5 MUST-SEE HISTORIC SIGHTS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA AND THE ROCKIES
© 2017 ROCKY MOUNTAINEER, NOEL HENDRICKSON SPONSORED CONTENT
2017 is Canada’s 150th year since Confederation, and there’s no better time to experience this country’s incredible landmarks and natural wonders. Some of the most impressive historic sights are out west, in the scenic Rocky Mountains. If you haven’t seen the Rockies yet, or you can’t wait to visit them again, what are you waiting for? Jump on the open road, go for a hike, see the sights! Or, if you really want to travel in style, sit back and take it all in along the storied railway with Rocky Mountaineer, Canada’s iconic luxury train. Now that’s how you celebrate a milestone! Here are 5 must-see historic sights in British Columbia and the Rockies.
Established in 1913, Mount Robson Provincial Park is the second-oldest park in British Columbia and was designated part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Its highest peak is its namesake, Mount Robson, towering 3,954 metres (12,972 feet) over the village of Valemount, alongside the B.C.-Alberta border. To the Texqakallt First Nation, it was called Yuh-hai-has-hun, meaning “mountain of the spiral road,” and you’ll understand why when you see it on Rocky Mountaineer’s Journey through the Clouds route. Mount Robson also goes by the nickname “The Great
White Fright,” as only 10% of climbers ever reach the top.
Spiral Tunnels at Kicking Horse Pass
Kicking Horse Pass, a designated National Historic Site within the Yoho and Banff National Parks, presented quite the challenge when railway workers began to lay tracks on this stretch of the Rockies in the early 1900s. Spiral-shaped tunnels help trains tackle steep hills like this, and so in 1909, thanks to a Swiss model and a team of 1,000 men, Canada’s first Spiral Tunnels were opened here. Over a century later, about 25 to 30 trains use these tunnels every day, including the trains on Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West route, where you can witness this engineering marvel from within. Instead of heading straight up the steep Rockies incline, the tracks loop around, doubling back on themselves to allow for a steadier ascent/descent.
Pronounced “Cray-GAL-ick-ee,” this small B.C. community owes its name to a famous landmark in Banffshire, Scotland. But in Canada, Craigellachie is immortalized as where the last spike on the Canadian Pacific Railway was famously driven on November 7, 1885, uniting the country from east to west with 3,200 kilometres (1,988 miles) of track. Did you know Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West route is the only passenger train to service this historic route? This iconic landmark plays a significant role in Canadian history, because finishing the railway in Craigellachie solidified British Columbia’s decision to
join Confederation and helped shape the Canada we know today.
When a country is founded on train travel, like Canada was, there’s endless historic tales worth exploring along its rails. Running along the Fraser River, CiscoCrossing is another gem for history buffs, as two of Canada’s first railway lines meet here: the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway and the Canadian National (CN) Railway. Travelling over these iconic black and orange truss bridges today is a lot more comfortable than it was in the early 20th century!
Quesnel and the Cariboo Gold Rush
B.C.’s most prominent gold rush began in the Cariboo region in the 1860s, following in the footprints of the gold rush at the Fraser River Canyon, which happened in the late 1850s. Gold Rush miners sought their fortunes throughout the Cariboo region, and you can relive some of this exciting history on Rocky Mountaineer’s Rainforest to Gold Rush route through the lively storytelling of its onboard Hosts. Pass by Gebhart, the site of an authentic stagecoach stop, and the Flying U Ranch, Canada’s oldest guest ranch. And don’t forget to take some epic pics along the Deep Creek Bridge, among the highest in North
America, as the train winds its way to or from the gold
rush’s major stopover point, Quesnel.