The Kinsol Trestle

“The Kinsol Trestle, also known as the Koksilah River Trestle, is a wooden railway trestle located on Vancouver Island, north of Shawnigan Lake in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. It provides a spectacular crossing of the Koksilah River.” That’s what it says in Wikipedia…but it’s more than that.

Completed in 1920, its dimensions measure 44 m (144 ft) high and 188 m (617 ft) long, making it the largest wooden trestle in the Canadian Commonwealth and one of the highest railway trestles in the world.

Kinsol Trestle was named after the nearby Kinsol Station which, in turn, took its name from a nearby mining venture named “King Solomon Mines”, a very small mining venture that operated over the period from 1904 to1907. During its operation it only produced enough copper, silver and ore to fill 3 railway cars.

The trestle was built as part of a plan to connect Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island to Nootka Sound on the west coast of the Island by rail. The line was started by the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway in 1911 was badly needed to transport old-growth timber through the Cowichan Valley and northward through Port Alberni.

The rail line, although designed by engineers, was built by local farmers and loggers with investment from the Canadian Western Lumber Company. The trestle was never completed by the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, and the line only reached Youbou, a small community on the northern shores of Lake Cowichan. The Canadian Northern Pacific Railway was taken over by Canadian National Railway in 1918, and the line and the Kinsol Trestle were completed in 1920. The last train to cross the Kinsol was in 1979, and the trestle was abandoned 1 year later.