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Whispers from the Past: Discovering Kitsault's Forgotten History

Updated: Apr 23

Nestled amidst the rugged wilderness of British Columbia lies Kitsault, a town steeped in mystery and forgotten by time. Tucked away in the remote reaches of Canada's western coast, this once-thriving community now stands as a silent testament to a bygone era. In this blog post, we embark on a captivating journey through the rich history of Kitsault. From its humble beginnings as a bustling mining town to its abrupt abandonment and subsequent resurrection, Kitsault's story is as intriguing as it is enigmatic. Join me as we delve into the forgotten chapters of Kitsault's past, exploring the factors that shaped its rise and fall, and uncovering the remnants of its once-vibrant community. From tales of prosperity to tales of resilience, Kitsault's narrative offers a fascinating glimpse into the trials and triumphs of frontier life in British Columbia.


Unfortunately, Kitsault remains inaccessible to the public as it is private property, inaccessible to visitors seeking to explore its intriguing history firsthand. Despite being unable to physically step foot within its boundaries, the digital realm allows us to unravel the mysteries of Kitsault from afar.

 

Kitsault's Origins


In 1979, Kitsault emerged from the wilderness as the brainchild of the Phelps Dodge corporation, envisioned as a thriving hub for the nearby molybdenum mine. Boasting modern amenities and infrastructure, the town was designed to accommodate up to 1,200 residents, featuring everything from a hospital and school to a bustling mall and theater. However, this ambitious dream quickly unraveled with the crash of the molybdenum market in 1982, leading to the abrupt closure of the mine and the mass exodus of Kitsault's inhabitants. Within a remarkably short span, the once-bustling town transformed into a ghostly relic of its former self. On October 31, 1983, Kitsault fell silent as its last residents departed, leaving behind a deserted landscape. The dismantling of the town saw its modular homes relocated to distant locales such as Terrace, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, while the school found a new home in Kamloops, marking the end of Kitsault's fleeting existence as a vibrant community.


For more than twenty-five years, Kitsault lay dormant, shrouded in solitude as its empty streets echoed with the whispers of its past. Then, in 2005, a new chapter dawned as Indo-Canadian entrepreneur Krishnan Suthanthiran acquired the town for a mere $6 million, christening it Chandra Krishnan Kitsault in honor of his late mother. While Suthanthiran's initial vision aimed to transform Kitsault into a haven for intellectuals and creatives worldwide, with plans to fund this endeavor through retreats, ecotourism, and film productions, these aspirations never fully materialized. Instead, the town remained untouched by the promised resurgence. Turning his gaze toward the burgeoning liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, Suthanthiran pivoted his focus in 2015 to establish Kitsault Energy. With ambitious plans for a floating LNG terminal and a deep-water port at Kitsault's doorstep, connected by a network of pipelines catering to Asian markets, the project was poised to revolutionize the region's energy landscape. Initially slated for completion by 2018, the estimated $20-30 million venture has faced delays, leaving the once-hopeful revival of Kitsault suspended in uncertainty.


Despite its captivating allure, Kitsault remains veiled in secrecy, its gates firmly closed to outsiders and its enigmatic charm only deepening with each passing year. Entrusted to the oversight of 2 former Terrace-based educators, the town's preservation efforts are meticulous, with half a million dollars annually dedicated to maintaining its pristine appearance. Nestled along the Observatory Inlet, Kitsault finds itself in the company of neighboring ghost towns such as Anyox and Alice Arm, each contributing to the mystique surrounding this abandoned haven. The immaculately preserved houses and structures serve as relics frozen in time, fueling the mythos of Kitsault's lost paradise. Yet, amidst the meticulously groomed lawns and freshly vacuumed carpets, Kitsault remains suspended in a perpetual state of anticipation, awaiting the realization of Suthanthiran's ambitious vision. With plans hinging on the development of a pipeline corridor, the road to revival may be long and uncertain, leaving Kitsault trapped in a timeless loop of maintenance and expectation. As the world waits with bated breath, Kitsault stands as a silent testament to the resilience of dreams, poised on the precipice of a future yet to be written.

 

While our exploration of Kitsault has provided a glimpse into its captivating history and enigmatic present, there's undoubtedly more to uncover with a deeper dive into online archives and resources. Though we've touched upon its establishment, abandonment, and subsequent revival attempts, the layers of Kitsault's narrative run deep, waiting to be unearthed by those curious enough to seek them out. It's worth noting that while I strive to shed light on Kitsault's story, I've chosen not to include photographs in this post. Many available images online have been captured through unauthorized visits or the use of drones, raising ethical concerns about privacy and respect for the town's status as private property. The single photo featured in the title image of this post serves as a respectful nod to Kitsault's visual presence without compromising its integrity.


As we continue our journey through the digital realm, it's clear that Kitsault's allure extends beyond mere words or images. It's a place shrouded in mystery, its secrets guarded by the passage of time and the vigilant oversight of its caretakers. While we may not have all the answers, our exploration serves as a testament to the enduring fascination with this remote ghost town and the stories it holds within its silent streets and abandoned structures.

 
vibrant spring scene with mountains behind a lake and a green field in front of it full of colorful flowers

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