Anniversaries not to be forgotten

Colleen Palumbo looks back at some of the anniversaries coming up.

This area will celebrate several significant anniversaries this year but the country will celebrate the completion of the Trans-Canada Highway, which happened 50 years ago.

The second longest paved highway in the worked was officially opened by the Federal Government, September 3, 1962 at Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park.

With the opening of the 4,860 mile highway Canada finally had a finished useable highway from one side of the country to the other that came to be called the Trans Canada.

The last piece of the highway to be finished was the section through Rogers Pass that would link Revelstoke to Golden. They had previously been linked by the Big Bend Highway.

The Big Bend Highway was 192 miles of unpaved potholes and the opening of the Trans-Canada cut 100 miles of the journey as well as seven hours off the driving time.

The summit of the pass lies at the foot of Mt. McDonald, where the road climbs 4,400 feet and the center of the pass is marked by Mt. Avalanche, which is almost half way through Glacier National Park.

Rock work in the Rogers Pass construction presented contractors with one of their toughest challenges.

The Selkirk Range is older than the Rockies by several million years and its weathered rock slopes were very difficult to work.

The rock split too easily into enormous slabs so new techniques of drilling and blasting had to be developed.

The serious avalanche problems that had caused the railway to withdraw from Rogers Pass were considered to be a problem for the Trans-Canada. Snow sheds were specially designed and built at the main avalanche sites.

At the time of the opening of the highway, six snow sheds were in the section of the Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park.

The largest of the snow sheds was built at the site of the Lanark slide area. Built by BC engineers this 1,200 foot long reinforced concrete and steel structure was precast and assembled on site.

The highway through Rogers Pass opened up the beautiful pass that hadn’t been seen by most travellers before, and the planners provided turn off points for motorists to stop and take in the magnificent scenery.

Travellers see three distinctive mountain ranges. The Monashee, the Selkirk, and the Clachnacudainn, as well as abundant wildlife, permanent snowfields, and glaciers. Perhaps the most formidable obstacle that stood in the way of putting the highway through Rogers was the winter snow fall record of 17 meters annually (Parks Canada website).

Although snow sheds had been built at strategic locations along the road it was necessary to bring the snow off the mountains in controlled conditions.

Noel Gardner of Calgary, a specialist in avalanche control, set up an effective snow control system.

By making use of 75 mm and 105 mm artillery from the Canadian Army Artillary units, the snow can be brought down in controlled conditions.

The rugged country that you pass through makes this section of the Trans-Canada Highway, one of the most outstanding drives in the world.


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