Lemon Creek townsites hard to sort out

One hundred seventeenth in a semi-alphabetical series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names.

Last week we started looking at Lemon Creek, the Slocan Valley stream named for pioneer merchant Robert E. Lemon (1855-1907). Several townsites popped up along the creek, and it’s not always easy to keep them straight.

The Ledge of Dec. 17, 1896 reported: “A townsite has been staked at the mouth of Lemon Creek by CPR men. Two hotels and a store will be erected this winter.”

The Nelson Miner of May 1, 1897 carried a report datelined Del Monte, which explained: “This is the latest addition to the towns of West Kootenay and the indications are that while it may not become a large settlement, it will be prosperous and a great convenience to the miners of Lemon creek. It is by no means certain that the name Del Monte will be finally agreed upon, but J.W. Thurston, who is at work constructing the pioneer hotel, says he was first on the ground and that will be the name if everything he can do will settle the matter.”

The story added that Del Monte was “something over a mile from Slocan river, and is at the point where one of the surveys ofthe railway crosses Lemon Creek. It is not certain that the railway will cross at that point, but the belief is that the fear of highwater and the swift current of Lemon creek will lead to the company to do so …”

In fact, the railway, completed in late 1897, crossed the creek much closer to its mouth, so Thurston’s gamble may not have paid off. Del Monte which means “of the mount” in Spanish was never heard of again. Instead, the Slocan Pioneer of May1 and June 12, 1897 carried references to the hotel at “Lemon Creek Crossing.” No townsite plan, whether owned by Thurstonor the CPR, is known to exist and no lots were ever advertised for sale.

At the same time, a second townsite was platted well up the mountainside at the confluence of Lemon and Summit creeks.

The Victoria Daily Colonist of May 25, 1897 reported: “Two new townsites have been started on Lemon creek one on the railway five miles south of Slocan City, and the other, to be known as Summit, about 15 miles back from the railway. This last townsite is right among the mines located last year in the gold belt. The townsite company is about to build a trail up Lemoncreek.”

Did the CPR have a silent interest in the latter? Their divisional superintendent, J.S. Lawrence of Nakusp, was one of theowners.

The Slocan Pioneer added on June 5: “Mr. A. Driscoll left this week for Lemon creek, where he goes to survey the new townsite, Summit, located about eight miles up the creek, near the well-known Alpine and Black Prince groups.”

However, the Slocan City News reported on June 19: “It has been definitely decided that the title of the new town shall be Lemon Creek nothing more or less.”

Indeed, that’s the name on the plan by surveyor J. Herrick McGregor, dated July 24, 1897, which shows avenues named Balfour, Nakusp, Kootenay, Slocan, Kaslo, and Nelson, and streets numbered first through sixth.

The Nelson Miner on June 26 said “The townsite of Lemon Creek has been surveyed and will shortly be placed on the market.”Some lots sold but were probably never cleared much less built upon.

Next: The townsite that went missing