Friday, January 27, 2012

Kettle Trestles

One of the key facets of the Kettle Valley Railway is the number of trestles over rivers, creeks, washouts and other inpediments to train travel.  One cannot traverse a long section of the trail without the pleasure of crossing one of these structures.

Photo by: Kenneth Roy

In the Myra Canyon, until a cyclist was killed by tumbling off one of the trestles, the structures themselves had no guardrails of any kind which made for very hairy riding I'm sure.  My cycling friend Roy has ridden the canyon trestles with no guadrails and described it as being okay as long as you stay in the center.  Signs had been posted at that time commanding bike riders to dismount. (As if).
One of the vicims of the OK Mountain fire

The Okanagan Mountain fire destroyed a number of trestles as it swept uncontrolled through the canyon and it was with a great deal of expense and effort that the destroyed trestles were rebuilt for the enjoyment of thousands of cyclists, hikers and interested parties.  I rode a steam train a couple of years ago and the engineer explained the phenomenon of great clouds of steam being ejected from lower down on the engine - very picturesque.  Turns out the train engineer would release steam pressure when travelling over a trestle so that the moisture would dampen the railway ties and prevent cinders from the smokestack from igniting the wooden trestle.  Who knew?

A good place to find out more info on trestles is the book "McCullough's Wonder" which I found at the railway museum in Midway, B.C.  In the book are numerous pictures of the incredible engineering that went into building even the smallest trestle and you will be amazed at how the larger structures were constructed - you can see from the photo below how complicated they can be.  If I'm not mistaken, this is the trestle over Poole Creek in the Myra Canyon.

The guy is headed toward the train!

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