- Explore West Kootenays
- Read The Guide
In 1864, mountain men and prospectors following the Dewdney Trail discovered the beautiful Creston Valley. Travel was difficult, except for the waterways, but gold finally provided the incentive for an east-west route linking the coastal communities with the gold fields which were centred around Fort Steele. When the mining fever shifted north to the Kaslo-Slocan region, the valley and its waterways became a north-south throughway. The building of the railroads in the late 1890s played a large part in the economy, as all goods in those days were transported by rail and ship. With the coming of the railroad, Creston exploded with 26 hotels and eateries to serve the settlers, prospectors and rail workers.
The mining boom fizzled in the Creston Valley because the mineral deposits that were found were not large enough to be viable. Forestry and agriculture became the primary industries in the new community of Creston. The dyking of the Kootenay and Goat rivers in 1935 enabled agriculture to become the principal industry by mid-century, as the rich, reclaimed valley soil nourished grain fields, pasture lands and orchards.
Creston boasts a population of approximately 5400 and is an important regional centre with a thriving business sector. Often referred to as the “Valley of Swans”, the surrounding picturesque and fertile valley supports a growing tourism trade and orchard industry. The valley is also home to the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area. Within the 17,000 acres of lush wetland habitat, 286 species of birds and 57 mammal species can be found.
The fresh fruit grown in the area is a great treat for visitors. The warm, sunny summer climate of the valley favours apricots, peaches, plums, pears and grapes, as well as many varieties of apples. Freshly picked strawberries are available as early as June 10 in most years; other early season berries which ripen in July are raspberries, boysenberries and blackberries. At the end of July cherries gleam temptingly in the trees.
You will find many roadside stands offering local produce for sale, or you might like to stop at the farms where you can pick your own.
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