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Natives and Hudsonâs Bay Company trappers had long known about the galena ledge on a cliff on the eastern side of Kootenay Lake.
It is speculated that David Douglas, the botanist for whom the Douglas fir tree is named, visited the site.
Explorers and adventures, employed by the rival North West Trading Company and the Hudson Bay Company, were the first to enter the practically inaccessible Kootenay and Columbia River valleys while searching for fur trade routes.
But after extensive harvesting of the salmon in the Columbia River, food became scarce and a few natives remained when the settlers arrived in the Kootenays.Baille-Grohman and Ainsworth were also involved in another famous incident in the years immediately preceding settlement at Nelson.The legendary Bluebell mine at Riondel, which finally ceased operations in 1971, was the issue over which these two Kootenay area pioneers next became embroiled.The many large groups of these pits, which are still visible today, are reminders of the good-sized villages that once existed along the lakes and rivers.Indian artifacts have been found in abundance along the shores of the West Arm of the Kootenay River.