Nellie Cashman Monument
The Nellie Cashman Monument was erected in 2014 to commentate the life of the Midleton born “Mining Queen” who mounted a daring rescue to the Cassiar mountain range in British Columbia after reports that twenty to thirty miners were trapped and had contracted scurvy. With no access to fresh food or medical supplies, they were fated to die from scurvy or starvation.
Some of the trapped miners came from previous mining camps and would have been known to Nellie. She was determined to rescue them and hired six men for the journey, carrying 1,500 lbs (680 kg) of supplies including limes on the almost 1,300 km (800 mi) journey.
Conditions in the Cassiar Mountains were so dangerous that the Canadian Army advised against attempting the rescue. Upon learning of Cashman’s expedition, troops were sent to locate her party and bring them back to safety. The Colonel eventually found Cashman camped on the frozen surface of the Stikine River, after a local First Nations tribe helped track them down with reports of a white woman (the only within hundreds of miles) travelling with six men. Over tea, she convinced the trooper and his men that it was her will to continue, and that she would not head back without rescuing the miners.
Nellie continued on with her rescue party, in conditions where the temperature rarely rose above -10c (14F), and when her party wished to turn back she retorted with “We may die, but if we do not continue those miners will die“. The fresh snow was too deep and too soft to use dogs, the only option was to hike for miles in snow shoes with various dangers including frostbite, snow blindness and wolves.
One morning, after making camp on the side of a hill, the party awoke to find Nellie and her tent were missing. An avalanche had taken the tent about a quarter of a mile down the slope. They found Nellie digging herself out of her tent, happy to be free of her entombed tent.
After 77 days of their trek, the rescue party reached the mining camp and discovered that actually 76 miners had been trapped. Nellie quickly set to work and nursed them back to health; all survived. When spring arrived and those back in civilisation heard of her exploits, a local newspaper published her incredible story branding her the Angel of the Cassiar.
Nellie passed away on January 4th 1925, and is still celebrated throughout the Americas. Each year Tombstone holds an annual “Nellie Cashman Day” on the eve of Womens’ Equality Day (the day that women in America gained full and equal voting rights). And in Washington State the Women Business Owners of the Year is held each year awarding women led businesses who demonstrate the Spirit of Nellie Cashman.
You can read more about Nellie Cashman in our blog post “The Midleton Woman who became a Queen in America“.
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