(Trail Historical Society photo #1959-600)

Trail Blazers: Iconic image emerges from a muddy road

Photos: Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

One of the most recognizable scenes in the Silver City is the view from Bay Avenue looking toward the smelter.

Of course this image has evolved ever since pioneers landed in the City of Trail 125 years ago to work at the hill, so the idea of looking back at Bay Avenue development presents a compelling mini-series for our Trail Blazers feature.

The Trail Museum and Archives has seven historical photos of the downtown street facing the plant, starting in the 1890s extending right up to the 1970s, excluding the 1900s and 1930s.

“I was thinking for the next several photos it might be interesting to do a series of Bay Avenue through the decades,” explained Jesslyn Jarvis, collections coordinator. “I don’t have a lot of additional information for each photo, I just think it will be interesting to let people see and compare them in a series.”

The first photo (#1959-600) shows a muddy Bay Avenue looking towards the smelter circa 1897.

“Note the smoke stacks,” said Jarvis. “This photo was taken only two years after the smelter was constructed in 1895. By 1897, the town site was cleared, streets were graded and businesses established.”

The image also shows Trail Creek News – the original Trail Times office – which is the first building on the left side of the photo.

The Crown Point Hotel, Trail’s first large hotel, was established in 1895 and can be seen on the right hand side of the image, across the street from the turret of the Arlington Hotel (est. 1896).

By 1899, Trail’s population had grown to 1,500. Then on June 14, 1901, the City of Trail was incorporated.

The second photo (#0501-600) shows Bay Avenue on May 24, 1914.

Note the dirt road and wooden sidewalks; Bay Avenue and Riverside Avenue wouldn’t be paved until 1926. The cost was a whopping $40,000, which, according to an inflation calculator, equals $580,000 today.

The Crown Point Hotel and the Arlington Hotel stand on either side of the street. At this time, Trail had no less than 20 hotels to accommodate the single male, working population.

Also on this Sunday, May 24, 1914, Trail gathered to celebrate Empire Day under a sign that says, “Welcome to our City.” Families came together for children’s games, sports events and to break bread.

(Empire Day, now called Victoria Day, is a holiday in recognition of Queen Victoria’s birthday).

“In a couple months’ time, tensions in Europe would come to a head and World War I started,” Jarvis said.

“Many volunteers joined the war efforts and 34 Trail men lost their lives.”

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(Trail Historical Society #0501-600)

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