Quintette Train Tunnels - A Day Trip
notes by Jenavieve
Here we go into the first tunnel
Look at the rock that engineer Andrew McCulloch had to drill through
Usually we come back from Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley the same way we
go up, along the Coquihalla Highway (Highway #5). But this year,
out of the blue, Dad says, “Why don’t we try the old Hope-Princeton Highway.”
I should’ve known something was fishy. Our first “unplanned” pit
stop was Manning Provincial Park, which actually wasn’t as bad as I thought
it would be. We went for a hike and Nathan got into trouble for complaining
so much. Anyway, I know this doesn’t have anything to do with the
Othello Tunnels, but bear with me. Dad decided because Nathan spoiled
our walk at Manning Provincial Park that we would make one other “unplanned”
pit stop. You probably know where this is headed now. Othello
Tunnels here we come.
At first Nathan and I decided not to go for another hike. Mom and Dad left with Coleman, but came back about fifteen minutes later. Apparently the tunnels were unmissable. And you know what, they were right (this time). Talk about cool or what! They’re even a bit scary, which is okay. Everyone needs a good scare once in a while. You see the tunnels are really dark and spooky. I bet bats live in there. I didn’t see any bats, but then I couldn’t see much either. Of course, as soon as I said the word “BAT,” Coleman nearly jumped out of his skin. You see he thinks bats are really flying mice. Anyway, Mom and Dad ended up carrying Coleman the whole way, which didn’t go over too well.
Dad said they’ve even used the tunnels to film movies in. He mentioned three, none of which I’d ever heard of: First Blood (Rambo), Shoot To Kill, and Far From Home: Adventures of Yellow Dog. I wanted to do a little of my own filming, on Dad’s digital camera. I got a little carried away with snapping pictures and Mom got mad. I don’t know why, because you can just erase the pictures you don’t want. Anyway, I got a really funny one of Mom getting mad at me. And you know what, she didn’t care. She said Dad would erase it, but Dad said he might have to save it and blow it up into a poster.
Back to the tunnels. The Othello Tunnels were built way back between 1911 and 1916. They were the last leg of the Kettle Valley Railway. There’s a string of five tunnels, but the biggest one is the first tunnel. If you have a flashlight, bring it. There are puddles inside the tunnels and I stepped right in the middle of one. In between the tunnels are viewing spots where you can see the Coquihalla River. Be careful, it’s a long way down.
Age group: I saw people from all ages going to the tunnels. You may not enjoy it as much if you don’t like walking (because it takes about 15 minutes to get there), or if you’re scared of the dark.
Expense rating: Well the only thing we paid for was parking, and that wasn’t much. Oh yah, and we talked Dad into buying us a pop because we were dying of dehydration. We bought it from a lady selling ice-cream treats and pop from her trailer.
: I like scary books and scary T.V. shows so the Othello Tunnels were right up my alley. You can really let your imagination run wild when you go there. Think witches, bats, ghosts, skeletons…. You don’t find places like that too often.
: You know those bathrooms that don’t flush, and they usually have flies buzzing around. Those are the ones you have to use at the Othello Tunnels. I picked going in the bushes instead.
Details: The town of Hope is about a 1½ to 2 hour drive from Vancouver. The Othello Quintette Train Tunnels are located just past Hope in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. As Dad likes to say, we’re “beyond Hope”. To get to the tunnels from the town of Hope: take Kawkawa Lake road and proceed about 4 km, then turn right on to Othello Road and proceed another 4 km and look for the sign. Website: Othello Tunnels
Season:The Othello Tunnels are not open during the winter months. Apparently they used to have a lot of washouts and rock slides, forcing the railway to close down completely in 1959.
Educational highlights: When you think about it, the guy who designed the tunnels (Andrew McCulloch) must have been pretty stubborn. Instead of just bypassing the gorge entirely, he decided to build through it—a solid wall of granite.
Fun for the adult?: I’m only ten years old. I don’t look like an adult or think like one (as my Mom likes to remind me when I ask her to rent me a movie rated “Mature.”) But judging from the speed and number of words coming from my Mom’s mouth, (Mom talks a lot when she’s excited) I’d say it’s safe to say most adults would enjoy the Othello Tunnels.
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copyright (C) Triple F Family Adventures 2004