For anyone that is interested in recreational gold prospecting and nugget hunting, let me suggest you head up to the Cariboo in British Columbia. For those who aren't familiar with this area of Canada, let me give you some background. The Cariboo is historically known for the 1862 Gold Rush that came up the Fraser River. The Cariboo Regional District spans the cities and districts of Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100-Mile House, and Wells in the central interior of British Columbia. There is a circle route from Likely, B.C. to Barkerville, B.C. that's about 160 km, with Barkerville as our target for this trip back into history.
Map of the "Back Road" in the Cariboo
You will drive past Ghost Lake coming from Likely. As you round a corner, there is a cafe in the middle of nowhere at Comet Creek. This is one of the most scenic routes in the province as you drive through the Cariboo Mountains. There is open ground everywhere for prospecting and gold panning, however, check that you are not claimed land. The best way to do this is to contact Energy Mines and Resources before your trip. There are large tracks of land set aside for public panning. When you dip your pan in the water at one of the many Public Panning Reserves and spot the tiny flecks of gold, you begin to understand why tens of thousands fought through all manner of pain and malady to get to it and why they still seek it today.
Gold fever gripped the world a century-and-a-half ago, and it never really left. In fact, nuggets are still being found near Wells, only 5 miles from Barkerville in central B.C. One prospector with in shows a $6,000 nugget he unearthed, which he refuses sell.
The gold nugget a prospector unearthed near Barkerville, B.C.
Barkerville, now a national historic site, was named after Billy Barker: the man who kicked off the gold rush in 1862 when he and his pals hit the mother lode in Williams Creek. Their find ignited a 20-year multi-billion dollar industrial revolution and the arrival of treasure-seeking hordes. The payoff to Billy and friends in today’s dollars at today’s gold prices, would be more than $2.5 billion.
A current resident of the area says, "It’s a thrill to find gold but it’s more than that. It’s like fishing: the activity is the joy. Placer mining is romantic, which is why it keeps attracting people.”
For tourists, there’s a lot of enjoyment in discovering a part of Canada they might know little about. If you want a peek back 150 years, it’s right here in historic Barkerville. More than 140 historic buildings line the streets, most in their original locations. Folks in period clothing, stagecoach rides, mining demonstrations, restaurants and live theatre are right in the heart of the Gold Rush. There are plenty of B&B’s as well. You can literally touch history from one end of town to the other.
Barkerville is a host to many tourists because of its historical relevance.
So grab your Gold Rush Nugget Bucket and get out to Barkerville and the Cariboo for your next prospecting adventure!
For more information about Barkerville, check us out!