Van Kam has a fairly iconic old photo of a 1949 Leyland Truck crossing the old Alexandra Bridge on route to Kamloops, BC. There are a few framed copies in circulation around the office and in terminal locations around the province. It was just a couple weeks ago that I had the opportunity to visit the old Alexandra Bridge and envision earlier days when our founder Robert Henry Sr. traveled the Cariboo Highway crossing this very bridge.
- Original bridge was constructed in 1861 by Joseph Trutch.
- Named after Princess Alexandra of Wales (the wife of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, who became Edward VII).
- Rebuilt by the Royal Engineers as construction of the Cariboo Road progressed with a newer span opening in 1863.
- Destroyed in 1894 by the Fraser Flood and its remains dismantled in 1912 due to hazards during railway construction.
- Rebuilt in 1926 upon the footings of the original structure (with a deck level ten feet higher than the previous design).
- Closed to automobile traffic in 1964. (new Alexandra Bridge constructed 1960-64 approx. 2 km’s downstream).
In order access the old bridge, you must visit the 55 hectare Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park, which was established in 1984. The bridge location is approximately two kilometres north of Spuzzum and 40 km north of Hope. There is a just a short walk of less than a 1/2 km in length one way to visit the bridge. Part of this trail is remnants of the old highway from the 1920’s.
It was a trip down memory lane! The winding approach of the old Cariboo Highway, some rusted out old telegraph poles and oil cans littered the road sides. It was an awesome experience to be able to physically walk across the bridge (a bit frightening with its open-grate steel deck construction!) and imagine when this was once a busy important stretch of highway that the original Vancouver Kamloops Freightlines Ltd. operated on. Van Kam has such a rich history and is a true pioneer trucking company in BC. Actually seeing the location of where this historic photo was taken was pretty special and brought it alive for me.
I hope you enjoy the photos taken below and be sure to visit the bridge while the province still deems it safe for foot traffic!
–Contributed by Ryan Langley