Larry Herr is hoping to recruit an army of history buffs to stop the loss of a decades-old piece of B.C. history.
In early June, Herr discovered an entire wooden wagon buried in the riverbed near the Stave Falls powerhouse near the Maple Ridge-Mission border.
Water levels had been lowered to allow for repairs to the Ruskin Dam, revealing remnants of a townsite that had been buried and stilted-over when the dam was first constructed in the 1930s.
But now, he’s been told by B.C. Hydro to stop digging or possibly face a $5,000 fine.
Hydro employees indicated to Herr there were no plans to dig out the artifact. Instead, the area will likely be flooded again once dam repairs are complete.
“They’ll never get the chance again. Once they flood [the wagon] over, it’ll be covered by 15 feet of water,” Herr said, noting there could be even more artifacts waiting to be discovered.
“Say goodbye to a piece of history.”
Now, Herr is hoping other history buffs will rally behind him to “save the powerhouse wagon.”
Since Herr first spoke to The Province in early June, and each time he has visited the site since, he has met other people also interested in seeing the wagon and learning more about its history, he said.
“A lot of people said, ‘Let us know what happens’ or ‘Keep us posted’,” Herr explained. “But it might just get buried over and we won’t get to see it again. Not in our lifetime, anyway.”
While the father of two acknowledges B.C. Hydro was likely shooing him away from the site due to safety concerns, Herr is disappointed no action is being taken with the wagon.
He suggested the site could be a project for local university students studying archeology.
“It’s very sad because it’s a piece of history just sitting there,” Herr noted. “Now they’ve put up all these signs saying it’s dangerous and what not.”
The wagon is located about 30 metres downriver from the old Stave Falls generating station, which was decommissioned in 2000.
The $800-million upgrade to the Ruskin Dam – built in the 1930s to distribute power to the Lower Mainland – is expected to be completed in 2018.
The construction has lowered water levels in the Hayward Lake reservoir behind the dam. B.C. Hydro could not be reached for comment.
– Stephanie Ip is with The Province, and this story was supported by files from Ian Austin.