Skip to content

A day of ghost towns and yesteryear vibes

With a 400+km drive ahead there was no dilly dallying as we packed up and left Field. Our route would take us south-west, north-west, south-west then south-east and if we had the option of a straight line it would have been a mere 170km. Far less interesting though; this was a day crammed with fascinating stuff, and even better, fascinating OLD stuff.

Our ultimate destination was the town of Kaslo where we’d be setting out on another bear adventure the next day. Being the theme of the trip, we were always on the lookout…

Terrifying scenes in Golden.

In the heart of Glacier National Park is Rogers Pass, a narrow valley discovered in 1881 which helped provide a route through the Selkirk Mountains. Today there’s a discovery centre with information and displays. There were other facilities here in years gone by, but I guess businesses are hard to sustain here year-round.

The Northlander Motor Lodge was born in the 1960s and later became the Glacier Park Lodge before closing in 2012. I would've loved to explore inside! Parks Canada are going to pull it down and redevelop the site somehow.

The Northlander Motor Lodge was born in the 1960s and later became the Glacier Park Lodge before closing in 2012. I would’ve loved to explore inside! Parks Canada are going to pull it down and redevelop the site.

Rogers Pass gets up to 10m of snow per year!! Canada’s worst avalanche disaster was here in 1910 when 62 people died, the majority being workers who were trying to clear the railroad from an earlier avalanche. Three years later, a 9km tunnel was opened through the mountain which avoided about 24km of surface railway.

Not a war memorial! This decommissioned gun was installed to mark the 50th anniversary of the partnership with the Canadian Forces for avalanche control in Rogers Pass.

I was really looking forward to the next stop. Two of the Rockies’ grand ladies, the Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Springs Hotel, were preceded by Glacier House which in its day was one of western Canada’s premier tourist destinations. It had been located near Rogers Pass and we were off to see its ruins.

We parked at the end of the Illecillewaet Campground and set out on the short walk, passing a board where trail users were asked to record any wildlife sightings – made for interesting reading.

The gentle path is in fact in the footprint of the old railway line. Glacier House stood just around this corner.

The gentle path is in fact in the footprint of the old railway line. Glacier House stood just around this corner.

A water fountain was located here and these are the original trees – they can be seen as much smaller versions below.

An old postcard image photographed from one of the information boards at the site.

Glacier House was originally just a dining hall to save trains having to carry the extra weight of a dining car. Chalet rooms were added for the occasional overnight guest and within a few years it had become a fully fledged luxury hotel.

zimg_2887

zimg_2889

zimg_2899

Glacier House was positioned to enable access and views to Illecillewaet Glacier, then known as Great Glacier. It has now largely retreated from view. From another part of the trail it still peeks into view, just.

Although the glacier was receding, the main factor that brought the axe down on Glacier House was the construction of that tunnel I mentioned before. With the railway no longer going past Glacier House visitor numbers dropped dramatically. It managed to stay open for almost another decade, by which time the allure of the property was fading with the newer grand hotels in Banff and Lake Louise.

Another relic of the abandoned railway was a little further down the road.

These pillars were once part of a railway loop system which enabled trains to gain elevation. This part of the line was abandoned in 1916.

These pillars were once part of a railway loop system which enabled trains to gain elevation. They gave up this part of the line in 1916.

In about a week’s time Parks Canada was due to come through and remove the information signs ahead of winter.

Onward. We stopped in Revelstoke for lunch and a poke around the main street – it was Sunday so not much was open. Revelstoke sprouted up as a railway town and remains one, though today has many other interests including tourism from winter sports and mountain biking. I enjoyed its heritage aesthetic.

Today’s journey required a short ferry journey and we timed it perfectly, a few minutes later and we’d have been waiting an hour.

Crossing Upper Arrow Lake

Quiet scenery interspersed with wee towns, bear warning signs and one bear sighting eventually led us to another short planned detour.

Sandon, BC – population, about 6. Once upon a time it was about 5000.

Sandon sprung up with the mining boom in the late 1800s. Silver was the name of the game here and a thriving wee metropolis was built upon it. Sandon’s fortunes like many places like it took a dive when the precious metal did. A large fire and a couple of floods almost erased the town. Few structures remain, but Sandon isn’t quite done yet.

Sandon now and then.

Sandon’s surprising but fascinating trolley bus collection.

The silver mines have all but gone. This one is still in operation, optimistically so.

We were on the home stretch!

Part of the old narrow-gauge railway that ran up to Sandon.

The ursine theme of our trip continues here at Bear Lake 🙂

We rolled into Kaslo, another town that grew with the mining boom but which managed to stay intact. It has been maintained very well with plenty of gorgeous heritage buildings. We wouldn’t have long on the ground here so we headed out for a quick foot patrol before dinner.

Kaslo Hotel, our stop for the night.

Kootenay Lake.

Tomorrow we were off to the Grizzly Bear Ranch.

Advertisements
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. All wonderful and very interesting photos. So much to see there. Canada is such a pretty country.

    26 March 2017
  2. I’m SO jealous of your Canada trip! It’s definitely a place I’d love to visit. Love your photos – the buildings, the scenery, everything appeals to me. The trolley buses look like those really lovely retro caravans with all the chrome. They’d make great campers!
    Looking forward to next installment xx

    26 March 2017
    • Thanks Lottie! My progress has been fairly hopeless on this series but I will get there, dammit. You’re right about the buses, could be an option if the museum plan doesn’t happen! x

      1 April 2017

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: