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Postcard recalls Koch Siding when it hummed

This postcard, mailed in 1911, bore a rare postmark from Koch Siding — a Slocan Valley whistlestop once home to a large sawmill. - eBay photo
This postcard, mailed in 1911, bore a rare postmark from Koch Siding — a Slocan Valley whistlestop once home to a large sawmill.
— image credit: eBay photo

A weekly look at items of local historical interest selling on eBay.

On a flat along the Slocan River below the Slocan Park cemetery lies Koch Siding. While people still live there, there are few obvious signs it was once a bustling sawmilling and agricultural settlement.

It took its name from William Koch, an Ohio-born entrepreneur involved in mining, forestry, and cattle ranching. He arrived in West Kootenay from Colorado in 1896 and took a contract to haul ore from the east side of Slocan Lake.

He also built a sawmill at Ten Mile Creek, and around 1906, established another mill at Koch Siding, which he later sold to the Doukhobor community. They built a large community hall with quarters for leader Peter (Lordly) Verigin, as well as a large barracks for Doukhobor mill workers. According to doukhobor.org, in 1928 Verigin’s son renamed the settlement Petrovka, but it didn’t stick.

Raspberries, Gravenstein apples, strawberries, and potatoes were raised at Koch, and fruit was sold to the Brilliant jam factory.

A rare Koch Siding postal cancellation on a postcard sold recently for $50 Cdn. It was dated May 6, 1911 and addressed to Mrs. William Flewelling of Todmorden, Ont. (now part of East York).

The message reads: “Dear Sister, I received your card and was glad to hear you was as well as usual. We are all well hoping you the same. We received Gladdis’es and Goldie photograph all right. They were fine just like them. Goldie looks just like you. We were up the hills today. We have had plenty of rain. It rained about four days. It is lovely today. I have written to Will. So Good Bye. Love to all. Hoping this finds you well. Write soon. From your loving sister Violet.”

It’s the second Koch Siding postmark that has appeared on eBay in the last decade — the previous one, dated December 1912, sold in 2006 for $153 US.

The post office operated there from from 1906 to 1923. William Koch was postmaster most of that time. He died in Nelson in 1931.

• Gray Creek’s Tom Lymbery writes about an envelope recently featured in this column, which bore 1911 postmarks from Poplar Creek and Howser.

“I was most interested to see the cover addressed to Henry Hinks (actually Hincks),” he says. “He and two brothers had property in Howser, with the agreement that if one got married he then moved away. Henry married Nancy Trail and purchased Freckleton from Commander Harrison’s estate.”

Freckleton is the Crawford Bay estate now known as Wedgwood Manor, a bed and breakfast. Lymbery continues: “The property went to their son, Henry (known as Cookie Hincks) who resisted the efforts of Kokanee Springs to purchase — fortunately, as Kokanee burned all the other houses they purchased.”

That was in the 1960s, when the golf course was first developed.

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on January 3.

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