Skip to content

Trail Blazers: Sandy Island circa 1977

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives
This serene shot of Gyro Park looking toward the City of Trail mirrors today’s landscape, minus the outdoor theatre in the background, which was demolished decades ago. Photo: Trail Historical Society

by Sarah Benson-Lord

Trail Museum and Archives

Does this scene look familiar?

This week in 1977, the city marveled at the low river levels, most dramatic at Sandy Island (Gyro Park) where the roaring “Onions” used to be.

Although it was a drier winter that year, causation for this huge reduction was much different than what we are experiencing now.

That year, the City of Castlegar was working on a new sewer system for the municipality.

In order to install new outfall drainage, river levels needed to be lowered.

At the city’s request, BC Hydro agreed to close the spillways of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, just prior to spring run-off.

Performing the closure also allowed for BC Hydro inspect energy dissipators using a dive team along the downstream side of the dam.

In accordance with the Columbia River Treaty, BC Hydro ensured the Bonneville reservoir at the Bonneville Dam, 40 miles upstream of Portland, Oregon, received enough water the week prior to make up for the shortfall during the work.

The spillways re-opened on Thursday, April 14 at 4 p.m.

Pictured here is a City of Trail loader harvesting some sand normally underwater to build up the beach above.

Also pictured is the original change house at the left and the Outdoor Theatre at the right, built in 1951.

Read more Trail Blazers:

A Summer Place

Gyro Park, the perennial summertimehaven

Ceremony honours Trail airman, 17, and 22 others killed in Second World War

Remembering a young man from Trail who went to war and never came home

Long-lost poem recounts life of an air gunner

Colourful memories in ‘Silver City Linings’

Big Fish Tales

Great ol’ classics on four wheels

Memories of Dixie Lee linger

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

Read more