One hundred thirtieth in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Nashville, also known as Nashville City and Nashton, was a phantom town at the confluence of the Kaslo River and its south fork (today known as Keen Creek).
It was first mentioned in the Nelson Miner of July 9, 1892: “The survey of Nashville townsite on the forks of the Kaslo river was completed last week.”
The townsite plan, dated July 4, shows John Fielding was the surveyor. The streets were simply numbered first through sixth and the avenues named A through J.
The town was platted in advance of construction of the Kaslo and Slocan Railway, but as the Nelson Tribune of Feb. 9, 1893 reported, “The Kaslo-Slocan railway in locating its line to pass at some distance from old-established and flourishing towns like Nashville, at the mouth of the south fork of Kaslo river, and Mahoneyville, at the mouth of Rabbit creek, is only doing as other great railways have done.”
The following week, The Tribune added: “Nelson, as compared with Kaslo and Three Forks is quite dull, but quite lively as compared with Nashville and Mahoneyville.”
(Mahoneyville was another phantom town, possibly named after Nelson and Kaslo hotelier Mike Mahoney. Rabbit Creek isn’t an official geographic name, so its location is unclear.)
Nashville’s 274 lots were auctioned in October 1892, but not much became of the site. According to The Tribune of Aug. 11, 1894, “The streets of Nashville, a townsite at the forks of Kaslo river, five miles from Kaslo, are so littered with fallen timber that prospectors have difficulty in traveling over the ground and in places have to trespass on valuable, though unoccupied, town lots.”
The Ledge of Feb. 21, 1895 listed Nashville among “deserted paper cities of the country.”
When the Kaslo and Slocan Railway issued its first timetable on Nov. 25, 1895, it called the place South Fork, but it was also known as Nashville Siding.
In November 1896, The Ledge reported townsite clearing was underway and the British Columbia News of Aug. 13, 1897 announced “The Nashville hotel at South Fork was opened to the public last Saturday by A.P. Hanson.” It probably wasn’t in business for very long — it was only listed in the 1897 and 1898 civic directories.
Nothing more was heard of the town until the Phoenix Pioneer of July 18, 1908: “John Keen is about to complete arrangements to subdivide the old Nashville townsite into fruit blocks and place the same on the market.”
When the CPR rebuilt the Kaslo and Slocan line in the 1910s, they renamed the siding Zwicky (often misspelled Zwickey) after William Edward Zwicky (1858-1929), manager of the Cork-Province mine. Zwicky was on the CPR timetable by September 1914.
Don Blake writes in Valley of the Ghosts that a post office application was filed for Zwicky: “This was given the OK and a die was struck and registered, bearing the name Zwicky. The post office opening date was to be July 2, 1915.”
For some reason, the post office opened on Sept. 1 as Nashton instead. Blake says “The people of Nashton were rather upset” about the name Zwicky being used and “their outcry resulted in the Zwicky die being cancelled, without ever being used.” However, no examples of Nashton have been found prior to the post office opening. The post office closed in 1940 due to “limited usefulness.”
How did Nashville/Nashton get its name in the first place? This was finally explained in a 1949 letter from William J. Twiss of Kaslo to A.G. Harvey. Twiss said John Keen worked on the survey of the Nashville townsite and named it after his bride-to-be, Sarah Helena Nash Twiss (1866-1944), who was William’s sister. She was among Kaslo’s earliest female politicians, serving as a school trustee in 1913. She ran for city council unsuccessfully in 1918, successfully in 1932, and also ran for mayor in 1933.
The name survives in Nashton Creek, formerly Cedar Creek and Come Again Creek. The present name was officially adopted in 1957. John Keen, who was Kaslo’s third mayor and later an MLA, also had a siding on the Kaslo and Slocan Railway posthumously named after him.
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