Rambo Through the Othello Tunnels
Rambo fans are no doubt familiar with the Othello Tunnels. Known as Chapman’s Gorge in Sylvester Stallone’s blockbuster film First Blood, this was where the police officer fell out of the helicopter and where Rambo clung for his life to a rock wall above the waters of the Coquihalla River.
The section of the Kettle Valley Railway between Hope and Coquihalla is called the Coquihalla Subdivision. It was built between 1913 and 1916. The most expensive mile (the one near the summit) cost $300,000 almost triple the average cost for railways at the time which was $136,000 per mile. This section of the railway consisted of 43 bridgerequiring 22 million board feet of lumber, 13 tunnels and 16 snowsheds totaling 2 miles in length.
The tunnels got their name from Kettle Valley Railway engineer, Andrew McCulloch, who was an avid fan of William Shakespeare. It was said that he sat around the evening campfire with the railway construction workers reciting Shakespearean poetry and used the names of characters from his plays to name stations along the Coquihalla line.
The Kettle Valley Railway was the most difficult railway in the country to operate with rock, mud and snow slides disrupting service.
The Coquihalla section was shut down more than it operated in the first seven winters and was so hazardous that it was rumored the trains only crossed it at night so the passengers wouldn’t be terrified by the canyons far below. The railway provided both freight and passenger service between the Kootenays and the Coast for 48 years but eventually better roads and air travel took their passengers away. In November 1959, heavy rains washed out sections of the Coquihalla line and the damage was never repaired and in 1961 this section of the railway was officially closed. This incredibly scenic section of the old railway line is now a popular place for hikers, cyclists and movie producers.
HOW TO GET THERE – From Kamloops, take exit 183 before Hope. Follow Othello Road for a few minutes until you pass the Othello Tunnels Campground and come to a fork in the road. Take the left which brings you onto Tunnels Road and there you will find the parking lot. The tunnels are located in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park.A 15-20 minute walk down the trail will bring you to the tunnels which are open from April to October. If you continue along Othello Road to Hope you will cross the famous bridge where the sheriff dropped Rambo off telling him to leave town. The bridge was replaced with a new one in 2011