Barkerville digs deep to offer enhanced visitor experience with mining project

Barkerville Heritage Trust

Dawn Leroy, Anne Laing (Wells Historical Society president), Lenord Doherty (carpentry, lead) and Barkerville Gold Mines underground rescue team.
Photo: Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Barkerville Historic Town and Park is making a move underground to further enhance its visitor experience and provide experiential learning at the same time.

The Shamrock Claim Underground Mining Interpretation Centre is an exhibit that will allow guests to engage in a hands-on mining experience and learn about the enormous effort required to realize the riches located deep beneath the surface of the ground.

This expansive development is being brought to fruition, thanks in part to funding from Northern Development. A total of $250,000 was approved for the project from the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program.

“This is a very exciting project for us,” said Barkerville Historic Town and Park general manager Dawn Leroy. “The tunnel will represent a research and evidence-based vision of historic deep lead mining in the Barkerville area.”

The goal is to re-create a tunnel, blasted into the side of Barkerville Mountain, approximately 3.5 metres wide and 3.5 meters high, for 70 horizontal meters. The adit (horizontal passage from the surface in a mine) would then be lined with historically accurate timbering to represent the type of underground construction used in the Barkerville area. At the end of the tunnel, an underground room with tiered seating would be constructed, where groups of visitors would be treated to educational interpretive presentations about deep lead mining.

“This presentation, along with the immersive experience of being underground is expected to create a powerful experience,” added Leroy. “The underground experience is something that visitors to Barkerville have been asking for since Barkerville began interpreting B.C. mining history more than 50 years ago.”

This tourism opportunity is expected to encourage more visitation and offer something new to people who have frequented Barkerville in the past. Tourism is a major contributor to the local and regional economy and increasing the number of activities is expected to positively impact local businesses.

In 2016, Barkerville saw 60,000 visitors, which boosted the regional economy by an estimated $20-25 million. Providing new and exciting experiences can lead to more multi-day visits, positively impacting local businesses in the hospitality, retail and service sectors.

This success story originally appeared in our 2018 Annual Report.