You Never Get Old BC
Whether you’re a history buff or just a fan of cool abandoned stuff, British Columbia has both and nothing is too far out of reach. Here are a few of our top picks for spots you might like to pin on your google map as you road trip your way through BC.
Whistler Train Wreck
Near: Whistler, BC
A graffiti gallery, mountain bike playground, a one-time horror movie set and hiking destination, the Whistler Train Wreck is located near the Cheakamus River just south of Whistler. The train derailed in 1956 when a freighter heading south and going much too fast derailed and wedged three cars tightly into a narrow canyon. Once they were pried loose from the canyon the damaged cars were dragged up the tracks and rolled over into the forest where they remain today.
To get there follow the trail at the side of Jane Lakes Road past the Sea To Sky Trail sign and into the forest. The short hiking trail follows the Sea To Sky Trail and crosses a suspension bridge over the Cheakakmus River. Most of the trail is easy, with a very short steep downhill near the suspension bridge, then meanders along a gravel path through the lush forest.
At a junction, follow the signs to the Train Wreck, passing the skis on the tree to your right. A great spot for photos and a nice break to stretch your legs during the drive to or from Vancouver.
Canso Bomber Crash
Near: Tofino, BC
A rusty reminder of Canada’s involvement in the WW2, the Canso Bomber Crash is a great photo taking spot nestled in the trees near Radar Hill south of Tofino, BC.
In 1941 an airfield was established in Tofino shortly after the bombing at Pearl Harbour. Radar Hill Station was constructed at the same time. On the night of February 10, 1945 a Canso bomber plane that took off with a crew of 12 onboard reported an engine failure and crashed into the trees. The quick thinking of pilot Ron Scholes saved all 12 crew members.
You can find the site along Pacific Rim Highway just South of Tofino, turning right at the sign for Radar Hill. Just past Radar Hill Road walk along the highway south until you see No Parking signs and a trail headed into the forest. The trail is marked with pink tape by Parks Canada. The hike is rated as easy, although the trail can sometimes be very muddy.
Chinatown and No. 1 Japanese Town
Near: Cumberland, BC
Located west of the village centre of Cumberland on Comox Lake Road in the Coal Creek Historic Park is the overgrown sites of the historic the Chinatown and No. 1 Japanese Town with portions of the historic Wellington Colliery Railway trail.
Cumberland’s Chinatown was built on wetlands just west of the settlement of Union on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Chinese workers were brought in by the Dunsmuir family (Union Colliery Company) to build and then work in the mines, along with Japanese settlers. The Japanese miners were able to bring their families with them, unlike the Chinese who were subject to the prohibitive federal head tax. A definite black mark on Canada’s history.
Today the site has plaques and hollowed out remnants of former building structures, but a handy guide was created to help you visualize what used to be there. It has an eerie feel with only the sounds of nature surrounding what was once a bustling community.
Near: Hope, BC
Located within Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, the Othello Tunnels are a beautifully maintained reminder of the influence of rail in developing British Columbia. In the early 1900s, the Canadian Pacific Railway needed a route to link the Kootenay Region with the coast. Built over three mountain ranges this engineering marvel runs through the Coquihalla Gorge, a channel of solid granite over 300 feet deep cut by the river.
The Othello Tunnels were built through it in a straight line, offering spectacular viewing opportunities along the trail, through the tunnels and on the bridges. Once decommissioned the area was turned into a provincial park. If you’re in the mood for for a day-long adventure you can walk Hope Nicola Valley Trail at the end of Kettle Valley Rd in Hope all the way to Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Just make sure you brings lots of water and snacks! If a shorter jaunt is more your pace then take Hwy 5 (Coquihalla) until you reach the junction for Othello Road. Turn left and follow the road until you reach parking.