At about 11:00 on Day 23 of our RV trip – Friday, May 18th – we left Nakusp Hot Springs and headed southeast towards the historic community of Kaslo. We had no plans for an overnight stop – it would just be wherever looked appropriate.
At Nakusp, we stopped at the municipal campground and paid $5 to dump our tanks at the sani-dump. The fellow in charge spent 8 summers and 2 winters in the Yukon, and said that he loved the Yukon, and the Kootenays was the most similar place he could find without the lng winters. He also told us that a couple of ig events in Kaslo could make finding a place to stay tough.
We ended up driving 123 km in the RV this day, to an RV park 17 km past Kaslo. I haven’t shown you a map for a while, so here’s this day’s route – as always, click on it to open an interactive version in a new window. I’m still tracking with inReach, and our entire route with very detailed maps (except for the occasional gap when I forget to turn it on) can be seen at
At 1:15, we stopped for a snack at a pullout among the high mountains along Highway 31A between New Denver and Kaslo. There are very few pullouts along the highways in the Kootenays unfortunately, as there were a few places I would have liked to stop, for views or old mines.
A huge network of beaver dams added a lot of interest to the view forward (to the east) at the pullout. We didn’t see any beaver, but there were a few geese and ducks.
Behind us, there was another old mine on the opposite side of the narrow valley. Between mines, railroad grades and wagon trails, I could spend a lot of time along this road, and we’re already talking about doing exactly that next year.
We decided to go into Kaslo for a quick look, and to talk to the people at the visitor centre about a possible overnight stay. We pretty much immediately knew that this would be a 2-night stay – Kaslo has a great feeling to it, and there are particularly fine heritage buildings everywhere.
I had made a sort visit to Kaslo in about 1970, but was surprised at how large the town is. The 2016 was only 968, with there were 555 private homes, so it looks like more, particularly when the number of people on the street is welled by special events.
The Canadian Pacific sternwheeler Moyie was really the only thing I remembered about Kaslo from almost 50 years ago. We’d return for a tour through it, but our visit to the visitor centre was short and productive – the Woodbury Resort & Marina south of town looked like a good spot for us.
By about 4:00, we were set up in pull-through site #108. It turned out to be one of the few overnight RV sites at Woodbury – most of the 100+ sites have RVs permanently in place for full-time or seasonal residents. The cost for 2 nights was $73.50 included taxes. The next photo shows the view out our front view, looking across Kootenay Lake
With a fairly well-used hummingbird feeder 3 feet from her favourite bed and window in the motorhome, Molly was well entertained for the duration of our stay at Woodbury 🙂
Our RV site was a bit tight, but with a view like that, we didn’t really care.
Despite being controlled by two dams and a 1938 international convention on acceptable levels, Kootenay Lake is very high, and the resort is bringing a lot of sand and gravel in to deal with it. As of this morning, a record high water level on the lake is expected to be reached within 10 days – with water 2.3 feet higher than it is currently, it could be ugly. The Kootenay Lake levels for the past 31 days can be seen here.
There are are lot of dogs at Woodbury – some aren’t very friendly, and some owners don’t bother picking up after theirs. We found a decent area to walk Bella and Tucker, though – this is looking back at the main part of the park from where we go.
On Saturday, we began our exploring of the Kaslo area at Fletcher Falls. I didn’t have high hopes for this to be very scenic, particularly when I saw Fletcher Creek coming out from a culvert under the highway, but I was soon proved wrong. T amount of spray becoming created and exploding out of the canyon was amazing – I had to clean the camera lens after every shot.
The trail leads to a viewing platform near the base of the falls. From here, the overhanging cliffs are almost as impressive as the waterfall.
Lit by shafts of sunlight, the spray from the waterfall also offered plenty of photo opportunities.
A bridge leads across Fletcher Creek to the waterfall viewing deck, and the day-use area of Fletcher Falls Recreation Area.
The very high water levels on Kootenay Lake have greatly reduced the size of the beach at Fletcher Falls Recreation Area, but the camping area is high and dry, and 3 groups were camped there.
From Fletcher Falls, we backtracked west on Highway 3A to see if we could reach Buchanan Lookout. It’s one of five retired forest fire lookout towers that were restored as recreation destinations for the BC Forest Service’s centennial anniversary in 2012. With lots of snow still visible on the peaks, it’s position at 1,912 metres (6,272 feet) on Mount Buchanan made reaching it unlikely, but the road would no doubt be interesting in any case.
The road is said to be suitable for high-clearance 2-wheel-drive vehicles, but having 4-wheel-drive is much better. The road does offer some great views.
Just past the 7-km marker on the 12-km road, we came to impassable snow. I walked up the road a bit, but the snow was too deep and soft to go far. There was a switchback with a large area to turn around just 100 meters back, so the location to have to turn back was good.
The view ahead on the way down. From this vantage point we could see that there are logging and mining roads everywhere – for a backroads explorer, this is pretty incredible country.
Near the bottom of the Buchanan Lookout road, I took Bella and Tucker for a long walk on what is signed as being the old Sandon-Kaslo Wagon Road, though I have my doubts abot the accuracy of that. It’s quite steep in places, and I found a section of a very old, overgrown road that has a much easier grade.
Back at Highway 3A, we turned west to continue exploring. This pullout at a section of the old Kaslo & Slocan Railroad (K&SRR) looked like it had possibilities, but as soon as I stopped, I saw that the trail was still deep in snow. An interpretive panel says that the railway only operated from 1895 until 1910 when fire wiped it out (a large forest fire, I assume).
While the K&SRR pullout didn’t offer any hiking, it did provide a great location for a family portrait. Well, a most-of-the-family portrait – I need to set up one with Molly included to get it right.
We went back to the RV park and dropped Bella and Tucker off, then returned to Kaslo for a pub late-lunch ast about 3:00 pm. Angry Hen Brewing gets great reviews and the location close to the steamboat Moyie was perfect for after-lunch plans. Angry Hen Brewing is a great example of businesses working together instead of fighting. They supply excellent beers in a very comfortable setting (we lucked into live music, too), and they welcome you to bring in some of the excellent food from neighbouring businesses (or from home, I suppose). Our burgers from BlueBelle Bistro next door were very good, and they delivered 🙂
Our final plan for the day was to go through the S.S. Moyie, the oldest intact passenger sternwheeler in the world. The S.S. Moyie National Historic Site is operated by the Kootenay Lake Historical Society, and admission is $12 for adults and $10 for seniors.
The Moyie was built in Nelson for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1898. She’s 161.7 feet long and 30.1 feet wide, and would normally carry 250 passengers, though 400 was her licenced capacity. She operated until 1957 – with lake traffic much reduced and a major overhaul due, keeping her in operation wasn’t economically viable.
This is the men’s smoking room, forward on the saloon deck. This was generally the noisiest place on the boat, with miners, prospectors, loggers, salesmen, and tourists drinking, playing card and just generally socializing.
We were quickly struck by how different the Moyie is than the surviving Yukon boats, the Klondike and Keno. Although very similar, the layout is different and the finishing is more fancy. This pantry is beside the dining saloon, between the men’s smoking room and the ladies’ saloon.
Included in the fancy detailing such as this emblem above the dining room was gold leaf stencilling – painters dusted powdered goldleaf onto linseed oil. During the restoration, these were discovered under layers of white paint.
The wheelhouse and forward loungs are always my favourite parts of any boat tour. What an experience it would have been to captain one of the magnificent boats, or even to sail on one in the early days.
The freight deck is particularly well set up, with a wide variety of stuff including vehicles – a car, a chicken-laden truck, and a horse-drawn fire ladder-truck. The Moyie really is a must-see if you get to Kaslo.
The 16-km drive from the RV park back to Kaslo is definitely not hard to take!
Although it was old cars and engines that took me back into Kaslo, I wasn’t nearly finished with old buildings, either. The City Hall, built in 1898, is a good example of what’s there.
Car shows used to be a very big part of my life. I go to the odd one in Whitehorse now, but never miss an opportunity to see what’s on the road in other communities.
