The Old Cariboo Road

The “Old” Cariboo Road

Horse drawn freight wagons on the Cariboo Road along the Thompson River, 1867

The name Cariboo Road or Cariboo Trail is also informally applied to a toll road built by contractor Gustavus Blin-Wright in 1861–1862 from Lillooet to Williams Lake, Van Winkle and on to Williams Creek (Richfield, Barkerville). This route was known also as the Old Cariboo Road, when the Lakes Route from Port Douglas to Lillooet had not yet been superseded by the Fraser Canyon route of the Cariboo Wagon Road proper. The mile-house names (e.g. 100 Mile House), in the Cariboo are derived from measurements taken from the Mile ‘0’ of this road, which is in the bend in the Main Street of Lillooet and commemorated there by a cairn erected in the 1958 Centennial Year. It was along this route that an attempt was made to use Bactrian camels purchased from the U.S. Camel Corps for freight (1862), and also a tractor-style Thomson Road Steamer known as a “road train”, one of the earliest motorized vehicles.

The Cariboo Road at Soda Creek. The style of truss-bridge shown is typical of Royal Engineer design.

Most foot traffic from Lillooet to the Cariboo however, went by the “River Trail”, far below the wagon road, which departed the Fraser Canyon at Pavilion for the steep climb over Pavilion Mountain to Clinton, where it merged with the newer Cariboo Road via Yale and Ashcroft (once the latter route was completed, that is). The River Trail continued along the Fraser Canyon as far as Big Bar and various routes spread towards Quesnel and Barkerville from there.

The Cariboo Road was featured on the television historical series Gold Trails and Ghost Towns, season 2, episode 4.