The Kinsol Trestle, also known as the Koksilah River Trestle, is a wooden railway trestle located between Cowichan Stattion and Shawnigan Lake. It provides a spectacular crossing of the Koksilah River.
Completed in 1920, its dimensions measure 44m (145 ft) high and 188m (614 ft) long, making it the largest wooden trestle in the Commonwealth and one of the highest railway trestles in the world.
It was built as part of a plan to connect Victoria to Nootka Sound, passing through Cowichan Lake and Port Alberni, when forestry had gained some ground on Vancouver Island and a more efficient way to transport the region’s huge, old-growth timber was needed. It was not built, as some mistakenly believe, to serve any nearby mines. It was named after the nearby Kinsol Station which, in turn, took its name from a nearby mining venture grandiosely named after King Solomon Mine although only a very small mining venture that produced 18,000 kg of copper and 6,300g of silver (from 254 tonnes of ore – hardly enough to fill 3 rail cars) over the period 1904-1907.
The line was started in 1911 by the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway and while it was designed by engineers, it was built by local farmers and loggers, with investment funds from the Canadian Western Lumber Company, which was the largest lumber company in the world at that time. The trestle was never completed by the CNPR, and the line only reached Youbou before construction was terminated. The CNPR was taken over by Canadian National Railways in 1918, and its line and the trestle were completed in 1920 as part of the “Galloping Goose” rail line. The last train to cross the Kinsol was in 1979, and the trestle was abandoned one year later and then quickly fell into disrepair through vandalism.
The Kinsol Trestle is very impressive both from the air and from the Koksilah River below. As part of the Trans Canada Trail, the trestle is an important link for cyclists and hikers making their way from Victoria to Cowichan Lake. After years of study it was decided to restore the Kinsol Trestle and after much fund raising and work the trestle was opened to foot traffic in July of 2011. Find more information here.