Kitsault: Canada's Famous Ghost Town

Kitsault existed in the remote areas of northern British Columbia, near the Alaskan border.
Kitsault existed in the remote areas of northern British Columbia, near the Alaskan border.

The ghost town of Kitsault was founded in 1979 as a center for mining molybdenum. It is situated 115 kilometers from Terrace, up north near the Alaskan border. The mine was owned by the Phelps Dodge Corporation of the United States. The town of Kitsault was built for approximately 1,200 residents. It had one restaurant, a swimming pool, bowling alley, and a shopping mall. Before the establishment of the molybdenum mines, there had formerly been a booming mining business in the town. This was as a result of the work that was going on in the Anyox and Stewart mining companies. Thereafter, in 1918, the Dolly Varden mine was formed which ran businesses in the area. However, due to legal reasons, Alfred Taylor took over the mine. He built the famous Lions Gate Bridge that still exists today.

How Did Kitsault Become a Ghost Town?

Kitsault became a ghost town due to the crashing of prices for molybdenum. The crashing of prices came as a result of an unexpected economic recession and the introduction of molybdenum by-products into the market. The low prices led to a complete loss of profit which made it no longer economical to run the mines. Since the town was built for the employees of the molybdenum mine, people could no longer live there. Residents were evacuated after only 18 months of their stay. In addition, the silver prices also plummeted forcing the silver mines to shut down. Being a mining town, the closure of these mines led to the end of life in the town. As a result, residents opted to look for jobs in other towns and ended up relocating.

Kitsault’s Booming Days and Aftermath

At the peak of the mining business, Kitsault had a 16 kilometer railway and was rich in minerals such as silver ore, zinc, copper, and lead. Furthermore, molybdenum which is used to give steel its hardness and corrosion resistance was also doing very well. Currently, the community belongs to an Indian-American businessman named Krishnan Suthanthiran who bought the ghost town for $5.7 million. He is presently responsible for the maintenance of the town. Kitsault town has abandoned but immaculately kept houses, banks, theaters, shopping centers, and restaurants. The streets have well trimmed trees and freshly mowed lawns. Although the town is closed to the public, there seems to be a ray of hope for a revival of the town as it is the proposed location of a terminal site for liquefied natural gas (LNG). The future of Kitsault depends on the success of the LNG project.

Tourist Attractions

Some of the tourist attraction sites are Alice Arm town and Anyox. Alice Arm is a place in Kitsault which was the center of the silver mining in the 1930s. Anyox, on the other hand, was a town whose main economic activity had been copper mining. There is an electrical powerhouse which still stands as a historical monument in the town. The powerhouse was built in 1911 and is a great attraction to visitors. However, those who visit Kitsault town must have express permission from the land owner since it is no longer public property.


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