There were some gorgeous cars in Kaslo, from restorations to mild and wild customs. This wild chopped and flamed Merc was one of my favourites.
For the hour plus that I was there, cars and light trucks of all vintages just kept coming. There were about 80 when I left just after 10:00.
On a side street, a few guys whose passion is old engines of all sizes were putting on a show.
Pre-heating the fuel to get a Weber fired up.
Derek Pollard recovered his first old engine from a Kootenays mountaintop over 40 years ago, and still loves working on them, even when they get cantankerous.
Some of the old engines are beautiful in their own way (especially some of the details), but when they get fired up, they’re really quite amazing.
At about 11:30 on Day 21 of our RV trip – Wednesday, May 16th – Cathy and I left New Denver and started the short 61-km drive to Nakusp Hot Springs, where I had made a campground reservation.
This is the first look visitors get of the Nakusp Hot Springs structure – a high rock wall with a narrow building behind it.
When I went in to register, it was for the one night that I had reserved. As soon as I looked out from the office to the pool area, though, I said “make that two nights”. It’s gorgeous! The RV sites, all with electricity, are only $17.50 per night plus GST off-season ($35.00 regularly). With 1 swim the day of arrival and a full day pass the next day, the pool passes were $15.00 for me and $19.05 for the youngster 🙂
The office area itself is very nice as well, with a small seating area, and drinks and ice cream treats available.
The next step was to drive back down to the campground to get set up. The RV area is very nice, with 32 reasonably spacious sites.
Each of the camp sites has a fire ring and picnic table. We were soon set up in #12, which is 40 feet long.
The campground attendant told us that there was 17 feet of snow here this past winter, and there is still lots around the edges of the roads and campground. Kuskanax Creek right below our site was roaring – from the looks of the vegetation and rocks along it, the creek has never been higher.
There are several drinking water taps around the RV campground, situated so it would be easy to fill the motorhome fresh-water tank if it was needed.
Time for a warm soak. The changing and shower rooms are spacious and spotlessly clean.
This is what prompted me to immediately change my booking from one to two nights – a pair of pools with beautiful mountain views. The hot springs here have a very high flow rate – some 200,000 litres of water enters the pools each day, untreated except for filtering.
We started off in the smaller of the pools, which has water at 106°F (41°C). We keep our hot tub at home set to 104F, so this is a temperature that we’re familiar with and enjoy. It’s not good for long soaks, though – there’s a sign saying to limit your soak to 5 minutes, but we were there for about 15-20 minutes before moving to the large pool which has water at 100°F (38.5°C). The sign says to limit your soak there to 20 minutes, but my first comment was that it was lukewarm and not even worth going into. We stayed there for about an hour each time, though. There is just a faint sulphurous smell to the water.
Hummingbirds add a touch of interest to the pool area thanks to two feeders hanging along the edge.
Nakusp Hot Springs has a long history, and I like the fact that the city runs it. The plaque seen in the next photo is hanging in the office area.
I had asked about a painting of a beautiful bridge, and was told that it was 5 minutes down a trail I hadn’t yet noticed. So that trail was next of my list of things to do. It’s signed as the Hot Springs Trail, leading 8.5 km to a road at the north edge of Nakusp.
The trail starts off as an old road – the road used to bring in the equipment to build the very impressive bridge, I expect. I tried to find the vantage point that the painting used, but wouldn’t go where it appeared to be without climbing ropes.
Steel beams support the wooden covering on the bridge, which has a pair of seating areas jutting out on each side, looking over Kuskanax Creek to the mountains.
The view straight down to raging Kuskanax Creek.
The other site noted on the trail sign that caught my interest was the Hot Springs Source, so I continued on for another 15 minutes past the bridge. The source of the hot water is obvious, but my mind wasn’t able to piece together the various concrete tanks and pools, and rock walls into the early hot springs development shown on the Nakusp Hot Springs’ history page.
This is the largest of the concrete pools, and it’s above the obvious hot water source, so there must be (or used to be) another outlet higher up.
At the upper end of the hot springs source clearing, a sign notes the start of the Kimbol Lake Trail. It also says that the lake is 3.5 km, and I wasn’t ready for that, so returned to the campground.
We had a wonderful evening in the campground, with the thunder of Kuskanax Creek as the background music.
There were only about 10 RVs in the campground that night, and one couple was tenting in the tent area above the RV sites.
We began the next day with an hour-and-a-half soak in the hot pools. We had a leisurely lunch and then, properly equipped, I headed out on what I told Cathy would be about a 3-hour hike to Kimbol Lake. The trail is noted as a Moderate hike – 8 km, 5 hours return, with a 400-meter elevation gain.
The Hot Springs Trail sign notes Kuskanax Falls, but there is no sign pointing the way. I guessed that a faint trail just past the bridge might be it, and was correct.
Getting to Kuskanax Falls at an extremely high spring flow was quite an experience. Between spray and trees, I couldn’t get a good view, but the power of the place was incredible, as this video shows.
The day was cloudy and thunderstorms were moving in fast, but just before 2:00 pm, I was back on the main trail again.
Past the bridge, it’s a rough but lovely trail, reminding me a lot of some of the lower sections of the Chilkoot Trail, running through a second-growth forest of primarily cedar and Douglas fir.
On the cedar stump to the right of the small waterfall in the next photo, you can see the cut made to insert a springboard when the tree was felled many decades ago.
Back at the hot springs source. The actual source is to the lower left in the next photo, then it flows into various pipes and the concrete tank.
I put my feet in the water in the small concrete pool, which is only a few inches deep. Wow, is it hot!!! I can’t find the figure, but am guessing it to be about 116-118°F.
Starting up the Kimbol Lake Trail, I stopped and signed in on the trail register. I noticed that a couple from Osoyoos had tried the trail but lost it the day before. I was curious as to why they lost it – I’d find out soon enough. Within a few minutes, I was into a magnificent old-growth forest. A large thunderstorm was close, and although I couldn’t see it through the forest canopy, I could sure hear it. I expected to be getting wet at any time, but any rain that fell never reached the ground.
Overlooking the bridge seen in the previous photo, trail crews have built a bench from a huge log.
Past the creek crossing, a fairly steep climb took me into more and more snow, and at 2:45, the trail effectively ended. Beyond this pair of large deadfalls, the snow coverage was 100% and the was no way to follow the trail. Still very pleased with the experience, I turned back.
I added a note to my trail log entry that it was snow and deadfalls that ended my hike.
We had another relaxing evening – another long soak, meeting more interesting people, walking the dogs through the campground… As has been the case so often on this trip, we didn’t want to leave. Nakusp Hot Springs has such a wonderful vibe. But, Kaslo called, and at about 11:00 on Friday, we broke camp and headed out.
I asked Cathy to take a few photos of the road on the way out. There was a long section of one-lane road where a corner was being blasted away.
It’s not a road to hurry on – the hot springs is 14 km from the highway, and most of the road looks like the section in the next photo.
In the afternoon of Day 20 and morning of Day 21 of the trip – Tuesday, May 15th and Wednesday, May 16th – Cathy and I continued to explore New Denver with one of my sisters and her husband, from our base at the beautiful Centennial Park campground on the shore of Slocan Lake.
Our first stop wen we returned from Sandon was the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre (NIMC). In 1942, 20,881 Nikkei (people of Japanese descent) who lived within 100 miles of the British Columbia coast, 75% of whom were Canadian citizens, were stripped of their civil rights, labelled “enemy aliens”, and forced to move from their homes to communities and camps in the BC interior. New Denver and Sandon were two of those communities.
This appalling part of Canada’s history isn’t nearly as well known as I think it should be. Although it was a BC issue in some ways, it was Canada that made the internments and property seizures legal. It’s a good example of just how fragile democracy is.
Our visit began with a 10-minute introduction to what happened, by the centre’s interpreter. The grandparents of a boy I was friends with all the way through grade school had their fishboats seized and they were sent to one of these camps, so this story is one I’ve always known the basics of. There are a fair number of books about various aspects of the story in print now.
