BC Highway History Alert! More Snapshots in Time Revealed

Are you a BC Highways history nerd? If so – GET READY!
We promised you more amazing historical images after our first historical snapshots blog  and we are delivering on that promise.
Don’t consider yourself a highways history nerd?
Don’t worry – you will be after you take a look at some of the images below.

As some of you might already know, we’ve been going through our old photos and sharing our favourites with you. These pictures were taken between the years 1965 and 1975 and capture a slice of the wide range of the work that has been done by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure across this beautiful province.

So pull up a chair, settle in and take a tour down memory lane – Department of Highways style.

It’s called a pavement burner and it looks like it’s doing a great job living up to its name. Just looking at this shot makes us feel the heat. Once the pavement was burned, it was scooped up and replaced with new material. Did you know we now have a machine that does this whole process on the spot?

When we post a sign, we mean it. Looks like someone agreed with us on this one and added an additional sign saying so. Taken at the top of Kootenay Pass, looking westbound.

This amazing image feels like it could have been taken during the dust bowl days or the depression era, doesn’t it? It’s actually a candid shot of one of our staffers repairing a machine in the Nelson area in the late 60s.

Who says Vancouver Island doesn’t know snow? This shot of two staffers in a ministry truck was taken near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. And that is a LOT of snow.

Half men – half mountain goats. A slippery slope near Revelstoke didn’t stop this survey crew from scrambling down to get the specs.

Early “Garbage Gobbler” looking sharp in his tux and ready to be deployed roadside. These litter bugs have taken many shapes over the years, but they still remain an iconic part of the BC roadtrip.

Taken on top of Tabor Mountain, this amazing shot shows some of our staff helping to place a protective dome over a radio repeater dome. Our radio repeater system is still an important tool for communication in remote areas.

Don’t mess with this snow plow! This minstry staffer stands proudly in front of his grader which is mounted with a V plow. These plows work best on side roads, and were in use until the early 80s, when modern wing plows arrived on the scene. Pretty impressive looking isn’t it?

If you look closely at this picture you can see a man standing in front of a huge boulder. This is the foot of the Hope Slide. In the early morning hours of Saturday, January 9th, 1965 nearly half of Johnson Peak collapsed and descended into the Nicolum Valley, approx. 20 km east of Hope, destroying nearly four kilometres of Highway 3 (the Hope-Princeton Highway) and filling up the bottom the valley with rock and mud up to a depth of 200 feet. Department of Highways crews worked tirelessly for 13 days in order to re-establish the highway connection and in this photolog video you can actually see the path they cut through the debris to reconnect the road. In the early 1980’s the highway alignment was rerouted around the base of the slide debris field, instead of through it. Visitors to the area today can pull off the highway and visit a monument dedicated to the event.

This photograph of a ministry engineer and foreman was taken on site in the early days after the Hope slide occurred and gives you a real sense of the seriousness of the situation which had unfolded on BC Highway 3.

Strangest picture of the bunch. A member of the Kelowna Scuba Diving Club helps a ministry staffer collect signs from Okanagan Lake. We’re guessing Okanagan teens used to chuck road signs off the dock and into the lake for fun?

How about that for perspective? This worker is scaling rock high above Dry Creek Bridge in the Golden area, just like it’s no big deal.

Look out CHiPS! BC had it’s own brand of highway patrol! The Department of Highways Traffic Patrol kept traffic moving safely in the Lower Mainland between 1958 -1988. Patrolmen were responsible for controlling traffic at ferry terminals, on and approaching local area bridges (such as the Lion’s Gate, Second Narrows and the Port Mann) as well as acting as reserve constables for local police detachments and BC RCMP.

Pretty cool stuff, huh? We thought you would like it. And don’t worry, there’s more to come. Let us know what you think of this or anything else we do in the comments below.

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30 Responses to BC Highway History Alert! More Snapshots in Time Revealed

  1. Brian on March 11, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Love the pictures you have posted here. Have you any of the Rogers Pass before or during construction. I travelled this route many times for work based out of Revelstoke during the 70s. Particular interest is road location, right of waying, and surveying. Great job here BTW.

    • tranbceditor on March 12, 2018 at 11:32 am

      We are working our way through a large amount of images to share with you here and we will keep our eyes peeled for ones of the construction of Rogers Pass!

  2. Corey Walker on February 7, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    I would love to see some photos of the Fraser Canyon in the early years, before the tunnels and the new Alexandra Bridge was built. They would be an awesome addition to the really interesting photographs you already have. Also, I’ve heard that there’s a big hill on the way to Bella Coola. Do you have any old photographs of that monster? Thanks for posting these photos, and keep up the good work.

  3. Bob Reimer on January 25, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Great photos. I remember the wild garbage cans along the highway and as kids it kept us busy watching for the next one.

    • tranbceditor on January 25, 2018 at 3:58 pm

      Glad to hear you liked the pictures Bob. They are pretty memorable little creatures, aren’t they? 🙂

  4. Dianne Anderson on January 23, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Awesome photos and I agree …. MORE PLEASE!

