Located in the Coquihalla Gorge, these turn of the century tunnels barrel through solid rock and are regarded to this day as an engineering feat. They also have the distinction of containing the most expensive railway mile in the world at $300,000 in 1914.
In the early 1900’s competition from the Americans forced the CPR to construct a railway line through three major mountain ranges to link up the Kootenay region with BC’s coast and in 1910 Andrew McCulloch was hired for the job. Earlier engineers thought that by-passing this section of the 300-foot-deep gorge was the way to go but not McCulloch. Determined to get the task done, he opted to tunnel straight through the granite wall using wicker baskets and rope to survey the landscape. Incredibly, much of the work was done by hand.
McCulloch was an avid reader of Shakespearean literature, hence the line’s stations were named for his characters. The Othello Tunnels happen to sit in close proximity to the old Othello Station.
Unfortunately, the weather in the area wreaked havoc on the rail-line, with many mud-slides and snow storms knocking it out for days on end. In a two-year period in the 1930’s the line was only open for a total of 2 weeks! A series of washouts in 1959 brought the line to a standstill and in 1986 the area became a provincial recreation area.
Located off Highway 5, just north of Hope, BC in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Cycling and hiking trails are located in the park, as our picnic tables and pit style toilets but swimming in the river is not recommended. Pets are permitted on leash, however the potential for wildlife clashes increase as bears and other wildlife call the park home. The park is closed during the winter (November to March) due to a high level of instability so be sure to stop by in the summer months.