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Cariboo Wagon Road Mile 0

Man sitting on the wagon road
Wagon Road along the Fraser River near Yale. (BC Archives: d-04718)
During the Cariboo gold rush, Yale was the starting point for transportation on the Cariboo Wagon Road.

The Cariboo gold rush spurred the need for a road to be built leading to the Cariboo regions which could accommodate wagons. In 1862, Yale was to become mile zero of the new road being installed by the Royal Engineers. The first six miles north of Yale was one of the most difficult sections of the road, and where the Royal Engineers began constructing the revolutionary road. The steep river canyon cliffs had to be blasted level, and wooden bridges were built over small gullies.

Bridges north of Yale
Bridges on the Cariboo Wagon Road. The town of Yale is on the distant misty shore. (BC Archives: a-06835)

The wagon road was challenging to build and challenging to navigate.

The next few miles north of Yale had a varied and challenging landscape. Near Yale was Alexandra Suspension Bridge, the first bridge of its type in the west. Further along the road, at forty-four miles north of Yale, was the steepest ascent on the wagon road where travellers climbed far up Jackass Mountain. The mountain may have got its name after so many pack animals fell to their death by stepping off the road into the river canyon.

Ascent up Jackass Mountain
The wagon road reached its steepest grade at Jackass Mountain. (BC Archives: a-03879)

Mile zero is marked today with an official monument in Yale's Front street.

Cariboo wagon road monument From Yale, wagons and mule teams would begin their month long, 373 mile (600 km) trek on the 18 foot (5.4 m) wide trail. If travellers began at Front Street, and they continued north, the street led them directly to the Cariboo Wagon Road. In the town today, a commemorative monument marks the location from where so many adventurers began their landward journey.

Supplies from Yale were sent to clientele up and down the Cariboo region. Food and equipment came from the Oppenheimer Brothers merchantile store.

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Last updated 31 August 1998.
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