Monday, December 22, 2008


Trail was first explored in 1808. It’s name comes from the Dewdney Trail built by Edgar Dewdney in 1865. At the time the native people of this area were the Interior Salish Tri be who called themselves Senijextees, and were commonly known as the Lakes Indians. The Dewdney Trail was built for the Wildhorse Gold Fields.
James Forbes wrote the impressive Historical Portraits of Trail (Trail City Archives, 1980) stating that two prospectors , Joe Morris and Joe Bourgeous “staked five claims on a mountain across a narrow creek valley that they were working that straddled the trail. These 5 claims were to become the nucleus of a rich gold-copper lode discovery that gave birth to the cities of Rossland and Trail.” P2-3
The mining legislation of the day only allowed each miner to stake 2 claims so when they travelled to Nelson to record their claims they offered the fifth one to Eugene Sayr Topping in exchange for him paying the recording fee. Forbes wrote that “Col. Eugen Topping…and another American, Frank Hanna, formed a partnership and in June 1892 pre empted 343 acres of flat land at the mouth of Trail Creek….Topping and Hanna continued to promote their townsite to anyone who would listen but Trail Creek Landing was little more than a supply depot and shipping point for the Rossland mining camp up the valley.” ibid P5
Steam powered Sternwheelers travelled the Columbia River – Arrow Lake and Kootenay Lake System before later railway development and road developments. A two seat wagon stage also served the area until cars appeared as early as 1912. In winter sleds or sleighs were used.
In 1895, F. August Heinze, a Montana mining promoter, sent his lieutenant to Trail Creek to scout for a suitable location for a smelter to treat the Rossland Ores. Topping offered Heinze 40 acres of bench land above his townsite and one third interest in the townsite itself. Heinze had secured a contract with the LeRoi Mine to supply ore to the smelter and agreed to Topping’s terms. Construction began on a small copper smelter in late 1895 and in the spring of 1896 a narrow guage tramway from the river through the smelter to the LeRoi Mine in Rossland was begun.” Ibid p9
The smelter remains today. As a result of ecological concerns sulphur emissions were limited early and the ‘greening’ of the valley became a central concern of the people of Trail. Today the valley is a favoured tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts and a recreational wilderness paradise.
Dr. W.T Hoyes, was the first doctor to arrive in 1896 followed by Dr. Douglas Corsan who built Trail’s first hospital at the corner of Cedar Street and Helena Street. In 1906 the building was sold and converted into the Aldridge Hotel. Subsequently Dr. Thom, Coughlin and Ney bought the building back and turned it into a clinic. A second hospital was built by Dr. Frank Patterson kitty corner to the Aldridge. In 1926 a 50 bed hospital was built but the city soon outgrew this so in 1954 the present Trail regional hospital was built at its present site overlooking the Columbia River Valley.( Ibid p63-64)
Today it’s called the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital.
The 12 bed inpatient psychiatric ward is located in the Daly Pavilion.

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