cold shoulders and refused to move. It was another hour before they were finally able to get rolling. They crossed the bridge at the Meadows and made Green's just before midnight. Today, this trip takes about 45 minutes by car.

Saul Hamilton's father was one of the original placer miners in the Rock Creek district. In 1904 he staked White's Bar on Rock Creek, and in a short time took out $40,000 in gold.

The first school in the Sidley District was built about 1898. Classes were held in a log cabin near the Coss's while the school house was built. The school stood on a little hill west of the farm, on land donated by Mr. Coss. When it burned down two or three years later, it was immediately rebuilt. The first three teachers were Miss Blake, who came from Bristol, England, Miss Sprague, and Albert Letts, brother of Williarn Letts. Miss Blake after teaching for three years, married Jim McMynn, a rancher of Kettle Valley. Their son, Gordon McMynn, ran as Progressive-Conservative candidate for Grand Forks-Greenwood riding in the last provincial election.

Around 1900, Si (or Cy) Woods took up a ranch on the fourth crossing of Haynes Creek. He built a good sized cabin and barn, put in a crop and a garden with a strawberry patch. He was later joined by his brother. Their place came to be known as "Ideal Ranch", since they were always saying that when their timber was cleared off, it would be an "ideal ranch". Giles' Camp was later located at about the same place.

Several rich strikes had already been made in the Nighthawk district and around Loomis when the Great Northern Railway was building through to Oroville in 1906. Sidley by this time had a store and dance hall, as well as a blacksmith shop and a hotel with a saloon. His store was run by W. J. Sinclair in 1907, and his hotel by Phil and Lena Bedard. The First of July was always celebrated at the "Mountain View Hotel." Two Spokane contractors who had the contract to supply timbers for the bridges, culverts and trestles for the Great Northern Railway bought Sidley's store and some of his land. These Porter brothers, brought in their own sawmill and set it up at Sidley alongside the right-of-way. This settlement, consisting of sawmill, store, hotel and other buildings, was located at the place where Robert Lehman's ranch now is. The Porter brothers, who owned some 20,000 acres of land, ran the mill for almost 20 years. They raised their own horses and used them in logging. After the Great Northern started running, they built a planer mill on the American side of the boundary. There was a heavy duty on dressed lumber at this time, so they sawed their lumber on the Canadian side, and using a belt chute, shoved it across the tracks to the planer on the American side. There it was made into dressed lumber, loaded on cars at the mill, and shipped to Spokane where it brought high prices. The belt chute had to be removed every time the train ran.

Before the coming of the railroad, there was a stopping place at the place where William Patterson now has his ranch. It was built by an elderly man by the name of Gillespie. There was a good-sized building with a large dining room and kitchen downstairs and ten bedrooms upstairs. Across the road, a large barn accommodated travellers' horses. A man by the name of Miller rented this place after Gillespie's death, and later married Mrs. Gillespie. Chester Charlton tells of riding up the road in 1918. The hotel was on fire, and Miller was engaged in throwing from the upstairs windows straw mattresses which were already burning. At the same time, his new suit with $125 in the pockets was left to burn. Later Miller recovered the value of the silver, about $40, although it had all melted and run together.

Bridesville was first known as Maud. This was the name given by the postmaster, Hozie Edwards, in honor of his wife. In 1907 Chester Charlton bought the store which Tom Hanson had built, and Hanson moved to Rock Creek where he opened another store. About the same time, a customs office was opened at Bridesville. Jim Kerr was the first Customs Officer. He stayed only six months until he was transferred to Midway. His successor, Alan Eddy, remained until the office was closed about 15 years ago. The first permanent station agent was William English, a young Englishman. He was the first person to be buried in the present Bridesville cemetery.

About 1910 Dave McBride built part of the Bridesville hotel. He brought the bar down from the "Bucket of Blood" at Camp McKinney and installed it in his hotel. The "Bucket of Blood" obtained its name from the fact that there was supposed to have been a fight in it every night. The bar was built of local tamarac, the front of whipsawed lumber, and the top was a handhewn timber which had been planed down and polished. McBride, in a few years' time, added the dance hall on the northern end of the building, and opened more rooms upstairs. The town took its name, Bridesville, from his.

Immediately south of Bridesville is what is now known as Rock Mountain. Originally it was known as One-Eyed Mountain because the first three settlers, DeLanders, Bozarth and Wilder, were all one-eyed. DeLanders gained local fame because he never changed his overalls, and when he got a new pair, he pulled them over the others. He was known to have had as many as seven pairs on at one time. Bozarth, although an old man, had the real pioneer spirit, and was always in search of new land. He made several trips into the north country, one summer going as far north as Buckley Valley. On one trip he took along Don Alden, who is still a resident of the Rock Creek district. Later Bozarth homesteaded in the Peace River country.

The first school in the Bridesville district was on One-Eyed Mountain. It was built on Joe Johnson's ranch about the year 1902. In 1906 it was moved down the hill to Jim Kelly's ranch. It was located just above the place where Jim Ritchie had the sawmill, the remains of which can still be seen.

During the building of the railroad through the Anarchist Mountain district, there was little excitement. In 1905, however, there was one bad accident, a gang of 40 Italians was drilling a rock cut in the canyon, near the place where William Hatton has his ranch. They drilled into a charge which had not gone off, and seven of them were killed.

Chester Charlton was the first breeder of registered Herefords in British Columbia. In October, 1919, where an auction sale was held at his home ranch at Bridesville, his cattle brought the highest price received up to that time at a private sale in Canada, or on the Pacific coast on both sides of the line. The average price, including that for calves, was $375, and the highest price for a cow was $825. The buyers were chiefly Americans, and the sale totaled over $20,000.

Today the miners have disappeared from Anarchist Mountain, and farming and logging have become mechanized. The loneliness and privations of early ranch life are gone, and the automobile, telephone, radio and airplane have shortened distances.

Note 1. Nine Mile Creek obtains its name from the fact that it was nine miles
from Osoyoos by way of the Dewdney Trail to the place where the trail crossed the creek.