district lots and maps


Ashcroft Manor

Hat Creek House

Pollard's Cornish Ranch and Roadhouse

59 Mile House

70 Mile House

100 Mile House Ranch and Roadhouse

108 Mile House

111 Mile House

127 Mile House

137 Mile House

141 Mile House

150 Mile House

153 Mile House and Store

Dunlevy Roadhouse and Farm

Cottonwood House

Coldspring House

Beaver Pass House

 Cottonwood House, lots 380 and 379

map of lots 380 and 379

Constructed on the Cariboo Wagon Road between 1864 and 1865, Cottonwood House served gold rush travelers headed for Barkerville or making their way out to Quesnel and other destinations North and South.

An overland freighter on the trails between Yale and the goldfields of the Cariboo, John Ryder was the first to pre-empt 160 acres of land "situated on the north side of the Cottonwood River, about 4 miles below the mouth of Lightning Creek," on 27 March 1863. A further 160 acres of adjoining land, was pre-empted by Ryder and his partner Allen Smith, a contractor on the second survey of the trail to Van Winkle in 1862. The two saw the property as a strategic buy, with the road to be built passing through the Ryder's property (p224, B.Patenaude:1996).

By 1863 the ranch had become known as "Ryder and Smith's." A Certificate of Improvement was issued to Ryder in December 1863, which allowed him to transfer Lot 380 to Smith. A single-storey cabin built on Lot 380 is probably the cabin attached to the southwest corner of Cottonwood house, known today as the parlour of the roadhouse. Smith mortgaged Lots 380 and 379 for $5000 to August Hoffmeister, to enable himself to continue work on a larger, two-storey roadhouse started in 1864 (p224, B.Patenaude:1996).

Although the substantial two-storey log house roadhouse was operating by the spring of 1865, the ranch was lost as of 1 July 1865 when Smith defaulted on the mortgage. This failure was related in part to a short term mortgage; a temporarily declining local economy; and delay in the completion of the wagon road from Cottonwood to Richfield.

Upon foreclosure, Hoffmeister and his partners in a consortium put the Cottonwood Ranch and roadhouse up for auction. It realized only $4400 and was purchased back by the partners. Unable to settle their debt with the bank the partners had to convey the titles of their several properties to the back (p225, B.Patenaude:1996). After a series of owners failed to make their mortgage payments on the property, John Boyd, of Cold Spring House, bought the Cottonwood Ranch and roadhouse on 19 March 1874 for $5000. This early history of the Cottonwood ranch reflects the uncertain economy of the mining community in the Cariboo of the late 1860's. With the introduction of lode mining, confidence was restored and the economy eased (p227, B.Patenaude:1996).

Visitors to Cottonwood house under Boyd included stage passengers and drivers, both Chinese and Native freighters and a host of government and professional men. The delivery of mail to and from Cottonwood house began several years prior to the official establishment of a post office in 1895. This served as an office for the Overland Telegraph between Quesnel and Barkerville. You can still see the poles and wires today. With his wife, Janet, ten children, and hired help Boyd raised crops, built barns and operated a general store.

In 1961 parts of District Lot 380 became Cottonwood Historic Park. The roadhouse and outbuildings were restored under the direction of the Barkerville Historic Park, with the roadhouse reflecting the mid-1870's when the Boyd family first acquired it. Each summer interpreters in period costumes give tours of the Cottonwood house.

"Although he had been a landowner since the 1860's, it was not until 1899 that Boyd applied to have his various acquisitions Crown granted. It was July 20, 1901, when Boyd received Crown grants on district lots 379,380,388,436,437,and 438 (p249, B.Patenaude:1996).

Last updated November 30, 1998.
Produced by Tina Rizzuti and the Schoolnet Digital Collections Team.