Boomtown Elk Lake, 1908
The instant town of Elk Lake, barely a year and a half after silver was discovered. During most of the boom the main route in was a journey up the Montreal River — four steamers between three portages (Pork Rapids, Flat Rapids and Mountain Chutes) — from the rail at Latchford. At its peak, about 200 prospectors were reported to be arriving daily. The steamer route ended with arrival of the railway in 1913.
Above the steamer is docking near the floating bridge that was located at the mouth of Bear Creek (today called Makobe River and to the left of the photo). The photo, published on a postcard, is looking east across the Montreal.
A second silver rush started 28 miles west at Gowganda in 1907, and Elk Lake became its jumping-off point.
The population of Elk Lake peaked at about 10,000 and the boom — which disappointed as little silver was ever produced — was over by World War I, leaving Elk Lake in decline to survive on logging. The business district was destroyed by a succession of fires from 1910 to 1913. Without the mines, residents left for other mining rushes, particularly Gowganda and Porcupine. Today there is no visible indication that this was ever a mining community.
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