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Bella Coola Valley Museum BC Central CoastArchives

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Presentation on theme: "Bella Coola Valley Museum BC Central CoastArchives"— Presentation transcript:

1 Bella Coola Valley Museum BC Central CoastArchives
Freedom Road Bella Coola Valley Museum BC Central CoastArchives

2 A Short History Before the road was built the only way to bring in supplies was by packing it in yourself, pack horse, plane or boat. It was clear to the valley residents that a road out of the valley was essential to it’s survival. A group of local Bella Coola residents, led by Cliff Kopas, formed the Bella Coola Valley Board of Trade and petitioned the government for support. After continued stalling by the government it was decided to go ahead with building the road. (The government would later support the road with a cash outlay totaling $58,000). With $250 dollars in the bank and the determination of the Valley residents, construction was started. On September 14, 1952 construction of the road began. Alf Bracewell, on a rented D6 Caterpillar began at Anahim Lake and soon after rock breaking work began from the bottom of the Valley up the mountain with George Dalshaug operating an ancient TD18 bulldozer. Front Row, Left to Right: Elijah Gurr, Hon Phil Gaglardi, Cliff Kopas, Evan Jones, Tony Gargrave. Back Row, Left to Right: Blondie Swanson, Wally Stiles, Norman Saugstad, Morten Svisdahl, Dean Gurr, Bobby Roberts, Stan Levelton, Ralph Sneyd, Curtiss Urseth, Mike Christensen, Ed Willson

3 Before the Road was built the only way to reach Anahim Lake and beyond was by horse or on foot. Prior to 1930, Anahim Lake had to have supplies packed in from Bella Coola. Orders were placed two weeks prior to the date set for the pack trip from Bella Coola and it would take three days and nights to reach Anahim Lake. There were usually six pack trips from each year from Summer to Fall.

4 Let’s Build It!! Elijah Gurr contacted Thomas Squinas, of Anahim Lake, who marked out a route across 30 miles of swamp and jack pine forest. With a rented bulldozer a crew blazed 32 miles into the wilderness to the rim of the valley. Now, with only ten miles to the Bella Coola valley floor, the best way down an elevation of 6,000 ft had to be found. Elijah Gurr suggested going down Young Creek and Blondie Swanson and a government engineer scouted the best route. Due to hazardous winter conditions it was decided to start from the valley floor. The most difficult part of the road building began.

5 Road Building The TD18 International Bulldozer
George Dalshaug was hired to run an ancient TD18 International bulldozer to start moving rock from the bottom of the Hill up a 15 degree slope. Dalshaug cleared the way for the air compressor, driller and blaster to clear the sheer rock walls. Additional equipment would have made the job faster and safer but with limited funds this was the best available.

6 September 26, 1953 The Date They Met September 26, 1953
The two bulldozers came together on this date symbolizing the completion of the Freedom Road. Valley residents recognize this date as the official anniversary date. Who Were They? Too numerous to mention. It truly was a community effort, both locally and beyond. Even the people from Ocean Falls helped with fundraising. Bill Graham of Tatla Lake made his D-6 cat and operator available, not knowing for sure if he’d ever get paid. Anahim Lake store owner, Ike Sing, footed many a bill for supplies and stood solidly behind the project, providing whatever was needed.

7 50th Anniversary The People
After 50 years the names of the people in this photo have not been forgotten. In our 2007 Heritage Day contest Mrs. Beverly Saugstad was the winner, she was able to name 31 out of the 52 names correctly in this photo taken at the celebration opening the road in 1953. They are: Alf Bracewell, Alger Brynildsen, Lloyd Brynildsen, Olive Brynildsen, Adoph Christensen, Cyril Christensen, Jenny Christensen, Mike Christensen, Truda Christensen, Wilfred Christensen, Betty Jean Gurr, Doug Gurr, Elijah Gurr, Isabel Gurr, Melvin Gurr, Boyd Hammer, Eric Hammer, Gene Hammer, Happy Handlin, Tom Hansen, John Jorgensen, Cliff Kopas, May Kopas, Lena Levelton, Nils Levelton, Louise MacKay, Burt Matthews, Bill Mecham, Jean Mecham, Jim Mecham, Charlie Minaker, John Root, Leonard Root, Myrna Saugstad, Norman Saugstad, Randy Saugstad, Shirley Saugstad, Stener Saugstad, Ralph Sneyd, Christine Sollid, Elmer Sollid, Wally Stiles, Mike Stollar, Morton Svisdahl, Curtis Urseth, Louise Urseth, Andy Widsten, Jean Widsten, Bill Wright, Nellie Wright

8 Road Facts Cost - approximately $62,000 ($58,000 govt. and $4,000 public). This does not include all of the unpaid volunteer hours and donations. Took one year and two weeks to build. Is 76km (48miles) from Anahim Lake to the bottom of The Hill. Has a total of 3 switchbacks. Is 21 km ( 13 miles) from the Gate at the bottom to the Gate at Heckman Pass Summit. The first 6.4 km (4 miles) climbs 1,219.2 meters (4,000 ft). Total elevation 1,828.8 meters (6,000 ft). Grades up to 18%. Time to travel from the bottom of the hill to Anahim Lake, forty-five minutes to one hour depending on many things. Road closures happen seldom and are due to: Avalanche Rock Slide Ice Public Works Minister P.A. (Phil) Gaglardi officially opened Highway 20 two years after completion, it became the third outlet to the Pacific Ocean

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