An historic townsite on Arrow Lake
Arrowhead was a community on the north end and east shore of the Arrow Lakes (a widening of the Columbia River) in southern British Columbia, about 40 miles south of Revelstoke. It was the northern limit of year round navigation on the Columbia River. The Canadian Pacific Railway completed a branch line from Revelstoke to the site in 1896 in order to connect with the paddle wheelers on the Columbia River that serviced the Kootenay region as far south as Castlegar.
The town site location was initially surveyed in 1895. Arrowhead became the main trading centre in the area for miners, loggers, and farmers. The first building constructed was the Lakeview Hotel, soon followed by a general store, drug store, bank, two churches, a school, and a hospital by 1905. Two large sawmills employed over 500 men. The economy of Arrowhead declined as the mines in the region closed and the last paddle wheeler in service, the SS Minto, made its final trip in 1954.
The town site was abandoned in the 1960s with the inundation of the valley by the Hugh Keenleyside Dam at Castlegar, a consequence of the Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the United States.
Today there are no buildings left on site, though some concrete footings remain. BC Hydro’s no salvage policy during clearing for the reservoir meant that what couldn’t be burnt was buried. There is a cemetery with headstones, and the location of some streets can still be discerned with the help of the town site map. The railway bed and some of the wood and rock structures are still evident when the Arrow Reservoir is low, but the rails, ties, and telegraph wires were all removed. The native forest has regenerated over much of the site, but many domesticated plants from the town site era still persist, including large non-native trees that dominate a portion of the site. Access is by four wheel drive road over private property with the owners permission, or by boat from Shelter Bay (ferry site on Highway 23 South).
Arrowhead Conservation Society
Established in 2008 and based in Revelstoke, the society’s goals are to have Arrowhead’s heritage values recognized and to advocate for the protection and enhancement of the lands in and around the historic town site and its cemetery.
The Arrowhead Conservation Society can be contacted at P.O. Box 643, Revelstoke, BC, V0E 2S0.
With the support of the Columbia Basin Trust, the society produced three reports available at the Revelstoke Museum & Archives:
- “Heritage Plants of a Ghost Town: Arrowhead, British Columbia” by Jenny Coleshill and Rolf Hartman, January 2009. Plant specimens are housed at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria; the contact person is Ken Marr (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Index of plant photographs taken at Arrowhead town site, 2008
- “A Heritage Resource Assessment for the Historic Arrowhead Town site and Cemetery, Arrowhead, British Columbia” by Christopher R. Burk, Horizon Heritage Consulting, January 2009.
More information about Arrowhead
The Revelstoke Museum archival materials about Arrowhead include a cemetery map and about 50 photographs.
The Arrow Lakes Historical Society in Nakusp, BC, has archival materials and has published several books on the region’s history (e.g. Silent Shores and Sunken Ships), which are can be ordered at their website (http://www.alhs-archives.com).