In the meantime, however, men were working in the mine; and now they began to ship ore. It was worth $27.00 a ton, and the stock became valuable. Scattered over the Northwest were 500,000 shares that were worth $500,000.00. Nearly all the men who had put money into the enterprise were Yankees,—mining men from Spokane, just over the border. These men began now to pick up all the stray shares that could be found; and in a little while eight-tenths of the shares were held by men living south of the line. At Northport, in Washington, they built one of the finest smelters in the Northwest, hauled their ore over there, and smelted it. The ore was rich in gold and copper. They put in a 300 horse-power hoisting-engine and a 40-drill air-compressor,—the largest in Canada,—taking all the money for these improvements out of the mine. The thing was a success, and news of it ran down to Chicago. A party of men with money started for the new gold fields, but as they were buying tickets three men rushed in and took tickets for Seattle. These were mining men; and those who had bought only to British Columbia cashed in, asked for transportation to the coast, and followed the crowd to the Klondike.
In that way Le Roi for the moment was forgotten.
The Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories, who had been a journalist and had a nose for news, heard of the new camp. All the while men were rushing to the Klondike, for it is the nature of man to go from home for a thing that he might secure under his own vine.
The Governor visited the new camp. A man named Ross Thompson had staked out a town at the foot of Le Roi dump and called it Rossland. The Governor put men to work quietly in the mine and then went back to his plank palace at Regina, capital of the Northwest Territories,—to a capital that looked for all the world like a Kansas frontier town that had just ceased to be the county seat. Here for months he waited, watching the “Imperial Limited” cross the prairie, receiving delegations of half-breeds and an occasional report from one of the common miners in Le Roi. If a capitalist came seeking a soft place to invest, the Governor pointed to the West-bound Limited and whispered in the stranger’s ear. To all letters of inquiry coming from Ottawa or England,—letters from men who wanted to be told where to dig for gold,—he answered, “Klondike.”
By and by the Governor went to Rossland again. The mine, of which he owned not a single share of stock, was still producing. When he left Rossland he knew all about the lower workings, the value and extent of the ore body.