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Elephants on the Santa Rosa Pass

In 1956, local Greyhound driver Max Carne was taking his bus over the old Santa Rosa Pass between Rossland and Grand Forks — a gravel road otherwise known as the Hump. As Vancouver Sun reporter Tom Hazlitt once described it:

It is the first, the highest, and the wildest provincial highway in BC. It was built with gold, sweat, and donkeys in the record time of seven months … Only on the Hump can you have a snowball fight in June or experience the eerie feeling of driving straight up, apparently bound for a destination on the rising moon.

The Hump peaked at 5,280 feet — exactly one mile above sea level, then the highest point in the provincial highway system. While Max had made the trip many times, he was not prepared for what he came across that day.

A semi-trailer had jack-knifed and Max stopped and asked the driver if he needed help. The answer, at least as I first heard it, was “I already HAVE help.” With that, the driver opened the trailer — and out came two elephants who soon righted the truck. Turned out they belonged to a circus.

Max, lucky for us, had his camera handy that day. His wife Mary, who meticulously documented Greyhound’s history in her scrapbooks, saved those pictures, seen below. I viewed them a few years ago when I wrote a profile of her for the Nelson Star.

Around the same time, by fluke, I came across a story about the incident in the Grand Forks Gazette of May 31, 1956 (seen below), which pinpointed the date of the incident. It also revealed the circus driver was with Gayland Shows and that his exact words to Max were: “Nothing that can’t be fixed.”

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