Tuesday, January 26, 2010


As the date for the Basi-Virk trial approaches, let's remember that it's really about BC Rail, shown here as it was, April 2003

Southbound PV descends the 2%plus grade that extends over 35 miles from Kelly Lake to Lillooet at the bottom of the Fraser Canyon, British Columbia. 

Photographer: Bill Hooper
Photo ID: 309754
Locomotive No 1, Train ID: BCOL4648.
Fountain, B.C.  April 9, 2003

Click HERE and scroll down Bill Hooper's photo listings, then click on this photo to see it dramatically enlarged.


BC Mary says:

When I look at this photo, I see my home province. Can almost smell the sagebrush. Can hear the train whistle echoing off the hills. I love this photo.

I see BCRail (as it then was) making its careful way from the northern towns and villages, to market. Vital, guaranteed access.

This photo helps me remember a time when British Columbia could control how BCR served our communities, never having to seek approval from a privately-owned head office in Montreal and/or Texas.

I remember the BC Rail trainmen who were as special as their train; knew the tracks, knew the engines, knew how to navigate our spectacularly beautiful but dangerous terrain.

I remember Don Faulkner, proud of being a BC Rail trainman, worrying about  cost-cutting measures brought in by the new owners, in particular the braking systems and the added length of the trains. The BC Rail trainmen had developed an expertise suited to B.C. terrain. 100 boxcars were a maximum; but CN would soon decide that 150 boxcars would bring in more profit.

And so, of course, I remember that Don Faulkner and Tom Dodd died near this spot ... died trying to save a train running without Dynamic Brakes, one of the safety factors they had worried about. The 3rd trainman, Gordon Rhodes, survived  seriously injured.

Looking at this BC Rail photo, I remember why trains like that were running, carrying the production of towns and villages, farms, factories and sawmills from the BC interior ... from way, way up almost to the Yukon border ... keeping the province healthy. British Columbians could guarantee this shipping service through boom times and bad times. But CN has been given the right to abandon rail lines when they fail to show a profit.

I can look at this photo and see what has kept me running this web-site for the past 4 years, remembering that BC Rail was a good railway, an invaluable public asset, a source of provincial revenue, and a means of sustaining the economy of this province.

It was all that, and more. It was part of us, part of who we are.

Thank heaven, the BC Rail Trial is coming soon, they say. Mid-March, perhaps. So, at long last, we may find out how such a significant public asset as Canada's largest regional railway could simply slip out of our hands, the way it did ... and how we became helpless to save it.  Other major public assets are at risk as well. BC Hydro is being crippled, ready for the axe, as we speak. We must understand how these things can be allowed to happen.

To look at this photo is to remember British Columbia in better times ... before Campbell.


Very special thanks (again) to our old friend Kootcoot, without whom I would not be able to post photos or get my blog un-jammed, at times. Koot brought the BC Rail photo over from Bill Hooper's web-site and posted it here.  Many thanks, Koot.  And double-thanks to photographer, Bill Hooper, for his generous permission to use his photo.  - M. 


"To look at this photo is to remember British Columbia in better times ... before Campbell."

I think you've hit on something here BC Mary. BC...Before Campbell
Yeah Gary, that's nostalgia, thinking back to the "Good Olde Days" or British Columbia BC, (Before Campbell). After Campbell, unless he is stopped there won't be much of British Columbia left, it will just be piles of money in New York City, Maui and other places where scumbags congregate to enjoy their ill-gotten gains! Meanwhile we'll be like our neighbors just to the east, living in the equivalent of a depleted gravel pit, perhaps freezing in the dark - partly to provide power to hairdryers in Arizona.
Exactly Kootcoot. And thanks for getting Mary thst photo. I have driven that road many times in the past. It's less busy that the freeway. And beautiful country. That particular stretch of road was part of the Cariboo Waggon Trail. There is plenty of history there.
Without the passenger trains and a sharp drop in the freight trains I imagine it's a lot quieter now. Maybe I'll take a trip this summer. Do some fishing along the way before they take ALL the rivers and lakes in Before Campbell Land.
Er, that's nowhere near the bottom of the canyon, Mary, as said in your caption. The river is a couple of hundred feet, maybe even a thousand feet, below the tracks at that point, which is at Fountain, straight down over the left-hand side of the highway just beyond the underpass; the route of the highway in that stretch is near-exactly the route of the Old Cariboo Road, and is so until beyond that tunnel, which was required because the road itself is built on cribbing (as was the original wagon road).

