It was the largest known landslide in Canadian history.
The Hope Slide forever changed the landscape of the Nicolum Valley in the Cascade Mountain Range, tragically taking the lives of four motorists who were on BC Highway 3 at the time.
We recently discovered a series of images documenting the incident itself, as well as search and rescue and reconstruction efforts following the slide. As far as we know, only one or two of these images have ever been shown to the public before now.
A Timeline of the Slide Event
In the early morning hours of Saturday, January 9th, 1965, a snow avalanche blocked the Hope-Princeton Highway, in the Nicolum Valley, just outside of Hope. A queue of motorists on the Princeton side of the avalanche began to collect. Some of them chose to turn around and head back up the mountain, while others chose to wait for crews to clear the slide.
At approximately 7 am, a devastating rock slide occurred at the same location, when half of Johnson Peak collapsed and descended into the valley below. The slide filled the valley bottom with more than 47 million cubic metres of rock, mud, and debris – up to 500 ft deep in some locations. Outram Lake, which had been at the foot of the slide area, was completely displaced. The slide buried a car that had become stuck in the first slide, an oil tanker truck, and a loaded hay truck which had stopped behind the tanker.
Finally, with the assistance of a search dog, crews were able to recover the bodies of Thomas Starchuck, the driver of the hay truck and Bernie Lloyd Beck, the driver of the convertible. The two other victims of the slide, Dennis George Arlitt and Mary Kalmakoff, were never recovered.
Department of Highways crews worked tirelessly to re-establish the highway connection and in 13 days a drive-able route had been established over the slide.
- In the years since the slide occurred, the alignment of BC Highway 3 through the area has changed and developed. Even the slide site itself has begun to recover and is now partially covered in trees – masking the scar that made such an impact.
- View the complete set of images on Flickr
- To get a different perspective of the scale of the slide and the damage it caused, take a trip back in time in our Road Trip Time Machine video and travel the area as it was in 1966, just one year after the slide occurred.
- Interested in seeing more of the ministry’s history in photos? Check out these posts: BC Highway History
Do you have any questions about this, or anything else the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure does? Let us know in the comments below.