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Consolidated Mining and Smelting meets Krag the Kootenay Ram

Updated: Jun 27, 2018

There are two curious things about the stock certificate seen below, issued by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. of British Columbia Ltd. and dated June 1, 1904.

First, this was not the company of (almost) the same name founded in 1906 with the merger of the Canadian Smelting Works at Trail, St. Eugene mine at Moyie, Centre Star and War Eagle mines at Rossland, and Rossland Power Company. That was the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. of Canada Ltd., later better known as Cominco.

This proto-Cominco, with head office at Minneapolis, was created in 1903. I found this item in the the Minneapolis Journal of Sept. 4 that year:

The Lardeau Eagle elaborated a week later:

I suspect Kootenai Consolidated was not a separate company and the name was just changed at the last minute. There are no other references to it, at any rate.

President C.S. Dudley was also president of the Federal Gold & Copper Co. and Federal Mining Co., both incorporated in Nevada, but also with Minneapolis head offices. Yet Dudley and his associates were actually from Kansas. Dudley was a dentist but I don’t know if H.L. Archer was really a colonel. He was, however, Dudley’s son-in-law and secretary of Consolidated Mining; his signature is on the stock.

The company earned occasional mentions in the local press:

A small group of men will go over the divide early next week to put matters in shape on the Old Gold Camp [in the Lardeau]. These properties have all been consolidated under the management of the Consolidated Mining and Smelting company and will be extensively developed during the summer. Judge Miller will be manager of the Western part of the work. (Rossland Evening World, May 20, 1904)
Active preparations are being made at the Old Gold Camp for the Consolidated, which will soon be finding employment for a large number of men. Judge Miller was in the district this week. Cabins have been built and other work of a preparatory nature done on the property, owned by the company farther down the West Fork. (Lardeau Eagle, July 8, 1904)
The Old Gold mine on the Duncan road which is owned by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. has been the scene of active mining for the past few weeks. Ore is now being shipped by pack train from the men, and a first installment of 20 sacks brought down by Cal. garrison and Ed. Bell reached Ferguson on Wednesday and another consignment was packed down yesterday. (Lardeau Eagle, Sept. 9, 1904)

The Lardeau Mining Review of Aug. 4, 1905 announced a visit of company directors:

Judge Miller — I don’t know if he was an actual judge — had been in the area since at least 1901. Six years later he was still trying to work the misnamed Old Gold property on Westfall Creek and managed to ship four tonnes, from which 16,640 grams of silver and 1,925 kg of lead were extracted.

In 1916, when the price of silver and lead climbed, Miller shipped another 22 tonnes producing 62,206 grams of silver and 2,722 kg of lead. The Minister of Mines report for that year stated:

A brief history of the Old Gold online indicates a neighbouring mine operated by a different company shipped a similar amount the following year. But afterward, all went silent. Archer and Dudley went on to various other schemes, including a streetcar company in Kansas City and selling Saskatchewan farmland.

The second interesting thing about this stock is its unusual decoration: it features a fictional character, Krag the Kootenay Ram.

Krag was the mountain sheep protagonist of a short story by the same name by English-American author Ernest Thompson Seton. It was first published in two parts in Scribner’s Magazine in 1901, then included later that year in Seton’s collection Lives of the Hunted. It was also reprinted several times, including in a 1929 book titled Krag the Kootenay Ram and Other Animal Stories.

The illustration on the stock certificate was inspired by the one that appeared in Lives of the Hunted, but it’s not identical.

I can’t claim to have read the story, but according to one summary: “Bighorn sheep hunter Scotty McDougall pursues a magnificent ram for over a decade, but at terrible cost. Part natural history and part allegory, Seton shows the consequences of humankind’s destruction of nature in a story which marked the literary beginning of the environmental movement.”

Seton’s story was apparently inspired by an 1897 article in Recreational Magazine titled “How the Big Ram Was Killed,” which discusses the real Scotty McDougall, a hunter who killed a giant bighorn ram before being claimed himself by an avalanche.

Gunder Peak, where the story begins and ends, was apparently based on Tunchuck Mountain, in Montana’s Whitefish Range. Three peaks are named Krag Peak, Mount Scotty, and Mount Thompson Seton.

The story was also adapted for TV and aired in 1983.

But what was Consolidated Mining and Smelting’s purpose in adopting Krag as their mascot? And did Thompson actually license the character to them? Or did they use it without his permission?

Darrel Noakes writes in a Facebook post:

In a previous job, one of my tasks was to assist in the design of securities certificates. The choice of images was an anti-counterfeiting measure that we were required to include in the design. There were (maybe still are) libraries of images registered for such use. I’m pretty sure that the ram, along with the other images, was selected for this purpose, although the company may well have chosen it over images of other animals because it was consistent with their desire for a mascot. The fine line detail and mottled background would have been hard to counterfeit with the technology available at the time. It was a nice touch designating the ram as a mascot.

It’s true: animals did sometimes adorn stock certificates — usually lions and eagles, with the occasional deer.

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