Early Saturday morning, on January 9th, 1965, the largest earth and rock slide in the history of British Columbia occurred and left its permanent mark on the residents and environment of the Hope area and surroundings.
Supposedly triggered by a minor earthquake, about 46 million cubic meters of rock and debris tumbled down the 2000 meter high southwestern slope of Johnson Peak. Later, it was determined that the failure occurred along felsite sheets and joint planes within metavolcanic rocks of the Hozameen Group (for those real geology-buffs). The power of the slide was so intense that the rock’s momentum swept it up the opposite side of the valley bottom (a boundary that is easily visible today where the older trees clearly meet a younger forest) for some hundreds of meters of vertical height. When the rock fall finally did settle in the valley below, the new material had filled the bottom of the valley to a depth of 85 meters (300 feet). Luckily, the slide occurred in an unpopulated area in the early morning hours and the disaster only resulted in four deaths, all of which were buried under the rubble. All four were stuck on Highway #3 at the time, waiting for a smaller initial slide to be cleared from the highway (see the website link below for some more information on the relationship between this slide and the major one). Two of the bodies were never recovered by search crews and remain wherever they lie.
The slide itself destroyed approximately three kilometers of the Hope-Princeton Highway #3 and temporarily blocked and rerouted the river that ran along the valley. The view created by the disaster has become quite a popular attraction among visitors to Hope. The extent of the slide is still completely visible, as the side of the mountain where the slide occurred is mostly bare of trees or grass.
Landslides are a common occurrence in British Columbia due to our province’s steep, mountainous terrain, its complex geology, its high precipitation, both as rain and snow, its abundance of unconsolidated glacial sediments, and its geographic position on top of the earthquake zone that surrounds the Pacific Ocean. In fact, in British Columbia the loss of life and damage to property caused by landslides is greater than losses caused by other natural hazards such as earthquakes and flooding.
To log this Hope Slide Earthcache as a find:
Email the owner the answers to the following questions:
1.What was the original elevation of the road?
2.What lake was buried?
Take a picture of yourself and your group with your GPSr and the slide in view and post it in your log entry.
The easiest spot to do this is at the pull-out viewpoint along Highway 3.
For further (somewhat technical) insight into how Johnson Peak was potentially susceptible to a major landslide, check out the following website, which describes some new research into the inherent stability of the landslide area dating back some 10,000 years. View link - Hope Slide.