In the fall of 1907 prospectors from Cobalt, discovered silver about five miles from Gowganda. By the beginning of the next year, when word of the discovery reached outside, men from all walks of life, from all over North America were invading the district. Gowganda became the hub and an exciting era began for this isolated community.
Prospectors, miners and investors went to Gowganda by way of rail from North Bay to the end of the line at Charlton. From here they hiked 55 miles (88Kms.) to their destination, through virgin forest, swamps and blizzards. The summer trip started at Latchford on the Montreal River, with many portages they carried their packs and canoes the 56 miles to Elk Lake.
From Elk Lake there was another 28 miles (45Kms.) struggling through the bush and swamps teeming with black flies, deer flies and mosquitos. Camping where they stopped at night under the trees and stars exhausted.
Soon all the area was staked and men were mining for silver. The town sprang up on Gowganda's north shore overnight. Recording office, banks, homes and stores became very busy and prosperous.
In 1909 a road was built and horses were used to haul supplies. The mines started producing and the horses carried away the precious metal. From Elk Lake the new steamer carried it down river to Latchford and then to the train south.
Even by 1922 the road then traversed by ancient trucks were travelling overlogs laid over the muskeg and passengers had to get out and push in many places. The 28 miles took 5 hours.
Prospecting was slowing down by then, but still the mines produced 5,000,000 ounces of silver in 1921.
From then on the population dwindled, few new mines opened and many didn't last. One mine remained open until 1972 after 63 years of almost continuous operation. This was the end of Gowganda as a mining town. People were forced to move out and find new employment elsewhere. Remains of some of the old mines are still around and are well worth exploring and remembering the hardships of the pioneers that settled this area so long ago.
Excerpt taken from Ellen Grimster, GOWGANDA...almost a ghost town Local paper.
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