Having missed the most exciting transportation and engineering event on the Columbia River for 2009, I’ll resort to relying on other people’s accounts of the journey. As an aside, this is a neat example of the current use of traditional transportation methods from previous eras in BC, a province of lakes, rivers and large mountain ranges. Even late last century there were train barges on the lakes around here, as the steep shorelines and passes prevented easy access for rail.

BC Hydro was moving its new 188 tonne, seven-metre wide stainless steel turbine on a journey that originated in South America. The device was manufactured by Voith Hydro and shipped from Brazil on June 17. It has travelled on an ocean barge to the U.S., a truck barge to Northport, WA and the current barge en route to the BC Hydro Revelstoke generating station. Quite a voyage that has taken over a year of planning to ensure it ran as smoothly as it has.

“This piece of equipment will be used to serve the whole province.”

Hamilton says the turbine will increase capacity at the Revelstoke generating station by 500 megawatts and is another step forward in making B.C. energy self-sufficient by 2016.

Source: Trail Rossland News – Turbine barge floats through Trail

The photo slideshow below is from one of my Flickr contacts – Arrowlakelass who followed the barge from Castlegar to the Lock at Hugh Keenleyside Dam. Click on the play symbol below to get the slideshow running, (and you can make it fullscreen for real detail too!).

The river has a mystique to it that makes it seem off limits for modern transport. Most people know of the history of barges and sternwheelers plying their trade up and down these waterways, but few imagine it to be feasible or possible in this day and age.

Check out this photo of a sternwheeler down by the Smelter in Trail.


Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

4 replies on “Shipping Returns to the Columbia River”

  1. I hate it when I miss seeing something like this. The Columbia River runs alongside Castlegar and sometimes it seems as though it does not exist in our everyday life.

    Where I lived in England, (Bedford in Bedfordshire), the River Great Ouze was really visible to the everyday resident and was really a part of our lives. Always something happening.

  2. Janice, Planning a whole city to face away from the Columbia River seems ridiculous considering it is one of our best assets. I’ve met a few people who wished, they’d seen this coming through – not very well advertised I guess.

  3. Actually very little has ever been planned in Castlegar. It just grew like “Topsy”.

    Take the Downtown. If it had been planned, then the main road would have been Thirteenth Street, would have been wide, and had a magnificent view of the Lion’s Head Rock across the Columbia River. The Downtown just happened.

    Look at City Hall. Approaching it from either direction, it cannot be seen by anyone in a vehicle until one is level with it. It is obscured by the R.C.M.P. building on one side and the visually aweful buildings on the other side. The best view is from the Kel Print building opposite. I can forgive the original town being as it is is, but not the City Hall.

  4. Our neighbour knew about the turbine coming through (or going through?) and he stopped outside our house to tell us, so we could take our 5 year old over to see it….handily, we were headed for Tim Horton’s, so while I went and stood in line for 15 minutes my husband and kid got to watch it go past – it was quite impressive!!
    My thoughts exactly – let the town know about it in advance, celebrate it….I know many parents would have loved to have to opportunity to show their children what the river can do.

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