Here’s a neat piece of BC history. The Great Northern Railway Bridge contains the last remaining historic covered bridge in the province – and it’s still in use today. So the next time you’re in the Similkameen Valley, it’s worth checking out!
Situated in Keremeos along the Similkameen River, the 942-foot-long bridge was first constructed in 1907 during the gold mining era by the Victoria, Vancouver, and Eastern Railway (V.V. and E.) According to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, the bridge represents the end of horse-drawn freight service in the area, bringing new prosperity to the town of Hedley specifically.
In 1911, the Ashnola Bridge (known locally as the “Red Bridge”) was constructed as a railway bridge from Keremeos to the Ashnola Valley. Today, it is the last remaining covered bridge in the lower Similkameen Valley, and one of the last of its kind in North America.
Two years after its construction, train service on the Great Northern Railway Bridge officially began. Shortly after in 1915 and 1916, the historic Kettle Valley line was completed to connect Penticton and Princeton and Coquihalla and Hope respectively.
Although the train line has been abandoned for many years, the famed “Red Bridge” is still in use, serving as a reminder of the bygone time when the V.V. and E. Railway ran up the valley.
Today, it’s used as a highway bridge (restored in 2005) from the south side of the river to the Ashnola, as well as a passage to the world-renowned Cathedral Lakes Park.
So there you have it, BC. The next time you’re in the area, it’s worth checking out this fascinating piece of history up close for yourself.