It was in the early 1860's that three prospectors where out looking for new creeks to mine. Bill Cunningham, Jim Bell and Jack Hume were seasoned miners and knew what to look for. These three miners didn't want to waste time on marginal creeks so they were always on the hunt for richer ground. After many months of prospecting the three were hiking along some cliffs and supposedly Bill slipped and fell and rolled down the embankment right to a creeks edge. This creek turned out to become known as Lightning Creek and within a few short years there was not a speck of ground on this creek that was not staked.
Of course once word got out back then it didn't take long for a town to be built. With thousands of miners in a rich area there was always opportunity for a business owner to make some fast cash also and by 1863 there was the town of Stanley being built. The town grew fast and was at that time the largest town in the area. It was even larger than Barkerville for a while. Over half the population was Chinese. Most of the Chinese were brought over to help construct the railroads back then and after the railroads were built they were allowed to stay. The town had everything you could need back then including 3 hotels. One of those hotels still stands today.
There was also another town that was built during this time to service the same area. That was the town of Van Winkle. It was a town of one street with wooden stores, restaurant, bakery. On the one side of the town was the Government encampment consisting of several tents. However after a while the wagon road trail was moved and the road to Barkerville by passed Van Winkle and went through Stanley instead. This brought the end to Van Winkle.
Gold was plentiful in Lightning Creek. it is reported that thousands of pounds of gold were mined out by hand on this creek with the largest gold nugget being 30 ounces alone. By 1874 it was reported that almost $500,000 worth of gold had been mined in that year alone. The following year even more gold had been mined from larger operations that had started up in the area.
Soon the creeks started to give out less gold and the pay layers were getting deeper so many miners moved on. A lot went up to the Barkerville area because this area was getting a lot of attention as were other areas of the province.
There is very little left of Stanley other than the cemetery and theone old Lightning Creek hotel. Visitors can still see lot of old broken rusty metal in the over growth but little else remains.