Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The beautiful and historic KVR

I first set eyes upon this spectacular place, the Myra Canyon section of the historic Kettle Valley
Railway ( KVR ) back in the mid 1980's. It seemed like a very special place, where this railway line that ran like a snake as it slithered from one side of the box canyon to the other, it didn't seem possible that such engineering was possible, 18 trestles and two tunnels in a 6 km stretch of railway. The CBC even filmed some of the series, The National Dream using the wooden trestles of the Myra Canyon.

A newspaper colleague whom I worked with at one time, reporter J.P. Squire was the one who told me about it, he liked to drive his 4 wheel drive jeep along the old at abandoned tracks, even going right over the trestles, even if they were missing a tie or two.

 I loved to photograph the Myra Canyon when I had the time to get away, by the late 80's the word had gotten out and it was becoming more and more popular, although there were times that I visited on a week day when there would be only myself or a few other people in the vicinity.

 With increased popularity, the old rail line was getting more and more visitors, and unfortunately one mountain biking woman fell off one of the trestles and died, that event inspired volunteers to make the trestles safer by adding proper plank decking and handrails along the sides of each trestle to make them more user friendly for both cyclists and pedestrians.

After all that hard work, in the summer of 2003 disaster struck when a huge wild fire originating in Okanagan Mountain Park, eventually made its way north and burned 12 of the 16 wooden trestles and damaging two steel bridges. Within 5 years all the trestles were rebuilt in record time along with other safety improvements.

 My 1987 photo shows trestle number 8, looking out towards Kelowna ( down below the gap ) I shot this from an "out of nowhere" angle, I set up my 4 x 5 view camera on a tripod, with a 120mm lens attached, on a water barrel platform that is attached to the side of the trestle. I used with Kodak T-Max 100 black and white film, a difficult negative to print in the darkroom as the sky needs a considerable amount of "burning in". However for the past 12 years I have been scanning my negatives, and with this particular pictures I was able to bring out much better detail in the sky that would have been difficult to obtain from a traditional darkroom made print.

 I wished I had trekked more with my 4 x 5 view camera along the KVR but I was still in the learning stage in learning to use the camera. This image remains as one of my favourite images of the beautiful and historic KVR.


David said...

The KVR line between McCullough Stn. and South towards Naramata/Penticton was an area of prolific wonderings for me from 1980~88, until I moved halfway to the Arctic Circle. I was a babe in photography at the time, yet still made many wonderful images along the KVR with various 35mm cameras, and I cut my Mamiya 645 teeth along KVR. In truth, I even worked on the crew that under controversy removed the old rails and steel!

Your wonderful image brings a lot back to me, and I thank you for sharing it. By the way, your 4x5 image here blows away any negative or slide I have from my Kettle days, my compliments.

Gary Nylander said...

Hello David,

Thanks for your comments on my KVR post. I didn't discover the line until the old steel rails had been pulled up which occurred only a few years before I arrived in Kelowna in 1983. I too mades lots of photos with my 35mm cameras and a Pentax 645 that I owned at the time, originally I shot the above image with the Pentax 645, a year or so later I started shooting seriously with the 4 x 5 camera and went back up with the large format gear.

I wish though I had gone more often with the large format before the trestles were decked over — and before it became more popular. All in all its still a very beautiful spot.