News

SS Nelson photo sells for $160

Another in a weekly roundup of Kootenay-related items appearing at auction online.

An original mounted photo of the Kootenay Lake sternwheeler SS Nelson sold this month on eBay for $160 US.

It measured 5 x 8 and showed the boat landed on a beach with snow-capped mountains behind it. At least 15 men (they do all appear to be men) are seen toward the ship’s bow, including someone, presumably the captain, sticking his head out the wheelhouse. The photographer was uncredited.

The Nelson was built in 1891 for the Columbia and Kootenay Steam Navigation Company and measured 40 meters long by eight meters wide. It plied the route between Nelson, Kaslo, and Bonners Ferry, Idaho until 1897, and between Nelson and Kuskonook during construction of the BC Southern Railway in 1898-99.

It was withdrawn from service in 1913 and given a Viking funeral to cap Nelson’s Chahko Mika carnival on July 16, 1914.

• Postcards of New Denver and Silverton sold lately for $58 and $76.50 US respectively.

The former was a ca. 1912 real photo card of the New Denver waterfront as seen from the west side of Slocan Lake. The Newmarket Hotel is among the buildings readily identifiable.

The latter was a ca. 1910 lithograph showing many long-lost false-front buildings, and the SS Slocan puffing away in the distance.

Similar cards have popped up before, but this may have set a record price.

It was published by Charles F. Nelson, a New Denver druggist and photographer who was also Liberal MLA for the Slocan riding. In 1916, he beat Conservative William Hunter by one vote, 448 to 447. Hunter handily won the re-match four years later.

• A column two weeks ago about the sale of a rare postmark from the Taghum area mentioned in passing the mystery behind that name, bestowed by John C. Bell, a partner in the Lambert and Bell sawmill.

Taghum is the Chinook trading jargon word for six, but there is no consensus on six what in this case. Theories include six miles from the Nelson wharf or Bonnington Falls.

Two more ideas have since come forth: 45-year Taghum resident Bob Rollick suggests it’s the number of creeks in the area, namely Sandy, Sproule, Bear, Eagle, Falls, and Grohman.

Ann Irving, meanwhile, thinks it’s a reference to the sixth cataract above the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia rivers prior to the construction of the dams. From the east, they are: Brilliant, Stonebyres (South Slocan), Lower Bonnington, Upper Bonnington, Corra Linn, and the one seen in old photos where the CPR and highway bridges cross the river at Taghum.

(Sir Charles Ross, who designed the early dams, named Bonnington, Stonebyres, and Corra Linn after waterfalls on the River Clyde in Scotland.)

This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser on November 29.

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