HGTV’s Timber Kings to reconstruct Billy Barker’s mineshaft at Barkerville Historic Town

Summary

  • HGTV’s Timber Kings will film the reconstruction of Billy Barker’s mineshaft and shaft-house at Barkerville June 9th & 10th, 2015
Billy Barker's original claim, with shaft house and sluice box can be seen in the lower left of this 1863 painting by P. Toft.

Billy Barker’s original claim, with shaft house and sluice box can be seen in the lower left of this 1863 painting by P. Toft.

Details

On Tuesday June 9th and Wednesday June 10th Barkerville, British Columbia will play host to Royalty once again – only this time instead of the traditional Victorian Queen it’s a crew of contemporary Cariboo “Kings” that will be the historic town’s guests of honour.

Timber Kings, to be precise.

Some of the finest log homes on Earth are custom-built by the men and women of Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia, a company of master log-smiths and artisans in Williams Lake, BC. Since January of 2014, the Pioneer crew has also been star of HGTV’s wildly successful reality television program Timber Kings, and next week the Kings will be traveling to Barkerville Historic Town in order to recreate a legacy that has been more than 150 years in the making.

Before the gold rush city of Barkerville was deemed the largest settlement North of San Francisco and West of Chicago, it was little more than the dream of an English prospector named William “Billy” Barker and his ragtag group of gentleman miners – Barker & Co.

On August 17th, 1862, Barker & Co. recorded one of the largest creek side gold deposits the world had ever seen, hoisting bucket-loads of nuggets by hand from the bottom of the Williams Creek valley to its surface, through fifty feet of soggy gravel, using a device called a windlass.

A windlass is the winch-like device at the top of a rudimentary mineshaft that uses two buckets on a skip system to remove water and gravel from the shaft: one bucket goes down the shaft empty while the other comes up full. The Barker & Co. claim would eventually be prosperous enough to build larger and more efficient machines like waterwheels and steam-powered pumps, but in those early days it was two men on a hand crank, working 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days per week. A shaft house was built over top of the windlass to protect the mineshaft and force air down into the tunnels below. A sluice box was also constructed, for the purposes of washing gravel and exposing the gold nuggets within it.

Led by Master Craftsman and Certified Swiss Timber Framer Peter Arnold, who is known around the Pioneer Log Homes yard as “the fire brigade” because he can go anywhere and fix any problem at any building, the Timber Kings will reconstruct an authentic replica of Barker & Co.’s windlass, mineshaft and shaft house – in exactly the same spot Billy’s crew originally built the structures more than a century-and-a-half ago.

“The Timber Kings‘ reconstruction of our Barker & Co. mineshaft and shaft house will be a remarkable legacy for Barkerville visitors for generations to come,” said James Douglas, Barkerville’s Manager of Visitor Experiences. “We cannot thank the team from Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia enough for providing us with this lasting opportunity, and look forward to seeing the final results – both on site, and on video.”

The Timber Kings will be filming all day Tuesday and part of Wednesday at Barkerville Historic Town. Visitors are most welcome, and should be prepared to sign a model release form for any on-camera appearances. For more information, please contact James Douglas, Manager | Visitor Experiences, at 1-888-994-3332, ext. 41, or email james.douglas@barkerville.ca.

A view from the Canadian Claim - photo by Thomas Drasdauskis

A current view from the Canadian Claim – photo by Thomas Drasdauskis