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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010

Othello Tunnels (Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park) in Hope, British Columbia

Located a little ways from the town of Hope, British Columbia, is one of the most stunning locales in the province found within Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park: the Othello Tunnels. Also known as the Quinette Tunnels, this amazing feat of engineering was carved by hand into the granite gorge by the Canadian Pacific Railway and is considered the most expensive mile of railway track in the world. The five tunnels and trestles which pass over and through the Coquihalla Gorge offer spectacular views and a beautiful hike through this once impassible stretch.

Coquihalla Canyon which runs under the Othello Tunnel railway linkThe Othello Tunnels are built into the Coquihalla Canyon linking the Kootenay Region to the coast.The Othello Tunnels located in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park near the town of Hope, British Columbia (map) is a marvel of 19th century ingenuity as its tunnels are carved into the granite of the Coquihalla Gorge during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway which sought to link the Kootenay Region to the coast.

British Columbia's landscape proved a challenge for the Canadian Pacific Railway when they reached the 300 foot granite canyon of the Coquihalla Gorge - there was no way to go around it so the CPR's Chief Engineer, Andrew McCulloch (an avid Shakespearean enthusiast hence explaining the tunnel's unique name), made the decision to tunnel through it.

The construction of these tunnels was done almost exclusively by hand with some help from horse drawn scrapers and black powder. This section of railway boasts the most expensive mile of railway track in the world - costing $300,000 in 1914 - $5.8 million today.View through the Othello Tunnels in the Coquihalla Gorge.Visitors can walk on the old trestles and through the Othello
tunnels in the Coquihalla Gorge.

Visitors can hike the short distance from the Park's entrance and walk through the Othello Tunnels (also referred to as the Quinette Tunnels as there are five of them) and along the rushing waters of the Coquihalla Gorge (the trail continues further along the CPR Kettle Valley Railway bed past the tunnels). You may want to take a flashlight as the tunnels can be quite dark and it will help you appreciate the blood and sweat it took to carve them by hand in order to open up Canada's West.






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