Historic B.C. trestles reopen after 2003 wildfire
The rail trestles in Myra Canyon Provincial Park near Kelowna, B.C., reopened to the public Sunday for the first time since a forest fire burned down 12 wooden trestles in the summer of 2003.
An estimated 7,000 people performed a ceremonial walk through the canyon and over the historic trestles in the afternoon.
"The job is finally finished. We were able to deliver on what we said we would do, so that's relief. Actually, there's a great feeling of elation too," said Ken Campbell, chair of the Myra Canyon Restoration Committee.
In August 2003, the Okanagan Mountain wildfire swept through the Myra-Bellevue Protected Area, destroying 12 of the 16 wooden trestles and damaging two steel trestles.
The 18 trestles were built in the early 1900s. They were declared a national historic site just a few months before the wildfire.
The B.C. government appointed a task force to develop a recovery and restoration plan after the destruction. The federal and provincial governments shared the rebuilding cost of $17 million.
All trestles destroyed by fire have been rebuilt to historical specifications using British Columbia wood and labour, according to the Myra Canyon Restoration Committee's web site.
Valerie Pringle, chair of the Trans Canada Trail, said it was overwhelming to see the trestles re-dedicated after almost five years.
"To see it rise from the ashes, and rededicated today, and get its rightful place as a national historic site is so exciting," Pringle said.
About 50,000 people annually are expected to visit the park to see the authentic-looking trestles, she said.