Museum and Larry's trails may soon be history

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
June 4th, 2010

With Trails day going on this weekend, some folks around town have been asking about just when the Museum trail and portion of Larry’s trail that have been closed for the past four years are going to re-open. 

Initially the section of Teck land in question was closed in 2006 to some evaluations of the geo-technical hazards in the area. Just a few years prior to that there had been a couple of cases where openings or sink holes in the land occurred quickly and spontaneously due to old mine workings in the area. The largest recent opening occurred on the slope just across from the McLeod Street/Highway 3B intersection. That opening, now covered, has been fenced off for the past several years. 

“It’s because of the intensity of the mining in there 100 years ago, the way it was closed and the way some of the mining was done at the end that was never fully mapped,” explained Steve Hiltz of Teck. “There was mining done in there in the 1930s where they just followed veins when they found them and followed them pretty near the surface. Basically they’d stop when they started to see tree roots.” 

Initially the plan was to reopen the trails following some remediation work. 

“What we’ve done in there is some drilling to understand where the openings are and where the voids underneath the ground are,” added Hiltz. “We’ve also closed up some openings that were there so people don’t fall into any of them.” 

Much work has been done, particularly on the Museum Trail as an important connector in the Rossland trail system linking up the Drakes/Deer Park area with the Centennial Trail and other trails north of town. The work, done primarily two years ago to shore up the Museum trail has, been completed. The last stumbling block, quite literally, is opening on the old Centre Star mine near the McLeod/Highway 3A junction. That hole has got a cap on it now; however, geo-technical engineers are concerned about what the cap sits on and the stability of the fill in the opening. This past winter, Teck did some more work on the opening, drilling and inserting cameras to get a look below the surface. A report on that camera work is expected within the next two weeks.

That evidence is expected to provide better steering on what the best route forward will be to get the trail back online. Refilling and capping the opening is one option but Teck is also considering possibly bridging the gap.

“The bridge idea, I think, is kind of attractive, and there’s been some support from the community and the Trails Society around it,” continued Hiltz. “ Putting a bridge in involves some longer term maintenance issues like, ‘who’s going to remove snow from it?, ‘can we use it safely in the winter?’, and other questions like that. So it may not be the best way to go in the end.”

In the interim since the area was closed, Teck funded the KCTS to construct the Curly and Moe’s single-track trails uphill from the reservoir. While the new trails have been heavily used and provide an addition to the trails system, some folks still long for the days of the wide and gentle Larry’s trail.

“We’ve heard from some people that they are different than Larry’s Trail because they are single track. Curly’s goes up the hill and Moe’s along the reservoir. Curly’s is a little steeper, kind of windy single track and a little more technical than the part of Larry’s that people miss which was a wide trail. People could run along there and push their strollers.”

With issues and complications having arisen and hopes of a quick remediation and reopening of the Larry’s and Museum trails doubtful, Teck has offered to perhaps construct another new alternate trail around the area. No definite plans have been put in place, but the offer was to fund the KCTS to construct a new wider, gentler trail running from the Centennial tunnel area up to the portion of Larry’s that is still open.

This Saturday, as part of Trails Day, a group of volunteers will be constructing a new stretch of single-track in that area near Miner’s trail. If you wish to help with that effort, meet at the Centennial Trail head this Saturday at 9:00 AM.

What ultimately comes next is still up in the air at this stage. It could be a bridge over trouble areas, a new Larry’s connector form the tunnel, or perhaps neither. At this stage, however, there are no immediate plans to reopen the Larry’s or Museum Trail and it’s beginning to look like that may never happen.

“The decision right now is that the bulk of that area is going to remain closed,” concluded Hiltz. “It may not even be technically feasible to close it all off properly because it’s so unknown what was done in there. Some of the stuff was closed 80 to 100 years ago by just pushing in metal or wood scrap and whatever was around. That’s been rotting and corroding in the meantime and is not something that is even very safe to start pulling out or digging around in. It’s really quite honeycombed by underground workings up there and we’re finding much of it is not mapped. It would really be a huge job to shore up that whole area, and at this point that just doesn’t look feasible.”


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