TV show features Trail’s historic rock walls

The story of Trail’s rock walls has leapt off the pages of a local writer ’s book and onto international television.

The story of Trail’s rock walls has leapt off the pages of a local writer ’s book and onto international television.

Eileen Pedersen’s book “Set in Stone: A History of Trail’s Rock Walls,” a culmination of her six-year vision to document and celebrate the history and beauty of Trail’s rock walls, has helped spread the word about the city’s unique geography.

So much that Trail will be featured on KSPS Public Television Thursday at 7 p.m.

“Potentially two million people will be introduced or reintroduced to Trail’s unique and historical rock walls and the men who built them. As well, scenes of Trail’s winding and hilly roads, the Columbia River, the murals, flowers and covered stairways will open people’s eyes to the diverse and lovely aspects of Trail,” said Pedersen via email.

“The upshot of all this would, of course, be more tourism and tourist dollars spent in Trail. We think it’s pretty special to get this kind of coverage for Trail.”

After deciding Trail’s history was a good fit for its “Northwest Profiles” program, producer Bill Fitzner from KSPS visited Trail this fall and filmed the stonework as well as interviewed Pedersen and surviving stonemasons Bill DiDomenico and Louie Bedin.

“He had no idea what a great town Trail was,” said Pedersen. “He’d been operating under the assumption that Trail was simply an industry town, with few redeeming features, to paraphrase. He was very pleasantly surprised.” 

The five-minute segment will feature archival photos of men working on the walls, courtesy of the Trail Historical Society, as well as other city highlights including the murals created by Nelson artists Steven Skolka and Tyler Toews.

What originally started as a photo essay in 2002, became a project a year later when the Rock Wall Entusiastico Society formed and began gathering photos and the historical stories of the walls. The project blossomed from curiosity and an abundance of support.

Pedersen’s passion for uncovering the stories of the stonemasons has led her along a path of success and continues to do so, with the potential for offering rock wall tours from late spring to early fall this year.

She is currently focusing on getting 10 plaques made for Trail’s rock walls in preparation for “Rock the Walls,” a community event planned for the summer.

“An ongoing focus is maintaining ­– identifying and repairing – the integrity of the stonework,” she said. “Walk up Lookout Street and examine the stone railing along the sidewalk. This has been an issue for years. While there are some places that have been addressed, there is much, much more to do.”

Pedersen stresses that more time and money needs to be invested in preserving Trail’s history, though the city has shown continuous support.

“What’s the point of getting publicity for the city’s stonework, having visitors come – and many already do come to view the walls and notice them crumbling?” she said. “What does that say about our priorities? We need to show we care about the features of our town that already exist.”

Should residents happen to miss the show this Thursday, the story can be viewed on KSPS’ website (www.ksps.org) and on YouTube.