Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fraser Canyon British Columbia (Photos)

Above Photo: The Yale Tunnel, 286 metres long, just 1.5 km east of Yale.

The Fraser Canyon is an 84 km landform of the Fraser River where it descends rapidly through narrow rock gorges in the Coast Mountains en route from the Interior Plateau of British Columbia to the Fraser Valley. Colloquially, the term "Fraser Canyon" is often used to include the Thompson Canyon from Lytton to Ashcroft, since they form the same highway route which most people are familiar with, although it is actually reckoned to begin above Williams Lake, British Columbia at Soda Creek Canyon near the town of the same name.

Above Photos: My wife took a couple of pictures when driving through the tunnels.


The canyon was formed during the Miocene period (23.7–5.3 million years ago) by the river cutting into the uplifting Interior Plateau. From the northern Cariboo to Fountain, the river follows the line of the huge Fraser Fault, which runs on a north-south axis and meets the Yalakom Fault a few miles downstream from Lillooet. 

Exposures of lava flows are present in cliffs along the Fraser Canyon. They represent volcanic activity in the southern Chilcotin Group during the Pliocene period and the volcanic vents of their origins have not been discovered.

Above Two Photos: The mighty Fraser River winds it’s way through the canyon far below.


The canyon extends 270 kilometres (170 mi) north of Yale to the confluence of the Chilcotin River. Its southern stretch is a major transportation corridor to the Interior from "the Coast", with the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways and the Trans-Canada Highway carved out of its rock faces, with many of the canyon's side-crevasses spanned by bridges and trestles. 

Above Photo: Spawning salmon statues mark the ends of the Alexandra Bridge.

Prior to the double-tracking of those railways and major upgrades to Highway 1 (the Trans Canada Highway), travel through the canyon was even more precarious than it is now. During the frontier era it was a major obstacle between the Lower Mainland and the Interior Plateau, and the slender trails along its rocky walls - many of them little better than notches cut into granite, with a few handholds - were compared to goat-tracks.

North of Lytton, it is followed by BC Highway 12, then from Lillooet to Pavilion by BC Hwy 99 (the farther end of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, though not carrying that name in this area). The British Columbia Railway (the BC Railway is now owned and operated by the CN) line follows the same stretch of canyon from Lillooet to just beyond Pavilion. 

Above Photo: A deep canyon with a small fast moving creek at the bottom. 
It eventually flows into the Fraser River.

Between there and the mouth of the Chilcotin River there are only rough ranching roads, and the terrain is a mix of canyon depths flanked by arid benchland and high plateau. Between Pavilion and Lillooet, the river's gorge is at its maximum depth, with the river throttled through a series of narrow gorges flanked by high cliffs, though still flanked above those cliffs by wide benchlands which stand on the foreshoulder of the mountain ranges flanking the gorge.

Hells Gate:

At Hells Gate, near Boston Bar, the canyon walls rise about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above the rapids. Fish ladders along the river's side permit migrating salmon to bypass a rockslide that diverted the river during the blasting of the Canadian Northern Railway line in 1913. The area around Hell's Gate carries the name Black Canyon, which may either be a reference to the colour of the rocks when it rains, or the name of a community built on the cliffsides here during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. 

Above Photo: Cisco Bridges - CPR bridge (black) in foreground, CNR bridge (orange arch) in background. Photo facing upriver. Also a railway tunnel to the left side of the picture.

Today there is a specially-built air-tram, like the kind used in ski resorts, which takes tourists down to Hells Gate, where visitors may view the fish ladders as well as the boiling rush of the Fraser's waters. A set of tourist pavilions with shops and café now occupies the site of the workmen's housing seen in the accompanying image.

View of Hells Gate looking across to east bank, with a CPR steam locomotive in background passing old railway housing, c.1945

At Siska, a few minutes south of Lytton, there are the Cisco bridges—a pair of railway bridges at the throat of a rocky gorge. From south to north, the Canadian Pacific has been on the west side of the canyon, while the Canadian National has been on the east side. Here Cisco (Skiska), the two railways switch sides: the CP—(520-foot (160 m))-long truss bridge—crosses to the east, the CN—on a 810-foot (250 m) steel-arched bridge over the CP—is now on the west. 

The two railways now have an agreement to allow directional running through the canyon as far as Basque. All eastbound trains—CN, CP, and Via Rail's eastbound Canadian—run on the CP line. All westbound trains—CN, CP, Via Rail's westbound Canadian—use the CN tracks.

The above source information was provided Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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