Dewdney Trail timeline since completion in 1865

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Here is a timeline of significant events and circumstances with the Dewdney Trail since its completion in the fall of 1865.

1865-1898 – Dewdney Trail was the main east-west link between Kettle Valley and Columbia Valley.

nov11 2015 0301905 – West Kootenay Power and Light built a transmission line west of Rossland, using parts of the Dewdney Trail for their access road and right-of-way.

Early 1920s – Cascade Highway built between Christina Lake and Rossland.  The new road crossed the Dewdney Trail many times, but did not follow it for any distance.  Dewdney Trail continued to be used by local ranchers and farmers for moving their cattle and as a horse trail, while the Cascade Highway became important for larger conveyances.

1949 – Completion of Hope-Princeton Highway

1962 – Highway between Christina Lake and Castlegar completed.

Oct. 13, 1963—Ribbon-cutting for Salmo-Creston Highway.

1972 – B.C. Parks Branch did a reconnaissance of the Christina Lake to Patterson portion of the trail and found that 70% of the original trail was still intact.

1972-1975 – Parks Branch in cooperation with the Forest Service works to restore Dewdney Trail section between Christina Lake and Paterson, including interviews with old-timers.

Mid-1970s – archaeological study done on portion of the Dewdney Trail between Grand Forks and Christina Lake by M. Friesinger.

Late 1970s – B.C. Highway installed lines parallel to the West Kootenay Power line, but on a grander scale.

96plan00011985 – A forest fire burned over the 2 km section of the Dewdney Trail along the Wild Horse River, which was the best-preserved section of the trail in the East Kootenays.

1989 – Corridor Plan for the Dewdney Trail produced under the Recreation Corridors program.

April 10, 1991 – Portions of the Dewdney Trail were designated as a Historic Site by provincial Order-In-Council.  Designated portions on Crown Land along the Wild Horse River; near the headwaters of Summit Creek and down to the Kootenay River; and from the Rossland Summit (Record Ridge – Mount Sophia Pass) to Christina Creek.

May 24, 1995 – Memorandum of Agreement on Heritage Trail was signed by the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture.  The trail has also been designated as a forest recreation trail under the Forest Practices Code of B.C., and as an Archealogical Site under the Heritage Conservation Act.

March 1996 – Dewdney Trail Management Plan for Trail Portions on Public Forest Lands in the Nelson Forest Region published and distributed.  The Dewdney Trail Corridor is considered to be 100 meters on either side of the trail centerline.

October 1996 – In line with the Management Plan, the Ministry of Forests commences a procedure of Alteration Permits established under the Heritage Conservation Act, including rehabilitation measures for disturbed parts of the trail.

September 1998 – Mapping and assessment conducted by Champion Contracting for the Forest Service on sections of the Dewdney Trail, including the Santa Rosa Summit, Santa Rosa Creek, Big Sheep Creek to Corral Creek, Corral Creek to Cascade Summit, Cascade Highway Summit, Lost Creek,

closeup of installing dew trail sign1999 – Location of the trail is plotted using a GPS unit.  The GPS plot corresponds to the location found by B.C. Parks in 1972.

September 2015 – incorporation of the Dewdney Trail Heritage Society, focusing on protection and preservation of the section of the Dewdney Trail between Christina Lake and Rossland.

Dewdney Trail Heritage Society is organized and conducting its first trail improvement projects

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Various Kootenay groups and individuals are working together to restore sections of the iconic Dewdney Trail that was completed through the mountainous Kootenay region 150 years ago.

6guys w dewd trail sign

The restored Dewdney Trail sign is now standing at the trailhead on Highway 22 in Paterson. Thanks to funding from Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Area B, work went ahead with new footings and post for the historical sign. Pictured are Graham Jones, Allen Martin, Rob Simms, Joe Letoria and Paul Allen.

In response to the need to preserve, conserve, restore and protect the historic trail, the Dewdney Trail Heritage Society was established this summer.   A meeting in June 2015 in Castlegar to organize a group to spearhead efforts to fix, protect and promote the trail as an attraction for tourists and locals alike drew an excellent response of more than two dozen keen individuals.

The initial work parties on the trail scheduled for early August were postponed due to the extreme fire hazard during the summer, but the group is now well-established and raring to go with repairs to parts of the trail, as well as working with provincial government staff to include the trail in their recreation and heritage initiatives.

See the Trail Times article by Sherry Regnier on the new society and its ambition plans for the Dewdney Trail.

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first page of a story by historian Craig Weir on the Dewdney Trail in Cominco Magazine in 1956

Meeting in Castlegar June 16, 2015 to Organize Group to Preserve the Dewdney Trail

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There will be a meeting on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 7 pm at Chances Casino in Castlegar to organize an initiative to restore, maintain, preserve and protect the historic Dewdney Trail.  Many sections of the trail away from the highways could be preserved and made available as walking and hiking trails — yet another attraction for tourists.

The project coincides with the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Dewdney Trail that originated in Hope and went to the Similkameen and then through the Kootenays to Wild Horse Creek (near today`s Cranbrook) in the summer of 1865.

edgar dewdney with party inspecting  betw trail and rossland 001

Engineer Edgar Dewdney (fifth from right) in a section of the Dewdney Trail between Rossland and Trail.  Family photo.

It was the first transportation route established across southern B.C.   At a time when the United States was in an expansionary mode, the Dewdney Trail  became a symbol of Britain`s, and then Canada`s, commitment to sovereignty over British Columbia, particularly the southern Interior from Hope through the Kootenays.

The 720-kilometer Dewdney Trail is named after Edgar Dewdney, a civil engineer who arrived in Victoria from Devonshire in May 1859.  A friendly giant at 6 feet, 4 inches in height, he stood out in any crowd as a memorable figure.   He blazed a trail from Hope to newly-discovered goldfields in the Similkameen, and later won contracts to extend the trail to gold diggings at Wild Horse Creek..

edgar sitting

Edgar Dewdney as a young, trail-building civil engineer.

Today, Highway 3 from Hope to Cranbrook largely follows the Dewdney Trail.  There is a well-maintained Dewdney Trail hiking section in Manning Park, and a short section in the Rossland South Belt that is great for hiking.   As well, a long section from Paterson to Christina Lake is in good shape, except for a few areas that are eroded due to heavy use by mountain bikes, while the rest of that section just needs brushing and windfalls cut.   Other repairs are needed on the Santa Rosa section damaged by construction of a power line, as well as logging damage on the Christina Lake section.

The May 28, 2015 issue of the West Kootenay Advertiser newspaper as a story about the June 16th meeting at the following link:

For further information, contact Richie Mann at 250 362-9465 or, or Graham Jones at 250 362-9966 or