500 miles now completed

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Telegrapher

New York, NY, United States
vol. 2, no. 33, p. 171, col. 2-3




AMONG the passengers by the Hudson Bay Company's steamer Otter, which arrived on Thursday, was Major F. L. Pope, assistant engineer of the Western Union Telegraph Company, who has just returned from an overland exploration between the Fraser and Stekin Rivers, accompanied by Mr. George Blenkinsop, of this city, and two Indians from the interior. Major Pope left Victoria on May 27th, 1865, with a party of some twenty-five men, who were engaged during the summer in exploring and opening a trail between Quesnelmouth and Nakosla, or Stuart Lake. A portion of the party returned at the close of the season, and the remainder established a post and wintered at the northern end of Lake Tatla, a beautiful sheet of water sixty miles in length, from which flows the north-western arm of the Fraser. The establishment was named Bulkly House, in honor of Col. C. S. Bulkley, Engineer-in-Chief of the Telegraph Company. The weather at Bulkley House, which is situated in latitude 56 north, was very fine during the winter, though extremely cold, the mercury freezing for several days in succession about the middle of January.

As soon as the snow became in any degree practicable for traveling, three exploring parties were sent out. One of these, under Captain J. L. Butler, left Bulkley House on January 2d, and reached New-Westminster, via Fort Simpson, a few days since. Another party in charge of Dr. J. P. Rothrock is engaged in exploring the country about the head of Finlay River. Major Pope and party left Lake Tatla on February 19th for Stekin River, accompanied by a small dog train carrying provisions. No guide could be procured, and little or no knowledge of the country obtained, as none of the Indians had ever been . . . [illegible text] . . . in that direction. The little party notwithstanding pushed boldly forward into the unknown wilderness, taking a course as nearly northwest as the country would admit. A fine valley was found leading in this general direction for nearly one hundred and seventy-five miles, terminating in a beautiful prairie. A small stream, a yard in width, flowing from this prairie, proved to be the source of the Stekin River. The utmost difficulty was experienced in penetrating as far as this point, owing principally to the softness and great depth of the snow, which was five, and in many places even ten feet in depth, rendering traveling on snow shoes a matter of great difficulty. The explorers, in addition to drawing the dog-sledge themselves, were frequently obliged to carry the dogs, the snow being so light that the animals were actually unable to make their way through it. But perseverance finally conquered all obstacles, and after reaching the head of Stekin River the traveling greatly improved.

The party followed the river, which is extremely crooked, as far as the head of the canon. The latter was partially avoided by passing over the plateau on the north side. The explorers reached Buck's Bar on the 20th of April, and finding the river broken up below, they built a boat and came down to the mouth, which they reached the day before the Otter left. The whole distance traversed on snow-shoes was but little short of five hundred miles, and the greater portion of the country explored has never been visited by the white man. The party were out seventy days from the time of leaving Bulkley House until they reached the Otter.

Major Pope reports a fine country on the Upper Stekin, and on the 1st of April, when he passed, the snow had completely disappeared from the benches on each side of the river. But very few Indians were met with, and these treated the voyagers with the utmost hospitality. Two miners, James Shoff and J. Hoagland, wintered at Buck's Bar, and were out on a prospecting tour, from which they returned the day after the telegraph party arrived there. They report gold in paying quantities in a number of places, were it not for the difficulty of getting in provisions. They are making good wages in their own claim at Buck's Bat [sic] Bar. Two boats with some half-a-dozen miners were also met coming up the river, with provisions and tools. Only one or two houses are now standing on the former site of Shakesville.

The route surveyed by Major Pope is understood to be extremely favorable for the speedy construction of the telegraph. The distance from New-Westminster to the point where the line will cross Stekin River is about ten hundred and fifty miles, nearly five hundred of which is already completed, and the work will be pushed forward during the present season with great energy. - British Colonist.


Keywords:Collins Overland Telegraph
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:December 20, 2005 by: Elton Gish;