The Steamboat Era
The years from 1886 to 1920 are defined as the upper Columbia River’s "steamboat era," which began with Frank Armstrong captaining a steamer named “The Duchess.” Supplies were shipped from as far south as Montana, using the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers. Stories of government barricades being dynamited by ship captains, hundreds of natives dragging boats through low water and missing boatloads of whiskey are all little parts of the colourful heritage that surrounds the beautiful Columbia River Valley.
The Golden Age of Mountaineering
Recognizing the potential of our spectacular alpine area, the CPR opened a permanent dining lodge and hotel in 1887. Glacier House was used as a base for visiting climbers from around the world. In 1899, the CPR invited trained Swiss hiking and climbing guides to Golden to help boost tourism. The Feuz, Hasler and Aemmer family names became very familiar in Golden, where the CPR built six Swiss-style chalets in a tiny Edelweiss Village. Thus began the golden age of mountaineering that still remains a focus for residents and visitors today.
Golden has a long-standing love affair with the mountains and skiing. In the 1930s, the Feuz home acted as a ski base for what was then called "The Swiss Hill." In the 1940s, members of the Moberly Ski Club held local ski races and jumping competitions. But it was the Kinsmen who, in 1955, built our first rope tow behind the current Rodeo Grounds. By 1968, a 1000-foot-long rope tow was accessing Mt. 7 and operated until 1980. During 1974, Rudi Gertsch began a commercial Heli-skiing company on the slopes of Whitetooth mountain and plans were initiated to find a permanent home for the local ski crowd.
In 1986, a hearty group of volunteers cleared some runs and installed the Pioneer Chair and the Whitetooth Ski Area was born. A proposal to sell Whitetooth to international investors was put to a referendum in 1997 and received an astounding 94% “yes” vote. Today Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is owned and operated by Ballast Needham, Grouse Mountain and Columbia Basin Trust.
A history of Golden
The Discovery of Kicking Horse Pass
In 1858, an expedition led by John Palliser and Sir James Hector was camped at the Great Divide, searching for a route to the west for Canada’s first trans-continental railway. While he was trying to tie the packhorse to a tree, Hector received a vicious kick from his steed. It rendered him unconscious for so long that the native guides thought he was dead and dug a grave in a spiritual valley along the tribe’s namesake, the “Wapta” River. When Sir Hector awoke, he chose to explore that valley. It then became known as the “Kicking Horse River” and was the new route to the West.
It took 27 more years and hundreds of lives for Major A.B Rogers to build a route through Rogers Pass and connect Western Canada via the railroad. Around 1882, Major Rogers built a storage facility here and named the area The Cache, which was renamed Golden City a couple of years later.