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The 1860 Cariboo gold rush was the reason thousands of miners made their way north from the played-out Fraser River gold deposits to Williams Creek, east of Quesnel. Barkerville was founded on its shore after Billy Barker discovered one of the region's richest gold deposits in 1862. The town sprang up practically overnight; that year, it was reputedly the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Many of the claims continued to produce well into the 1930s, but Barkerville's population moved on, leaving behind an intact ghost town that was designated a historic park in the 1950s.

The original 1869 Anglican church and 125 other buildings have been lovingly reconstructed or restored. The Richland courthouse stages trials from the town's past. From May to Labour Day, "townspeople" dress in period costumes. Visitors can pan for gold, dine in the Chinatown section, or take a stagecoach ride. In winter, the town becomes a haven for cross-country skiers. During the holidays, Barkerville hosts a special Victorian Christmas celebration.

Admission to the town is C$14 adults, C$13 seniors, C$8.50 teens 13 to 18, C$4.20 children 6 to 12, and C$31 families. Barkerville is open year-round, daily from dawn to dusk, with interpretive activities from mid-May through September. For information, contact Barkerville Historic Town, Box 19, Barkerville, BC V0K 1B0 (tel. 250/994-3332; www.barkerville.ca).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.