The first written history of Hell’s Gate is found in the explorer Simon Fraser’s journal. There he describes this narrow passage as an “awesome gorge”.
If you can for a moment, put yourself in Fraser’s scared boots and unsturdy craft, you can well imagine the awesome picture Hell’s Gate presented. Here the towering rock walls of the Fraser River plunge toward each other forcing the waters through a passage only 110 feet wide (35 m). Read more about the First Nations people .
CP Rail ceremoniously pounded home the famous last spike completing their 10 year project.
The Canadian National Railway hewed it’s way through the Rockies and the treacherous Fraser Canyon. While blasting for the passage of the railway, a rock slide was triggered which partially blocked the Fraser River at Hell’s Gate. A dramatic drop in the salmon run resulted. Thirty years of work by dedicated scientists and several years’ construction were required to repair man’s damage.
Today Hell’s Gate fishways, built by a joint Canadian – United States Commission and completed in 1966, stand as monument to man’s dedication and ingenuity.
Fishways are constructed. Read more here.
The planning began to build Hell’s Gate Airtram. There were 12 principal owners. One of the owners who was also the General Manager was Andrew Mulligan. The name of their company was Canyon Aerial Tramways doing business as Hell’s Gate Airtram.
General construction of the site began from concrete work to the stringing of the cables. The upper and lower terminal buildings are both anchored by bolts that go back 20 feet into the bedrock.
This airtram is Swiss built byHabegger Engineering Works of Thun, Switzerland and one of their mechanics came over to help set up the system. Fiber rope was shot across the canyon with a crossbow from the lower terminal to the upper cliff edge (half way) and then from the cliff to the upper terminal. Once the rope was in place, a small cable was attached and winched to the upper terminal, and then the 44mm wide steel track rope. It took many hours to get this 1000′ track rope in place as it was not allowed to touch any other metal or the ground.
There are 40 tonne counterweights at each end of the cable to anchor it in place. The airtrams travel on this track rope and is operated with a 140 hp engine to drive the motor which moves the trams with a haul cable. There are two trams and they both move at the same time as they are both connected to the same cable.
July 20, 1971
This was the first day of public transportation. At this time, there was not too much at the lower terminal for people to do. Of course the International Fishways were there, but no interpretive areas or souvenir stands. There was however, a small “Tiki-dog” shack as they called it where you could get a hotdog and a drink. One of the employees of the Department of Fisheries lived in a small house at the lower terminal. This land was purchased from fisheries and the house is now part of the prep kitchen in the Salmon House Restaurant. With only half a year to operate, the company still had an amazing 131,000 passengers. The most passengers in one year occurred in 1980 with 185,000 passengers. The total cost of the construction of the buildings and the installation of the tram was $1.5 million in 1971.
Reconstructing of the company took place and Canyon Aerial Tramways was amalgamated with TRV Minerals and continued to operate as Canyon Aerial Tramways until 1990.
Hell’s Gate Airtram Inc. acquired the assets of Canyon Aerial Tramways and is a locally owned and operated company doing business as Hell’s Gate Airtram.
Rosebank Rosie survives a swim through Hell’s Gate!
Winter of 2006 / 07
After years of speculation, it was unofficially confirmed that our attraction was and has been habited by spirits stemming back from as far as 200 years ago. Research and findings continue to present day with various “mediums”, research groups, and historians involved with the investigation. All findings have concluded that the friendly ghosts mean no harm to anyone but are here to help you feel welcomed !