This was the men’s ward at Hastings Park, the assembly location for the moves and the property seizures. When you see photos like this, it’s hard to imagine that these were Canadians, and many of them were professionals and business people.
New Denver had a population of about 350 in early 1942, and 1,505 Nikkei were sent here. Some of the men among the first Japanese-Canadian arrivals were paid to build 275 shacks for the new residents in an area called “The Orchard”.
Many of New Denver’s new residents experienced their first real winter while living in tents while shacks were being built.
Moving from tents to shacks didn’t improve comfort a great deal – the shacks had no insulation initially, and amenities were very basic.
As visitors go through the various buildings on the centre’s property, the Japanese garden winding around them is a peaceful and beautiful constant as you come out from the disturbing images in each building.
A few outhouses were the sanitary facilities for the large Nikkei population.
Despite their treatment and accommodations, the Nikkei in general worked hard to form “normal” communities, with many of the events that they would have had in their former homes. I bought a copy of “Karizumai: A Guide to Japanese Canadian Internment Sites” – I’m not nearly finished with this story.
After that visit, with the temperature up around 28°C, we were all due for some play at the leash-free dog beach adjacent to the marina, which is adjacent to Centennial Park. A thinned forest goes almost to the water’s edge, so those who wanted shade could have it, while the fur-kids and I played in the sun and water 🙂
It takes some encouragement to get Bella swimming, but then she gets really funny. Sticks are always the winning toy.
Somebody got creative with some driftwood.
This was the only boat we saw on the lake, and we had the beach to ourselves. I would have expected both the lake and the beach to be busy on a day like this.
Due to a puppyhood trauma apparently, Nicky doesn’t like deep water, but I eventually got her in for sticks, too 🙂
The creek at the north end of the beach was roaring, and pouring huge amounts of sediment into the lake, but the lake water just a couple of hundred meters away was wonderfully clear. We could even hear large boulders tumbling down the creek.
It was as perfect an afternoon as we could have hoped for. I even took my kayak out for a bit.
After dinner, a crew of about 8 volunteers showed up to re-surface the bocce ball courts in front of our campsites. In short order, it looked like new, and the next morning, a class of children was there being instructed in how to play the game.
Our final place to visit on Tuesday evening, as the sun was going down behind the high peaks, was the Kohan Reflection Garden (“Kohan” means “by the water”). On the lakeshore adjacent to the south of Centennial Park, it “was created to honour the Japanese Canadians interred here during the Second World War.”
Kohan Garden contains many features of a Japanese garden including a tea house, and several flowering cherry trees planted by the Funjinkai, a women’s organization.
The boat launch, with the peaks to the south in the last light of the day. The boat launch is beside the lakeside camping sites, which don’t have power or water.
Warren and I had split dinner duties – he barbecued chicken for our firt dinner together, and I barbecued home-made burger patties the second night. Warren handled our final breakfast. Cooking is easier, and everything tastes better, when it’s done outside, especially in a location like this 🙂
Located beside us was a large tent-camping area. We were very impressed by quality of maintenance of everything in New Denver. With a population of only about 500, the town seems to have lots of money. Judging by the number of homes, there must be a sizeable seasonal community paying taxes.
Cathy and I didn’t want to leave New Denver yet, but had non-refundable reservation at Nakusp Hot Springs. Before heading north, we all drove over to downtown New Denver for a look around. The “business centre” is small and has a good feel to it, with some unique shops in the old buildings.
Tracy can never walk by a fabric shop, and “Sew Much More” had some beautiful material to entice her as well as lots of yarn in the other room.
I love communities that value their heritage. In some cases it’s just that there isn’t enough money to bulldoze and build anew, but I’m pretty sure that New Denver knows what attracts people.
There are several vacant buildings downtown, and the commercial block that’s for sale for $250,000 looked like a good deal, as the building on 4 commercial lots even has a rental apartment suite.
What a wonderful place to play chess on a warm day like this.
That’s my kind of wind vane 🙂
At about 11:30, we returned to the campground, finished packing up, said our “good-byes” and headed north towards Nakusp Hot Springs.
On Days 18, 19, and 20 of our RV trip – Sunday-Tuesday, May 13-15 – we drove from Greenwood to Nelson for a one-night stay, then to New Denver for 2 nights. Although I have lots to tell you about New Denver, the focus of this post will be Sandon, which we visited on May 15th.
I mentioned on my last post about Greenwood that I wanted to get up for a close look at the Greenwood Smelter chimney. I did take Tucker up there before we left, and it is a very impressive structure. Not just the chimney, but the entire brick structure that provided the draft that powered the many furnaces in the smelter. The larger the circumference and taller the chimney, the more furnaces that air can be provided for.
Nelson was supposed to be a significant visit for us, but wasn’t, due mostly to our extended stay in Penticton. I was meeting one of my sisters in New Denver, so we only had one night in Nelson – it deserves at least three. We only had a quick look at the city and the area. The next photo was shot on Baker Street, which is the main commercial street.
We had a very nice dinner at the historic Hume Hotel across from the former federal government building seen in the next photo – it’s now the museum. Nelson was our first bad choice in places to stay – let’s just say as a mini-review that we won’t be back to Klines RV Park.
I got a nice surprise on Monday morning while were grocery shopping before leaving Nelson. One of my Facebook friends used to drive bus in Whitehorse and now lives in Nelson. I had told him that we didn’t have time to get together for a proper visit, but said that we were going to be at Saveon. He tracked us down, and we had a mini-visit in the store. Thanks for making the effort, Nick – it was great meeting you 🙂
We pulled away from Nelson at about 11:30, backtracking on Highway 3a, and then heading north on Highway 6. It’s a narrow, winding old-style Kootenays highway, with scenery that ranges from beautiful to spectacular. Although the speed limit signs ay 90 km/h, there are many more signs that tell drivers to slow to 70 or even 50 km/h for corners, so we averaged a bit over 70.
We reached the Centennial Park campground at New Denver at about 2:00 pm, and got set up in a site beside the one that my sister and her hubby had picked. With power (30 amp) and water, it’s $30 per night – we got it for 2 nights, though Tracy and Warren were going to be there for 3.
Centennial Park is wonderful – a wide range of facilities, maintained at a high level, in a stunning location on the shore of Slocan Lake, with a very friendly park attendant taking care of everything.
This early, there were only about 10 RVs camped, and the beach was a place for sit and silently soak in the beauty of the place. I expect that very soon, that will not always be the case 🙂
There are plenty of places to walk the dogs on-leash, and a very good off-leash beach that I’ll tell you about in the next post. In the next photo, Cathy has Tucker and Bella, and Warren and Tracy have their chihuahua Jilly, and Australian shepherd Nicky.
We hit the road fairly early for the 14-km drive to Sandon, which is at the end of a 6-km side road off Highway 31a which runs from New Denver to Kaslo. I thought that the area was completely mined out, and was a bit surprised to see Klondike Silver Corp. operating at the edge of town.
We drove to the top end of downtown Sandon to start. Nothing would be open for a few days yet – the Victoria Day holiday weekend is the beginning of the tourists season here. High-grade silver was discovered here in 1891, and although the population reached 8,000, there isn’t a lot left now.
There is old equipment laying around everywhere, and a lot of it, like this dumping ore cart, is very high quality stuff that many museums would love to have.
There were lots of large patches of snow around, which made Bella in particular very happy. And any time that Bella is happy, Tucker has a better chance of getting her to play, so he’s happy about that 🙂
A man opened the Sandon Museum door and went in, but it wasn’t being opened yet.
I did take advantage of the open door to get a couple of photos of the interior of the museum.
This Heritage BC Stop of Interest sign describes the Slocan Mines: Silver was the key that opened the Slocan. Discovery in 1891 of the rich outcrops of the “Slocan Star” and “Payne” touched off the wildest lode excitement in our history. The silver-lead ore was easily and cheaply mined, speeding development, and the area boomed. Roads, towns and railways remain, linking the present with an era when silver was king.
