Tuesday, April 17 2007 @ 11:00 AM CDT
Contributed by: Admin
-- Mackenzie and Mann, promoters of the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, contracted to build Vancouver Island line from Sidney through Victoria to Barkley Sound.
Sod-turning ceremony staged in February.
By this time some 700,000 feet of timber had been cut and stacked on both sides of the Koksilah River at Mile 51.9, site of the Kinsol Trestle (named for a nearby copper mine, the King Solomon).
Only four miles of track had been laid from Victoria and some timbering completed on the trestle by 1918 when the federal government resumed construction as part of the new Canadian National Railways.
Sept. 18, 1919, the Cowichan Leader reported: "At long last a real start has been made on the Koksilah River (crossing)." 55 men were employed on the project.
By April the canyon had been bridged. Built on massive concrete piers, the Kinsol Trestle was 145 feet high and 614 feet long.
Track reached Lake Cowichan. Weekly passenger service by gas car and the transporting of lumber products was begun.
That winter, the trestle was damaged by the flooded Koksilah River carrying logs and debris. Sporadic reconstruction was done 1931-1936 (in the midst of the Depression) and the trestle returned to service after a major renovation that saw the Howe Truss span moved from the top to the bottom as it is today.
Forest fire swept several square miles to the north but spared the trestle.
First and only all-passenger train crossed the trestle and was recorded for posterity by Elwood White.
350 feet of timbers and bents on the north end replaced.
More extensive repairs included new pressure-treated creosote mud sills.
Last train, a locomotive with four cars carrying cedar poles, crossed the Kinsol Trestle.
B.C. began negotiations with CNR to acquire abandoned right-of-way as a recreational/traffic corridor. The late Jack Fleetwood, highly respected Cowichan Valley historian, lobbied the provincial government to save "save this unique structure which we believe (to be) the highest remaining wooden bridge in the Commonwealth". The Projects National Parks Centennial Citizens' Committee declined funding for the trestle's restoration.
The provincial government formally acquired ownership of the old CNR right-of-way and placed it under the Ministry of Transportation.
An arsonist's fire that destroyed 25 feet of decking was described by Shawnigan Lake fire chief Glen Sanders as one of the most hazardous of his career. Blaze extinguished by a Martin Mars water bomber.
An engineering study described the Kinsol Trestle as "an awe-inspiring engineering and construction relic that has few equals in Canada". Westcoast Energy announced plans to install a natural gas pipeline 66 metres west of the trestle.
The Chemainus and Cowichan Valley Eco-museum Society attempted to have Kinsol Trestle declared a site of national significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District passed a board resolution to apply for a long-term lease over the length of the abandoned CNR right-of-way from south of Deerholme, and to support a sublease to the Industrial Heritage Society for development of a heritage site at the Kinsol Trestle.
Arsonists made a second attempt to burn the trestle. Jack Fleetwood passed away.
An engineering study by Martin Holden _ Associates estimated the cost of restoring the Kinsol Trestle at $525,000 after deeming that, despite fire damage and decay from years of neglect, it was "in good enough shape to warrant a facelift". Also considered was "dissembling the entire trestle and using the Howe trusses underneath so trail goers can still cross the Koksilah River". CVRD Parks Manager Tom Anderson declared that even partial demolition would be "eliminating a significant feature in the railway history of Vancouver Island, B.C. and Canada".
To which then Shawnigan electoral district representative Bill Davies said, "This (the trestle) is going to be the highlight of the Trans-Canada Trail on the Island, there's no question about that_#8230;It will boost tourism and the local
Attorney-General Andrew Petter reported that $250,000 had been earmarked for upgrading the Kinsol Trestle north of Shawnigan Lake and incorporating it in the Trans Canada Trail. The Eco-Museum Society and CVRD hosted an all-day planning workshop to promote public interest in restoration. Chrysler Canada used the trestle as a backdrop for a television commercial.
Klett Consulting delivers a report to the MOT/CVRD outlining six possible courses of action for the trestle. His first two recommend restoration.
The MOT announces that, because of insurance liability and environmental concerns raised by the CVRD, the Kinsol Trestle must be demolished. A group of concerned citizens begin a campaign to save the trestle and have it fully restored.