PLACE NAMES: Porto Rico and Pottersville

Porto Rico is an anglicized spelling of Puerto Rico. It was also the name of a mine at the head of Barrett Creek north of Ymir.

ABOVE: This rare photo of the Porto Rico Hotel and store is contained in an album in the Uno Langmann collection entitled “A Visit to British Columbia 1898.” UBC digitized it and placed it online last year. BELOW: The Porto Rico post office was in business from 1918 to 1926. This rare example of the postmark sold for $50 in 2008.

One-hundred fifty-fourth in an alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names

Porto Rico is an anglicized spelling of Puerto Rico. It was also the name of a mine at the head of Barrett Creek north of Ymir, a railway siding at the creek’s mouth, the mountain on which the claim was found, and a lumber company.

Which came first?

The mining claim, it appears, first mentioned in the Nelson Miner of Dec. 12, 1896 when a notice of bond was issued. Who staked it and why they chose that name is unknown, but the Minister of Mines report for 1897 stated: “The Canadian Pacific Exploration Co. Ltd., Eng., is opening up this property on the North Fork of Salmon River. A road seven miles long has been built from the [Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway], and three tunnels on the vein, now aggregate 700 feet of work.”

The mine closed in 1899 but reopened and was worked until 1909.

The earliest reference to the siding is in the Nelson Economist on June 1, 1898: “Porto Rico siding will be a busy point this summer, as considerable development will be done in that neighborhood.”

The mountain was first mentioned in the Miner of Nov. 5, 1898: “The Porto Rico group of six claims, situated on Porto Rico mountain six miles west of the siding of that name on the Nelson and Fort Sheppard railway in the Ymir district is being steadily developed.” (Today it’s known as Midday Peak.)

The Porto Rico Lumber Co. first appears in the Nelson Tribune of March 9, 1900 in an ad that noted it was the “successor to J.A. Dewar & Co.” The company had a mill at Porto Rico, but moved to Ymir in 1902. They also had a mill in Moyie and a sash and door factory in Moose Jaw.

The Beaver Lumber Co. of Winnipeg bought the company in late 1906 but kept the old name, which survived at least until 1914. They built another mill on the CPR flats in Nelson.

According to Jon Kalmakoff of the Doukhobor Genealogy Website, the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood bought over 3,800 acres of timber in 1917 and operated a planer mail at Porto Rico under the name Salmon Valley Lumber and Pole Co.

A Porto Rico post office existed from 1918 until 1926, when a series of devastating forest fires dealt a fatal blow to the local lumber industry. In 1929, Porto Rico became an interment camp for over 200 Sons of Freedom exiled from Thrums, Brillliant, and Glade. You can learn more about this story at doukhobor.org/Porto-Rico.html.

The railway siding was abandoned in the 1930s, but a small community remained.

Porto Rico is remembered today in Porto Rico Rd. and Porto Rico-Ymir Rd. There is also a Porto Rico Rd. outside Moyie. Last year, UBC digitized two incredibly rare photos of the Porto Rico Hotel, ca. 1898 in the Uno Langmann collection.

Barrett Creek was sometimes called Porto Rico Creek in the 1940s and ‘50s, but it was never an official name.

Pottersville

In It’s A Wonderful Life, Pottersville is the vice-ridden version of Bedford Falls, New York that would have occurred had George Bailey never been born. Pottersville was also the name of an obscure townsite near Sandon.

The Ledge of May 13, 1897 noted: “Hamilton & McMillan have recently secured from G.D. Potter a group of three claims on the north fork of Carpenter creek. … A year’s supplies are now on the ground and a party of men are engaged running a crosscut on the Alps claim.”

The Sandon Paystreak of May 22 then reported: “The firm of Hamilton, McMillan and Co., for whom John Potter is manager, shows lots of enterprise and great confidence in the future of the camp … Pottersville, this fall, will be an assured fact and next summer a lively camp.”

The same paper added on June 19: “The survey of the townsite of Pottersville has been finished, also the wagon road from Three Forks up the north fork of Carpenter to the town, about four miles.”

Pottersville was never mentioned again. The townsite map is not known to survive.

John Potter (1852-fl. 1918) lived in Three Forks and Silverton and owned numerous mining claims in the area. It’s not clear how he was related to the aforementioned George D. Potter (1865-1911), who sold claims to Hamilton and McMillan and owned a sampling works in Wallace, Idaho. George had a brother named John, but it wasn’t the same guy.

