Cariboo Wagon Road


CARIBOO WAGON ROAD was built between YALE and BARKERVILLE to provide access to the CARIBOO goldfields during the rush of prospectors to the area in the early 1860s (see GOLD RUSH, CARIBOO). The road was built by a combination of ROYAL ENGINEERS and private contractors. Construction of the Fraser Canyon section began at Yale, the head of steamboat navigation on the river, in the spring of 1862. Much of the road was blasted out of the sheer rocky sides of the canyon. It crossed to the east side via the ALEXANDRA BRIDGE (which was actually not in place until 1863) and reached LYTTON by the autumn of 1862. There it left the FRASER R and followed an overland route north via CLINTON and 100 MILE HOUSE to rejoin the river at SODA CREEK, north of present-day WILLIAMS LAKE, by the end of 1863. In 1864 the road continued on to QUESNEL and made a turn eastward to Cottonwood, leaving the final stretch across the rocky highlands to Barkerville to be completed in the summer of 1865. The finished road was 5.5 m wide and 492 km long. Its construction added greatly to the colony's debt. A series of roadhouses sprang up to provide accommodations for travellers who arrived by freight wagon and stagecoach. Today a paved highway follows approximately the same route. See also ROADS AND HWYS; TRAILS.