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2015

 
NASS LIGHT ROUTE
MICROWAVE SYSTEM
CHAPTER #5

 
KITSAULT
RADIO SITE

 

Kitsault

Latitude: 55 Degrees 29 Minutes (North)
Longitude: 129 Degrees 28 Minutes (West)

The mine was located at an elevation of 2000 feet,
8 km Southeast of the head of Alice Arm
 at the Lime Creek molybdenum deposit.
Located on Patsy Creek,
 which is the east fork of Lime Creek
approximately 140 km north of Prince Rupert

At Kitsault, we had a Lenkurt 76 Radio shot, from Aiyansh, via the Alice Arm, and Tchitin Passives.  It served the mining town of Kitsault, set up for the purpose of mining Molybdenum, for AMAX of Canada (108 million tons at .12%) US Mining Conglomerate Phelps Dodge was the name of the company that built the townsite in 1969.  Another article says Climax Molybdenum Corporation of BC, and BC Moly as the Company name.  Climax Moly was based in Climax Colorado.  So one of these company names or all were involved in ownership of the mine.  Possibly BC Moly was the first company ca 1969, then Phelps Dodge came in 1979?

                  Molly had been mined in the area, with miners staying at Alice Arm, the village on the other side of Observatory Inlet. (Ts'im Gits'oohl in Nisga'a ).  Between 1967 and 1972, a total of 10 million tons had  been mined. However, mining had stopped in the early seventies when prices softened.  It wasn't until the 1979 era, that prices soared and housing started at the townsite.  It became the fastest built town, and then the newest ghost town in only 18 months.  The houses, apartment blocks, mall etc were left for almost 25 years, before some were sold.  The houses etc remaining were heated for 25 years, with no one living in them.  the grass was cut by the janitor, and the town looked like it was lived in. 

                   The element molybdenum (symbol Mo) is a silver-gray refractory metal that is hard, malleable, and ductile.  Often referred to as "moly," molybdenum is highly valued for its corrosion resistance. Because it keeps its strength and structure at high temperatures, molybdenum is used largely in alloys as a hardening agent. Steel-molybdenum alloys are used to make high-speed cutting tools, as well as aircraft and automobile parts.

                Kitsault was built in 1969 for employees of the mine. There were several thousand residents. There are 147 houses and seven apartment buildings containing 210 units.  It cost approx. 70 million dollars to build. After only one and a half years, the mine proved to be unprofitable and was shut down. The town was abandoned twice. Today, there is still a complete, but vacant town. There are modern subdivisions with paved streets and curbs, apartment buildings, a community center, a recreation center and a hospital. Kitsault is a modern day ghost town.  Only the caretaker remains, as the town can’t be totally destroyed (houses have been sold) as the reclamation of the property would cost millions, so as long as the company has a caretaker, it is officially still operating?

                The property, 80 hectares of forest and one kilometre of beach, houses, mall etc etc., sold in 2005 to an Indian born Virginia American, Krishnan Suthanthiran, and he is now redesigning the area as an investment, possibly a large retirement home area.  Asking price was $7,000,000.  selling price has never been disclosed.  Estimated cost to build the town site ranges up to $250,000,000.  Quite a sale price!  The discharge area has been cleaned up and the mine decommissioned, so it is ready for development now.

                Other than it was the destination of my first Airplane (Goose) ride, and it had the best worker’s camp in the world (more salads and deserts than most restaurants!),  I remember it for another reason.
            A memorable helicopter flight I took with my Mom,  to Kitsault to deliver a piece of test gear for Carl Lofroth.  The pilot was Les Hanberg, and it was a Okanagan Helicopter Bell Jet Ranger 206.  Les knew Mom was nervous, so he took extra care in instructing her about everything, things I didn’t know, and had flown with them for years, at that point.  Through out the flight, he was giving her a guided tour of the valley, showing her things I had never seen, as well as a look at the mountain goats in the pass from Aiyansh to Kitsault, not too close as to disturb them.  Upon landing in Kitsault, I was busy unloading the test gear for Carl, and Les disappeared.  When I got back in the machine, I asked Mom where he went, and She shrugged, a Don’t know.  Suddenly as if by magic he appeared at her door, with a bouquet of fresh cut Pussy Willows.  Well to this day, 25 years later, at the age of 91, she still talks about the guy.  Talk about making an impression!  If that wasn’t enough, on the way back to Terrace, he asked her if she had ever seen a Volcano, she said No, so off we went to the Aiyansh Volcano. On arriving, he asked her if she would like to take a closer look, and she said, Yes, of course, so in we went, I mean IN the cone, right to the bottom, and then a 360 turn to show the rock formations to her.  Well that was the capper!  What a memory! What a pilot! He now lives on a farm north of Camrose AB.  It doesn't get any better than this!

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