The store in Sandon, the Prospector’s Pick, is in the fire hall and city hall building that was constructed in 1900.
A look through a little window beside the fire hall doors showed the building to be jammed full of interesting stuff. We’d have to come back in a week to see it all, though, and that wasn’t going to happen.
Canadian Pacific Railway’s locomotive #6947 was purchased from Alberta by Wrightway Charter Company of Sandon, who is now trying to raise funds for its restoration. Originally CPR #1737, it’s a 1908 2-8-0 Consolidation-class locomotive was worked in many places across Canada, including CPR’s Kootenay Subdivision from 1926 to 1928. I noted to Cathy that the front wheels were missing, but a sign on the locomotive notes that it was rebuilt into its current 0-8-0 configuration in 1928.
A highlight of this visit to Sandon was the collection of Brill trolley buses. I wrote about Vancouver’s Brill buses in March, and had been looking forward to seeing what was here.
What is now called the Electric Transit Museum is said to be the interim home for these Brill trolleys until they can be returned to Vancouver and possibly other cities for restoration and possibly even return to revenue service. A letter of explanation says that one of these buses, built between 1946 and 1954, can be restored for about $250,000 – about 1/3 the cost of buying a new one.
Many of the buses have information about that particular unit, and when the season begins, one bus is open to the public, with a Brill trolley display inside it.
Peeking through windows is okay but I’d sure like to get inside and sit down in that seat. For any fan of old buses, Sandon really is a must-visit. I hope that someday the museum’s vision of having some of these Brills restored and returned to service will come true.
After our look at the downtown area, we drove back to the east side of the creek and up to what appears to be the end of town (though they may actually be much more hidden in the bush). The next photo looks back down towards the downtown area.
One resident of the upper part of town has an amazing collection of cast-iron pieces attached to a couple of shed walls and a large stump 🙂
The 1900 City Hall is best seen from the east side of the creek, as is the museum.
Driving back to New Denver, I stopped at the junction of the Sandon road and Highway 31a to see what the Galena Trail is about. It’s the historic route of the Nakusp & Slocan Railway, and it takes about 2 hours to walk from here to New Denver
We got back to New Denver about , and had a wonderful afternoon of museum and garden touring, and beach play with the dogs. I’ll tell you about that in the next post.
We had a brief look at Greenwood when we arrived, but on Day 17 of the trip – Saturday, May 12th – I wanted to see a lot more of Greenwood and the area. In particular, I wanted to see the famous mountaintop mining area of Phoenix, where 4,000 people lived a century ago. I don’t know why I ever thought that a one-night stay at Greenwood might be enough 🙂
I was away from the motorhome at 07:00, leaving Cathy and the fur-kids to start the day in a more normal way. I wanted to start the day by finding Boundary Falls, which is marked on some maps, but isn’t signed, and is barely mentioned online.
Boundary Falls seemed to be somewhere close to a Stop of Interest pullout with interpretive panels about the Dewdney Trail and the Boundary Falls Smelter.
This is what Boundary Creek looked like below the pullout. The flood stage is doing a lot of damage, but I could see no hint of a waterfall either upstream or down.
I continued west on Highway 3, past the Boundary Falls Ranch, and was soon at the town of Midway, where there was a museum, the Kettle River Museum, which I also wanted to see. It was, of course, closed, but I had a look around the property.
Much of the Kettle Valley Railroad (KVR) grade is now a cycling trail, and it seems to be a big deal in Midway and a few other communities. The KVR Trail and Columbia & Western Rail Trail form the longest rail trail network in British Columbia, with some 650 km of connected pathways between Hope and Castlegar.
Poking around Midway, I found the most unique RV dump I’ve ever seen, by the little grass-strip airport.
On the drive back to the Boundary Creek Provincial Park campground, I stopped for a look at the small slag pile from the Boundary Falls Smelter, which only operated from 1902 until 1907.
I couldn’t resist seeing what was up Boundary Smelter Road. Nothing – it dead-ends at private property in half a kilometer or so.
This point on the KVR cycling trail is called Boundary Falls (the community at the smelter was also called Boundary Falls), but there’s no clue as to where the falls might be.
The farm at the intersection of the Boundary Smelter Road and Highway 3 looked wonderful in the morning light.
One of the maps hinted that Boundary Falls might be up a side road, so I headed up a logging road. It offered some great views of the valley, but after about 4 km I turned around.
One of the views was of the Boundary Falls Smelter slag pile.
I went back to the motorhome, fed the dogs and then headed back out with them. By 08:45 I was back in Greenwood, where the light was perfect to get some photos of the Welcome to Greenwood interpretive area.
This Heritage BC Stop of Interest sign is about the Greenwood Smelter: In this wilderness of rugged mountains, ore was first found in the late 1880s. Further prospects led to the building of a large smelter by the B.C. Copper Co. From 1901, copper, gold, and silver poured from its furnaces. Fed by the great Motherlode Mine, it employed 400 men. The collapse of inflated war-time copper prices forced closure in 1918.
What photographer could resist a photo of the Greenwood Inn and the highly-rated Copper Eagle Cappuccino and Bakery when the bakery’s ’55 Chevy is out front?
The flooding in downtown Greenwood is pretty bad. The Nikkei Legacy Park is completely inundated. The park was created to honour the Japanese-Canadians from coastal BC who had all of their assets seized and were sent to Greenwood and other internment camps during World War II. About 1,200 were sent to Greenwood.
This is St. Jude’s Anglican Church.
The federal government building, now the post office, is the most imposing of the brick buildings in Greenwood.
By going back to the visitor centre and studying the map out front, I was able to find the smelter park. It was named the Lotzkar Memorial Park after Leon Lotzkar, who bought the smelter after it closed, sold the equipment, and then donated the land to the city. There are no signs pointing the way to the park, and even at the gate, it’s not clear that visitors are welcome.
This must have been a very impressive operation – the ruins are massive. The smelter had its own community, called Anaconda.
Bella and Tucker finally got to go for a little adventure at the smelter park.
There are some very sharp shards on the slag pile, so we didn’t walk very far on it, but you can see how large the “hell’s bells” are. The molten residue from the furnaces was brought out here in bell-shaped rail cars, and some cooled enough to maintain that shape. When the smelter was operating, the slag pile glowed red at night because it was still so hot.
I cut our visit short so haven’t been up to the chimney yet. When it was built in 1904, it was the tallest in the province at 36 meters. It took 250,000 bricks to build it.
Returning to the motorhome, Cathy and I had breakfast and got ready for a big day of exploring. We were at the visitor centre just after it opened at 10:00 and got directions to the road to Phoenix (which isn’t signed), and to Boundary Falls (though those directions were vague and confusing).
An 8-page handout gives 14 points of interest along the Phoenix road, which is about 22 km long from Greenwood to its eastern junction with Highway 3 north of Grand Forks. The first one we stopped at was the Phoenix Cemetery, which was open from 1901 until 1919. The next photo shows the cemetery looking down from the road. Findagrave lists 201 burials here, with the first in January 1902.
The first grave we came to was for 28-year old Maria Poscente and her twin boys, who died inn 1918. That was a sad start to this look at Phoenix.
Headstones sometimes hint at interesting stories. Why does this one have the names of 20-year-old Samuel B. Jones who died in 1906 and 3-month-old Edwin Bellis who died in 1912? Jones died after one of his legs which had developed gangrene was amputated following a mine accident.
Most of the 40 or so graves that are marked have marble headstones. This is one of the very few wooden markers remaining, and it’s not legible.
I was very surprised to find a second cemetery just a few meters from the first. Only 4 graves are marked in this fenced area – 2 from the period when the first cemetery was in operation, one from 1948 and one from 1951.
About 300 meters past the cemetery is a large field with the ruins of a building. The road guide says that this was a farm that supplied eggs, milk, and vegetables to Phoenix.
In the distance to the right in the next photo is a massive wall of rock. It’s a dam built in the 1950s to contain a tailings pond.
