FORT STEELE HERITAGE TOWN
A restored 1890’s gold rush boom town, located in the east Kootneys, 10 miles NE of Cranbrook, BC.
The town was founded in 1864 by John Galbraith and originally called ‘Galbraith’s Ferry’. John had built the only ferry across the Kootney River within hundreds of miles and consequently charged very high prices to travel on it!
In 1888, legendary lawman Sam Steele, with the North West Mounted Police, arrived in the area. He solved a dispute between a settler who had unjustly accused a local First Nation’s man of murder. Steele could find no evidence of the crime and had the charges dropped. This eased the tensions between the town and the native people and everyone was so grateful they renamed the town after him!
The town itself was never an actual ‘fort’, that part of the name came from the North West Mounted Police setting up a station in town.
This restored water wheel was originally situated at the Perry Creek Gold Mine, 25 km west of Fort Steele. The wheel turned two electric generators that pumped 600 gallons per minute of water from the mine!!
This is a replica of the original look-out tower, which burnt down in 1982.
They have laid out the town to show life in the early days, complete with horse drawn carriages and bakeries! In the summer season you can observe blacksmiths at work, pan for gold, eat at the restaurant and talk to many people who volunteer their time to dress in period costumes and reenact life as it was!
We highly recommend the cinnamon buns at the bakery, and get a loaf of their ‘hot out of the oven’ sour dough bread!!! The loaf is huge and soooo good!!
There are still some of the original old buildings on the property, which they have not restored.
As well as this one across the way!
And what is it about visiting these historic places that make you want to shoot in black and white! I guess it just feels more authentic!
Of course, you must have a church!
In the late 1890’s the Canadian Pacific Railroad was moving into the area and promised Fort Steele it would be ‘on the line’. Ultimately the railroad chose to run their line 10 miles NE of the town, in Cranbrook, bi-passing Fort Steele completely. Soon residents of Fort Steele were taking advantage of the great land deals being offered in Cranbrook and Fort Steele was eventually abandoned.
Soon it was time to head on down the road again! Next stop, Waterton National Park, AB!
Until next time…….