Construction on the Kootenay Pass portion of Highway 3 in 1963.

Creston Museum and arts council celebrating Kootenay Pass’s 50th anniversary

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The Salmo-Creston highway is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The route, known at various times during its history as Elk’s Head Pass, the Skyway and Kootenay Pass, was first opened to public travel on Oct. 13 1963.

The highway means many things to different people. It’s an important link between the east and west Kootenays. It’s a convenient and faster alternative to the Kootenay Lake ferry. It’s the highest all-weather highway in Canada — and as such it represents everything from a wonderfully scenic drive to all the worst that winter can offer a driver.

The highway is access to some of the best snowmobiling in the country. It’s a route that often offers view of wildlife, including some endangered species. Depending on one’s age, it’s a childhood memory of sudden ease and speed of travel, or it’s just another highway over just another mountain.

When it was opened, the highway was momentously important. It was the last link in the southern provincial highway, and a much-needed alternative to the more northerly Trans-Canada Highway. It helped build important connections between the economies of communities in the east and west Kootenays. It led to the elimination of tolls on the Kootenay Lake ferry and on the big orange bridge in Nelson.

What does the Salmo-Creston mean to you?

The Creston Museum and the Community Arts Council of Creston invite you to share your memories and stories through art. Create an image — or many images — of the Salmo-Creston highway and present it at the Creston Art Show to be held at the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce during B.C.’s Arts and Culture Week, April 21-27.

Artwork entered in this section of the art show will have two awards, each of $250. One, the viewer’s choice award, will be determined by the votes of visitors to the art show. The second award is the celebration image award. The committee planning the Kootenay Pass 50th anniversary celebration will choose one image to use as the official image for the celebration — on everything from posters to T-shirts and maybe even a semi trailer. One piece of artwork could be selected for both awards or it could be two totally different pieces of artwork.

Images can be of any size and in any medium, including photography, mixed media or even three-dimensional media. The only requirement is that they represent the Salmo-Creston highway in some way. Artists may submit as many images as they wish by contacting Andrea Revoy at 250-402-3795 or The deadline for entries is April 19.


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