The promise of big dollars from big trees on southern Vancouver Island at the turn of the century spurred local loggers, farmers and labourers to build one of the world’s largest and most spectacular wooden railway trestles in the world.
The curving 188-metre long, 38-metre high Kinsol Trestle spanning the Koksilah River canyon near Shawnigan Lake allowed steam trains to haul the giant coastal cedars and firs out of the rain forest. But times changed and the last train crossed the trestle in 1979.
Abandoned, left to rot for years and destined to be torn down in 2006, locals again united to preserve the trestle’s value and mounted campaigns to preserve its heritage value by saving the trestle and keeping as much of its original structure as possible.
Today, and more than $7 million later, the Kinsol Trestle is a historic and grandiose link to hundreds of kilometres of idyllic walking, hiking, biking and horseback riding trails that form part of the nationwide Trans-Canada Trail.
The trail covers the original Canadian National Railway rail bed and it takes about 10 minutes of leisurely walking to reach the Kinsol Trestle. While walking, it’s easy to imagine a steam train chugging through the forest, rounding the bend and sounding its whistle as it approaches the trestle. The railway tracks are gone now, making it a breeze and a pleasure to walk, bike or ride a horse across the trestle.
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