The Basin Record Newsletter Vol.7 Issue 2

Published by the Columbia Basin Institute of Regional History CBIRH Newsletter : Vol. 7 No.2 We all know about the Brooklyn Bridge in New York State but you’dbe surprised to learn thatwehadour own inbeautiful British Columbia. In 1898, at the foot of the Lower ArrowLakes near Cas- tlegarwas aboomtownof Brooklyn. WilliamParker, aprospector, had ventured into the area in 1896 to stake mining claims that cametonothing. TheCPRfoundhis land to be the ideal location for their head- quarters because the river was accessi- ble to the steamers that would bring in men, supplies, and equipment for con- struction of a tote road for theColumbia & Western (C&W) Railway between Robson and Midway. As hundreds of railway workers moved into the area, Parker realized that he was sitting on a goldmineof sorts and subdivideda town site he later named Brooklyn. The town rose quickly with seventy two buildings including hotels, restaurants, ware- houses and residences. The infant town had a water system, an electric light plantandathreeroomhospital. When the town sitewas still being sur- veyed, and before the first trees were cut, BlackmerandEslingarrivedtosetup the Brooklyn News. It was unusual to have a newspaper in a new frontier town. The first issue was published on June 19, 1898 and was printed weekly. Whilemenwerecutting trees near Shield’s construction camp, one of nature’s wonders was revealed a natural bridge composed of pink granite estimated at 60 feet wide and 100 feet high. It was quickly nick- named the “Brooklyn Bridge.” Brooklyn soon became knownas the liveliest town intheKootenaywithover4000working men. Paydays brought an influx of trouble to the 14 saloons and the various gambling establishments. There were fights almost every night and the occasional murder; so in short order, a Consta- bleAlanForresterwashiredanda largecourtroomand jailbuilt. One notable case occurred in the east end of town, where a gen- tleman from Chicago was being entertained in a red curtained houserunbyLizzieOleson. Heawokethenextmorningwithabad cut on the side of his head and missing a sizable amount of money, around $80. Lizzie Oleson and Sadie Woods were ar- rested and brought before the Justice of thePeace, JudgeCooper. He fined the ladiesa total of $330mostly for selling liquor without a license; they faced a maximum sentencing of six monthsofback-breaking labour. By theendof August, several newstores and the opera house had opened. The opera house, which was 32’ X 62’ show- casedBrooklyn as a progressive town and gavecosmopolitanairs. One very important service that the town was lacking was an efficient post office. Mail was brought in gunny sacks and dumped into boxes in front of Parker’s cabin for everyone to sort through. By October 1, 1898 under the order of Inspector Fletcher, L.M. Living- ston was appointed postmaster and a postofficewasopened inhisstore. Although the growth of the town indicat- ed stability, it became apparent that the CPR would not make Brooklyn a principal town on its rail line. The decline of the town was as swift as its birth; by the summer of 1899, Brooklyn faded to obscurity. Suite# 105 105—9th Ave South, Cranbrook, BC V1C 2M1 Telephone: 1-250-489-9150 | E-mail: Postcard of Brooklyn 0131.0174 St Peters Church, known as The Stolen Church 2279.0001