Ashcroft's culture and history is grounded in the development of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
Ashcroft was originally founded as a connection between the railway and Cariboo Wagon Road, which ran through neighbouring Cache Creek, an important supply junction during the 19th-century Gold Rush.
The CPR chose Ashcroft as the railhead for Cariboo Road in 1885. Accommodations and services increased rapidly with the subsequent influx of people to Ashcroft, and by 1887 the town was bustling with harness and wheel repair shops, blacksmiths, livery stables, freight warehouses, and ranches and farms. Ashcroft remained a supply centre until 1920 when Pacific Great Eastern Railway provided an alternate route to British Columbia's Northern Interior.
Ashcroft and Cache Creek
Ashcroft and Cache Creek developed along separate historical paths, evident today in both communities. While Cache Creek has regained its supply centre role and thus focuses on service industries, Ashcroft has nurtured its independent businesses and creative community. Fast-food outlets, chain motels, and multiple gas stations simply do not exist in Ashcroft. Instead visitors will find heritage buildings, intimate restaurants, colourful bed and breakfasts, and a generally laid back atmosphere.
Since 1982, the red two-story building on 4th and Brink Street has housed the Ashcroft Museum. At the museum, artifacts, texts, and photographs chronicle the history of the Southern Cariboo area, First Nations inhabitance, and the great fire of 1916 that destroyed much of Ashcroft's business core. The museum's building, originally constructed in 1917, formerly served as a post office, and telegraph and telephone exchange office. The Ashcroft Museum is also the starting point for a walking tour through the community's historic downtown core marked by original buildings from the late 19th century and early 20th century.