Transportation Hub - 020105
On January 24, 1848, in Coloma, California, James Marshall discovered a pea-sized gold nugget and precipitated a tidal wave of human migration that came to be known as the California gold rush. But the wave did not stop at California. With the discovery of gold on the Thompson River at Kamloops and the rumor of gold in the Fraser River, miners flooded north and began to work the sand bars in the lower Fraser, then began moving ever farther up the rivers into the Interior. Billy Barker’s strike in the Williams Creek area in 1862 was the beginning of Barkerville, where the population swelled to 10,000 people over the next year and the Cariboo gold rush was on.
But getting there was half the trouble.
The first hopefuls attempted to make their way up the Fraser River but found their passage through the narrow canyons of the Fraser all but impossible at many times of the year. In May of 1858 an arrangement was made to turn an old Hudson’s Bay Company trading route into a trail to the Interior. Mule trains became the method of transporting goods to the prospective prospectors.
But the increase in population escalated the demand for supplies. The transportation of goods from Yale up the Fraser River and the Thompson River to Barkerville had to be stepped up. Governor Douglas, who is considered by many to be the “Father of British Columbia,” brought in a group of Royal Engineers and hired contractors to construct a road. Work on the road began in Yale in 1861, and four years and 380 miles later, it was possible to drive a wagon to Barkerville. The Cariboo Road brought in supplies, prospectors and ranchers and the colonization of the Interior of British Columbia began in earnest.
Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Clinton became important centers of commerce as the Thompson River led many prospectors and settlers to the east. The two main routes to Barkerville were the Fraser Route (the Cariboo Road) and the Harrison Trail (through Lillooet Lake), which met at “the Junction,” now Clinton. From Cache Creek a wagon trail to Savona was ready for use in the spring of 1866 to connect the Cariboo Road to the foot of Kamloops Lake, and this trail became one of the main routes east.
The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway line closed the road from Spences Bridge to Ashcroft in 1891, and it was not replaced until 1927. As the lower pass from Hope to Princeton had not yet been built, the main wagon road to the Interior became the Harrison Trail, and Cache Creek with its connecting road to Savona became the southernmost wagon road into the Interior.
In 1910, discussion of the Trans-Canada highway, then called the Canadian Highway, was focused on creating a southern route through the province. World War I intervened and work on the road from Hope to Princeton was suspended, along with many other projects. General improvements were made during the years from the end of the First World War to the Depression on many roads throughout the province, so when the Trans-Canada Highway Act was passed in 1949, outlining cost sharing between the federal government and provincial governments, some basic infrastructure was in place which made a northern route appealing. The official opening of the highway in July of 1962, with the completion of the Rogers Pass route, connected Cache Creek to the rest of the country with a ribbon of asphalt.
In the early 1980s the last stop sign on the entire length of the Trans-Canada highway was removed at the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 97 in Cache Creek. Although, since the building of the Coquihalla Highway, traffic along this highway has decreased, Cache Creek and the Trans-Canada highway are still destinations in themselves.