Slumach’s Lost Mine: The Elusive Cursed Fortune of Pitt Lake

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Written By Monica

Nestled in the southwest corner of British Columbia, Canada, lies the mysterious Pitt Lake. Its deep blue waters stretch for 14 miles and are surrounded by rugged mountain terrain and lush green forests. But Pitt Lake is more than just a picturesque location. It’s a place steeped in gold history and connected to the famous gold rich Fraser River and the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.

In the mid-1800s, prospectors flocked to the Fraser River in search of riches, igniting one of the biggest gold rushes in North American history. But it wasn’t just the Fraser River that held potential for gold mining. The surrounding mountains were also believed to hold rich deposits, and rumors of lost mines and hidden treasures quickly spread.

One of the most enduring legends is that of Slumach’s Lost Gold Mine, a mythical mine said to be hidden somewhere in the rugged terrain surrounding Pitt Lake. For over a century, treasure hunters, adventurers, and even experienced prospectors have searched for the elusive mine, but it remains shrouded in mystery and controversy.

An old map of British Columbia Gold Country

Through the years numerous books and TV shows have covered Slumach’s Lost Gold Mine, including Dead Man’s Curse on the History Channel. While many of them cover the basics, it’s in the details where theories and myths diverge.

Despite the many claims and theories, no one has found Slumach’s Lost Mine, and its existence remains unproven. But its allure continues to captivate the imagination of adventurers and treasure hunters, who are drawn to the rugged beauty and rich history of Pitt Lake and the surrounding wilderness.

Pitt Lake watershed Credit: BC Parks Foundation

The terrain in this area is treacherous, with jagged peaks and deep, shadowy valleys that seem to swallow up the unwary. It is a place of daunting natural beauty, but also one of great danger and mystery. Despite this, many have braved the wilds in search of the fabled mine, drawn by the lure of gold and the promise of untold wealth.

Slumach lost gold mine

Slumach – Credit 1939 article by C.V. Tench. Montreal Standard, November 25, 1939

But the search for Slumach’s Lost Gold Mine has proved elusive and deadly, with countless adventurers lost or vanished without a trace in their quest to uncover its secrets. For generations, tales of its location and the curse placed upon it by Slumach, a First Nations man accused of murder, have passed from one intrepid explorer to the next, inspiring both awe and fear in those who dare to tread where so many have met their end.

The Curse of Slumach

According to legend, Slumach was a member of the Katzie First Nations tribe. A tribe who had been living in the rugged wilderness of the area now known as British Columbia long before any European settlers arrived. The legend goes that in the late 1800s, Slumach discovered a rich vein of gold in the mountains near Pitt Lake, which he fiercely guarded until he was eventually caught and hanged for murder in 1891.

Before he was executed, Slumach is said to have muttered a curse on anyone who dared to search for his gold mine: “Nika memloose, mine memloose.” Loosely translated from the Chinook language, the words mean, “When I die, the mine dies.” The curse quickly became well-known in the area and many have come to believe that the curse is real and that anyone who tries to find the mine will meet with misfortune or even death.


“Nika memloose, mine memloose.”
(*When I Die, The Mine Dies)

— Slumach, translated from Chinook

But who was Slumach and why was he hanged? Slumach entered written history in September 1890, when he shot a “half-breed” known as Louis Bee or Louie Bee at what is now known as Addington Point on the west shore of Pitt River, opposite Sturgeon Creek. After being captured and tried, Slumach was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.

Legend has it that during his execution, Slumach was wearing a medicine bag around his neck which contained the location of his gold mine. However, before he was hanged, he tore the bag from his neck and threw it into the crowd, cursing anyone who tried to find his mine.

The curse of Slumach and the mysterious location of his gold mine have captured the imaginations of treasure hunters and adventurers for over a century, with many risking their lives in search of the legendary lost mine. But how many of these adventurers were successful, and what happened to those who failed?

The Lost Mine’s Dark Toll: Those Who Never Returned

Since Slumach’s curse was uttered, many people have ventured into the mountains in search of his lost mine, only to meet with tragedy. Most accounts are rumors and legends repeated by locals like a game of telephone, new details added with each retelling without any concrete proof. But isn’t that usually how the best legends are created and carried on through the years?

