Thursday, June 20, 2013

Perserving Transportatoin History in the Township

Whether it is the current challenges or a recollection of the past, it seems that people in Langley are very passionate about the topic of transportation. When it comes to Langley’s early transportation network, the Township of Langley's Heritage Advisory Committee is interesting in preserving pieces of those early systems that still exist in the community today.

In the latest Township of Langley Heritage Advisory Committee agenda, the committee received an article on the Coghlan Substation which is one of the two remaining B.C. Electric Interurban Substations. These substations seem out of place within their rural environment. When I first saw the substation at the corner of Vye Road and Powerhouse Road in Abbotsford, I had to take a closer look because of its unique architecture. The following video is of that site.

The Coghlan Substation, located near 68th Avenue and 256th Street, according to the article by Jessica Blesch was designed in the renaissance revival style. More thought was put into its design as not only was it a substation to provide power to the Interurban system, but it was also the home of the station operator and his family. The substation also severed as a community gathering point back in the early days of Langley. Bill Underhill, who was a chief engineer for B.C. Electric at that time, built tennis courts at the substation according to Blesch as a testament to the important role the station played in community life.

The article also contains information about the interurban system that once ran from Vancouver to Chilliwack. The article is part of the website vancouvertraces which hosts other articles with nuggets of history about our region.

The Coghlan Substation. Photograph by Jessica Blesch.

The Coghlan Substation was added to the Township's Historic Sites Inventory in 1993. The substation is in need of maintenance and is deteriorating.

The next piece of transportation history is Old Yale Road between the five corners intersection at 216 Street, to the Langley Bypass and Fraser Highway.

Concrete section of Old Yale Road in Murrayville

The route dates back to the 1870’s. This section of road was first gravelled in 1897, and in 1922 was upgraded to a hard surface with concrete segments that are still in place today. The road is in need of repair and the Heritage Advisory Committee has asked Township Council to commission a study to see what should be done to preserve the historic corridor including the possible restoration of the concrete surface and an exploration to see if the road can be enhanced through integration with the Township’s pedestrian paths and trails network.

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