|Today we visited the Coquihalla Canyon Park, more commonly known as the Othello Tunnels. The Othello Tunnels were built from 1911 to 1918 to complete the Kettle Valley Railway near where Hope, BC is situated today. They were cut through solid granite to allow the railway to span the 300-foot-deep Coquihalla Canyon. Plagued by washouts and rock slides, the railway line was closed in 1959.
The trail that leads through the four tunnels that once supported the track cost $300,000 to lay in 1914. Almost all of the work was done by hand; hence the enormous expense. This is still considered the costliest mile of railway track in the world. After the trains stopped running in 1965, Hope residents removed the wooden ties and smoothed out the rail bed into a broad recreation trail, now part of the Trans Canada Trail system that opened in 2000.
Along the route we developed a new appreciation for the term tunnel vision, particularly in the middle of the longest of the four passageways, where light barely seeps in through each end. As we stepped into the coolness of the shafts, currents of soothing air wafted over us, propelled along by the rushing motion of the nearby river.
Short spans of bridges link one tunnel to the next, allowing tantalizing glimpses of the Coquihalla Canyon below. We stopped frequently to take it all in. The brochures advised to bring flashlights and to wear water proof shoes. The flashlights certainly were needed, however, tennis shoes would not have been a problem as the seepage was minimal. It was cooler this morning, in the low 40's, so we started our day with coats. But the farther we walked, the more we warmed up, and we were really wishing they were back in the truck!
This was an interesting experience and we're glad we came. I'm not sure we would re-visit, but if you are in the area, it's worth a couple of hours for sure....Tomorrow we visit Vancouver and Stanley Park