Where did the Cariboo Gold Rush start?

Many say it was the discovery of gold at Antler Creek in 1860 that started the Cariboo Gold Rush.

Just a few weeks previous, “Doc” Keithley and his friends had found gold in the creek that bears his name. Eager to explore the area, they climbed the mountain range and stumbled onto Antler Creek whereupon they made the richest strike up to that time.

A staggering $75 worth of gold lightn1ngs were found in their gold pans. They ventured back to Keithley Creek and kept their discovery secret. Somehow, word leaked out.

Not surprisingly, there were gold seekers who felt left out, as this story from April 6, 1861 relates:

“It appears that Martin, who had been in partnership with the original explorers, having come to loggerheads with his company during the winter, thought his partners were trying to deprive him of his interest in the diggings by keeping the location secret.”

“Being something of a pioneer and a prospector himself, he finally purchased a pair of snowshoes and started out, in mid-winter, in quest of gold. Having travelled over the deep snow for several weeks, he came at last on [Antler] creek, where he saw several notices posted up, a large number of claims staked off, and holes sunk for the purpose of prospecting.”

“Upon examining the dirt that had been thrown up, he discovered that it was gold-bearing, and succeeded in picking out several pieces weighing from a dollar upwards. Having satisfied himself that this was the place he was in pursuit of, he started back immediately in order to communicate to his friends the discoveries he had made.”

“So eager were the people to reach Antler Creek that the natives were busily employed in making snowshoes for the miners at $20 and $30 a pair; and when the news first reached the Forks the natives were awoke at the rancherias [villages] at midnight and set to work making the snowshoes.”

“The diggings were first struck by a prospector late last fall, who from prudential reasons filled the hole up again and kept his discovery a secret. He told Mr. Beedy, in November last on meeting him in Victoria, that he had obtained over $100 in a few minutes from the bed-rock and that he had filled it up again because he had occasion to go to San Francisco and did not wish the discovery to be made before the Spring.”