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SS Argenta on the Duncan River

The SS Argenta on the Cooper Creek rapids on the Duncan River, circa 1899. Image courtesy of Touchstones Nelson Archives

Quick Facts


Year Built: 1900

Location: Mirror Lake Shipyard

Company: Great Northern Railway

Year Withdrawn: 1910

Notes: Used for freighting and some passenger trade on the run from Duncan Lake to Kaslo until mining interest waned a few years later.

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The SS Argenta

SS Argenta circa 1900

The SS Argenta was built by the Kootenay Railway and Navigation Company, (a subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway,) at the Mirror Lake Shipyard in 1900. It was built with minimal concessions for passengers as its primary purpose was to ship freight north from Kaslo into the Duncan River Valley. Above the main freight deck there were two staterooms and a small dining room. It was a smaller boat compared to others on Kootenay Lake, about the same size as the SS City of Ainsworth, at 28 metres (92.9 feet) long, 6.2 metres ( 20.3 feet) wide.

The SS Argenta was launched on February 7, 1900 and made its first trip to Howser Lake (now known as Duncan Lake) on April 15, 1900. The 16 kilometre (10 mile) trip upstream from the head of Kootenay Lake to Howser Lake along the Duncan River took four hours and involved navigation through two significant rapids. The first set of rapids at the outlet of the Cooper Creek were strong enough to need a winch to ensure passage. The second set at Glacier Creek, while not as tough, also slowed down passage. The return trip took only one hour.

The SS Argenta's schedule from April to October was to travel from Kaslo to Howser Lake on Tuesdays and Fridays, and return to Kaslo on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A run from Duncan City to Healy's Landing, 25 kilometres (16 miles) north of Duncan City was incorporated into the run while the ship was located in the Valley.

The first two years of working on the route proved to be profitable for the company, but as interest in mining and railway construction waned in the Duncan Valley, the ship was needed less. By 1904, the SS Argenta was tied up in Kaslo. Later it was moved to the settlement of Mirror Lake where it was damaged and sunk. The ship was repaired enough to be towed across Kootenay Lake to Galena Bay at Riondel, where it sunk after it rotted past the point of recovery.

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