Hell's Gate Fishways - Fraser Canyon, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 46.678 W 121° 26.551
10U E 612131 N 5515109
This plaque, mounted on a stone cairn, tells the story of the international effort undertaken to remediate a man made disaster in the Fraser Canyon's Hell's Gate.
Waymark Code: WM114RJ
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 08/15/2019
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member Dunbar Loop
Views: 2

For millennia the great Fraser River had been a major means of access for pacific salmon en route to the many spawning grounds in the Fraser and its tributaries upstream of Hell's Gate. Historically, the Fraser River was considered one of the world’s greatest salmon resources. Tens of millions of Pacific salmon returned annually to spawn in the Fraser River and tributaries, including all six species of Pacific salmon - Sockeye, Pink, Chum, Chinook, Coho and Steelhead. They were a major food source for First Nations People and, later, the source of a multi million dollar fishing industry.

This came to an abrupt end in 1913 when a rockslide, triggered by blasting for the construction of the Canadian National Railway through the canyon, blocked the salmon's access upstream. This condition endured until 1944, when a cooperative effort between Canada and the United States created fishways to allow the salmon to pass upstream. The first fishways were completed in 1946. The project continued for many years, with additional structures being built and completed at Hell’s Gate in 1947, 1951, 1965, 1966, 1989 & 1994.

Plaque and cairn can be found near the north end of a large pullout about 530 meters (1,750 ft) south of the Hell's Gate Air Tram, an aerial tramway built in 1970 to carry passengers over Hell's Gate, down the gorge and across the river, for a superlative view of the river and the canyon. The airtram consists of a pair of aerial trams on cables, one going down as the other goes up, the two driven by a 140 horsepower electric motor.
The International Hell’s Gate
Salmon Fishways
In 1913 The Canadian National Railway hewed its way through the Rockies and the treacherous Fraser Canyon. While blasting for the passage of the railway, a rock slide was triggered which partially blocked the Fraser River at Hell’s Gate. A dramatic drop in the salmon run resulted. Thirty years of work by dedicated scientists and several years’ construction were required to repair man’s damage. Today Hell’s Gate fishways, built by a joint Canadian – United States Commission and completed in 1966, stand as monument to man’s dedication and ingenuity.

PIC In 1917 the International Pacific Fisheries Commission was formed by Canada and the United States. Since that time, efforts have been made to improve the run of salmon to the spawning beds. This was brought about by the construction of fishways. These fishways help the salmon through the difficult sections of the Fraser River System. Fishways are now at Yale, Hell’s Gate and Bridge River Rapids. The Hell’s Gate Fishways were opened in 1945. Their effect on migrating salmon can be shown throughout the experience at the Quesnel Lake System. In 1941 only 1100 fish reached the spawning beds, by 1973 the number had increased to over 250,000 fish, and in 1981 this number had increased again to over 800,000 fish! These increased numbers mean to the fishermen a catch of several million fish.

The survival rate of young salmon has been improved through the construction of artificial spawning channels. These serve the sockeye population, while a further channel at Seton Creek has been built for pinks. The Weaver Creek Channel, completed in 1965, produced, in its first five years of operation, a total catch to fishermen of over 600,000. The Fisheries Commission hopes, over time, to restore the Fraser River to its pre-1913 status as a salmon stream. For more good info, check out this informational site: http://www.saxvik.ca.
From the Hell's Gate Air Tram
Type of Marker: Could be classified as both

Type of Sign: Historic Site or Building Marker

Describe the parking that is available nearby: This is in a large pullout

What Agency placed the marker?: Pacific Salmon Commission

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