This lovely lake covers part of the 1950s tailings pond.
This is where the community of Phoenix was located. It was completely swallowed by this open-pit mine. Once referred to as “The Mile High City”, the elevation of Phoenix was actually 1,450 meters (4,757 feet).
The only thing that remains from Phoenix other than the cemetery is this cenotaph. It lists the names of 15 men from Phoenix who were killed in World War I. For us, this was a nice place to have the lunch we’d brought.
We made a detour to Marshall Lake, which was created for use by the 1950s Phoenix mine. The dam was reduced in size in 2012 due to concerns about its possible failure. The area now has 17 km of cross-country ski trails.
There are a few logging cuts as the road descends towards Highway 3 north of Grand Forks. On a side road just above this cut is the Phoenix Ski Hill, built in 1969 on and donated by Granby Mining.
Testing of the tailings seen in the next photo, from 1959-1962, indicated that enough gold, silver, and copper was missed by the original processing methods to make re-processing them viable, and that’s now being done.
Making a circle drive for part of the drive back to Geenwood, we came to an area with enough snow to let Bella and Tucker out for a play. It had gotten very warm, perhaps 25°C (77°F).
Once we got back to Greenwood, we headed a few miles north to our final destination, Jewel Lake Provincial Park. The park was still closed, and a lot of trees that had come down over the winter needed to be cleared from the roadways.
There’s a very small beach at the day-use area, but we didn’t walk that far. The small-boat launch provided enough access to the water to allow Bella and Tucker to play in it for a bit, fetching a ball and sticks. I was in the water playing with them for a few minutes, but only up to my knees – the water was very cold.
The next photo was shot along the road back to Highway 3. Before going back to the motorhome, I made one more short search for Boundary Falls, to no avail. By 3:00 pm, we were back at Boundary Creek campground, me suntanning and the others relaxing in the shade overlooking the creek.
Just after 7:00 pm, I saw the park operator doing some work on an adjacent campsite, and decided to give Boundary Falls another try. Dan was able to give me detailed instructions on how to find them, also warning me about very dangerous cliffs there. Though it would soon be dark, I immediately headed out.
Just west of the Dewdney Trail Stop of Interest, I saw the canyon Dan mentioned, and close to it, this very old road that he described. Finally, some progress! 🙂
The old road and then possible pack trails led me into the Boundary Creek canyon, but though I walked down it quite a way, I couldn’t find the waterfall that I’d seen historic and current photos of.
Was this log cabin connected to the Boundary Falls power operation, or to the Boundary Falls Ranch? It wasn’t clear.
With darkness setting in, I made a fast hike up the canyon, and a couple of minutes after 8:00 pm, I came to Boundary Falls. Not only is the waterfall itself worth seeing, the ruins of the dam and power plant add great historical interest.
I had a quick look at the site, then headed back towards the highway on the shortest route. I soon came to an old road, and it led me right to the west end of the Dewdney Trail Stop of Interest site. For a future trip, I now have a short and easy way to reach the falls. The explanation is very simple – walk down the road at the west end of the Dewdney Trail Stop of Interest site for about 10 minutes, then follow the sound of the waterfall for another couple of minutes.
Well satisfied with our two days and nights at Greenwood, I was content now to continue on to Nelson the ext day. Well, not quite – I wanted to get a close look at the Greenwood Smelter chimney before we left.
After delaying our departure from Penticton by a day so we could tour more wineries, I was content to head south and east into the Kootenays on Day 16 of the trip – Friday, May 11th. The destination was probably Greenwood, only 140 km away. The abandoned mines and ghost towns high above might make it a 2-night stay, depending on what water and snow conditions we found.
Friday morning was grooming time for Bella, who takes to it like a spa day. She just melts, lifting a leg or rolling over when appropriate. Although Cathy soon had enough hair to knit another dog, Bella still has most of her winter coat and the hot weather ahead will be really uncomfortable for her. We’ll be watching for good swimming lakes to help with that.
Before leaving Wright’s Beach Camp on Skaha Lake, I walked around getting a few more photos. Our motorhome is near the end of the line of trailers in the next photo. Almost all of the trailers were unoccupied. We would definitely come back here off-season, but I’m willing to bet that it’s way too busy for us in the summer.
Right across highway 97 from the campground is this lovely farmhouse dating to about 1910-1915.
I stopped for a big load of fuel at Kaleden ($331 worth at $1.409/liter), then our next stop was at the Oliver Archives. Here, I donated some documents from the historic Haynes Ranch that Dad had collected from the abandoned ranch house in 1966 or ’67. He just took a sampling of about 25 documents from the many hundreds lying scattered around the house. Together, they now give a very interesting look at the ranch and the family. I was with Dad at the ranch, but when he started going through the papers one by one, I went for a drive 🙂
We had heard about flooding and evacuations in the Osoyoos area, and although it didn’t impact the highway, we could see on side streets and along the lakes that the flooding is serious for thousands of people and dozens of businesses – lakeshore hotels and motels in particular.
There were several other places along the route that were hard hit by flooding, with the community of Rock Creek being particularly bad. The highway was sand-bagged or bermed in a few places, but only one spot had a bit of water from an overflowing creek going across the highway.
At about 1:30, we arrived at the 17-site Boundary Creek Provincial Park campground, just 4 km from Greenwood.
The campground actually only has 16 sites now, as much of site #1 has been washed away in the past few days. The firepit is about to drop 6 feet into Boundary Creek.
We picked site #10, about 30 feet from the creek – close enough for the sound to be loud, but far enough away to be safe. The nightly fee is $18 – I just paid for one night because I’m not sure yet whether it’ll be one or two nights.
After lunch and then a nap when a rainstorm hit, we drove into Greenwood. There, we found that the Visitor Centre is open 10-4, and we missed it by a few minutes.
We continued through town, and found that all of the parks and many homes toward the north end of town are flooded.
The proprietor/barrista at Tarnished Turkey Cappuccino in Deadwood Junction is quite a character. On a serious note, we heard him tell another customer that somebody they knew had lost his house to floods 2 days before, and the next day, he’d lost his business as well. With a couple of lattes and some excellent pastries, we were ready for a bit of a walk through town. Cathy is still having a lot of trouble with a knee, so walks are slow and short.
Things are quiet now, but in 1899, the population of copper-mining boomtown Greenwood, founded in 1895, was 3,000. There were 16 hotels, 3 banks, 15 general stores and a host of other businesses in a town that stretched through the narrow valley for 2 miles. A few very interesting buildings remain from those days.
Some very high-quality homes remain as well as the commercial and government buildings.
Driving north of Greenwood on Highway 3, I stopped at what I assumed was a tunnel for one of several railways built in the area. An interpretive panel beside it explains that it was, however, a road tunnel that was built in 1913 – the railway ran above it.
Back at the motorhome, Tucker started trying to convince us to go bed at about 7:00. With some snuggling, Cathy convinced him to stay up until just after 8, then he went to bed without us. We weren’t too far behind. I’m finishing the first day of this post just after 06:00 on Saturday – it’s looking like a great day coming, with sunshine and a high of 25°C. It’s a rather chilly 5°C outside at the moment.
The next day, we’d explore the mining history of the Greenwood area in more depth.
On Sunday, May 6th – Day 11 of the trip – I arrived in West Kelowna and got a campsite in Bear Creek Provincial Park. That evening, we met Cathy at the Kelowna airport, and Part 2 of the trip had begun. Over the next month, We’ll wander from Kelowna to Calgary through the Kootenays region, and Cathy will fly home from there on June 3rd.
This map shows our basic route, though exploring in the Tracker could add quite a few miles to that. Click on the map to open an interactive version in a new window.
Here’s Tucker in the back of the Tracker at the Kelowna airport, waiting for Cathy to appear.
