Cariboo Gold Quartz & Island Mountain Mines
The Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine (CGQ) and Island Mountain Mine were the first two lode (hard rock) mines operating in Wells. Both mines had ore-bearing quartz veins containing gold and both had veins that ran almost side by side along each other. The average gold content of the veins was about the same in both mine areas, but the CGQ’s veins were larger both in length and width. As a result, CGQ’s production rate was over twice that of Island Mountain.
Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine
Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine consisted of 15 mineral claims amounting to over 750 acres, extending over a distance of a mile along the rich mineral belt that had fed the placer mining operations of the Barkerville area. The company was established in 1926 by Fred Wells with Dr. William Burnett and O.H. Solibakke. The CGQ claims included the Rainbow Group of three claims previously owned by Al W. Sanders and located on Cow Mountain, west of Lowhee Creek, at an elevation of 4650 feet.
The Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine began successful production January 10, 1933. The first gold brick was produced from this mine in April, 1933 and was shipped out of the Cariboo by Fred Wells. The first “brick” actually consisted of two bricks which together weighed 1410.62 troy ounces and totalled in value $22,116.7719. Over the next seven years, $1,679,968.00 was returned to the shareholders of this mining company.
Profits slowed, however, and shareholders and reporters criticized the management of the Cariboo Gold Quartz Company. The criticisms led to investigations into mining operations and after a favourable report by engineer J. Norman Wynne, R. R. Rose, general manager of Cariboo Gold Quartz, was appointed managing director. Underground development almost tripled by 1935 and, with additional construction, production capacity was increased to 200 tons of ore per day.