The KVR successfully ran from its opening date until the late 1950’s. On 23rd November, 1959, multiple rockslides and washouts early in the winter caused a disruption in service through the Coquihalla Pass. By the 28th of November, it was clear that the damage was so severe that the line had to be closed through the winter for repairs. The staff from the sectionhouses and stations along the line were evacuated. However, the line did not reopen in the Spring. Instead, trains were being re-routed to avoid the Pass altogether. It was clear that it was no longer viable to continue to invest money into repairs. In January of 1961, it was officially announced that the rail line through the pass would not be re-opened. On the 18th of July, 1961, after nearly 45 years of operation, the Board of Railway Commissioners approved the removal of the rails.
The cleared tracks provided an excellent venue for hikers. The stations along the line quickly fell into disrepair, and none now remain. However, the tunnels cut into the bedrock through the Pass still stand. For nearly 30 years, the rail track was used informally by hikers. In May 1986, The Othello Tunnels were recognized as one of Canada’s Historic Places. The trail became part of the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, as well as part of the TransCanada Trail. The trail was cleaned up, and the bridges and trestles were repaired for pedestrian use. The tunnels are now a popular tourist destination for families, hikers, and cyclists. The tunnels feature infoboards with information about the history of the tunnels and the KVR.
Planning to visit the Othello Tunnels? See below for a map to the tunnels and a video. Also, check out the Trip Advisor Othello Tunnels page.
This video of the Othello Tunnels courtesy of elchang089.
Map to Othello Tunnels
View Othello Tunnels in a larger map
Banner photo: ‘Tunnels’ by gillicious. Used under creative commons license.