In 1897, a man named William Snyder arrived in Pitt Lake with a team of prospectors, hoping to find the mine. They set up camp at a spot known as Snyder’s Landing, and began exploring the surrounding mountains. One day, Snyder and his partner went out to scout a nearby area, but only Snyder returned. He claimed that his partner had been killed by an unknown assailant, and he himself had narrowly escaped. Despite a search party being sent out, no trace of Snyder’s partner was ever found.

Pitt Lake Gold

In 1911, a group of prospectors led by a man named Franklin Latimere arrived in the area, determined to find the lost mine. They set up camp at Pitt Lake and spent several weeks exploring the mountains, but one by one they began to fall ill. Eventually, only Latimere was left alive, and he barely managed to make it back to civilization. He claimed that the others had been poisoned, but no evidence was found to support his story.

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In 1932, a prospector named Stan McDonald set out with his partner to search for the lost mine. They had some success at first, but soon encountered a series of mishaps and setbacks. McDonald’s partner eventually left, and he continued on alone. However, he was never seen again. A search party was sent out, but no trace of McDonald was ever found.

These are just a few of the many tragedies that have occurred in the search for Slumach’s lost mine. As more and more people ventured into the mountains, the legend only grew stronger, and the curse seemed to claim more victims.  

Despite the various misadventures and tragedies, many have continued to search for the lost mine, some even claiming to have found it. However, these claims have never been proven, and those who made them have met mysterious and deadly fates.

The Jackson Letter

As the legend of Slumach’s Lost Mine grew in popularity, so too did the stories of those who claimed to have discovered the elusive gold mine. One such person was a man named John Jackson, a veteran Alaskan prospector who set out for the Pitt Lake area in 1903, armed with little more than a map and a dream.

This is reported to be the original Jackson Letter written by John Jackson telling where to find Slumach’s Lost Mine

According to accounts from the time, Jackson returned three months later with a very heavy pack-sack and deposited $8,700 in gold in the bank in San Francisco. Before he died Jackson sent a letter and a map with the information about the location of the treasure to a friend in Seattle called Shotwell.

The letter, which has come to be known as the Jackson Letter, has been the subject of much speculation and intrigue among those searching for Slumach’s Lost Mine. Some believe that the letter provides the most reliable clues yet to the location of the mine, while others argue that it is a fake or a red herring designed to throw would-be treasure hunters off the scent.

Despite the debate, there is no doubt that the Jackson Letter remains a tantalizing piece of the Slumach’s Lost Mine puzzle. It describes the mine as being located on a ridge overlooking a lake, with a creek running through the valley below. The letter also mentions a series of rock formations, including one that resembles a human face, which are said to be key landmarks for anyone seeking to find the mine.

As for John Jackson himself, it’s said that the harsh conditions he endured while searching for the gold took their toll on his health and he was unable to get back to Slumach’s Lost Mine to recover the rest before he died.

The legacy of John Jackson and the Jackson Letter continues to influence treasure hunters and adventurers to this day, as they set out to unravel the mysteries of Slumach’s Lost Mine and unlock the secrets of the untold riches that may lie buried beneath the jagged rocks and unforgiving landscape of Pitt Lake.

Claims and Curses: Unproven Discoveries

Inspired by the Jackson Letter, another well known gold prospector would unsuccessfully search for Slumach’s Lost Mine before falling victim to its curse. 

Robert Allan Brown, also known as “Doc Brown,” was a larger-than-life figure and local legend in British Columbia during the early 20th century. He earned his nickname “Volcanic Brown” due to his fiery personality and enthusiasm for prospecting. Despite being almost 80 years old, Brown embarked on an annual pilgrimage to the Pitt Lake area to search for the elusive lost mine.

“Volcanic” Brown (left), A.H. Larder (right) in front of their cabin at Lightning Peak, near Edgewood, B.C. Credit: Arrow Lakes Historical Society

In 1926, Brown guided a group of Americans on a prospecting expedition in the area around Stave Glacier, which led them to discover deposits of rich mineral-bearing ore high in copper and gold. Although the four men returned to the area around Pitt Lake in mid-August, Brown stayed behind to search for the lost gold mine. 

Unfortunately, he was caught in a blizzard while crossing the Stave Glacier in early September, suffering from frostbite in his legs. Despite amputating his left small toe with a hunting knife, Brown was unable to get down to the community at Pitt Lake unaided and stayed in his cabin for three weeks before being rescued by a search party. This close brush with death did little to dissuade Volcanic Brown from continuing his search each year.

