Located in Yoho National Park, the Takakkaw Falls leaves thousands of tourists in awe and wonder when gazing upon the roaring, cascading water. The park's history is filled with construction of the spiral railway tunnels winding through the high mountain ranges, some of the highest mountain peaks in the area reaching over 3000m in height and the many magnificent waterfalls including the Takakkaw Falls cascading at 380m. One thing to mention is that its true ?free-fall? is only 254m, which is still rather impressive. Takakkaw Falls reaches its peak in July as it is fed by the Daly Glacier meltwater which is part of the Waputik Icefield. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in Canada and has the ability to make you feel tiny standing at the bottom of the plunging water. It is justifiably so one of the predominant reason thousands of visitors to Yoho every year.
The name ?Takakkaw? comes from the Cree meaning of something similar to ?it is magnificent?. In 1995, the Takakkaw Falls were featured in the movie ?Last of the Dogmen?. In the winter, the Yoho Valley access road to Takakkaw is closed due to the high amount of avalanches. Takakkaw Falls is accessible between June through October for the summer period. The name ?Yoho? comes from the Cree word which expresses awe and rightfully so as the park is consumed by glacial lakes, rock walls, thundering waterfalls and even stories of runaway trains!
When you reach the parking lot, the first viewing point is a short distance away from the main path. You can also go across the bridge and quickly reach where Takakkaw Falls reaches the bottom. It is a spectacular waterfall to see. When we were at Takakkaw Falls in the summer of 2012, we got lucky and caught a proposal on top of a rock in front of Takakkaw Falls. It was extremely romantic and definitely upped the standard for all the men that witnessed the engagement with their girlfriends. Good luck guys! It won't be so easy to beat a proposal in front of the second largest waterfall in Canada.
Continuing on the path, you can find a trailhead that leads you to a variety more of thundering waterfalls including the Twin Falls at the end. It should be named the trail of waterfalls in all honesty; each waterfall is more magnificent than the previous (except for Takakkaw Falls of course).
The area is full of vast history including the beginning exploration of the area and the mining and uprising of the town of Field. Field was originally named as ?Third Siding? in 1883. The town was desperate and in need of investors to grow and the name was changed quickly changed to Field after a wealthy investors and businessman from Chicago, Cyrus West Field. Curiously enough, Cyrus West Field was a potential investor at the time they changed the name after him but he never gave the town any money; not a single cent!
Trains that brought in the 4.5% grade on the Big Hill went to Field to be serviced which was a service centre in the beginning. Heavy dining cars on the train were disconnected and pusher and puller engines were added. A hotel had to be built to serve as a place to dine and in 1886 the Mt Stephen House was completed. For 75 years that hotel dominated Field.
The CPR recognized the importance of bringing tourism to the area but Field was in a sort of shambles. Tents and shacks had sprung up around Field springing up whorehouses, bootlegging and gambling. The CPR soon built numerous teahouses and hotels to encourage and accommodate the wealthy visitors that came through to enjoy the beautiful scenery and for their health. The town slowly became a place for people who came to study nature, photographers, painters, writers and many others who were inspired by the view. Much of the area was previously inaccessible prior to the railway being built so Field turned into a base camp for mountaineering. The CPR brought in experienced Swiss guides for those who wanted to explore the peaks but did not have the experience needed to tackle the unknown peaks. Many came and competed with each other to see who could complete the first ascents on the tallest peaks.
Field grew rather quickly during the time of mining and logging but in 1909, an avalanche came down Mount Burgess and wiped out the residents living on the north side of the Kicking Horse River. Remaining structures were moved to the south side and you can still see the flower beds and trees planted by the first residents that were killed during the avalanche.
In the early 1900's, areas such as Emerald Lake and Yoho Valley, and Lake O'Hara became accessible with road construction. Today where the only gas station in Field stands used to be Brewster's large stable of horse and buggys to travel on the newly constructed roads. It wasn't until 1927 that the Kicking Horse Trail, the first highway, was completed and allowed vehicles to come through.
As in all history of the Rocky Mountains it is, mining was important in the area. Lead and zinc was predominantly mined and you can still find the remnants of ladders and mine openings along Mount Field and Mount Stephen. Kicking Horse Mine and Monarch Mine, in consecutive order, helped Field to flourish and grow. Monarch Mine became the largest mining operation in the park of British Columbia when an early guide by the name of Tom Wilson sold his staked claim (claimed in 1882) for $21,000. The mines operated until 1952.
Forestry was also an important industry during the late 1800's. In 1884, logging began which were used for buildings in Field and the construction of the railway. In 1915, green timber was restricted amongst other logging that would wreck the scenery and by 1930 only one patch of logging berth was left in Yoho. Logging in the park completely ceased in 1968.
Takakkaw Falls Photos
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