Coquihalla Pass

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Coquihalla Summit
Elevation 1,244 m (4,081 ft)
Traversed by Highway 5 (Coquihalla Highway)
Location British Columbia, Canada
Range Canadian Cascades
Coordinates 49°36′N 121°3′W / 49.600°N 121.050°W / 49.600; -121.050Coordinates: 49°36′N 121°3′W / 49.600°N 121.050°W / 49.600; -121.050

Coquihalla Summit (el. 1,244 m or 4,081 ft) is a highway summit along the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia, Canada.[1] It is the highest point on the highway between the cities of Hope and Merritt. It is located just south of the former toll booth plaza on the Coquihalla Highway, about 50 km (31 mi) north of Hope, and 65 km (40 mi) south of Merritt and is the divide between the Coquihalla River and the Coldwater River.

The ascent to the Coquihalla Summit is very steep, especially from the south. The ascent is particularly steep after passing northbound through the Great Bear snow shed. The pass is named after the Coquihalla River, after which the highway also derived its name. The Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area is located at the top of the pass on the Coquihalla Highway approximately 45 km north of Hope.

History[edit]

Kw'ikw'iya:la (Coquihalla) in the Halq'emeylem language of the Stó:lō, is a place name meaning "stingy container." It refers to a fishing rock near the mouth of what is now known as the Coquihalla River. This rock is a good platform for spearing salmon. According to Sto;lo oral history, the skw'exweq (water babies or naiads, underwater people) who inhabit a pool close by the rock, would swim out and pull the salmon off the spears, allowing only certain fisherman to catch the salmon.

The Coquihalla Valley has long been a major transportation route from the coast to the interior. in 1876, the Hope-Nicola Trail was built. The area retains some remnants of the Kettle Valley Railway which travelled this route from early 1900s until 1961. Modern use of the pass began in 1986 after construction of the first phase of the Coquihalla Highway (from Hope to Merritt). Some of the old railroad grade is now part of the Trans-Canada Trail network, including the Othello Tunnels of the Coquihalla River section, which are accessible via exits from the Coquihalla Highway. A series of protected areas were established along the route in 1986.[2]

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