Volcanic Brown continued his annual explorations in the mountains north of Pitt Lake for several years without any reported success. In 1931, he went missing again, and a search party was sent to find him. Unfortunately, the search was hampered by bad weather and proved fruitless, without the men finding the famous prospector. 

What they did find though has lead to decades of speculation. When the men found Volcanic Brown’s camp on Stave Glacier, they also found 11 oz of gold nuggets leading many to speculate that he had actually found the lost mine.

Volcanic Brown’s larger-than-life personality and reputation as a seasoned prospector earned him a place in the annals of British Columbia’s gold rush history. Many claimed he was yet another victim to Slumach’s Curse. 

Alfred George Gaspard from the Vancouver Sun, August 17, 1949

Alfred George Gaspard, a seasoned prospector, logger, and farmer, had tried his hand at a frog farm in 1939, but it didn’t seem to pan out. In the summer of 1950, Gaspard ventured out to the upper Pitt River area in search of gold, but he never returned. 

Gaspard was dropped off by helicopter north of Alvin, with enough provisions to last until the snow started falling. When he failed to appear in the fall, the RCMP initiated a search in February 1951. Unfortunately, the snow had already covered any potential trace of Gaspard, and the search yielded no results. 

In June, when the snow had melted, the RCMP carried out another two-week ground-and-air search, which also proved to be unsuccessful. In autumn of the same year, an RCMP constable and a guide launched a five-day quest for Gaspard’s whereabouts. The terrain was rough even for the seasoned men, the weather was rainy, making the search hazardous, and ultimately, no trace was found of Gaspard. Had an accident in the inhospitable wilderness resulted in his death or had Slumach’s Curse claimed yet another victim?

The Province, September 2, 2007page B4 The Unwind Section credit: In Search of Slumach

Undaunted by any supposed curse, wealthy American businessman, John V. Hunt became obsessed with finding Slumach’s Lost Mine. In 1956, he claimed to have finally discovered the mine, and returned to the United States with several gold nuggets as proof of his discovery.

However, when he attempted to return to the area to further explore the mine, he mysteriously disappeared. His car was found abandoned near the Pitt River, and despite an extensive search, his body was never found. 

Despite many people over the years claiming to have found Slumach’s gold mine, no one has been able to provide conclusive proof of its existence. Some have even met a mysterious and untimely demise, leading to speculation that the curse placed on the mine by Slumach himself may indeed be real. While these claims of discovery may be unproven, the allure of finding a lost treasure worth millions of dollars continues to draw adventurous treasure hunters to the rugged mountains and dense forests of the area.

A Mystery Still Unsolved

The story of Slumach and the lost mine is more than just a tale of a lost gold mine. It’s a story of greed, violence, and the allure of riches. It’s a story of the enduring power of myth and legend where fact and fiction blends together.

For over a century, countless individuals have been lured into the rugged wilderness of the Pitt River region, seeking to unlock the secrets of Slumach’s lost mine. Some have disappeared without a trace, while others have met untimely deaths, their bodies discovered under mysterious circumstances. Yet despite the dangers and the odds, the allure of the treasure persists, drawing new generations of adventurers into the wild.

Aerial View of Pitt Lake Credit: Flightlog on Flickr

Perhaps the true treasure of Slumach’s lost gold mine is not the gold itself, but the stories and legends that have grown around it. They are a testament to the enduring power of the human imagination and the allure of the unknown. And while the mine may never be found, the mystery and magic of its legend will continue to captivate and inspire for generations to come.

In the end, Slumach and his gold mine remain shrouded in mystery, their secrets locked away in the rough, untamed wilderness of the southern Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. But the story of Slumach’s Lost Gold Mine goes on, a testament to the enduring power of myth and the allure of adventure. 

Who knows what other secrets and treasures lie hidden in the wilds of the land? The search continues, and the legend of Slumach’s lost gold mine lives on.

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Monica

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2 thoughts on “Slumach’s Lost Mine: The Elusive Cursed Fortune of Pitt Lake”

  1. Hi, I emailed recently asking for information on some of the mentioned characters in this article. I’ve not had any reply. And I’d welcome hearing back. I can be reached at either of the email addresses I’ve left.

    And I’d welcome having the author’s email, if that’s possible, as then we can exchange ideas directly.

    Thank you,

    Rick

    Reply
  2. Rick, did you ever get any information from these guys? I only hope so. This is really an interesting story. I love stories like this, and I never miss an episode of “the curse of oak island”. Maybe we’re all just dreamers! 🙂

    Reply

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