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3 outstanding questions finally answered

Updated: Jun 26

A roundup of answers to questions I have long wondered about, along with a few that remain unanswered.

1. When was the Salmo River bridge built?

The bridge on Airport Road in Salmo is a very intriguing anachronism, as possibly the largest remaining wooden bridge in the West Kootenay/Boundary. But when was it built? I didn’t have a clue.

Fortunately, recently digitized editions of the Nelson Daily News provides the answer: 1956. It also reveals the approaches were not built until after the bridge itself was completed. This bridge is a short distance from the site of an engineering marvel, a curving bridge across a slough constructed in 1910. It only lasted until 1922, when it was replaced with fill.

Nelson Daily News, Aug. 17, 1956

The caption also notes this bridge replaced a previous bridge 200 feet upstream. The Ministry of Transportation kindly sent me the original plans of the original plans of the bridge, which revealed the old bridge, whose exact nature is unclear, crossed over to what is now Delaurentis Road. You can see a little bit of the old right of way in the Google Earth image further down the page.

Jamie Forbes sent me the photo below of his father, who was a bus driver in Salmo, standing next to what may have been the older bridge on Aug. 20, 1940.

2. When was Rivervale named?

In my long-running series on local place names, I wrote that Rivervale, just north of Trail, was previously known as Columbia Park. However, there was a very long stretch between the last known use of Columbia Park in 1922 and the first known use of Rivervale in 1954. So what was it known as in the interim and when was it named Rivervale?

Again, the digitized Daily News to the rescue. The edition of June 18, 1951 revealed Rivervale had recently been chosen by residents as the new name for what had until then been called the Durkin subdivision and previously the Tyson ranch. (A subdivision map for Rivervale was platted for Peter Durkin and Mildred King on Feb. 2, 1954.)

Cattle raised on the ranch served the Tyson Meat Market in Trail, operated by Lincoln and Henrietta Tyson, which was in business by 1915 and still going as of 1944 at 927 Spokane St. That storefront eventually became home to Mac’s Low Cost Meats, which previously operated at 1382 Cedar. (The namesake Mac was Hugh MacLaren. The sign is seen below in 2000.)

3. Why doesn’t Nelson have a Robert Hampton Gray school?

After L.V. Rogers Secondary opened in Nelson in 1956, the school it replaced, Nelson High School, was supposed to become an elementary school named after Robert Hampton Gray, the local man killed in World War II and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Yet for some reason the school received the more generic name South Nelson Elementary.

The digitized Daily News once again provided an explanation, although it didn’t make much sense: the naming of the new post office as the Gray Building trumped that decision. For some reason the school board felt pressured to choose a different name to avoid duplication, but no explanation was given why it would have been a problem to have the post office and a school named after the same person.

Read more about that as well as other West Kootenay school namesakes here.

Still outstanding

1) When did folk singer Pete Seeger perform in Trail and/or Rossland?

Seeger wrote about travelling to a concert in Trail, date unknown, and someone told me she remembered seeing him perform at the Miners’ Hall in Rossland in the late 1950s, but so far I’ve had no luck pinning it down.

2) When was two-thirds of the Nelson’s Tremont Hotel demolished to make way for a Greyhound depot?

The depot opened on Baker Street in 1951, and the company was said to have purchased the property around 1946, so it’s somewhere in there, but I’d like a more precise date. I haven’t been able to find anything in the newspapers. This is now the site of Sidewinder’s coffee and other businesses. The remaining portion of the hotel is now Cartolina Cards.

2) Where was Kelleys Elementary supposed to go and who was its namesake?

I have written before about a mysterious proposed school somewhere in the Nelson school district called Kelleys Elementary included in the district’s capital plan from 1961 to 1964. The Daily News is now digitized through 1968, but the only mention of Kelleys is as part of a notice on Nov. 25, 1961 about a referendum on building or renovating a number of schools. No explanation was provided where it was supposed to be built or how it got its name.

Updated July 5, 2023 to add the photo of (possibly) the previous Salmo River bridge as well as the bit above about Kelleys Elementary. Updated on June 26, 2024 to add the bridge plans and note the old bridge connected to Delaurentis Road.

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