Cariboo Gold Rush BC's most famous GOLD RUSH to the remote, isolated Cariboo Mts region occurred between 1860, when prospectors drawn from the FRASER RIVER GOLD RUSH discovered free gold on the Horsefly R, and 1863, when international publicity given to news of the rich payload found near bedrock at BARKERVILLE in 1862 drew a large and diverse mix of miners, gold-seekers and adventurers into the former fur-trading territory of the CHILCOTIN and CARRIER. The most promising discoveries of free gold were made at Williams, Lightning and Lowhee creeks, but the former proved the richest; hence it became the centre of mining operations for the district. Here (125 km SE of Prince George), in a canyon with a narrow, steep-sided and isolated creek bed, a trio of supply, service and administrative towns - Richfield, Camerontown and, the only one to outlast the mining boom days, BARKERVILLE - were established.
Barkerville's deep placers and rich hillside deposits were worked from 1864 to the 1930s. This required the use of expensive and complex technology, including hydraulic monitors which directed jets of water to wash the gold-bearing hillsides into sluice boxes, and the development of a more permanent mining community. Placer gold production in the Cariboo approximated $50 million, about one-half the BC total since 1858.