Train history features into Barnes Creek trail

1909 CP overpass adds unique feature to Slough to Barnes Creek Trail in Ashcroft.

Out near the slough is a solid piece of craftsmanship that many locals have probably never seen. The hike to see this may be a short one or, for those who want a longer hike, start at Ashcroft and walk the slough road (Evans Road) about 3.2 kilometers.

The short portion of the hike begins just past the first corner on the graveled section of the road. On the left is a well used pullout where many locals park. Walk up the short incline on the public road. Approximately 100 yards past the sign for the tie plant, take the side road to the left and head towards the river.

On the right, an osprey nest regally sits on top of a pole and on the left and below, the Thompson River rushes by. Flanked by silvery sagebrush and mounds of cacti resplendent with yellow and pale peach colored blossoms, the road winds its way along the lower bench for about 1 km.

Nearing the end of the road, a lush green area unfolds in front of you. The contrast from the dun and golden brown landscape characteristic of our area to this lush green signifies a sure sign of water. As you draw closer, the sound of gurgling water and the chirping of birds means you have arrived at Barnes Creek and the site of what you are seeking.

Spanning Barnes Creek is an overpass for the Canadian Pacific Railroad.  Stamped into the uppermost rock is the date 1909. The tradesmen who built this overpass truly produced a work of art. Like a tunnel, this arched overpass is approximately 70 feet long, 15 feet wide and 15 feet tall.

Throughout the length and extending on a downward angle for approximately 20 feet, the creek flows over a base of carefully placed slabs of stone. The real artwork however, lies in the design and placement of huge square blocks of stone. These were obviously quarried as you can see evidence of the rough finish and indentations where they were lifted and moved with huge tongs.

As you look at the side wings and arched style of this intricately designed overpass, let your mind wander. How did they transport these huge blocks to this location in 1909? Where were the blocks  quarried? How did they hoist them into place, create the arch and secure them? It is truly an example of the finest craftsmanship and quite a feat for the tradesmen of the day.

Leaving the creek and overpass behind, take the pathway on your left and cross the Canadian National Railway tracks.

Continue on the path and head toward the river. Watch your step if you decide to stray off the path; the cacti seem to love this area and are very prolific here.

As you near the river, the path splits. Take the left hand path and head back toward the slough. The path will merge with another small road and go past a pump house.

It is June, and the cacti are flowering with their bright blooms dotting the landscape. The Russian Olive trees are also in bloom, and the delicate flowery smell wafts through the slight breeze.

As you near the end of this side road, you arrive back on the public road where you walk back to your starting point.

Andrea Walker