Town council agreed last Tuesday to give the Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners access to the Old Mill Site next to the Columbia River. The idea, which came from Irv Graham of Alpine Meadows Lodge, is that CWSP will work with Town staff, Graham himself and other community volunteers to clean up the site, which has a strong historic, artistic and environmental value.
“The vision is to go down to the site with Colleen (from the Golden and District Museum) and decide what should be hauled out and what should be kept for historic value,” said Bob Jamieson, Executive Director of CWSP. The idea then, Jamieson explained, is that CWSP will host a community clean-up day sometime in the spring.
There is a lot of “junk”—old paint cans, plastic, metal scraps, etc— around the site, but Jamieson is aware that some of it will have historic value, like a large boiler that may have originally been housed in a sternwheeler.
Colleen Palumbo explained that what is known now as the “Old Mill Site”— the remains of a concrete building on the shore of the Columbia River near the airport; a building that is covered in colourful art, graffiti and has sheltered many local parties in the past —was originally the Columbia River Lumber Company.
The company first built on the site in 1888 and provided wood for practically all the homes, bridges and a variety of other infrastructure throughout the Columbia Valley for a quarter of a century.
“Logs would be put on the ice (near Invermere) in the winter and then float down to the mill when the river thawed in spring,” said Palumbo. “Sometimes there would be a back up of logs that was over 15 miles long.”
What remains of the Columbia River Lumber Company is the old powerhouse building, which, according to Palumbo, was built later in the company’s life as it’s made out of concrete.
“I am definitely excited to see some sort of clean-up,” said Palumbo. “There is currently a fence and no trespassing sign, but that doesn’t stop people from going down to see the site, and right now there are too many hazards.”
These hazards include 20 feet water intake shafts and pieces of steel sticking up in unlikely places.
The Columbia River Wetlands Stewardship Partners is made up of a diverse group of community interests, First Nations and government agencies created to develop effective stewardship and management practices for the Columbia Wetlands and the Upper Columbia River.
The organization intends to take a positive, community and science based approach to issues related to the wetlands, and resolve issues neighbour to neighbour. Future projects include the possibility of creating a guide to a portion of the wetlands and creating better access to the wetlands in Parson, Nicholson and Donald.