Over 100 people gathered in Sparwood recently for the ribbon cutting of the new 30 km Coal Discovery Trail, stretching from Sparwood to Fernie. The trail is a linear hiking, biking, horseback riding and cross-country ski trail constructed for non-motorized use.
The objective of the Coal Trail project was to provide meaningful work experience for up 12 individuals and two coordinators, while benefiting the local economic/tourism development of Sparwood, Hosmer and Fernie, and the Coal Discovery Centre. The participants began in March and the final completion of the trail will be in early autumn.
Mayor Cal McDougall was present for the inaugural two-kilometre hike and offered his congratulations to the work crew and committee. “This is just the start of a great thing,” he said. “This is great”. East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett was also present and said the trail will remind Elk Valley residents of their roots. “It’s important not to forget where you come from,” he said. “This is a bridge into a different economy and an initial part of a much larger project…the Elk Valley Coal Discovery Centre”.
Marked with a 120 million year old petrified tree stump donated by the Elk Valley Coal Corporation, the trail meanders through a lush forest of pine, spruce and larch, with kilometer signs made from an old larch snag directing the way. Picnic tables and benches are in a few locations giving people a place to rest or just enjoy the view. Brochures will be available at the local Chambers of Commerce to guide visitors as well.
The Coal Discovery Trail is one of the first projects for the Elk Valley Coal Discovery Centre, an incorporated society with the goal of facilitating the construction of an interpretive centre focusing on the history of coal mining, and its people, the preservation and interpretation of historical mining artifacts and sites, and the modern technology that exists. For more information contact Cindy Gallinger, Chairman of the Discovery Centre at 250-865-5103.