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  • The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
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Visit the Sandon Ghost Town

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Considered as being one of the true classic ghost towns of west, Sandon is the focal point of B.C.’s famed Valley of the Ghosts.At one time boasting a population of 10,000, Sandon was the prime mineral (silver, lead and zinc) mining community in the valley, five miles off the main Highway 31A.An unusual feature of the town was that its main street was the boarded over flume of Carpenter Creek, eventually crushed and washed away by devastating floods. The last major flood was in 1955 and the town was essentially destroyed and never fully recovered again. Today, mangled piles of timber, once the main street, are still littered all over. Besides scores of hotels and saloons, the town once boasted a city hall building, opera house, library, community hall, post office, which closed in 1962, leaving Sandon a ghost town.In recent years, the town — which now has a permanent population of 15 residents —has made a slow recovery after receiving provincial heritage protection.Scores of old abandoned houses and buildings, as well as mine machinery and parts, are still visible everywhere in the valley, including many tucked in nearby woods.Today, visitors can also visit a well-stocked and fascinating private museum, a souvenir shop and the Tin Cup Cafe; all immensely popular with tourists and ghost towners. Submitted by: Johnnie Bachusky

The town of Sandon was born April 7, 1892 when J.M."Johnny" Harris uncovered a fabulous vein of silver. He was born in Virginia and spent his early boyhood in the tobacco and cotton fields. Still only a boy, he left Virginia and wound up in Idaho in 1884 where he worked in the gold mines. He discovered he had a talent for selling real estate and opened an office. It was there a prospector from the North Country brought him a piece of ore shining with veins of silver. That was all it took for Johnny Harris to know where he must go-and he headed for the North Country. His goal was the outpost camp of New Denver, 35 miles up Slocan Lake. From there he started hiking up the Sandon River and reached the Carpenter Creek tributary and started digging. Almost at once, he discovered the vein of silver. The date was April 7, 1892. The city grew to a population of 3,000, the only city of any size in the otherwise unpopulated mountains. The town had much to offer its residents. Plush hotels, the Miner's Union Hall with a hardwood dance floor and stage for entertainment, two newspapers, two banks, drug stores, mercantile stores and the usual compliment of saloons. All was going well until May 3, 1900 when a fire was started by a lighted cigarette carelessly dropped into a wastebasket. The entire business section burned to the ground including all hotels, theaters, banks and stores. More than fifty buildings were destroyed. Sandon would never have been rebuilt had it not been for Johnny Harris who refused to let the town die. Even though the city had seen its best days, Harris kept it going by financing some slipping mines. The end was in sight in everyone's eyes except Johnny Harris. He was still full of faith that his city would make a comeback when he died there in 1953 at the age of 89. Sandon today is peaceful. There a few buildings still standing and a trip to Sandon is worthwhile.