The Haunted Shack

 By Lana Rodlie

(Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. Live with it.)

It was a dark wooden ivy-covered shack clinging to the banks of the Columbia River just off  Clark Street in East Trail – and every kid between Merry’s Flats and Sandy Island knew it was haunted.

You couldn’t see the shack from Columbia Avenue. It was kind of behind Bobby Alton’s house on the lower side of the 1600-block. And you couldn’t just walk up to it. It was tucked in behind. There was no easy access. To get to it, you had to go to the river bank and launch yourself onto this telephone pole that kind of dangled at a 30 degree angle over the fast-flowing river. (Remember, the Columbia River was quite high and thick back then – before the building of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam at Robson.) 

Once you got yourself safely to the pole, you’d have to throw yourself back onto the bank while grabbing for a rickety fence that served as a barrier to the old cabin. From there, you could make your way around to a little yard, tucked inside a two-storey L-shaped building.

The yard itself was scary enough – overgrown with creepy vines and one of those tangly black locust trees leaning against the shack. The windows were boarded up; but what was worse, because of the shack’s obscure location – no one could hear you scream and there was no quick way out.

I only went there one time – once was enough. But I’ll have to back up the story a bit to let you know how I got there. Continue reading

Life before bridges – the ferry at Trail, B.C.

Getting across the mighty Columbia River 100 years ago was no cake-walk. Notes from the first newspapers in Trail Creek Landing (now Trail, B.C.) and Rossland:

1896/01/25   The surveyors were taking measurements Wednesday for the length of the cable required to operate the new ferry across the river.

1896/01/25    Trail’s Ferry  Trail is to have a ferry. As will be seen in another column; the Provincial Government advertises for the exclusive right to run a ferry across the Columbia river at Trail, and for two miles above and below. The next step will probably be the construction of a road to the east side of the river to the nearest point on the Nelson & Fort Sheppard Railway, thus obviating the necessity of going to Northport to reach Nelson. This ferry will make a millionaire of Arthur Dick, whose ranch is on the opposite side, and the suburb of Dickville will ere long be greater than the smelter town itself.

Rossland Prospector    Never, the tail will never wag the dog. It is quite probable that the coming smelting, mining and railroad center may outgrow the present site and of necessity spread out over Mr. Dick’s ranch, but as to becoming greater than the smelter town, banish the thought. Farther a road is now being constructed, in fact, almost completed, to connect with the Nelson and Fort Sheppard railway, over which fuel for the smelter and Trail’s supplies are to come, and when the tramway is completed, if Rossland does not grow ugly and show her teeth in such horrid manner, they will also be allowed to bring in their freight and passengers over this road.

1896/02/01 WAGON ROAD TO SAYWARD IS NEARLY COMPLETED           The Cable ferry Will Be Put In Near the “News” Office                                      The wagon-road being built by the Smelter company will be completed as far as Beaver Creek, six miles south of Trail, tonight. Next week the road will be passable for wagons from the Railroad to Trail. The cable ferry to be built to connect Trail with the wagon road from Sayward to the river bank opposite Trail, will be put in at a point between the News office and Bell, Naden & Co’s mill. On January 7th, the provincial secretary at Victoria sent advertisement for the ferry to the Rossland papers and to the News. The advertisements reached Rossland in time, but did not reach Trail until two weeks afterward. This shows up our mail system to advantage. Continue reading