Shale Hill

Feature type: hill
Province: British Columbia
Location: Hwy 16, E of Mount Robson viewpoint

Before the building of the railroads and the highway, the steep hill east of Mount Robson was the most treacherous section of a difficult trail between Yellowhead Pass and Tête Jaune Cache. When the “Overlander” gold seekers came to the hill in 1862, they unpacked their horses and carried the loads on their own shoulders.

British adventurers Viscount Milton and Walter B. Cheadle wrote that, in July, 1863, “We came to a place where the trail passed along the face of a lofty cliff of crumbling slate. The path was only a few inches in width, barely affording footing for the horses, and midway a great rock has slipped down from above, resting on the narrow ledge by which we had to pass. This completely barred the way, and the perpendicular cliffs rendered in impossible for us to evade it by taking any other route. We therefore cut down a number of young pine trees, and using them as levers, set to work to dislodge the obstacle. After an hour’s toil, we succeeded in loosening it from its position, and with a single bound it rolled down with sullen plunge into the deep river, far below. We then led the horses past, one by one, with the greatest caution. The path was so narrow and dangerous, that we gave it the name of Mahomet’s Bridge.”

The Valley Museum Living Legacies Facebook page has a post about traveling on Shale Hill before the construction of the Yellowhead Highway.

References:

  • MacGregor, James Grierson, 1905-1989. Overland by the Yellowhead. Saskatoon: Western Producer, 1974
  • Milton, William Fitzwilliam and Cheadle, Walter B. The North-West Passage by Land. Being the narrative of an expedition from the Atlantic to the Pacific, undertaken with the view of exploring a route across the continent to British Columbia through British territory, by one of the northern passes in the Rocky Mountains. London: Cassell, Petter and Galpin, 1865

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