Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Walhachin ~ Wooden Irrigation Flume ~ Kamloops, BC

We love Kamloops, BC for many reasons, some of which is the scenery that surrounds us and the incredible treasures that can be found out there in that scenery.  We took an autumn days drive west of Kamloops on Hwy 1 to find one of those treasures and then found even more.

Water tower from days of old
The day was dull and foggy but we had hopes that this would not interfere with our treasure hunt.  The fog, or low lying clouds just might add some drama to the photos so I am excited to test that out.  It worked here but for the most part, was not an issue once the morning fog lifted. 
Western town trading post
This small western town, looking like a movie set is near the Deadman Creek Rodeo Grounds and has caught my interest before. There was no one to talk with, though and I’ve not been able to find any information on it yet but I will keep searching and pass it on when I do find it. 
Thompson River at Juniper Beach Campground
There is a government campground, Juniper Beach situated between Savona and Cache Creek down on the Thompson River in a very scenic spot.  We drove down but stopped to get some photos that show the river meandering past the clay banks.  The campground is open this time of year but without services after mid October.  It is a busy place with those services during the summer months and looks like a pretty spot to stay on the river. 
Walhachin Bridge over Thompson River
The Walhachin Bridge, a one way crossing the Thompson River, was built in 1911.  The traffic today would be far less than in the day when Walhachin was making history and the population was 300, much more than the 100 who populate Walhachin today. 
Osprey nest on Walhachin Bridge
The bridge turned out to be home to a couple of nests, which I believe to be osprey nests.  They tend to build them atop high poles but this one huge nest, which will get added to yearly when the osprey returns, is one of two on the bridge.  The other one is smaller but they can get as big as 180 kg (400 lbs)! 
Autumn view from Walhachin, BC
The drive into the sleepy little historic hamlet of Walhachin offers some great autumn views of the Thompson River down below.  The location was once home to a thriving community which began in 1909 consisting mainly of affluent English who were lured here to become landowners of orchards and other crops.  
Walhachin across the Thompson River
The average rainfall for Walhachin, which means ‘land of the round rocks’, is only about 20 cm (8”) a year; not enough to grow crops.  Some of these orchards were on the south side of the river with access to water for irrigation but most were on the north side, which did not have that access.  The river was too far down to pump water from so they had to find a solution.  
Wooden irrigation flume
The solution was a wooden flume that took about 6 months to build and would irrigate the land that was being developed.  There is not a lot of the wooden flume left but we were able to find a section that we had access to so we climbed that hillside, much steeper than it looks, and had some great views from this vantage point.  If only the sun was shining…………. sigh.
Ruins of the old Walhachin irrigation flume
The wooden flume was considered to be a temporary solution until the area was established and better access to water would be found.  This one was used for irrigation until 1914 when a storm destroyed over a kilometer (1 mile) of the structure and the estimates to repair were far too costly to consider. 
100 year old Walhachin irrigation flume
I was surprised to see the actual size of the flume and excited to be able to get these close up photos to share.  It is amazing to think that these were used 100 years ago and still some of it remains but it is a disappearing piece of history and in my opinion, surely an interesting treasure of our past.   
Historical wooden irrigation flume
 I could not find a lot of information about these wooden flumes but what was available was included with the very interesting history of Walhachin, perhaps another treasure to be enjoyed one day.

Our treasure hunt was over for the day. We’d gone out to see the wooden flume but we saw much more.  Although these ‘treasures’ might not have a monetary value, to some they are that and more. Just another reason why we love Kamloops.