History of Revelstoke to Golden section of the Trans-Canada in British Columbia



Revelstoke Bridge

Revelstoke Bridge view This bridge is a suspension bridge with two spans across the Columbia River, on its southward trek toward the Pacific Ocean, after collecting waters on its northward trek up the Rocky Mountain Trench, and around the Big Bend.

The first bridge across the Columbia River is the Canadian Pacific bridge, and immediately south of that is the old, 329-meter (1,079 feet) Big Eddy Bridge (Wilson Street), so named because it crosses in the area of a bend in the river with that name. That bridge was completed in 1924

Revelstoke downtown entrance The Trans-Canada Highway crosses the Columbia River on a 310-meter (1,016 feet) long suspension bridge, with two spans (not the usual 3 suspended spans), completed in 1961. The bridge has a single sidewalk on one side.

History of Revelstoke Bridges

Clanwilliam Bridge Replacement

Eastbound travellers approaching Revelstoke will notice a new four-lane crossing over the Canadian Pacific Railway. The old red arch-truss Clanwilliam Bridge was deteriorating, it was replaced while widening 2.3 kilometres of B.C. Highway 1. See this 90-second time lapse.

Clanwiilliam Bridge Replacement

Rogers Pass

Rogers Pass Monument The Rogers Pass (elevation 1,330 m or 4,360 ft) is a high mountain pass through the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia used by the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans-Canada Highway. The pass is a shortcut across the "Big Bend" of the Columbia River from Revelstoke on the west to Donald, near Golden, on the east. The pass was discovered on May 29, 1881, by Major Albert Bowman Rogers, a surveyor working for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

In the first 30 years since 1885, the CPR railroad was truck by several deadly avalanches, and the maintenance issues due to avalanches convinced the CPR to abandoned the tracks over Rogers Pass and built the Connaught tunnel under the pass. The 5.022-mile (8.082 km) tunnel was dug from 1913 - 1915 by 300 workers at a cost of $5.5 million, with another $3 million were spent on track changes which shortened the route by 4.3 miles (6.9 km). It was the longest railway tunnel in North America at that time.

Rogers Pass and sign In the late 1980s, the Mount Macdonald Tunnel was built to supplement the Connaught Tunnel ot handle ever-growing freight rail traffic, and to lessen the grade on the eastern approach to the pass. Trains today travel eastbound through the Connaught Tunnel and westbound through the Mount Macdonald Tunnel.

The route of the abandoned tracks over the pass will be used later for the route for the Trans-Canada Highway.

Rogers Pass is in the heart of Glacier National Park, in the midst of mountains popular for ski mountaineering, camping, hiking and mountain climbing ever since the region became accessible in 1886. The location has tourist services including the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and National Park services. Rogers Pass is commemorated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Rogers Pass Route

Rogers Pass is known for its steep slopes and its 10 metres of annual snowfall, which made avalanches very common in winter. originally, 31 snow sheds with a total length of about 6.5 km protected the railway from the avalanches. Several large snow sheds were built to protect the Trans-Canada Highway in 1962. As well, to keep the highway and railway open during the winter, the Royal Canadian Artillery uses 105 mm howitzers to knock down the avalanches under controlled circumstances so vehicular traffic is not caught in unexpected avalanches.

This 147-kilometre section of highway took 11 years and $50 million (a half-billion in today's dollars) to short-cut the Big Bend Highway between Golden and Revelstoke. The route roughly following the path the trans-continental railway.

="Map

For its opening, a provincial-federal squabbling got in the way: Premier W.A.C. Bennett of British Columbia declared the road open at a ceremony on July 31 without once mentioning Canada, and on Sept. 3, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker declared the highway open at a ceremony nearby without mentioning that the cost had grown to more than $1.1 billion.

There is a visitors' centre at the Rogers Pass with exhibits about the trans-continental railway, the Trans-Canada. Highway, snowsheds, the local mountains, and wildlife. You MUST have a National Parks Pass to stop at the visitors centre (which is otherwise free)

The Rogers Pass is the highest point of the Trans-Canada west of the Kicking Horse Pass. After the Rogers Pass route was completed the Big Bend Highway became Highway 23, and parts of the old route were flooded by newly built hydro-electric dams, creating Kinbasset Lake, behind the Mica Dam

Mount Revelstoke National Park

Mount Revelstoke National Park This national park was established in 1914 and covers 260 km. The Summit Road, also called the "Meadows in the Sky Parkway", climbs 2000 metres over its 26 km winding route, with three lookout points along the way up or down. At the top are two small lakes (ponds) and a 10 kilometer trail. Both were built during the Great Depression as a make-work project.

further to the east are a number of walking trails, just off the north side of highway. These include the Giant Cedar Trail and the Skunk Cabbage Trail, and are well-signed on the highway, with lots of interpretive signing on the trails.

Snowsheds

Trans-Canada Tunnel in Glacier National Park You can observe avalanche paths in all seasons: in the summer, there are open meadows with only sappling size trees while in the winter, there are long vertical patches of white snow cut into the slopeside forests. These mark the paths of snow falling at high speeds from far up the mountain.

During the winter, the Canadian military places 105mm howitzers to shoot exploding shells up to accumulations high above, to trigger avalanches. Keep in mind, the mountain peaks around the Rogers pass are over a mile (1600m) above the highway. The howitzers are placed on circular concrete pads you will pass along the highway. You will also see this along the Coquihalla Highway, further west.

When the railroad was built through the Rogers Pass, 6.5 km of snow sheds (wooden construction at that time) were built to protect the rail traffic from avalanches. Though with experience, the railroad ended up deciding to build the 8 km Connaught Tunnel under this dangerous terrain.

When the Trans-Canada Highway was built, concrete snow sheds were built to protect vehicle traffic from obvious avalanche paths.

But this route is still closed for hours (sometimes days) at a time for preventative avalanche control & road clearing to ensure the safety of traffic. In the case of highway closures, drivers are held back at Revelstoke in the west and Golden in the east, where there is gas, food, and accommodation.

Rogers Pass Snowshed Photos



The Donald Bridge

The first Donald Bridge, crossing he Columbia River at the town of Donald, was straight two lane structure built for the opening of the Trans-Canada in 1961.

in 2013, as part of the four-laning of 4 km of highway near Golden, which included replacing the Donald Bridge with a new four-lane structure and replacement of CP Rail overhead. This improved the west approaches to the bridge over the Columbia River to 4 lane standards

Donald Bridge Replacement Video



It was announced in 2017 that by 2019 the section between Golden and the Donald Bridge will have added significant passing lanes in both directions to speed traffic on this relatively flat stretch of the highway, at a cost of about $20 million. This was announced as pat of the Phase Four of the Kicking Horse Canyon completion.

Other Resources

Revelstoke to Golden itinerary What is the Highest Point> Rogers Pass Avalnche Control

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