Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kettle Valley Railway's Othello Tunnels

Outside Hope, BC there are five train tunnels (officially abandoned in 1961) that cross the Coquihalla River Gorge. Designer Andrew McCulloch was hired by Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1900s to build the line that would connect the Kootenays with the coast. Not only a brilliant engineer, McCulloch had a real passion for Shakespeare and the stations along this Coquihalla section were named after characters from the bard's plays. Station names such as Juliet, Romeo, Lear and Othello could be found between Hope and Brodie.

Today there are no tracks running through the tunnels, just smooth easily accessible walkable paths. In a couple of the tunnels the walls and ceilings weep. The dripping echoes in the dark adding wonderfully to the atmosphere. The colour of the raging river below the bridges in places is a tropical turquoise as it froths and pounds against and around startling rock formations, in other places, it is deep green or black swirling pools.

The trail the length of the tunnels and bridges is flat and very easy to walk. There are also places along the path, for the slightly more nimble, that allow access down to the river itself. And along the wide flat path leading up to the tunnels are the occasional benches to sit and listen to the river or just sit and rest for a spell if you want to.

One last note: the park is a pet friendly area.

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