— With thanks to Jon Kalmakoff

Previous installments in this series

Introduction

Ainsworth

Alamo

Anaconda

Annable, Apex, and Arrow Park

Annable, revisited

Appledale

Applegrove, Appleby, and Appledale revisited

Argenta and Arrowhead

Aylwin

Bakers, Birds, and Bosun Landing

Balfour

Bannock City, Basin City, and Bear Lake City

Beasley

Beaton

Bealby Point

Bealby Point (aka Florence Park) revisited

Belford and Blewett

Beaverdell and Billings

Birchbank and Birchdale

Blueberry and Bonnington

Boswell, Bosworth, Boulder Mill, and Broadwater

Brandon

Brilliant

Brooklyn, Brouse, and Burnt Flat

Burton

Camborne, Cariboo City, and Carrolls Landing

Carmi, Cedar Point, Circle City, and Clark’s Camp

Carson, Carstens, and Cascade City

Casino and Champion Creek

Castlegar, Part 1

Castlegar, Part 2

Castlegar, Part 3

Christina Lake

Christina City and Christian Valley

Clubb Landing and Coltern

Cody and Champion Creek revisited

Champion Creek revisited, again

Columbia

Columbia City, Columbia Gardens, and Columbia Park

Comaplix

Cooper Creek and Corra Linn

Crawford Bay and Comaplix revisited

Crescent Valley and Craigtown

Davenport

Dawson, Deadwood, and Deanshaven

Deer Park

East Arrow Park and Edgewood

Eholt

English Cove and English Point

Enterprise

Erie

Evans Creek and Evansport

Falls City

Farron

Fauquier

Ferguson

Ferguson, revisited

Fife

Forslund, Fosthall, and Fairview

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 1

Fort Shepherd vs. Fort Sheppard, Part 2

Fort Sheppard, revisited

Fraser’s Landing and Franklin

Fredericton

Fruitvale and Fraine

Galena Bay

Genelle

Gerrard

Gilpin and Glade

Gladstone and Gerrard, revisited

Glendevon and Graham Landing

Gloster City

Goldfields and Gold Hill

Grand Forks, Part 1

Grand Forks, Part 2

Granite Siding and Granite City

Gray Creek, Part 1

Gray Creek, Part 2

Gray Creek, revisited

Green City

Greenwood

Halcyon Hot Springs

Hall Siding and Healy’s Landing

Harrop

Hartford Junction

Hills

Howser, Part 1

Howser, Part 2

Howser, Part 3

Howser, Part 4

Hudu Valley, Huntingtdon, and Healy’s Landing revisited

Inonoaklin Valley (aka Fire Valley)

Jersey, Johnsons Landing, and Jubilee Point

Kaslo, Part 1

Kaslo, Part 2

Kaslo, Part 3

Kaslo, Part 4

Kettle River, Part 1

Kettle River, Part 2

Kinnaird, Part 1

Kinnaird, Part 2

Kitto Landing

Koch Siding and Keen

Kokanee

Kootenay Bay, Kraft, and Krestova

Kuskonook, Part 1

Kuskonook, Part 2

Kuskonook (and Kuskanax), Part 3

Labarthe, Lafferty, and Longbeach

Lardeau, Part 1

Lardeau, Part 2

Lardeau, Part 3

Lardeau, Part 4

Lebahdo

Lemon Creek, Part 1

Lemon Creek, Part 2

Lemon Creek, Part 3

Makinsons Landing and Marblehead

McDonalds Landing, McGuigan, and Meadow Creek

Meadows, Melville, and Miles’ Ferry

Midway

Mineral City and Minton

Mirror Lake and Molly Gibson Landing

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 1

Montgomery and Monte Carlo, Part 2

Montrose and Myncaster

Nakusp, Part 1

Nakusp, Part 2

Nashville

Needles

Nelson, Part 1

Nelson, Part 2

Nelson, Part 3

Nelson, Part 4

Nelson, Wash.

Nelway and New Galway

New Denver, Part 1

New Denver, Part 2

Niagara

Oasis and Oatescott

Ootischenia

Oro

Park Siding and Pass Creek

Passmore

Paterson

Paulson

Perry Siding

Phoenix

Pilot Bay

Pingston

Playmor Junction

Poplar and Porcupine

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