Seton Portage (nb "Portage" rhymes with "porridge") was formed sometime up to 10,000 years ago when a huge chunk of the Cayoosh Range gave way and collapsed into the freshwater fjord that is today Anderson and Seton Lakes. The mountain relief in this area is extreme - the lakes are 800' and 850' above sea level, with the valley's mountain ramparts soaring to well over 7000' and more - the depths of the lakes themselves have never been conclusively measured. The Portage was and is an important centre of the Stl'atl'imx people and its native neighbourhoods are part of the Seton Lake Band, based at Shalalth, which is part of the larger Lillooet Tribal Council (Stl'atl'imx Nation). The Portage is also home to a small non-native population composed of a mix of retirement and recreational residents.
During the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of 1858-60, up to 30,000 men following what was known as the Lakes Route swept through the Short Portage, as it was called then, as travel up the Fraser Canyon was near-impossible until the construction of the (second) Cariboo Wagon Road from Yale a few short years later (the Long Portage was through the Gates Valley and Birken). Known also as the Douglas Road or Lillooet Trail, the Lakes Route was a system of portages and lake journeys connecting river navigation on the lower Fraser with the start of the (first) Cariboo Road at Lillooet (for more on the history of this route see the entries on Port Douglas).
At the Short Portage, the flow of men was so intense that the shores of Anderson and Seton Lakes were named after the two busiest London Underground stations of the day, Wapping and Flushing, and were scenes of frantic loading and unloading of boats - Wapping was the Anderson shore, Flushing was where Slosh village is today. Lake travel was by canoe or raft and, in later times, by succession of small steamboats. Connecting the two "ports" were a short stretch of the government-chartered Douglas Road and a privately-built one-mile wooden-railed "railroad" which took advantage of the small elevation difference between the two lakes (50') and the rise of hill where Nkiat village and church is today by the outlet of Anderson Lake. Nothing remains of this today except its grade, which is believed to be identical to that of Portage Road, but this is reckoned to have been "BC's first railway" even thought it was powered by horses and mules and, on the downhill, gravity. There is a short stretch of the original Douglas Road preserved as a heritage site adjacent to the rail tracks west of the station, featuring a caboose which is sometimes open as a tourist information centre operated by the tiny Seton Portage Chamber of Commerce.
In the years after the gold rush, Seton Portage lapsed into relative isolation although there were a few settlers as well as comings-and-goings from various mines along the Lakes. In the 1910s, the Portage became a construction base for the PGE (BCR) and, after the railway opened in 1915, attracted a number of summer residents from the city as well as a couple of small lodges.
During the hydroelectric construction boom after World War II, the population boomed as at neighbouring Shalalth, and the neighbourhood along Portage Road was home to several hundred men and their families; many of the houses remaining in the Portage today date from this period but most were dismantled when the project was completed. In 1958, the name of the community was officially changed from Short Portage to Seton Portage as part of the centennial celebrations of that year. Local residents often refer to the place simply as "Seton" (a term which also includes Shalalth and the Bridge River townsite at South Shalalth).
Throughout the Portage and in Shalalth there are a number of apple orchards, some of them still commercially-producing although in the past this was a going concern on a large scale. The valley's warm climate was also conducive to large-scale vegetable-growing to supply the mines population of the Bridge River Valley. The local climate is especially favourable to fruit-growing, and it's claimed that Seton Portage produces the best MacIntosh apples in the world. A box of Seton Portage MacIntoshes was at one time among British Columbia's official Christmas gifts to Buckingham Palace! Most of these orchards are untended today and the apples are known to attract the valley's large bear population and other wildlife. Orchards in the central area of the Portage remain privately-operated so do not cross any fence to pick apples! Local produce can be bought in the stores, or if you happen to see one of the growers tending their trees, directly from the orchard.
On the main commercial strip along Portage Road near the train station there are are a store-restaurant, a restaurant-pub, a small and very modern motel as well as a campground with coin-op showers and a small laundromat. The campground is free but it's pretty rocky and unsuitable for tenting and also noisy as it's in between the rail tracks and the foamy Seton Portage River - which is popular for "tubing" although care should be taken of deadheads and brush in the stream. There's a native-operated gas pump on the Slosh Reserve, just off the Portage Road near Seton Lake, that also sells pop, chips, ice cream, cigarettes etc.
Hiking around the Portage is excellent and there are numerous trails of interest to mountain-bikers; decent rock-climbing might be had in the area of the falls on Whitecap Creek and the north shore of Anderson Lake adjacent to Buntain's, the small resort community on the Anderson Lake shore where the High Line Road heads out for D'arcy. A short trail following a former rail grade past the current rail tunnel leads to the older rail tunnel through the point where Bridge River No. 2 Powerhouse is, and there may be some good rock in that area of interest to climbers. The animal population is very intense, though, so caution should be taken concerning bear, cougar and bobcat, especially in orchards or berry-rich areas such as the powerlines. The powerline trail towards Lillooet above the south shore of Seton Lake is well worth the effort, and can be gotten to from the road that leads to the left after Nkiat village, by Anderson Lake.
Road access is via the Mission Mountain Road, which branches off Highway 40 at Terzaghi Dam, about 30 miles from Lillooet, or via the extremely rough Anderson High Line Road from D'arcy - when it's open. Passenger rail service is available from D'arcy and Lillooet daily, and it may be possible to hire watertaxi service from either end of the two lakes, though no regular scheduled service is in operation today as was the case in times past.