The small village of Salmo, to the east of Trail in the Kootenays region of British Columbia, is another of the booming mining towns whose prosperity was curtailed by a decline in gold and mineral mining successes.
Originally named Salmon Siding on the Nelson & Fort Sheppard Railway, Salmo began its existence as a railway siding before growing into a small town. The small communities of Ymir and Erie sprang up to the north and west, and Salmo soon became a centre for supplies and entertainment, thriving and humming on a Friday night after a local gold strike.
As local mines began to play out, local miners turned to the forest for a living. With the growth in the neighbouring communities of Nelson and Trail, the demand for lumber grew. Today, Salmo remains a community of forest workers, and the pretty town features heritage wooden buildings from the 1920s and 1930s, and streets adorned with colourful hanging flower baskets in summer.
Salmo is a quaint and interesting little town that has visitors arriving every year to sightsee in the old downtown, and relax in the mountains and trails around the region. In 1990, students of Salmo’s Kootenay Stone Masonry Training Institute produced seven murals made of local stone, all designed by Charlotte Plainden, on buildings throughout the community. Stroll down Salmo’s Main Street to view these unique stone murals depicting Salmo’s lively and spirited past.
Back in the days before hydroelectric dams, salmon used to run up the Columbia River and into the Salmo River (latin for salmon).
Location: Salmo is located at the junction of Highway 3B and Highway 6 in the southern Kootenays, 26 miles (42 km) east of Castlegar, 29 miles (46 km) south of Nelson, and approximately 50 miles (80 km) west of Creston.
Murals: Adorning the exterior walls of many of the downtown buildings, are striking stone murals carved by Salmo students. Depicting the history of the area, these unique works of art have been carved out of locally quarried stone.
Visit the displays on local history at the small Salmo Museum, on the corner of Railway Avenue and Forest Street, open daily in summer.
Need to call home? Drop a quarter into the World’s Oldest Telephone Booth, carved out of a huge cedar tree log.
Eight kilometres south of Salmo, follow Sheep Creek Road to the Sheep Creek Mines. The old abandoned gold mines and mining towns, dating from before the turn of the century until the 1950s, include Kootenay Bell, Reno, Goldbelt and Queens.
Golf: The 9-hole Salmo District Golf Club on Airport Road, 3kms south of downtown Salmo, features flat and wide open fairways. The relatively short holes are complimented by small elevated greens that will even challenge seasoned pros. The par 3 holes play very tough, and the lone 550-yard monster par 5 will make even the longest hitters shake their heads. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Winter Activities: Winter vacationers head to the Salmo Ski Hill, which provides groomed runs, gently sloping runs, moguls, steep slopes, pristine powder, racing courses, a half pipe for snowboarders, a bunny hill, and cross country ski trails.
When the snow starts flying, powderhounds flock to Nelson’s legendary ‘bottomless powder’ at Whitewater Ski Resort, a popular spot for snowboarders and cross-country skiers a short drive from Nelson. Nelson’s community Ski Hill, Morning Mountain, also offers great family and beginners skiing.
Dewdney Trail: Look for signs of the historic Dewdney Trail that ran between Hope, at the east end of the Fraser Valley, and Wildhorse, near Creston in the East Kootenays. Although much of the original 4 foot wide pathway that Edgar Dewdney blazed in 1865 has been neglected, its still possible to hike portions of it that have been maintained between Christina Lake and Rossland. Dewdney was a young civilian surveyor who was originally hired by Colonial-Governor Douglas in 1860 to build a trail between Hope and the gold fields in the Okanagan Valley region. With the discovery of gold in Stud Horse Creek (later named Wild Horse Creek), Dewdney was asked to extend the trail east to Wildhorse in 1865. With help from the weather, he was able to complete the route from the Kootenays in five months. Dewdney’s legacy can be touched in several places and by several modes of exploration. In addition to hiking, you can drive a section of the trail as Hwy 3B passes through Trail, which takes its name from the Dewdney Trail.
Shambhala Music Festival is a celebration of music, art and life held annually in early August on the 500-acre working Salmo River Ranch in Salmo. The festival features six uniquely themed stages each managed by their own Stage Director. With ten thousand guests and a crew of two thousand workers and volunteers operating during showtime, the bustling ‘city’ of Shambhala becomes the largest city in the West Kootenays for five days each summer. Electronic sound, DJs, performers, lasers and visuals add to a sensory world that defines Shambhala Music Festival. Wander art galleries, the festival market, nibble good eats or soak in the river. The world of Shambhala is the stuff of legend.
North of Salmo is the small town of Ymir, originally known as Quartz Creek, and named after the father of all giants in Scandinavian mythology, whom Odin slew to make the world from his bones, blood and skull (mountains, sea and sky).
Northwest of Salmo is Castlegar, at the confluence of the tumbling Columbia and Kootenay Rivers. Castlegar is the home of many of British Columbia’s Doukhobors, a pacifist group of political refugee emigrants from Russia that settled in the Ootichena Valley in 1908.
Circle Tour: See the best of the area on the Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through Boundary Country and the Southern Okanagan to complete the loop. Circle Tours in British Columbia