The Central Kootenay sub region stretches from Christina Lake in the south west to Salmo in the east and north to Castlegar. Highway 3 runs east to west through the region and has two spurs, Highway 3A from Trail through Castlegar to Nelson and beyond and Highway 3B that joins Highway 3 to Rossland and on to Trail. Highway 6 runs north from Salmo to Nelson in the eastern part of the sub region.
Christina Lake, located on Highway 3, 72 km (45 mi) west of Castlegar and 25 km (15.5 mi) east of Grand Forks, is one of the sought after family vacation destinations in Western Canada. Christina Lake offers some of the best summer weather, a warm sandy swimming lake and an all-season playground. The Christina Lake area also has an interesting history. The earliest inhabitants were the Kootenai Indians, more than 2,000 years ago. Today their pictographs can be found in Texas Point Provincial Park on the eastern shore. In 1896, the CPR Railway reached Christina Lake and the Blueberry Paulson Pass, the main artery from Christina Lake to Castlegar and Trail, was opened in 1962. 19 km (11 mi) long Christina Lake draws people from all over the region to swim and fish for rainbow trout, bass and kokanee. The outdoor enthusiast can enjoy any number of pastimes including golfing, fishing, boating, river kayaking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and more.
Gladstone Park is located approximately 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Grand Forks on Highway 3 at the north end of Christina Lake in the Monashee Mountains and provides a diversity of habitats in the Selkirk Foothills ecosection of the province that is found nowhere else. These include Kokanee spawning areas, winter range for deer and elk, and of particular importance, low elevation habitats, old growth cedar and hemlock forests. The Monashee Mountains surround the lake and it is a perfect backdrop for a variety of water-oriented recreational activities. Fishing for kokanee, rainbow trout and small-mouth bass is popular.
Heading east from Christina Lake on Highway 3 towards Castlegar and the turn off for Rossland, is Nancy Greene Park. The park was established in 1972 and is named after Canada's Olympic skier, Nancy Greene, who grew up in nearby Rossland and at an early age started her skiing career at Red Mountain. This 203 hectare park lies within the Monashee Mountains. Its primary focus is a sub-alpine lake that can only be found in one other protected area. Associated with this lake is a small wetland marsh habitat that is a rare occurrence at this elevation.
South from Nancy Greene Park on Highway 3B takes the traveler to the community of Rossland. Rossland is located on the treed slopes of an extinct volcanic crater of the Monashee Mountains. Rossland's origins and nickname "Golden City" dates back to the discovery of gold on Red Mountain. A prospector, Joe Morris in 1890 staked five claims on Red Mountain. The richest claim became the Le Roi mine that was sold in 1898 for just over $3 million to the British American Corporation. Between the years 1901 and 1916, 50% of the entire gold production of British Columbia came from the mines on Red Mountain. Skiing here also goes back a long way with the Canadian Ski Championships being held in Rossland for the first twenty years, from 1888. Red Mountain Ski Hill offers great dry skiing conditions. The annual Rossland Winter Carnival is held on the last weekend of January. For movie buffs the movie "The Miracle" starring Kurt Russell as U.S hockey coach Herb Brooks, was filmed in Rossland in the winter of 2003. The town of Rossland starred as Lake Placid, the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics, the year the Americans won the ice hockey gold medal.
A further 10 km (6 mi) along Highway 3B and 600 m (1,950 ft) lower in elevation than Rossland, located on both sides of the Columbia River, is the town of Trail. Trail, with a population today of 7,696, was founded in the 1890s when a small smelter was constructed on a bench above the Columbia River to serve the rich mines of Rossland. This smelter evolved to what is now known as Teck Cominco, a successful worldwide mining company. Trail has become home to a large number of Italian immigrants who contribute to the city's distinctive character. This Italian heritage is celebrated annually in September with the "Fiesta Italiano" festival and "Silver City Days" is also a popular event in May. The ‘Home of Champions' monument in downtown Trail recognizes the importance Trail places on excellence in sport. A visit to The Sports Hall of Fame located in the Trail Memorial Centre for a look at some memorabilia from the famous Trail Smoke Eaters hockey club is a must. The Trail Museum (also located in the Centre) has a great collection of Interior Salish native artifacts.
Champion Lakes Park 23 km (14 mi) east along Highway 3B towards Salmo has three large lakes nestled in the Bonnington Range. There are 6.5 km (14 mi) of multi-use trails linking the lakes together. The 3rd lake with its two day-use areas is known for warm water and is popular with the local communities. The special features of this park include the chain of picturesque small lakes, old growth forest and an example of forest succession.
East of Trail on Highway 3 is the small village of Salmo. Salmo began as a railway siding town called Salmon Siding on the Burlington Railway Line. At this time gold and silver were being discovered in the surrounding mountains and Salmo grew as a centre for supplies and entertainment. Salmo claims to have the world's oldest telephone booth on the property of the Sal-Crest Motel. As well, Salmo boasts the world's largest penny dedicated on July 1, 1995, Canada's Birthday, in honour of Penny Power. Salmo Museum has exhibits of mining artifacts, photos and maps of the Dewdney Trail, as well as other unique articles.
North of Trail on Highway 3A is the town of Castlegar located at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers. In 1908, a pacifist group of Russian immigrants called the Doukhobors settled the Ootichenia Valley on the east bank of the Columbia River, establishing one of the more successful communal enterprises in North America. This strong Russian influence is still very much in evidence today as seen in such fascinating attractions as the Doukhobor Museum, Zuckerberg Island and the Castlegar Rail Station, which has been recently converted to a museum. Castlegar today reflects a vibrant mix of commerce, industry and recreation. The Arrow Lakes waterway offers a navigable recreation corridor some 240 km (144 mi) long providing access to boating, sailing and world-class fishing.
19 km (11 mi) northwest of Castlegar on Highway 3A is Syringa Provincial Park. Syringa Park is located near the southeast end of the Lower Arrow Lake. The lake is a part of the Columbia River that was widened and deepened with the construction of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam at Castlegar. The park protects not only provincially significant interior Douglas-fir forests but also preserves one of the few remaining examples of grassland ecosystems in the Kootenays. A variety of wildlife are at home in the park including, elk, deer and a herd of rocky mountain bighorn sheep that can often be observed grazing on the many rock bluffs.
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