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Hiking through History by Teresa Burton

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Harris Creek Camp II Trail
Map of Trails (resolution 1540x942x96dpi - 70,029 bytes)

Round Trip 6 km/3.72 miles - Allow 3-4 Hours

In preparing for this hike, your party should plan for a little mud and pack drinking water, lunch, extra clothing, bug repellent and camera. Parking for the trail is available in the gravel pit on the Granite Creek Main Line and the trail is 150 meters beyond that. Near the start of this hike, there is a creek to ford. This is done easily in dry weather, but is not passable during periods of heavy rain.

The trail follows the old railway grade of Cathels and Sorenson Logging and into the Camp II, established around 1925. Along the route you will pass by relic donkey sleighs, piles of old railway ties, an old trapper's cabin and more, while under cover of a new forest. At the end of the trail, you will be able to explore through the dilapidated ruins of this old camp where evidence of work shops, bunkhouses and the cookhouse are found. Here, the peaceful shores of the Harris Creek will provide for a nice lunch break. Although the grasses and ferns on the bank may look inviting, you should stay close to the shore so as not to disturb the mosquitoes of these grasses.

This now peaceful forest was once humming with steam and logging. In 1923, T. Cathels and C. Sorenson arrived, to start the valley's first large-scale steam logging operation. They were financially backed by Victoria capitalists Todd and E.P. Butchart (of Butchart Gardens). This operation grew to a size of running 16 miles of track, 3 locomotives, 10 donkey steam yarders and loaders, a telephone-line control system for trains and speeders and employed nearly 200 men. They maintained two camps, this being Camp II and the other, Renfrew Camp, was on leased Indian Reserve where the Pacheedaht Band reside. At Renfrew Camp, the trains dumped their logs into the river and a steam derrick, operating from a track on a wharf, built the Davis Rafts (booms).

The successors of Cathels and Sorenson were Hemmingsen and Cameron, who operated from 1933 to 1946. Hemmingsen and Cameron were bought out by BC Forest Products in 1946. They converted to truck logging between 1955 and 1957, thus seeing the end of train logging. Fletcher Challenge Canada bought out BCFP in 1988 and created TimberWest to take over this and other operations.

Though our valley has endured more than 100 years of logging, and with each stage a new era unfolded, it is the "Glory Days of Steam" that tell more tales, and are most remembered in our history books.

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