Formed through a series to tectonic collisions and extreme weather patterns, the Coastal Mountains are not only a dramatic backdrop to the Echo Valley landscape, they represent an unusual legacy of glacial ages that also includes grassy bench lands along the Fraser River and deeply trenched gorges of the Fraser Canyon. Yet as old as these geological legacies are, The Coast Range, which includes the Cariboo and Marble Mountains, remains Canada's last and youngest chain of mountains - they are still growing at approximately 1-3 cm per year.Echo Valley's Unique Location
Few places in the world showcase such a diversity of natural history.
Sitting amidst four distinct geographic regions, called biomes, Echo Valley's landscape includes semi-desert along the Fraser, boreal forests in most of the valley bottoms, and treeless mountains in between which is a glaciated plateau - a former volcanic plain that today is interspersed with montane forests, meadows and rolling grasslands. The natural spring water is some of the purest to be found, and the pristine climate promotes toxin-free harvests of fresh produce.Changing Communities
The result is an unparalleled destination of well being; an extraordinary range of eco/soft adventures; and scenery that is both awe-inspiring and breath-taking.
While Cariboo landscapes were home to many aboriginal groups, largely farmers and fishermen, that all changed in the 1850s when gold was found along the river's pebbly sand bars. Within a year, thousands of fortune-seekers had arrived in BC, journeying up the Fraser in search of the river's riches. Rough and tumble communities materialized overnight and while a lucky few became rich quickly; most made barely enough to pay for their supplies and often lost what fortunes they had by gambling with their fellow miners.Striking Gold
As gold became harder to find, prospectors took their quest further north and, when Billy Barker, a young Cornish sailor, struck the mother lode, a new wave of hopefuls arrived. The township adopted the name Barkerville and, in its heyday bustled with the activity over 6,000 permanent residents and 14,000 miners!Homesteading the Cariboo
To support this massive population, numerous roadhouses were established at various points along the route to the gold fields. Ranches soon sprung up around these roadhouses and it wasn't long before a small cattle industry emerged.
As the European and North American seekers began to dwindle, Chinese miners arrived with different mining methods. Instead of panning for gold, they washed enormous amounts of gravel by bringing water down long flumes, often several miles long, to their claim sites, as well as wash rocks their predecessors found too large to pan.
With the advent of the Cariboo Highway - a wagon trail, and the announcement by the provincial government to give away free land, the population of BC's interior grew in leaps and bounds. However, intense traffic and wet weather often made the highway impassible, so hardy homesteaders created alternate routes via places such as High Bar, and Big Bar; names derived from the river's sand bars.Touching History
Evidence of the Canyon's history is scattered throughout the region and easily reached from Echo Valley.
Remnants of shanty huts still sit along the Fraser River; parts the frail, wooden planks from the original Chinese flumes still endure, and fields of washed stones still lie on the river's shores near Yale and Lytton.
Look around Echo Valley, and you'll see many of the original structures from when it was first homesteaded in 1908 including a log house, a root cellar and two animal shelters.
From Echo Valley, you can take trail rides past many of these historic sites, ride down the ancient, overgrown wagon road towards the Fraser and even try your hand at panning for gold. The river still attracts many a weekend prospector and although colour is elusive for some, there are those who claim that the bounty they reap is worth the effort.