miner, adventurer - Fred Marshall Wells was born in Whitefield, New
Hampshire on August 4, 1861. There are conflicting reports as to why
Fred ended up in British Columbia in 1882. One story tells of Fred crossing
over the Rocky Mountains from Calgary on an Indian pony "just to see
what lay on the other side of the mountains." Another story says he
came into the Windemere area to look after a ranch owned by a fellow
he met in Calgary, leaving his employer shortly after, to go prospecting.
Either way, his compulsive mining career began, and Fred became one
of the leaders of the Second Cariboo Gold Rush.
energy and spirit, Fred was involved in a variety of mining enterprises
before he came to the future site of Wells - from prospecting on the
Columbia River at Spillamacheen to developing the Nickel Plate Mine
near Rossland. First, he was interested in the Proserpine area in 1922,
but was unable to finance it at the time. The adventure in Wells began
in the same year when William C. Drake, an artist and prospector from
California, ventured to Cariboo Mountain where he found a large outcropping
of quartz on the surface containing gold. He sent a piece of the rock
for assaying which yielded results of $3520
to a ton. Drake then met with a friend who was a broker in Seattle.
The broker arranged for Fred to meet with Drake in the Cariboo to look
at his find. However, Drake did not arrive at the arranged date, and
after a few weeks, when Drake did arrive, Fred Wells had already made
his find on Cow Mountain.
the 'Father of the Cariboo'1 , Fred was
in his sixties when the Cariboo Quartz venture began. His friend, Al
E. Sanders (a resident of Seattle), had taken over three thousand dollars
from the surface of the famous Sanders vein
on Cow Mountain, all on his own. Fred built a cabin on this mountain,
and for the next four years, successfully prospected Al Sanders's claims
and 7 claims adjoining. He did this by the slow method of crushing the
quartz by hand and panning the pulp by washing
the gravel in a pan to separate the gold. He also purchased the 3 claims
known as the Rainbow Group from Sanders, as well as 5 adjoining claims
owned by Charles Law and Bob Clark.
inital belief in these claims produced over three thousand dollars.
With an entrepreneurial spirit, Fred purchased the Rainbow claims at
the northeast end of the lake from Al in 1927. On behalf of the syndicate
formed by Mr. Wells, Dr. Burnett, and Mr. Solibakke, Mr. Sanders received
as payment stock in the newly formed Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Company
Ltd. on February 8, 1927. Sanders was unable to continue with further
development due to poor health, but had great faith in his old friend.
Fred drove the first adit into Cow Mountain
in 1927 at 4,400 feet for the purpose of finding and exploring the Sanders
vein which had been encountered on the surface. The Sanders vein was
not encountered until 2,500 feet from the entrance; however, other gold
bearing veins were discovered during tunnelling.
Cariboo Gold Quartz Company (CGQ), was located at the lower end of Jack
of Clubs Lake, on the far side of Cow Mountain. The CGQ began as a syndicate,
formed in the fall of 1926. It later became a limited
company formed by Dr. Burnett, Mr. Wells,
and Mr. Solibakke. Fred Wells filled the
role of director, and later took the lesser position of manager in order
to pursue other prospects.
with the Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Company, Fred was in charge of all
development and displayed integrity to anyone who met him. Prospecting
was Fred's life and in his pursuit for gold, he became a legend in mining
communities. "...Fred M. Wells, the wizard of the Cariboo"2.
more on Fred follow the arrows...
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