Late the evening Cathy arrived, we got a visit from Linda Quon, a photographer (and much more) friend who I took on a tour of Yukon high country last September. It didn’t look like our schedules were going to mesh at all, so it was great to see her for an hour at least. Next year, we’ll get out shotting again 🙂
I wanted to head south from West as soon as possible, but had figured out an electrical problem I’m having with the RV’s water pump, and went to Traveland to get the part. It’s the control module at the lower right of the next photo, which is looking up under the retractable steps. Even though I had a photo and part number, two guys spent half an hour on the computer and couldn’t find it. They said that once the parts manager got off the phone, she’d find it and call me. She never did, and we move don to Penticton.
My first choice for a campground in Penticton was Wright’s Beach Camp, and when they said that we could have a lakefront site, I booked for 3 nights.
As soon as I hooked my laptop up, I did a search for the part I need, and found it in about 12 seconds. Two RV dealers are located just a couple of miles away, and when I showed my photo to the partsman at Midtown RV, he said “oh, the step control”, and went in the back and got one. He checked my wiring against the one he had, as there were 3 possibilities for my year, found it was correct, then we had a nice chat about one of his regular clients from Whitehorse. What a difference from West Kelowna!
After I got the part, I got sidetracked by steamboats in downtown Penticton – most notably, the S.S. Sicamous. It wasn’t open (no surprise), and a lot of work was being done around it, as it almost floated away during last year’s Spring flooding. The waterfront walkway in wonderful.
The Sicamous was a luxurious 200.5-foot-long (61.1 meters) boat launched in 1914 from the Okanagan Landing Shipyards at the north of Okanagan Lake. For 22 years (until 1936), she sailed between Penticton and Okanagan Landing, with 14 scheduled stops along the way.
Once I got back to the motorhome, I soon had the new part installed and everything is looking good finally. Other than that, Monday was a quiet day, just relaxing on the lakeshore.
On Tuesday, we met a friend from high school and her husband for lunch at the Lake Breeze winery in Naramata, a half-hour north of our campground. The next photo was shot from the parking lot. It was a superb lunch, and it was great to see Jean again and finally meet Larry.
Cathy took this photo of me, with the amazing view from our table on the patio at Lake Breeze.
It was very quiet at Wright’s Beach Camp, as there were only about 30 of the 270 sites occupied. Most of the trailers are rentals – they go for between $900 and $1,800 per week!
Being right beside the approach to Runway 34 at the Penticton Regional Airport (YYF), airplane watching can be pretty good. This Conair water bomber, C-FKFL, is a 1957 Convair CV-580(F).
On Tuesday night, we got hit by a really wild rainstorm – the noise on the roof of the motorhome was amazing. A soft rain was falling when we got up in the morning.
On Wednesday morning, although it started off calm, the rain wasn’t finished with us yet. This video gives you some idea of how wild and loud some of the cloudbursts were.
We had Wednesday planned for winery touring, and when we started out just after 11:00, hoped that the weather wouldn’t be too bad. We drove past the first winery on our list to have a look at Skaha Bluffs park. The light was poor to get any photos of the cliffs. A couple of locals we talked to said that you can normally step across this creek on a couple of rocks.
The patio at Painted Rock would certainly be a wonderful place to have lunch on a warm day. We left with a bottle of particularly fine Cabernet Franc 2015 ($44.99) for some future celebration.
Painted Rock also offered a view of a bit of the Skaha Bluffs, where there are 55 cliffs with recognized climbing routes.
Most of the beach in the next photo is our RV park. In the high-resolution photo, I can clearly see our motorhome left of centre.
I don’t think I had ever driven Eastside Road, which runs along the east side of Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls. It’s a lovely drive with little traffic, but I expect that it gets very busy in the summer.
I had been to Blasted Church Vineyards before, and the signs leading to it reminded of what a great sense of humour the owners have. The view is wonderful (of course), and so were all of the wines we sampled.
The “Storytelling Series” of labels tell the story of the blasted church. It was a wooden church in abandoned mining camp, and in 1929, a mining engineer was hired to dismantle and move it to Okanagan Falls. He decided that a controlled blast of four dynamite sticks inside the church would loosen the nails, and he was right except that the steeple blew off and was wrecked. The church was moved and still stands.
Another of the views from Blasted Church. It’s sure easy to see why the Okanagan has become such a popular place for retirees in particular – the lifestyle is certainly attractive. We left Blasted Church with 2 bottles of Small Blessings Viognier 2016 ($35.00 each), and 1 bottle of Cross to Bear Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($40.00).
The Meyer Family Vineyards, which was rated as the #2 small winery in Canada last year, was particularly interesting because of their focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir whose tastes and characters vary by terroir – the micro-climate, soils, and terrain of the vineyards the grapes come from. They harvest from fields from as far away as about 20 miles, and as small as 2 acres.
The view from Meyer Family Vineyards. At Meyer, we added a bottle of McLean Creek Chardonnay 2016 ($33.00), one of Gewurztraminer 2016 ($18.00), and one of Old Block Pinot Noir 2016 ($50.00).
Our final stop was at Synchromesh Wines. I was drawn by the name, and, as expected, the owner and his family are car fans as well as being passionate about wines. This was one of our favourite wine experiences. The owner, Alan Dickinson, was our host, and we enjoyed hearing his story. It’s quite a contrast from the wineries which start with millions of dollars behind them.
This is one of the views at Synchromesh’s home property, Storm Haven Vineyard, where their flagship wines are grown. They’ve just recently added 105 acres to it, most of which can’t support vineyards – Alan bought it largely to preserve the adjacent wilderness. At Synchromesh, we bought 3 bottles of Thorny Vines Riesling 2017 ($28.00 each), one of Cabernet Franc 2016 ($28.00), and one of Storm Haven Riseling ($40.00).
Wednesday evening was a very special one for me. A friend from high school and her husband have just moved to Penticton, and invited Cathy and me and 3 other high school friends for dinner. It’s amazing how after 50 years, you can pick up right where you left off with friends. We have a 50th-year reunion coming up in September, and I have no doubt now that it’s going to be a great deal of fun.
The plan had been to continue south and east on Thursday, into the Kootenays. I wasn’t finished with this area yet, though, so I added another night at Wright’s Beach, and we did some more wine touring on Thursday instead of leaving.
We had been really pleased with our wine experiences in the Okanagan Falls area, so drove back there. The first winery was Stag’s Hollow, which the owner of Synchromesh had recommended to us because of their emphasis on unique wines. I actually walked back to get this shot of their driveway as we were leaving because it’s so lovely.
With wines including Albarino, Dolcetto, and Tempranillo, Stag’s Hollow was a very good choice for us. We added 2 bottles of Tragically Vidal 2016 ($17.00 each) and one of Renaissance Pinot Noir 2014 ($35.00).
Next door to Stag’s Hollow is the Wild Goose Winery, where there were a lot of cars. Many must have been workers, though, because it wasn’t very busy.
Although we had a winery lunch in mind, a cold wind made the open patio at Wild Goose not very inviting. We did, however, leave with 2 bottles of God’s Mountain Riesling 2016 ($17.39 each) and 2 of Gewurztraminer 2017 ($16.96 each).
We had gotten 3 recommendations for Liquidity as the place to go for lunch, and once we saw it, that was an easy choice.
The bistro hostess told us that a small table on the window would be opening shortly, so we went for a tasting first, and the timing was perfect. Lunch was superb – Cathy had their daily special pizza pared with a glass of Viognier, and I had their pork sandwich and soup with a glass of Viognier as well, though I immediately knew that their Chardonnay would have been a better choice. Lunches like this are a wonderful way to affirm that you have a really good life – it may only be lunch, but in a place like this, it’s a celebration. At Liquidity, we bought 1 bottle of Viognier 2016 ($25.00), and 2 bottles of their incredibly smooth and rich Dividend 2015 ($30.00 each).
On the way back to Penticton, on a tiny road that we’d seen no cars on, I saw a scene that I just had to capture without a fence in the way. There were no shoulders on the road, and as Murphy’s Laws so often make happen, during the 20 seconds I stopped, 2 vehicles came along, one in each direction. Tourists!! Whoops…
And there we go. Friday morning, May 11th – Day 16 – our souvenirs are packed away and after breakfast we’ll be on our way, with many forecasts of flooding ahead, but sunshine and warm/hot temperatures.
