Exploring Dawson Creek: old bridges and new energy

I always enjoy my time in Dawson Creek, and the more time I spend here, the more I like it. I never feel like I’ve seen all there is to see, and the people are consistently wonderful. Saturday, September 12th, day 4 of the trip, was our day to see more of the area.

This was not the day I wanted or expected. A forecast of 60% chance of showers instead started off with torrential rain, then slowed down slightly. At least the views out all my windows were quite nice.

Rain from the RV window in Dawson Creek, BC

The rainy morning, though, was a good time to get some shopping done, so I unhooked the Tracker and invited the dogs to join me – an offer that always gets an enthusiastic response. I needed to get groceries, mostly new things to try to get Monty to eat, and a new bed for Monty, as Bella keeps stealing his current one. That done, we went back to the motorhome and I put a roast into the crock pot.

Just before noon, I decided that we had some exploring to do regardless of the weather, so I loaded up the dogs again, and drove a couple of k to the visitor centre for some directions and possible ideas for new places to see. The staff there is always great, and I soon had what I needed.

I was surprised to see that the art gallery was closed for major renovations. I wish that I could get back down for the December re-opening.

Dawson Creek art gallery under renovations
There were blue skies to the north, so that was the direction to start. I thought about going right to Taylor for a few shots, but instead stopped at Kiskatinaw Provincial Park to see the curved wooden bridge on an old section of the Alaska Highway. I’ve seen the bridge from the top many times, but never from the river, so that was the first stop. I let the kids out to go for a walk, and then saw this sign. Does that say “no Dogs”? No dogs????? Okay, I let them explore for a few minutes and then put them back in the car while I went to get the photos I wanted.

Maybe someone in BC Parks just likes to post signs. “Gate Closed” – ya think??? Geez…

Gate Closed sign
Anyway, enough with signs – the bridge is awesome! It took 9 months to build, with the first concrete poured in November 1942. It’s 162.5 meters long (534 feet), has a 9-degree curve and a banked deck, and took 500,000 board feet of creosoted BC fir to build.

The historic Kiskatinaw curved wooden bridge
The canyon above the bridge is quite impressive. The new highway bridge, built in 1978, is about half a mile upstream and crosses over this canyon.

Kiskatinaw River, BC
Driving back up to the road, I drove up to a pullout for a distant view of the bridge. This is a photo that I’ve shot many times over the years – Fall is probably my favourite time to see it.

The historic Kiskatinaw curved wooden bridge
Back across the bridge for a closer view of the curve and bank. It was the first of its type built in Canada, it’s the only one of the wooden bridges built on the Alaska Highway that is still in use, and it’s the only curved, banked trestle bridge remaining in Western Canada.

The historic Kiskatinaw curved wooden bridge near Dawson Creek, BC
This shows one of the reasons that I enjoy this country – the combination of rolling fields and big sky! For people used to commercial agriculture, people like me taking photos of fields and tractors and irrigation equipment apparently seems really odd, but I think that it’s all very cool 🙂

Big sky near Dawson Creek, BC
The blue skies didn’t follow us back to Dawson Creek. I love this company name – “swamp donkey” is what some folks call moose.

Swamp donkey
Giving up on sunshine, the next destination was the most important one – the Bear Mountain Wind Park. I’d been to it in the winter before, but wanted to see what it looked like without all the white stuff. Sitting on top of a long ridge, it can be seen for many miles in almost every direction, though a bit obscured by rain in this photo.

Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
The park brochure says that the park is accessed on a “well-maintained gravel road”. Well, I call it a very rough gravel road, and a very muddy rough gravel road after a heavy rain! There is just under 11 km (6.8 miles) of gravel.

The gravel road to Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
After driving through a forest for a long time, all of a sudden, you turn a corner and WOW, there they are! It’s quite shocking.

Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
This was Monty’s reaction to seeing them for the first time. There’s a lot going on in that big head 🙂

Monty's first sight of wind turbines
The road from Tower 34 to Tower 0 is 6.9 km long (4.3 miles), and offers many photo ops – this is looking back to the south from Tower 0. The towers, built in Germany by Enercon, are 78 meters (256 feet) tall, and each of the blades are 41 meters (135 feet) long. Each of the 34 turbines produces enough electricity to power 1,000 homes, and the entire facility delivers enough electricity to power most of BC’s South Peace region.

Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
When we got out to go for a walk, Bella’s reaction to the turbines was very different than Monty’s. I tried to calm her down, but had no luck, so the walk was very short, although she was better when we were under trees. Her reaction made me think of the people in the original 1953 movie “War of the Worlds” as the mechanical giants approached.

Dog scared by wind turbines
The views are quite stunning – this viewpoint looking west is particularly easy to get to, from Tower 10.

The view from Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
On the drive back down, I stopped a couple of times so Monty and Bella could have a bit of a chat with some cows, an animal they seldom see (in fact Bella hasn’t see any since she was a baby in Alberta).

Cows at Bear Mountain Wind Park, Dawson Creek, BC
Our next stop was at Pouce Coupe, a small town just east of Dawson Creek. The attraction there was a trestle built by the Northern Alberta Railway in 1931. This is the abandoned line leading from the trestle. The directions that I got from the visitor centre in Dawson Creek led me through a residential area that doesn’t welcome traffic like that – the best way to it is via the truck route, which is Elevator Road. I mention this because I saw a blog post earlier this summer by an RVer there to see the trestle, saying that he met some residents who were very unhappy about him being there.

Abandoned Northern Alberta Railway in Pouce Coupe, BC
The only information I can find about the trestle other than its date of construction is in the book “God’s Galloping Girl: The Peace River Diaries of Monica Storrs, 1929-1931”, which says that the trestle is 150 yards long.

Abandoned Northern Alberta Railway trestle in Pouce Coupe, BC

Abandoned Northern Alberta Railway trestle in Pouce Coupe, BC
Our final stop of the day was McQueen Slough, located off the Rolla Road 5 km north of its junction with Highway 49. The Nature Trust of BC and Ducks unlimited have partnered to create this conservation and education site.

McQueen Slough near Dawson Creek, BC
One of the beavers building this new lodge left as we approached (of course), but with some patience (and no dogs), I could have gotten some good photos there.

New beaver lodge at McQueen Slough near Dawson Creek, BC
There seemed to be few birds around, but I could have spent a lot longer looking under the right conditions.

McQueen Slough near Dawson Creek, BC
Unfortunately, somebody was hunting, and the second shotgun blast while we out on this open boardwalk terrified Bella, and she was going back to the car whether I wanted to or not, leash be damned!

Boardwalk at McQueen Slough near Dawson Creek, BC

Despite the miserable start, it turned out to be a good day. We got back home to a crock pot dinner ready to eat, and Monty devoured a good portion of the roast 🙂

With a similar forecast today for the region (showers and a high of 12°C (54°F), we’re off to see the W.A.C. Bennett dam at Hudson’s Hope, and then to an undetermined destination for the night. It’s now 06:30 and about time to get the day started.


Exploring Dawson Creek: old bridges and new energy — 3 Comments

  1. Hey there Murray, particularly loved this trip down memory lane as I grew up in Dawson and count myself so lucky to have had all those years. I used to stay at Felhauers farm in the summertime just past the old Kiskatinaw bridge…we swam in the river…lots of great memories out there. The rolling hills and big sky and colors just tug at my heart…used to “park” up Bear Mountain, haha as well as at Chamberlains parking lot (we called it)…have you heard of it? Pouce was always on the list for a short blast out the highway…the Drive- in theatre was between Dawson and Pouce…and seeing that train trestle- late at night the guys (not naming any names) would let some air out of the car tires and get on the tracks at Dawson and drive to Pouce…going over that trestle….sometimes cops would be waiting for them at Pouce…I never would go …but no one ever got hurt as far as I know….so much fun riding around at night on “the strip”..checking out who’s with who…down 102nd and around the Mile O post..(where’s your picture) down past the High school and the soap box derby park, out to Pouce and back….ahh the good old days, I loved being there and love the Peace and go back whenever I can make it…ahhh those fall colors…..thank you ever so….