PEDERSEN, Eileen Truant




Author Tags: Local History

There’s more to Trail than the 1961 World Champion Smoke Eaters hockey team.

Paris has its Eiffel Tower. Granada has its Alhambra. Trail boasts hundreds of rock walls and stairways constructed by mostly immigrant stonemasons between the 1920s and ’60s.

As more workers at the Trail smelter began building their homes on steep slopes, the city hired men to make stone retaining walls, often without mortar, and constructed a network of intricate stone stairs for access to the commercial district. Dubbed “a giant game of snakes and ladders,” these unusual stairways are covered by red metal roofs to prevent snow from clogging them in winter.

With the backing of the the Rock Wall Project Entusiastico Society, Eileen Truant Pedersen has fashioned a lavish, full-colour celebration of practical artistry in Set in Stone: A History of Trail's Rock Walls (Lookout Mountain Productions $75). Six years in the making, with 450 photos, this tribute to engineering ingenuity and hard labour, designed by Miriam MacPhail, received an honourable mention in the 2008 Lieutenant Governor’s writing competition.

In addition to 15 stonemasons profiled, Pedersen provides 70 shorter stories about smelter workers, relief camp workers, equipment operators and quarry workers. A neighborhood-by-neighborhood inventory outlines ten walking/climbing tours between one and two miles in length. It all fits together, like stonework. The main font used in the text is Stone.

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