Earlier this month rehabilitation work on the historic Kinsol Trestle was finally begun.  The trestle is the missing link in the Cowichan Valley Trail, the local section of the Trans Canada Trail.  A local Cobble Hill company is the timber specialist contractor on the job and has started work on the core structure, replacing timbers to make the trestle safe once more.   The completion and official opening is scheduled for late spring of 2011.

The Kinsol Trestle was originally completed by Canadian National Railways in 1920.  It was officially named the Koksilah River Trestle, and the more popular name “Kinsol” came from the nearby King Solomon copper mine.  The trestle is the highest and largest surviving timber trestle in Canada and reportedly one of the four largest wooden structures in the world.  The last train crossed the trestle in 1979 and a year later it was abandoned.  In 1988 a fire burnt part of the trestle.  In recent years the Cowichan Valley Regional District conducted several studies to decide if the structure should and could be saved.  In 2009 a fundraising campaign was launched, and $3.8 million dollars in provincial/federal government funding was announced, as well as $1.0 from the Island Coastal Economic Trust.  The public campaign to raise the remaining $2 million is ongoing even as the work has begun.

I took a drive out to the north access of the trestle this week, as the south access from Shawnigan Lake is closed for the duration of the project.  You follow Riverside Road, off Koksilah Road, for about 10 km.  The road is paved for the first several kilometers and then becomes sand and gravel.  Just when I thought I must have missed a turn off I arrived at the parking area.  The main trail to the trestle is blocked off and you take a little path through the woods to get there.  They are still working on putting in box steps on the actual path, and have also just started constructing the viewing platform.  I was able to get down to the water and look up at the trestle, but it involved crossing a steep slope with lose gravel, so a bit of tricky manoeuvring was involved to get close.  Even in the state of disrepair the trestle is in, it is an awesome sight and it’s going to be so exciting to see this historic structure repaired and open to the public.  The new completed Kinsol Trestle will include landscape improvements, a walkway down to the canyon and an information kiosk.  At the same time during the project, the area will be carefully managed to maintain the important heritage elements of the trestle.

The Kinsol Trestle will be an added reason to visit the Cowichan Valley.    Bring your bicycles when you stay at Cobble House B&B, and cycle the completed trail next summer.  For now, keep an eye on the progress of the rehabilitation, and if so inclined, support the fund raising campaign to make the Kinsol Trestle complete!

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