West Road River
The West Road River or Blackwater River is a major tributary of the Fraser River, flowing generally north-eastward from the northern slopes of the Ilgachuz Range and across the Fraser Plateau in the Chilcotin region of central British Columbia, Canada. With only one major tributary, the Nazko River ("river flowing from the south" in the Carrier language), its confluence with the Fraser is approximately 40 km northwest of Quesnel. It forms the division between the Chilcotin Plateau (S) and the Nechako Plateau (N), which are subdivisions of the Fraser Plateau.
The river is 280 km long, draining an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometres, and dropping over 900 m before joining with the Fraser.
The river is of significant historical importance to both First Nations and Canadian history. For centuries, the Dakelh (Carrier) and Tsilhqot'in peoples used a trail - the so-called "Grease Trail" - on the northern side of the river in their trade with coastal First Nations communities. The name Grease Trail refers to one of the main commodities transported along the route - eulachon grease, a highly prized staple - traces of which coated parts of the route after centuries of use. It was this trail that Sir Alexander Mackenzie used in his historic overland journey west to the Pacific Ocean in 1793, traversing the river itself on his return.
The West Road (Blackwater) River has been designated as a heritage river by the government of British Columbia.
The only major settlements along the river are the Indian reserves of the Kluskus First Nation in the area of the Kluskus Lakes, which are a chain of lakes midway along its length. Near the river to its south, on the Nazko, is the settlement of Nazko, a ranching community, the focus of which is the reserve of the Nazko First Nation.
- Blackwater River, British Columbia Heritage Rivers Program, BC Ministry of Environment