The town of Cascade City was constructed as a Canadian Pacific Railway boom town located in the Boundary Country which was alternatively known as the ‘Gateway to the Boundary Country’ due to its close proximity to the Canada-U.S. border in the West Kootenay region.
On this day, in 1899, a fire swept through the area, destroying a large percentage of the town and so here are ten facts about Cascade City:
- It was founded in 1896 and named after the nearby Cascade Falls which occurred on the Kettle River.
- The property in this area was originally owned by Aaron Chandler, an American from North Dakota who, on seeing financial possibility in the area, began to divide the land and sell it off to businessmen.
- The original industries of the town were mining and the construction of rail in the region but the prosperity of the town was further elevated in 1897 when the Cascade Water and Power Company formed an electric dam on the Kettle River in 1897; this supplied electricity to Grand Forks, Phoenix, and Greenwood.
- In its early days, the town only had two buildings which were a general store and a restaurant while its inhabitants stayed in tents.
- However, by 1898, there were 15 hotels along with numerous brothels which were worked by women with remarkable names including ‘Scrap Iron Minnie’ and ‘Rough Lock Nell’.
- It wasn’t until the Doon Gang Tobacco Robbery in 1897, when the gang broke into the general store and made off with 150 pounds of tobacco, that the need for a police force and a jail became evident. In this case, the shop book-keeper had to make the arrest himself and detain the leader in a local carpenter’s home.
- August 12, 1899; the CPR arrived in the town from the Kettle River Bridge to a town-wide celebration complete with $25 worth of refreshments for the railway laborours.
- Unfortunately, only 6 weeks after the arrival of the CPR, a fire swept through the town burning down 6 hotels and several other structures in under an hour. At this time, the town had no fire department and so a firebreak was created by using dynamite on some of the threatened buildings.
- This bad luck continued in 1901 when the rebuilding of the town was disrupted by the outbreak of a second fire.
- After this, all but 75 inhabitants of the town moved on to other locations and the town quickly faded into obscurity.
The town , surprisingly, continued in its reduced capacity for a number of years where it was used as a customs port where, in 1920, it was inhabited by somewhere around 150 residents and consisted of one public building in the form of a store. Today, much of the original town-site is covered by the Christina Lake Gold Club’s course and the only remaining memento of the town itself is the cemetery located on the opposite bank of the river.