File photo

Walking the Red Bridge in Kamloops

While we don’t describe Kamloops as our home-away-from-home, husband John and I do appreciate the city’s medical services not available in Clearwater, a recent trip taking us there for both eye care and arch support appointments. I dropped John off for the former, knowing I had about an hour of playtime.

For many years I have walked parts of the Rivers Trail so, with that being today’s plan as well, Riverside Park was my first stop. However, this country gal can never figure out the parking policies there, so I was soon on the move. Finding free parking – and space – nearby on Lorne Street, I pulled in where I could easily walk down to the historic CN station, now up for sale.

Not being too smart, I hadn’t reckoned on this section of railroad being between me and the river. Coming to an open section almost under the Red Bridge, I read: No Trespassing. Somewhat uncharacteristically, I obeyed, even though I could see Pioneer Park and the trail just across the tracks.

As it turned out, I never did get there.

Despite being convinced hordes of rattle snakes were lurking in the dry weeds along its edges I scrambled up a steep, ragged trail. Safely on Lorne Street again, I found myself in a wee Heritage Park honouring the Red Bridge.

Reading every word on the display posters, I learned details of the First (replaced ferry in 1887), Second (constructed in 1912), and Third Red Bridges. We have driven cautiously across the newest one, built in 1936, many times.

Now, hiking poles in hand, I was standing near it, and who wants to walk beside a river when they can have a new experience by strolling across a bridge that’s been around just a bit longer than I have? Happily, when they skinnied up the driving lanes, the powers-that-be kept the narrow walking path.

Before long, I crossed the aforementioned railway line, peering down. There was a replica of Puffing Billy #2141. (“Twice we’ve been on the Heritage Train being pulled by that steam engine,” I remembered). Nearby was a miniature village that I had never seen before, even though the Rivers Trail is close by.

“It has been there for years and there were more ‘doll houses,’” a couple of cyclists assured me as they wheeled their bikes past me.

With the South Thompson River at such a low level, boat houses and their slips below me were unusable. Although there was little sign of any current, vegetation drifting slowly westward proved the water was moving the short distance to its junction with the North Thompson River at Riverside Park.

It’s much longer, winding journey, now the Thompson River, ends at Lytton where it becomes part of the Fraser. Bringing my mind back to the bridge, I noticed that the traffic hitting occasional bumps caused it to shake.

“I guess it will hold up a bit longer,” I thought, recalling those photos of intricate interweaving of supporting trusses.

And we oldies just keep on going – after the odd upgrade of failing parts! At the north end, a tree with luxuriant bright green foliage caught my attention.

Ah yes! I’d seen it in several other photos of this remarkable structure taken over the years.

“Is that a duck, a beaver, or some other critter swimming towards me?” I now mused optimistically, observing the classic V-shape of water passing an obstruction. “No such luck – it’s just a snag.”

But there was plenty of movement on the wide south beach. People wandered; dogs chased their favourite balls, brought them back, and then waited impatiently for one to be thrown into the chilly water again.

Back at the tiny Heritage Park with its pretty floral display, I sat on a bench made from trusses retrieved from Red Bridge #2. That name began with #1 which was built of timber with a natural red colouring.

Now I read the rest of the posters telling about mini-Italy and more.

“Time’s up,” I suddenly realized.

And to think – poor John only sat in a chair getting his eyes tested while I made these fascinating new discoveries!

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