  5. Beth Pyne on January 14, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Thanks so much for posting the photos, it is always really amazing to see history through pictures. It puts some perspective on the challenges faced then and some of the solutions today. That being said living in the mountains was and remains to be a huge challenge always to the highways department I am sure. I for one am always grateful for your department for stepping up to the challenge, thanks again for the reminder..lots more pictures would be great..

    • tranbceditor on January 15, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Beth! Really good to hear you enjoyed these photos. We love sharing them and will continue to do so.

  6. Patti on January 11, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Love the photos – keep up the great work 😊

    • tranbceditor on January 11, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks Patti – we will! 🙂

      • John O'Bryan on January 14, 2018 at 7:28 pm

        The old photos are great ,as a retired Highways employee of 36 years i find it very interesting. One photo for sure the one taken May 1964 of survey crew at Revalstoke .I am sure that # 3 is my self .Thanks for the post .

        • tranbceditor on January 15, 2018 at 4:22 pm

          That’s amazing, John! Do you remember what it was like surveying that slope?

  7. Connor on January 11, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Awesome Pictures. I think our highways need more patrol coverage. Are you looking at bringing the BC Highway Patrol back?

    • Connor on January 11, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Sorry about all the comments, something went a little goofy.

      • tranbceditor on January 11, 2018 at 12:39 pm

        All good! We like getting comments – even duplicate ones. 🙂

    • tranbceditor on January 11, 2018 at 12:35 pm

      Hi Connor,

      Thanks for your comments! 🙂 Although we sure think it would be cool to have “BCHP” rolling down the road once more, the work that was done by the BC Highway Patrol is now done by local municipal police jurisdictions in the Lower Mainland and by the BC RCMP across the rest of the province.

  8. Tim Stainton on January 11, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Love the pictures of the past. I was Highways mechanical for about 21 years throughout the province. I had a great career and met a lot of great people throughout the province it is nice to reminisce those days through pictures like this especially when they have info with them.

    • tranbceditor on January 11, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you for sharing with us Tim. It makes us happy to know they are appreciated and even more when folks have a personal connection with them like you. Ministry staffers (past and present) sure are a great bunch of people. 🙂

  9. Sabiha Sultana on January 11, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Inspirational works! Nice Photos. Thanks for posting.

  10. Doug Wells on January 10, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    I remember my dad getting a call to go to the hope slide that morning he was the highways manager for Chilliwack or was in the transition from being being the bridge patrol Sargent to transfer to Chilliwack there is some pictures in the website link feel free to use

    • tranbceditor on January 11, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      Wow! That is an amazing connection to the event and those are wonderful photographs of the Highway Patrol. We would love to use them – in fact, we have put a Highways Patrol blog on our to do list. Thanks Doug!

  11. Ryan E. Lake on January 10, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Dear tranbc Editor,

    My memories of travel on B.C. Highways,
    the Fraser Canyon in particular, go back
    to to my childhood in the 1950’s.

    I was terrified of the Canyon, wedged into
    the cliff face, or hangin’ out high above the
    Fraser on wooden stilts, with no guard

    In places it was too narrow for opposing
    vehicles to pass. In fact, I can
    remember The Old Man havin’ to back
    our little Austin A50 up tight against the
    rock face to make room for a mare
    and her foal to slip by.

    Crossing the Fraser on the old Alexandra
    Bridge was an event, crawling down the
    West side with overheatin’ brakes,
    rumblin’ across the ice deck, and shiftin’
    into bull low to manoeuvre up the switch
    backs through the stalled vehicles, with
    steam pourin’ out of their rads, on the East
    side. Today, one might not even notice
    crossing the Fraser on the “new” Alexandra

    Later, when tunnels made drivin’ a little
    less hair-raisin’, it was still beyond some
    drivers comfort level. Stuck behind a
    Cadillac with Prairie plates, stopped in the
    middle of the road, The Old Man walked
    forward to see if the driver needed help.
    He did. He was too scared to drive around
    the bend and through the tunnel. The Old
    Man drove the Caddie through for him
    and then hiked back to retrieve our

    Still, compared to the Caribou Gold Trail
    from the previous century, it was an
    engineering marvel!

    B.C. highways and byways have certainly
    certainly improved in my lifetime, and
    continue to do so. Can we say the same
    about drivers?

    There is no such thing as “safe driving,”
    but thanks, folks, for making it safer
    with both infrastructure, education, and

    Happy and Safe Trails!

    Ramblin’ Ryan Lake.

    • tranbceditor on January 11, 2018 at 12:59 pm

      Wow! That’s a beautiful story/book unto itself right there Ramblin’ Ryan 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your slice of BC memories with us here. We love to hear these stories – they make it all worthwhile. Safe travels out there.

  12. Bseabob on January 10, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Great pics. Keep it up. Why don’t we have a Patrol now?

    • tranbceditor on January 10, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for the feedback – we think they are pretty great too (but we are partial). We are asking around on the end of the Highway Patrol. We know that they were brought onto the CVSE as mobile officers in 1988 but don’t know exactly why.

  13. Ken on January 10, 2018 at 6:56 am

    Awesome photos…same request as before…MORE PLEASE! 🙂

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