The Sparwood Museum and a group of devoted locals are moving forward with restorations to the historic Hosmer Mine Site, striving to make it safe and accessible for the public in an effort to showcase the Elk Valley’s extensive mining history.
Project leaders are currently in the process of securing funding for the restoration, with priorities being to clear out brush from the sites and trails, developing a parking area, and implementing proper signage.
“Our goal continues to be celebrating the history of mining in the valley and the life that it has provided for people here, (and) the Hosmer project is one more important piece of the story,” said Joanne Wilton, president of the Sparwood Heritage Society.
“The Sparwood Museum has taken the project under our wing to help ensure the landmark is made safe and available for people to visit and celebrate. We are excited to add the Hosmer site to our story.”
The Hosmer Mine Site is located 10 kilometres North of Fernie B.C. along the Great Canadian Trail. Established in the early 1900’s as a key supplier of coke to the Canadian Pacific Railway’s (CPR) smelter in Trail B.C., the site was discontinued shortly after its inception, leaving behind the ruins of a tipple, dozens of coke ovens, a boiler house, machine shops, a cemetery, and a powerhouse.
According to Hosmer resident and restoration spearheader, Fred Lightfoot, though efforts to restore Hosmer’s mine site have been unsuccessful in the past, the future is promising.
“It’s a great project for the valley and in the times we’re in right now it’s an ideal time for the project,” said Lightfoot.
“We are the last remaining place to tell the real history of this valley, and if we let it slip, down the road people will never forgive us for it.”
According to Lightfoot, there have been a number of attempts to restore site features throughout the years – including a significant amount of brush clearing carried out over last summer.
Should upcoming restoration efforts be successful, Lightfoot dreams of one day turning the central building into a mining museum, and establishing an all-season path around the site for residents to walk, showshoe and skate on.
“To get around the site you could spend a couple of days, so the idea was to turn it not just into a central area to tell the history of mining in the Elk Valley, but also for other recreational use,” said Lightfoot, adding that a mining museum would open the door to historical tourism within the valley.
According to Wilton, the Sparwood Museum is currently working on creating a walking tour app for the mine site, hoping to have it completed by summer 2021.
For more information on the Hosmer Heritage Restoration Project, contact the Sparwood Museum.