Nelson, Salmo-Troup Rail Trail, Photo Destination BC Kari Medig
Surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains, set on the shores of Kootenay Lake and clustered with more than 300 heritage buildings, Nelson’s storybook charm and stunning scenery create the quintessential small-town setting. Entering from the east, you will discover Lakeside Park at the edge of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, at the foot of the famous Orange Bridge. Lakeside Park is the pride of Nelson’s waterfront: a long, beautiful beach, a wide promenade, and open, green spaces highlight the area. The region has both the terrain and the scenery that make for fantastic hiking. Clear streams, large inland lakes, forest-covered valleys, and wildflowers make this area a hiker’s paradise. In the winter, Nelson and area has become one of the most popular winter sports communities, considered by many to have some of the best skiing and snowboarding conditions on the North American continent.
Nelson is located at the junction of Hwy 6 and Hwy 3A, 41 km (26 mi) northeast of Castlegar. North 33 km (21 mi) on Hwys 3A & 31 is Balfour where the ferry takes you over to Kootenay Bay. Kaslo is 70 km (44 mi) further north on Hwy 31.
In 1867, gold and silver were found in the area and Nelson grew quickly as a result of the frantic mining activity. Dozens of other mining communities sprang up along Kootenay Lake, two railways were routed through Nelson, and noted architect Francis Rattenbury came to design granite-hewn, chateau-style civic buildings. By 1910, Nelson had its own hydro generating station, street cars, a sewer system, and a police force. Englishmen came to plant lakeside orchards, and Russian Doukhobors, sponsored by Tolstoy and the Quakers, tilled the valley benchlands.
In 1979, after 5 generations had each imposed their own style on downtown’s Baker Street, local merchants and civic leaders developed a coordinated restoration plan and spent more than $3-million to bring the city’s magnificent buildings back to life. A community understanding dawned that these magnificent buildings represented the pioneers’ statement of faith in the future of Nelson.