Oro, which means gold in Italian and Spanish, was a townsite at the junction of Lemon and Crusader Creeks in the Slocan Valley. It was surveyed by John McLatchie on Aug. 17, 1898 and mentioned, unfavorably, one week later in the Northport News:
“Otto Arnold returned Saturday from a trip to Oro, a camp back of Nelson, BC. The reason he went there was because he saw an article in the Spokesman Review saying that considerable work was being done there in the mines, consequently he thought it might be a good place to engage in the saloon business. When he arrived at his destination he found the town was composed of one building, occupied as a hotel and bar, and very few men in that section of the country. It is needless to say he left in disgust.”
The townsite belonged to the Oro Gold Mining and Milling Co., incorporated on April 20, 1898, which owned the Golden Wedge mine. The local manager, G.A. Farini, knew little about mining but a lot about funambulism — nearly 40 years earlier, as the Great Farini, he walked over Niagara Falls on a tightrope. An avenue in the Oro townsite was named after him. (There was also a Farini St. in the phantom townsite of Vevey on Slocan Lake, which we’ll get to later in this series.)
Oro had some other interesting street names, mostly after local mines and claims: Athabaska, Silver King, Lucky George, Black Prince, Maple Leaf, Two Friends, Cold Blow, Caledonia, and St. Louis, plus Oro, Alpine, Wing, Bank, and Forty-Five.
While Oro never grew very big, for a couple of years it did have a sawmill, stamp mill, mine office, and assay office. An application for a post office was referred to the postal inspector on Feb. 16, 1899 but rejected for lack of a postmaster.
The Slocan Drill of March 27, 1903 reported: “J. Fred Ritchie, of Rossland, has staked three timber limits at the head of Lemon creek, taking in the Oro townsite and stamp mill.”
The same paper announced the town’s demise on Oct. 21, 1904: “As a result of the recent sale of delinquent lands … the Oro townsite as well as that owned by J. Lawrence, both on Lemon Creek, have reverted to the government.”
A late mention of Oro — and an apparent alternate name — appeared in the Nelson Daily News of Aug. 7, 1937: “Five miles farther down the trail at Oro or Lemon City a Mr. Malcolm is continuing the road construction to the Golden Wedge property which he has bought.”
Oro is sometimes confused with another townsite at the confluence of Lemon and Summit creeks, known as Summit or just Lemon Creek.
For links to all previous installments in this series, find this story at nelsonstar.com/community