Although Cowichan has always been ideally suited for growing timber, its rugged topography has made hauling logs particularly difficult.
In order to transport timber by rail, wooden trestles were built extensively to span the area’s massive canyons and ravines.
By far, the largest of those found on Vancouver Island is the 144-foot-high Kinsol Trestle that spans the Koksilah River just north of Shawnigan Lake. Originally completed in 1920, it was named for the nearby “King Solomon Mine” that ultimately folded due to its failure to produce silver and copper. After 1979 no other trains crossed the trestle and it gradually fell into disrepair.
However, in 2007 plans were hatched to restore it as both a tourist attraction and a way to extend the Trans Canada Trail network – from the towns of Shawnigan Lake to the south and Cobble Hill to the north. Thanks to this foresight and a grand rebuild, visitors can now amble across the entire 615-foot, gently curving span. If you look closely, you might see kingfishers, swallows and other birds darting above the river’s path. Even by today’s standards, the Kinsol Trestle is an impressive engineering feat and remains one of the loftiest wooden railway trestles in the world. Access to the trestle is available from two points:
From the south (Glen Eagles Road in Shawnigan Lake: 48.666766º -123.698657º)
From the north (Riverside Drive in Cobble Hill: 48.728548º -123.672391º)
Middle of the trestle: 48.668869º -123.693950º