Othello Tunnels, Hope

Othello tunnels in the winter taken from one of the many bridges along the path. CREDIT: Venture Vancouver, SOURCE: www.venturevancouver.com

The geography of the Coquihalla proved impossible to circumvent, so, Andrew McCulloch, the Chief Engineer, chose to instead carve these tunnels by hand into the granite of the canyon.





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What to bring:

Camera, Sense of Curiosity, Drink, Hiking Boots

Located not far from the Chainsaw Carving capital of Canada, Hope, British Columbia, Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park is home to one of Canada's most interesting feats of railway construction, the Othello Tunnels. Also referred to as the Quintette Tunnels, these five tunnels are set in the magnificent setting of the Coquihalla gorge. Visitors can walk through the hand carved tunnels in this Provincial Park and enjoy the views of the surrounding gorge and admire the perseverance of British Columbia's early settlers to build this stretch of Railway.

British Columbia's railway history is integral to understanding how British Columbia came to be. In the fledgling years of Canada's democracy, many of the provinces and territories that exist today were fragmented - in 1871 British Columbia became a part of Canada on the condition that the country would build a railway from Montreal to the Pacific coast within 10 years. The real roadblock to this task was the mountains of British Columbia which provided a unique challenge especially when the railroad reached the Coquihalla Canyon. After the construction of the Trans-Canada railway, separate sections of railway were created to access other parts of the Province such as the Kettle Valley Railway. When the employees of the Canadian Pacific Railway reached the 300 foot granite canyon of the Coquihalla Gorge - there was no way to go around it so the Chief Engineer, Andrew McCulloch made the decision to tunnel through it.

The construction of five tunnels, named the Othello Tunnels (which are also referred to as the Quinette Tunnels), was done exclusively by hand with some help from horse drawn scrapers and black powder. This section of railway is the most expensive mile of railway track in the world - costing approximately $300,000 in 1914 - $5.8 million today.

Today, visitors can hike the short distance from the parking lot of the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park's entrance across the old railway bed and trestles to the Othello Tunnels 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 effort it took railway workers to carve these tunnels by hand.

Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park and the Othello Tunnels near Hope, British Columbia have also been featured in many popular movies such as Rambo: First Blood, Shoot to Kill, and The Adventures of Yellow Dog. Don't miss this British Columbia gem, a piece of Canada's railway history.

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Built in the early 1900s, the Othello Tunnels which are located near present day Hope, British Columbia were hand carved into the gorge and was part of the Kettle Valley Railway which connected the main Canadian Pacific Railway line to the Kootenay region.
Experience the awe-inspiring Othello Tunnels located in the picturesque Coqihalla gorge in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park in Hope, British Columbia. Hand carved into the surrounding granite, this piece of railway history and triumph serves as a lesson into what was needed to create a means of travel across the province.
Accessible year round, the Othello Tunnels near Hope, British Columbia are a marvel of engineering. It is is advisable however to only visit the Othello Tunnels from Spring to Fall as snow is not plowed from the area, rock falls can occur and the trails can be difficult to access.

Location of Othello Tunnels at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park - Hope, BC

Use the interactive map below to locate and explore the areas around Othello Tunnels at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park - Hope, BC

From the Coquihalla Highway (5) turn onto Othello Road and follow the signs until you reach the parking lot.

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