I'll come back with some links of other views of that area, which is, in tradition, held to be one of the three homes of Coyote and, in summer, is one of the hottest places in BC (even, at times, hotter than Lillooet).

In self-defence, I gotta say that a flicker of doubt crossed my mind as I pasted in that caption ...

but again: in self defence, I am not sure I would mess with the caption which this photographer placed on this wonderful photo.

So I told myself that sometime, when I had more time, I would go back and think more about it ...

and see if Bill Hooper's meaning was perhaps only a little bit convoluted, like the territory.

It's a fabulous photo, isn't it?

The rail crossing is, I think, near the lighter-coloured sandbank right of centre; the tunnel is at left. You can really see the railway's grade here.....it's called the Rattlesnake Grade, as you know, but there actually are no rattlesnakes in this area. Maybe up by Clinton, I guess, in Cut-Off Valley (where Kelly Lake is), but not along the Fraser north of Fountainview (which is at the other end of the Fountain Valley from Fountain, about 20 miles south of Lillooet.


This view is from the roadside just beyond the underpass a hundred yards or so, looking straight up the Fraser, and is a kinda classic "western" scene, huh? The hill in the background at centre is Slok Hill, officially, but that area is called Blueridge and is part of West Pavilion, which lies west across the Fraser from Pavilion proper, just north of which is the Moran slide area where the locomotive derailed in recent years.

In gold rush days, there was a "river trail" along the river, way down below the wagon road; despite all the hooplah attached to the wagon roads - which were toll roads and mostly for freight wagons and passenger stages - most travellers to the Cariboo via this area used the river trail, which went up the Fraser from here to Big Bar, then headed overland towards the Cariboo goldfields. One traveller on the wagon road described the line of men hiking along the river trail as a "line of ants", as there were so many....damned hot in that country, or in winter damned cold, musta been an ordeal....

A lot of the riverbank you see here was the site of extensive, intensive placer mining. Most gold gotten in this area was not reported, though it's known large amounts were found, so some histories say that there was not much gold found on the "Upper Fraser" (which at that time meant this area, not Prince George-McBride), or above "French Bar" (one of three or four so-named bars on the Fraser, in this case meaning a bar on the north bank between this spot and the confluence of the Bridge River about four miles downstream, to the left).

And the pic at the top of this page is of the same tunnel:


full-size version of that pic:

Farther down that page you'll find pictures of the old Observation Car, which I rode on at least once, though I don't think all the way from North Vancouver up. The crowd aboard them are dignitaries on the inaugural run.

The one that's posterized has a cloth canopy on it (the observation car I mean) and in that picture is stopping at Craig Lodge, which used to be at the foot of Seton Lake, adjacnet to the rail line, and was a five-star luxury resort with tennis courts, fine dining, and guides for then-fashionable mountain climbing; it burned down not long after the Squamish-North Vancouver section was opened and most travellers to it reached it via the MV Brittannia; Rainbow Lodge at Whistler gets a lot of hype as the supposedly most notable rail resort on the old line - thanks ot Whistler's modern presskit - but it was cheaper and cheaper to get to than Craig Lodge.

Imagine - only about 3.5 hours from rainy Squamish, or 4.5 hours from rainy North Van , and you could be in a brilliantly hot and sunny tennis-and-climbing resort at the foot of one of the province's most spectacular lakes. Gone now, like all the other little resorts along the line......
Stunning photos, Skookum.

Many thanks.
More wonderful photos, Skookum ... very privileged views of bygone times.

Here's an odd thing though. The link on The Pacific Great Eastern page [http://www.bcrail.com/] goes to an entirely Chinese script. Or maybe Japanese.
No English.

I've included this page because it includes pictures showing the Moran stretch of the rail grade above Pavilion (the colour pictures). Mostly sand slope, it's never been stable; and was to be the site of the Moran Dam (a "vision" which still hasn't quite gone away, if you google that you'll see what I mean....).

