West Koots

Discussion in 'Canada' started by borscht zanetti, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. Ymirtrials

    Ymirtrials Long timer Supporter

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    I found it by chance just exploring every road I came to. Would love to know the history of that spot.
  2. travelers

    travelers Adventurer

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    I believe that would be the Blue Joe road on the US side. For many years before 9-11 I logged/played in the area. We would travel up Boundary creek road from the kootenia valley (US side), it went into Canada and then back into the US at that bridge.

    That gave us access to the Blue Joe/Grass Creek drainages. Also gave access to Continental mine. You could get on the Bog Creek Road which would take you out to the upper Priest river drainage.

    For many years locals (Bonners Ferry) would go to Boundary Lake to fish via Boundary Creek Rd.

    If you go further to the east on what I think the Canadians call the Maryland Creek Rd (Boundary Creek to the US folks), there is another bridge across the creek that heads back to the US. The lower section of Boundary Creek road was taken out.

    Years ago it was proposed to make the Boundary Creek, Maryland Creek, Bog Creek roads a tourist/site seeing road coming out in Priest river drainage.

    Didn't happen. I have driven that route many times.

    There was also a logging camp by the bridge on the US side. Pat Lynch's Camp.

    Continental Mine would haul the ore out thru those roads in the early days.

    Klockman was the fellow that had the most history with the Continental mine. Friends of mine now own the mine.

    We were never bothered by the border patrol of Canada or US for crossing back and forth on the unmanned crossing.

    It was real popular to snow machine up Boundary Creek/Maryland creek/Blue Joe roads to get to the top of Continental Mtn and then cross the mountains to the south to end up in the Smith Creek drainage and that led you back to the bottom of Boundary Creek. About a 100 mile loop.

    Now days none of that happens. We have to go thru the Porthill border crossing and up Salmo pass to get to Boundary lake.
    250senuf, chevmekanik and gpfan like this.
  3. KootsMike

    KootsMike Adventurer

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    30ish years ago a friend of mine went camping up in that area with his dad. There were some others camped at the same spot, and they were all chatting around the fire that night. The old ‘where are you all from’ started going around, about which time they were informed they were no longer in Canada. Didn’t seem totally strange to them in those days.
  4. Ymirtrials

    Ymirtrials Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks very much for the info about this area! I tried to find info about the Continental mine but didn’t find much, is it still operating?
  5. Ymirtrials

    Ymirtrials Long timer Supporter

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    Has anyone ridden the rail grade from Christina to CGar this season? Might go next week and was curious if its open all the way.
  6. Rossland Rider

    Rossland Rider Been here awhile

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    OPen from Cgar to Paulson, I assume the Paulson to Christina is too but can't say for certain
  7. Ymirtrials

    Ymirtrials Long timer Supporter

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    Ok cool, thanks.
  8. travelers

    travelers Adventurer

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    It's not operating. The current owners bought it for the timber and recreation use. They use a combination of Forest Service roads to get to the property without going into Canada.

    There was a stable in the mine for the horses. Pretty interesting. One of the mine shafts keeps ice year around.

    Several years ago a fellow hiked in and got snowed in, the found his body in the cabin the next spring.
    https://www.spokesman.com/stories/1997/apr/08/man-apparently-died-of-exposure/

    https://www.facebook.com/CrestonMus...dwards-are-home-from-klock/10153343894271629/

    Our local library has a copy of "Klockman Diary"
    https://www.amazon.com/Klockmann-Diary-Idahos-Legendary-Continental/dp/1879628007
  9. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Holaday likes this.
  10. tokenboy

    tokenboy Gnirly Adventurer

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    I know two groups who have gone through on bikes in the last week. It is open.
    250senuf likes this.
  11. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    So? Where is this:
    [​IMG]

    Don't leave us hanging
  12. KootsMike

    KootsMike Adventurer

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    Thought that had flown....
    6 mile lakes - just above Sasquatch. Seemed like a nice first ride for the new tires
    250senuf likes this.
  13. SSPhoto

    SSPhoto Adventurer

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    Rode it on June 28th, it was in great shape!
  14. Ymirtrials

    Ymirtrials Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for the replies! Going to ride it Sunday....
  15. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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  16. Ymirtrials

    Ymirtrials Long timer Supporter

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  17. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Enjoy the Bulldog tunnel. First time through was on bicycle with a 6W halogen bulb headlight, might as well have had a candle.
  18. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Yes. Mandatory Kootenay experience. Especially on a hot day. Those cold drips of water, in the darkness, add to the fun.

