Old Fire Hall
WILL BUILD FIREHALL were the headlines in the February 22, 1919 edition of The Ashcroft Journal. Robert Stoddart, a local contractor predicted the cost would be about $360.00 which included a 12 by 20 foot building with a 10 foot ceiling and 25 foot tower for the drying of the hoses after use. The money was raised by public subscription and on April 3rd the building was complete. This structure replaced the first fire hall which perished in the 1916 blaze.
The little red fire hall was originally located on railway Avenue; it was moved to its present site in 1993. The view from this site includes the spectacular Thompson River, and Ashcroft’s fifth bridge.
The first bridge was built in 1886, by the San Francisco Bridge Co. It washed away in the high water of 1894. A ferry that was used prior to the bridge was once more put into action. A second bridge was completed in 1895, a duplicate of the first and built in the same spot and by the same company. This bridge had a distinct wobble and a “walk your horses” sign greeted travelers at either end. By 1905 it was labeled unfit and a new bridge was built up stream and completed by 1907. This bridge lasted for 26 years until 1932 when a new bridge was constructed downstream from the first three. Several tons of dirt were brought in and built up to accommodate the new steel bridge. In 1991 a fifth bridge was constructed, this would be wider and capable of holding heavier loads. During low water the piers of the first two bridges are visible. Today this bridge is part of the number one highway, in early years the bridges connected Ashcroft with the Cariboo Wagon Road.
The first road in the interior went via Harrison Lake, to Lillooet over Pavilion Mountain, down to Kelly Lake through the Junction of Clinton and on to Barkerville. Although it was considered an engineering fete, James Douglas did not consider it good enough for British Columbia.
In 1863 an alternate route was built, beginning in Yale passing though Cache Creek and on to Clinton to hook up with the Lillooet road. In 1886 this path would connect to the Ashcroft Bridge. The Cariboo roads saw a steady stream of Mule trains, ox teams and freight wagons, and for a brief period the occasional camel. Road houses sprung up in strategic spots to provide travelers and teams with grub and bed. In 1907 the first automobile navigated up the road, the beginning of the end to the horse and wagon.
Although there are only a few remnants of the old Cariboo Wagon Road left, the breath taking landscape that greeted travelers 150 years ago remains today, one of the most scenic routes in North America.