Train’s whistle long silenced

Charters trestle was once a busy link between communities on Vancouver Island.

No longer heard today, the mournful wail of a steam locomotive’s whistle was a feature of our lives for half a century. This 1950s view shows a locomotive hauling a load of poles from the uplands forests of the Sooke hills. The Western Red Cedar poles were destined for use as utility poles in the fast-growing U.S. market.

Charters trestle, in the photo, shows the original wooden timbers as installed by the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway during World War I. The line was taken over by the Canadian National and up until the 1960s the train plied its way daily, hauling a load of cars carrying variously logs, poles, pilings and milled lumber. In its last years, the train carried munitions on this secluded inland route from Cowichan Bay to Rocky Point, but by that time steam locomotives had been replaced by diesel.

After the last train ran in the early 1970s, the line’s right-of-way was sold to the province of B.C.  Leased by the Capital Regional District, it has become the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. This 55.5 km trail is one of the most popular hiking and cycling routes on southern Vancouver Island. The Charters trestle is just visible through a foliage of trees, from the Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre, though the bridge’s timber girders have now been replaced by steel.

A woodland walking route that offers spectacular scenery, flora and fauna has replaced an industrial grade that once helped fuel the island’s economy.

Those of us who remember the chug and hiss of the locomotives and the distinctive, long-drawn out romantic wail echoing through the hills will never forget these sounds of the past.

 

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

 

Just Posted

Sixty Sooke homes needed to host Japanese students

Homestay program offers visitors a taste of life in Canada

UPDATED: Heavy police presence in Victoria had part of Bay Street blocked off

Bay Street east of Quadra Street was blocked off on Saturday

Hundreds of foreign species still washing up on B.C. coast, eight years after tsunami

The Royal BC Museum is home to thousands of samples collected along the west coast of North America

Victoria first Canadian city to join United Nations tree planting challenge

The City of Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees by the end of 2020

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read