    I’ve posted this before. But worthy of a bump. Friend from Victoria sent me this tale about the Bulldog Tunnel.



    Dec 2, 2008

    Got an email from a friend and fellow rider from my days in Victoria. Dennis is an interesting guy and well traveled, but I had no idea his travels had taken him to the rail bed tunnels of the Kootenays as an "Ice Miner".

    Hope you enjoy this tale as much as I did.

    Posted with permission. Thanks Dennis !!

    " Hello Jim,
    This past summer, Michael forwarded me your "KLR" email with photos from your rides. I really enjoyed your photos of riding the old Kettle Valley Railway right of way, including the long tunnel. It really brought back memories of the winter of 1974 / 75, when I went "Ice Mining" in that tunnel...

    My first job after immigrating to Canada (Christina Lake, 1974) was with the CPR in Grand Forks, as a "sectionman"...just general repair and maintenance labor on a defined "section" of railway. In the really old days each section was about seven miles. The section foreman and crew lived in small clusters including a "section house", where the foreman lived with his family, a tool house, and a bunk house where the crew lived. If the section included a long climb, such as westward from Castlegar or eastward from "Cascade" (just south of Christina Lake), there were also water towers to replenish the steam engines as they made their way up the grade. These, of course, needed to be near a major source of water, so not necessarily next the section house. So every seven miles would be another section house, etc. By 1974, the branch line west from Castlegar was slated for shut down, but there was still two trains a day: one heading west to the mine near Beverdell up the Kettle River, and returning next day to Castlegar. The Grand Forks section (part of Boundary Subdivision), where I worked, covered approximately 70 miles...from Eholt (summit between Greenwood and Grand Forks) and eastward to Coykendahl (not sure of the spelling...sounds like "corkendale"), above Arrow Lake west of Castlegar. That long tunnel you rode through was in our section, and we made periodic visits there during winter. The tunnel cut through some subterranean streams (just trickles, but constant) near the west end. The water would seep out high up and run down the tunnel wall to a small drainage ditch at the wall's base, then out the mouth. In winter this seepage would freeze up after it came out of the rock and into the tunnel, but of course the stream would keep flowing, eventually freezing again over the previously formed ice.
    Eventually, ice would build up high enough to cover the rail...obviously a very dangerous situation for train traffic...and it was our job to ensure the train could get through every day, no matter the conditions!

    Since our section was so large, we maintained a remote station with extra speeder and tools, at Coryell. Coryell was up McRae Creek
    valley, about half way between Christina Lake and the Paulson Bridge.
    When we had to go to "Tunnel", we'd drive the big Ford crew cab from the Grand Forks station up past Christina Lake to a turn-out off Hwy 3 opposite Coryell. After parking the truck. we'd hike down to the creek, cross it on a log bridge (to which had been nailed a crude hand rail), then up the other side to the railway and Coryell. Since our only reason for going there was to clear the ice, it was always winter, so we'd be slogging through snow all the way, usually at least knee deep. Once at Coryell, we'd take out the speeder from it's shed and place it on the rails (using a portable turntable device always carried with the speeder), climb aboard (4 men), crank it up, and head out for Tunnel, about 15 to 20 miles away (seemed like about 45 minutes, I think)...a steady climb up the valley, under the highway
    bridge and upward to the summit at Farron, then down the other side.
    The speeder was totally open, with just a plywood wind shield with a small glass window set in so the operator could see up ahead. Of course, he (usually the foreman) had to keep his head up, looking
    through that window, and taking the full brunt of the cold and snow.
    The rest of us just hunkered down the best we could to endure the long, cold ride.

