Fort Steele had its origins during the 1864 Kootenay Gold Rush. Amazingly, most of the gold was panned out of Wild Horse Creek in the first two years of the gold rush, but in 1865 the town had grown to 5000 people. Most of the prospectors soon left but settlers remained.
The town started out being called Galbraith's Ferry after one of the miners who decided running a ferry across the Kootenay River would be a better way to make his living than panning for gold. The town name was later changed to Fort Steele.
The town is restored to the 1890's
By 1887, the gold rush was long over but settlers remained. There were disagreements between the natives (the Ktunaxa) and the settlers. A troop of North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) arrived in 1887. Amazingly, the leader of the troop - Sam Steele resolved the differences between the Ktunaxa and the settlers and returned east in 1888.
This picture was of the NWMP barracks built in 1887 (and of course later rebuilt). Superintendent Sam Steele did such a fine job that the town was soon named after him.
The Fort Steele NWMP had an enclosed fort to protect the police, and one of the towers of the fort has been rebuilt. We were able to climb it, and the earlier pictures of the whole town are taken from the top of that fort.
Not all of the townsite has been rebuilt. Also not all buildings are open to the public. It is also interesting seeing the actual shells of some of the buildings waiting for resources to preserve etc. them.
In 2004, summer rates are from $10.50 to $18 for adults depending on what aspects of the exhibits/rides you wish to see. The $18 admission covers two consectutive days which is worth considering. Off season rates are less.