The colour pictures are from Randall & Kat's Flying Photos http://www.telemark.net/randallg/photos/ which is one of the most remarkable amateur, advertising-free websites about British Columbia. The pictures are nos. 187-190 on this page http://www.telemark.net/randallg/photos/pix.aspx?album=20020803_tumbler

Nos. 250-262 on this page http://www.telemark.net/randallg/photos/pix.aspx?album=20020621_revelstoke show other views of the same stretch of river shown in the 2nd wikipedia picture already posted. If you know what you're looking for you can see the rail line....264, 265 and 267 show the line as it travels along Seton Lake, 267 also showing the incredible Mission Mountain Road (which the government wants to decommission, isolating Seton Portage and Shalalth, but which was originally built conjointly by area residents, Bralorne-Pioneer Mines and BC Hydro's predecessor the BCE)....1253's my favourite, fuzzy though it us (fire haze), looking up the Canyon from just south of, and above, Pavilion; the Moran grade is visible at right, but beyond that the canyon is roadless and railway-less.....
It's Japanese, but I can't read it. Maybe a place-holder for a now-defunct domain name (that DID used to be BC Rail's address, I remember); but maybe it's promo for Rocky Mountainner tours, but you'd think there'd be some pictures; or maybe it's diaries/memories of trips on the rail line (not that I remember that many Japanese tourists....).

Hm, well those were all useless guesses; I ran it through babelfish (http://babelfish.yahoo.com) and it turns out to be an advice page on choosing a moving company:


Gosh I love Jinglish:
About the flow of moving: You think that smooth moving is possible by the fact that the flow of moving is known in advance. Here, it keeps advising concerning the flow of moving.

As for the person who think of moving by your: There is a method of moving by your as the method of moving. Here, the person who think of moving by your necessary it is information quantity of seeing, ill-smelling it is.

Upper quality coordinating the space with the colorful receipt case. If the receipt case which is in your life scene is chosen, this. As for meeting to you what kind of case? The receipt case which with diagnosis of receipt are by your is found, the better [yo].

Hi all,

Dale Sanders spent over ten years photographing BCR. He is realeasing his book with some 300 pictures.

PO BOX 9580

BCR Piglet,

Are you sure of that?

I checked the URL for White River Production,

and can't see any mention of BC Rail.

Can you clarify for us?
Amazing those photos and that talk....I remember friends and all our kids went camping at Fountain Lake (good times) and then on the way home to Squamish taking that steep downgrade road towards Lilloitt and how I was so Frickin'scared sitting in the backseat looking over the edge of that road...man was I happy to get to the bottom. Ah...the memories!!

I just loved hearing about your good times camping at Fountain Lake and your white-knuckle drive home again to Squamish.

It'd be nice if others shared their memories.

Oh, and remember to pick a User Name for your next visits. How about Fountain-to-Lillooet?
BC Mary
I do have an account @both goodle.ca and google.com but for some reason or other I wasn't able to post re: Incorrect Password but am working on geting it fixed.
"Bev in BC"
p.s am so lazy re bad spelling e.g. Lillooet...duh...and by the way thanks for giving me hope but after reading about Bill T...I'm not sure about 'freedom' anymore. Certainly am hopefull he can retrieve.
P.S. Thanks for all you do and I must mention your editorials are so, so good.
Obviously you have a writers touch.

Many thanks for the kind words about editorials.

There's been a lot of internet and blogger problems the past few days ...

but you don't need a google account to make a comment here ... OK?

It helps me, though, if you'll adopt a User Name

and it's easy to do that, using the form where you make your comment ... it's the 2nd option: NAME / and (if you wish) URL

Just write your name -- such as "Bev in BC" -- in there. Easy peasy.
Thanks for the "easy peasy"....I will use it...everywhere!!
You have a great blog Mary, I live in Montreal, but the issues are the same across Canada in not the world.

I've made the same points here too.


In transit, Andrew Dawson

I wish we had you working on the BC Rail issues ... can you imagine a province which gave away Canada's 3rd largest railway for $1Billion when, by comparison, marijuana sales = $6Billion a year?

Can you imagine a province abandoning the BCRail line between North Vancouver and the Olympic venues, then expanding the highway and paving over some BCR tracks for a parking lot?

I hope that corruption hasn't entered the railroad scene you're trying to protect ...

Good luck, Andrew.
In Quebec we have plenty of corruption to fight when it comes to trying to protect our rail lines too.

I'm with you BC Mary, I'm just a bit more down the line from you.

In transit, Andrew
Such a great article it was which Don Faulkner, proud of being a BC Rail trainman, worrying about cost-cutting measures brought in by the new owners, in particular the braking systems and the added length of the trains. The BC Rail trainmen had developed an expertise suited to B.C. terrain. 100 boxcars were a maximum; but CN would soon decide that 150 boxcars would bring in more profit. Thanks for sharing this article.
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