    Upon arrival at Tunnel, we'd immediately head to the old bunk house and get a fire going (after securing the speeder off rails, of course). We'd just stand there gradually warming around the big pot- bellied iron stove. Once we could move a bit, we all sat down for lunch. After lunch it was out to work. The tool shed at Tunnel contained specialized tools for the job at hand, including a flat deck rail-wagon we could hitch to the speeder, several long pike poles, the usual picks and shovels, and many bags of salt. We'd load all this stuff on the wagon and head into the tunnel. Most of the ice was near the west entrance (all directional references are based on general direction of the line, so even though the tunnel opening actually faced south, it was the "west" entrance because the line to Castlegar went generally east-west). The ice formations would start high up on the side wall and grow larger as it reached the bottom...all glistening ice in tiered levels and beautiful shapes. A couple men would wield the pike poles and stab and poke at the formations, bringing down huge chunks of ice, the crash resonating and echoing in the tunnel. The other two (myself and another young flunkie) would gather up the ice chunks and load it on the wagon.
    When the wagon was full, we'd push it out the tunnel mouth and dump the ice into the snow beside the track, then return back for more.
    Once all the formations were down, channels had to be carved through the ice on the tunnel floor to provide a path out for the water. We'd lay lots of salt into the channel...it had to be kept clear for as long as possible. Sometimes ice was built up to near the top of the rails. This all had to be chipped away and carried out. Then more salt spread all about. After the west end was clear, we'd hitch up the wagon, start the speeder, and ride through the tunnel to the east end, where there was more ice built up, but not the huge spectacular formations found at the other end. More chipping with picks, loading the wagon, dumping the ice, and salting. When all was clear, we'd go back through the tunnel to the bunk house and tool shed. We'd park the speeder, return all tools and the wagon to the shed, then into the bunk house for another warming and drying break.

    We couldn't take too long a break if we wanted to make it out before the afternoon train came through from Castlegar, heading west toward Grand Forks. The foreman always had a copy of the current train orders, so knew when it was scheduled to depart Castlegar, and would calculate it's travel time to our work site. If we needed more timely information, we could always call the dispatcher. All speeders carried a hand-crank telephone, and a multi-sectioned pole that you assembled to a length sufficient to reach the wires of the old phone and telegraph lines that ran alongside the tracks. A pair of wires ran up along this sectioned pole, attached to brass clips at the far end. You'd clip one over an overhead copper wire, establishing electrical contact. The clip would then disengage from the pole (with the wire still attached, maintaining electrical contact), allowing you to hook another parallel wire with the second clip, thus completing a circuit from the phone to the station miles away. The bottom end of the pole's wires were attached to terminals on the phone box. Then you'd hand-crank the phone to ring the dispatcher, who could then tell you the latest train schedules. Despite this, we once got caught by the train in the tunnel. Working near the west entrance was potentially dangerous for two reasons: First, the westbound train traversing the tunnel would be heading down-hill, with the engines quietly idling as it coasted down-grade (actually braking "dynamically", using the electric motors). Secondly, the tunnel was mostly straight, but made a curve near the west entrance. If we were working deeper in the tunnel, we could see the approaching head light far off in the distance, but if working near the western portal, the curve prevented this early warning...we couldn't hear the train's approach until it rounded the bend and caught us. The foreman would always be listening and watching for the train, and call out a warning if he heard it. Once, we were caught without warning until the train rounded the curve...those close enough to the tunnel mouth just ran out in the clear. Those caught a bit deeper in, like I was, just tried to make themselves as flat as possible by pressing against the wall while the train passed through the curve. If you were on the outside of the curve, the corners of the cars would pass quite close to you. All you could do was just keep alert and pressed into the tunnel wall. Of course, on the other side, it would be the middle part of the cars' length which passed close enough to reach out and touch (not recommended!).

    So after the warm-up break, it was back on the speeder for the return ride to Coryell. After the speeder was secured in the tool shed there, we started our return hike through the snow down to the valley bottom, over McCrae Creek and up the other side to the highway turn- out and our parked truck. The ride back to the Grand Forks was generally uneventful, and after a full day we were all eager to head home. Even after traveling so far to do our job, we were seldom forced into overtime...a testament to the foreman's organizational skills!

    The Boundary Subdivision was shut down just a few years later, and it wasn't long before all the rails and ties were removed, the right of way eventually becoming the trail you rode on your KLR. Others hike
    or bicycle this trail...something I intend to do myself some day.
    Back then, the low traffic level and impending shutdown of this section rendered technological modernization uneconomical, and I'm glad I was able to experience (relatively little though it was) a bit of the old, low-tech ways of manual railway work.

    Regards,
    Dennis "
    grashopper, MGV8, ggrant and 7 others like this.
  19. LiketorideLTR

    LiketorideLTR Adventurer

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  20. LiketorideLTR

    LiketorideLTR Adventurer

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    Thanks for the detailed description of that area. Always looking for new routes. I am new to GF and have just started exploring the Backcountry. I am using the BRMB Topo maps for building my routes.
    Looking for ride buddies to explore the Boundary Koots this Summer