The Fraser Canyon still held my attention on Day 9 of the trip – Saturday, May 5th – with a dog-walk at Hell’s Gate and a good look at the historic community of Yale being the main points.
We pulled away from the Canyon Alpine RV Park at 11:00, and 10 minutes later Bella, Tucker, and I were out in the sunshine in one of the large parking lots at Hell’s Gate, ready for a walk down to the famed rapids on the Fraser River. The year before, I had ridden the aerial tram down and back up, but it was a great day for a hike.
This monument at the top of the road down to the river commemorates the construction of fishways in 1945-46: Six hundred feet below this point, the Fraser River flows through the constricted canyon known as Hell’s Gate. From 1913 to 1945 the valuable runs of sockeye salmon enroute to their spawning areas above were periodically delayed or blocked by the effects of slide rock. Here the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission has built concrete and steel fishways of unique design. These fishways now enable the sockeye to pass freely through the turbulent area, this permitting the restoration of a multi-million dollar fishery.
The International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission was appointed in 1937 under a convention between Canada and the United States for the protection, preservation, and extension of the sockeye salmon fisheries in the Fraser River system. In 1985, the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission was replaced by the Pacific Salmon Commission – see more at www.psc.org.
Off the edge of the upper end of the parking lot, this cross stands, with a motorcycle wheel as the base and a motorcycle helmet to hold flowers. There doesn’t appear to be a name on it.
Okay, 11:25 – time to go for a real hike! A sign near the top says that the road is 1 km each way, and the difficulty is “medium – high”. You’d have to be in very poor shape, though, to consider this a hard hike.
About half-way down, 10 minutes later. There was a young couple on the trail, but otherwise we had it to ourselves, with the roar of the river far below the only sound except for an occasional truck on the highway.
We had to wait for 3-4 minutes for a train to pass. Bella is terrified of trains, but I stayed far enough back that she was okay with this one.
Hell’s Gate, with the aerial tram operation on the far side of the bridge. The waters here are always impressive, but now at high water, the power is incredible.
Another open-grate steel deck. Although I enjoy letting Bella and Tucker meet people (a.k.a. “adoring fans”, Bella says), but didn’t ask them to cross when they both balked.
I’m curious about whether any boats run that. I don’t think a kayak could – the hydraulics are too large and powerful. I suppose a jetboat could, as they barely touch the water.
The walk up the road was a whole lot warmer than the walk down, but we were soon on our way south in the motorhome, and at 1:00, parked at Yale.
I unhooked the Tracker at the rest area at the south edge of Yale, and went exploring while the fur-kids took a siesta.
I soon found a lovely calm spot with a sandy beach on the Fraser River. The dogs would have loved this to explore and play, but this was the exception to the activities I had planned.
A very powerful boat from GreatRiverFishing.com thundered by.
There are historic sites everywhere in the Yale townsite, and you have to search them out. Chinese were a very important part of Yale’s history, and this memorial and interpretive site is located on property once owned by Jang Won Jeong, more commonly known as On Lee. The interpretation begins with a panel about the British Columbia Legislature’s 2014 apology for “the hardship and suffering our past provincial governments imposed on Chinese Canadians and Chinese people in British Columbia.” The stories of how they were treated by the governments and railway construction contractors in particular are truly horrific. It was once said that one Chinese person was killed for each mile of railway built, but the accepted number is now 4 deaths per mile. Relatively few non-Chinese men were killed because the Chinese were considered to be disposable and were given the most dangerous jobs.
At the entrance to the main Yale Historic Site, a Heritage BC Stop of Interest sign installed in 1970 describes The Yale Convention: By 1868, the gold rushes that had founded British Columbia were over, the public debt was soaring and many were dissatisfied with the colonial government. On September 14, 12868, 26 delegates from all over the colony met at Yale for a convention of the Confederation League. This convention did much to stimulate popular support for the idea of a union with Canada as a solution to the colony’s problems.
The Creighton House Museum, built in 1870 by businessman David James Creighton, is one of very few original buildings remaining in Yale. All of the interior woodwork and much of the cabinetry in the kitchen is original. Admission to the Yale Historic Site, including the museum, is $10 for adults.
Throughout the museum and the Historic Site in general, the lives of the Chinese residents of the past are seen much more than what I remember from visits many years ago.
I mentioned in my post about the Alexandra Bridge that I wondered what happened to the brass plaques that used to be on each tower. Now I know – they were removed from the bridge in the 1980s and are now in the Creighton House Museum.
They also have some of the brass plaques from the Fraser Canyon highway tunnels. The ones from the Saddle Rock Tunnel (1958), Sailor Bar Tunnel (1959), Ferrabee Tunnel (1964), and China Bar Tunnel (1961), are on display.
Beautifully decorated zither and accordion.
Outside, the Tent City takes visitors back to the early days, when tents housed many businesses serving the people stampeding to the gold areas in the Cariboo district.
This is the General Store in the Tent City. Costumed interpretive staff are on duty hdere in the summer, but it’s very quiet yet.
One of the buildings that I particularly wanted to see was the St. John the Divine Church. It was consecrated on April 19, 1863, and regular services were held until 1976 when it was turned over the the province and became a historic site. This is the second-oldest church in mainland BC.
Although a major restoration was done on the St. John the Divine Church in 1953, original interior walls, rafters, and handmade nails can still be seen.
It was after 2:30 when I made it to the final stop I wanted to make before going back to the RV, the Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery is closed now.
I quickly discovered that although the afternoon light was good for overall photos, morning light is needed for photos of the individual headstones. I was very surprised by how small the cemetery is, as the population of Yale peaked at about 3,000. A book has recently been written about the cemetery – I may see if I can get a copy through Inter-Library Loan to read before my next visit.
I hadn’t really had any plan for how far I’d go this day – wherever it was beyond Yale, it would be an easy drive to Kelowna to meet Cathy. Just after 3:30, I started up the Coquihalla Highway, in a valley that my family played in long before a highway was envisioned. Even when I spent weekends here in my 4×4 in the late 1970s, my feeling was that there was no way a highway could ever be built here. But, here that highway is.
The truck lanes of long stretches are very rough, and re-paving of 30 km of it is being done this summer. Despite rough pavement, though, there is some incredible scenery. “The Coq” really is a route for speed, though (the speed limit is 120 km/h) – the Fraser Canyon or Hope-Princeton are the routes to wander along.
I stopped just north of the Coquihalla Summit, at the Britton Creek Rest Area, where a couple of feet of snow still remain. Bella loved being back in the snow! She dug in it, she rubbed her face in it, she rolled in it, she stretched out to get as much of her body as possible in contact with it. Okay, we’ll camp here tonight 🙂
We had the rest area pretty much to ourselves for a couple of hours, then semis and another RV joined us in the huge parking lot. I had taken an upper-end parking spot, so Molly’s view of the world out the large hall windows never got blocked 🙂
The Britton Creek Rest Area, truly in the middle of nowhere, has free wi-fi! To all the RV park owners who have a million reasons why their wi-fi service is such shit, here’s how it’s done. It’s not cobbled together from pieces you find at a discount electronics store.
From Britton Creek, Bear Creek Provincial Park in West Kelowna, is only 185 km.
As I mentioned in my last post, I chose to use the Canyon Alpine RV Park & Campground as my base for exploring that part of the Fraser Canyon. It worked out particularly well, and telling you about it justifies a separate post.
I arrived at Canyon Alpine, 5 km north of Boston Bar, just before noon on May 4th, and pulled away at 11:00 on the 5th, so spent a total of 23 hours there. Well, the motorhome was there – I was often out exploring.
I chose this park to stay at (my first commercial park stay of the trip) because I’d seen comments about having new owners who were doing a lot of work on the property. I don’t know what the park looked like previously, but new owner Shirley and Tim have clearly already done a great deal of work.
The nightly rate is $40 for full hookups (electrical/water/sewer) – with Skihist Provincial Park having been $23 with nothing but a great view, I considered this to be good value. The sites vary somewhat in size, but the lowest-level one I took (#2) was very large, and very easy to get in and out of with my 51-foot-long combination.
The 31 sites in the park are terraced up an increasingly-steep slope, but the sites themselves are very level, and new gravel has just been laid on each.
In the centre is a fenced ring with garbage and recycling cans.
The fenced dog park is a nice touch. Bella and Tucker appreciated the soft grass even if it was too warm for poor Bella to play, with her winter husky coat still intact.
The bathroom was quite exceptional – all new and spotless. The men’s has 2 showers, 2 toilets, and a urinal.
Outside the bathrooms, a washing machine and dryer is available for “light laundry”.
The view back down to the office and the mountains on the opposite side of the Fraser River.
There’s a comfortable conversation area with a stove outside the office. As I was leaving, Tim was just in the process of building a putting green beside this area.
Behind the park proper, a very steep old road leads up the mountain for about 2/3 of a kilometer, offering a good workout for dog owners, and great forest smells for the fur-kids. The road dead-ends at what may have been an old woodlot cutting area.
Wifi is one of the things that I bitch about regularly at RV parks – service is usually dismal. At Canyon Alpine, however, it was solid and fast, and free for up to 500MB of data (more can be purchased). Thumbs up to their provider, Lookieloo.net!
I got tired of my own cooking and had my first nice meal out while I was at Canyon Alpine, at the Canyon Alpine restaurant 2 doors over. That brought my total costs beyond fuel for the 10 days up to almost $150. 🙂
There’s another RV park a few miles down the highway, Anderson Creek. I haven’t looked at it, and it gets great reviews, but I was very happy with Canyon Alpine and will be back next year for at least 2 nights.
Exploring a bit of the Fraser Canyon in depth was the order of Day 9 – Friday, May 4th. We only put 44 km on the RV, the Tracker got unhooked 4 times for exploring, and as well as spending time at the main destination, the historic Alexandra Bridge, some nice surprises were served up in the way of long-abandoned stretches of the old road, and a couple of great waterfalls.
We pulled away from Skihist Provincial Park just after 09:00, ready for pretty much anything that might appear. Like railway bridges. The number of times the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways swap sides of the canyon is almost funny.
There are lots of pullouts of all sizes through the Fraser Canyon to make exploring easy. Just ahead in the next photo is one of several gates used to close the highway in case of avalanche, rockslide, washout, etc.
The huge pullout at the old Kanaka Bar Lodge was a good place to unhook the Tracker to backtrack for a look at a couple of things.
The Skuppa Rest Area was worth a stop. It was named for the Skuppa First Nation of the area.
The main reason I went back was for a look at this lumber mill which closed in very recent years. This was the main employer in an area with few jobs. A quick Google hasn’t led me to the story of the closure.
Hope, 106 km south – and I have 2 days to get there 🙂
The little cabin was certainly worth a U-turn in the Tracker. I believe that type of siding is from the 1930s but the cabin appears much older than that. It’s on private property so I didn’t go for a closer look.
A well-controlled creek, and manicured slopes above and below the railway on the opposite side of the river.
A large waterfall brought me to a stop with the RV, and backtracking to this spot, only a short walk was needed…
…to reach this waterfall.
Access wasn’t easy, but I got to the main drop, which is about 20% of the whole waterfall. In the confined canyon, there was a lot of spray in the air, and keeping my camera lens dry was a challenge.
A few minutes before noon, I pulled in to the Canyon Alpine RV Park, which I’d seen comments about having new owners who were doing a lot of work on the property. My initial meeting with one of the owners and the experience of getting set up in a site were both positive, but I was back on the road quickly so I’ll tell you more about the park in the next post.
I had a short play with Bella and Tucker in the fenced dog area, but Bella wasn’t into it – too warm for her. I then put them back in the RV because the main place I was going (Alexandra Bridge) isn’t dog-friendly.
My first stop was at the south end of the China Bar Tunnel, which was built in 1961. That gate to the left was, of course, intriguing. China Bar is the longest of the 7 highway tunnels in the Fraser Canyon, at about 610 metres (2,000 feet).
The noise when even small vehicles are in the tunnel is quite shocking. Although cyclists have a very narrow sidewalk, using it would be rather unnerving, I’m sure. I peeked into the tunnel when no vehicles were coming, then went to see what was beyond that gate.
Within a very short distance beyond that gate, I could see that this was the old highway before the tunnel was punched through the mountain.
Well this was awesome! In places, the rock and even timber cribbing that held the road in place can still be seen. I rode on the road in my parent’s car at least once (and it may have been several times) as a kid, making finding it infinitely more interesting.
The road is maintained for access to a power line, and the railway below is protected from this large rock slide by a massive steel net.
A great waterfall that isn’t seen from the modern highway, a hydro-electric plant, and even a train passing by below.
It wasn’t just any train passing below, it was the legendary Rocky Mountaineer! Riding the Rocky Mountaineer is bucket-list stuff. I waved at all the glass-dome cars, but because of the heavy tint on the glass, I couldn’t see whether anyone returned my wave 🙂
I don’t know what these flowers are (berries, I think), but they sure added a nice splash of colour along the road.
This building at the north end of the tunnel contains equipment for ventilation of the tunnel – China Bar is the only one that is ventilated. The yellow sign above the tunnel entrance has warning lights that are activated by cyclists before they enter the tunnel, which is curved so has reduced sight lines.
That piece of the old road took me exactly an hour to explore, then I continued on to the primary target, Alexandra Bridge.
I reached the start of the trail down to the bridge at 2:15 pm, with big plans beyond the bridge.
I was immediately rewarded by a Pacific dogwood tree with the largest, most perfect blossoms I’ve ever seen on one of these trees. This is British Columbia’s floral emblem.
The trail soon connects with the old highway. That’s me walking towards the bridge.
This is one of my favourite historic sites in Canada. I don’t really know why, though perhaps it’s an easily-identifiable one that has been in my life periodically for as long as I can remember.
This is why I said that the Alexandra Bridge isn’t dog-friendly. Especially for smaller dogs, those large openings in the open-grate steel deck are exceptionally difficult to walk on.
That large 2-year-old German Shepherd (who I met at the start of the trail) was not happy about being on that deck!
When I see crumbling concrete like that, I always hope that no government lawyer sees it and decides that the province needs to protect themselves from liability issues if a piece falls on someone. There used to be brass plaques with the provincial crest in the round cutout, but they disappeared a few decades ago.
The new Alexandra Bridge a mile downriver opened in 1964. The traffic on it when I was there was backed up due to replacement of the concrete deck being done. My Dad used to have a gold claim just downstream from that bridge, where he panned for several years.
The Alexandra Bridge was built in 1926, and the 55-hectare provincial park that now surrounds it was created in 1984.
It’s hard to imagine 2 vehicles passing on that deck. I haven’t found the width of it stated anywhere.
The curving stone walls at the west side of the bridge are an interesting decorative touch.
My bigger plan at the bridge was to walk the old highway from the bridge to where Dad’s gold claim was (it was accessed by the old road). That idea got quickly modified by this large washout. The location of the road on the far side is indicated by the red arrow.
I decided that if I followed a rough path down to the river, the creek that caused the washout might be easier to cross. In any case, I got good views of the bridge 🙂
While the creek was easy to cross at river level and the climb back up to the old road was fairly easy, I soon ran into another washout with no easy way across. I might have gotten across with some effort, but decided that this could well be a continuous process of crossing washouts, so returned the way I came.
On the return clamber down the creek, I found the remains of what I think is a 1940 Ford that didn’t survive the road.
The deck construction work on the new bridge eliminated a possible option to hike the old road in the opposite direction. Next year!
At 4:00 pm, I started north to the RV park again, and only got distracted for a few minutes by one more short hike to a waterfall.
The plan for the next day was to have a good look at the historic community of Yale. From there, it’s an easy drive to Kelowna, when I meet Cathy on Sunday evening.