On either side of the canyon’s head great shelves of rock remain, any softer formation above having been washed away by the dammed up waters at flood time. Over these shelves the floodwaters have washed movable rocks to gradually wear them away. In spots where small rocks have stopped in a pocket they have been washed around and around gradually eating into the bedrock. The results are very interesting. In some spots mere cups in size and shape are formed. In others bathtub proportions are reached and in others it appears that some gigantic drill has been in action and has bored holes many feet deep and large enough that a man may disappear into them quite comfortably. In places the parent rock has broken off along a line of these drillings and in the half cylinder remaining tourists find a favorite background in which to have their pictures taken.
The canyon, which is twenty-one miles in length and has a fall of several hundred feet in that distance, has its greatest fall near its head. A continuous roar, rivaling Niagara in intensity, guides the tourist to its most turbulent part. This must be approached by a circuitous route as the banks which rise several hundred feet above the surface of the water are in many places cracked wide open. They are waiting only for another push from nature or the unwary foot of a hiker to send them hurtling into the seething waters below and so the brink may be approached safely in only a few places.
But what a sight bursts upon one’s view when after following the path indicated by the guide he comes in sight of the waters again. From the bank five hundred feet above he looks down at the waters below and sees row after row of shimmering white lines running from one bank to the other on the surface of the waters. The deafening roar make it necessary to shout to his neighbor who stands but a few feet away in order to be heard. From shouted information he learns that these white lines are leaping and foaming waters which rise from fifteen to twenty feet in the air when they encounter the rock ledges across their path.
The five hundred foot perpendicular bank opposite is of a reddish formation denoting the presence of iron but carries horizontal black streaks which on investigation prove to be coal seams. There are twenty-seven of these in number, eight of them being deep enough to be workable although they look mere pencil marks from the distance across the canyon. The trees which look like puny Christmas trees at the same distance are upwards of fifty feet in height.
Lying about seven miles from the canyon’s mouth is the famous Hudson Hope coal mine. This is an outcropping six-foot seam lying a few feet above water level on the north shore. As yet only a few hundred tons have been taken out but sufficient tests have been made to prove it one of the best quality deposits in the world. Lack of marketing facilities have made it impractical to further develop this mining project but some day a ready market will justify the faith of the pioneer miners in the venture. It is estimated that there is eighty-three million tons of coal above the river level on the lease of which this mine forms a part.
On the shelf of rock upon which this seam of coal rests may be seen tracks of one of the prehistoric monsters called the dinosaur. These tracks, which are similar to the tracks of a turkey or other three-toed bird, are some sixteen inches in length and about nine feet apart. They are sunk several feet into the rock as if the animal were of such gigantic size that its weight would sink it this distance into the solid rock.
From this point to its mouth the river, though dangerous, is navigable and boats have been known to traverse this distance.
At the mouth of the canyon and on its north shore has been built the little village of Hudson Hope. Built in a picturesque setting at the base of the foothills it is the connecting link between the agricultural country on the east and the vast undeveloped land of mountain and valley on the west. It is appropriately named as it lies at the beginning of the only water route across the mountains, a route for which Hudson and many other explorers searched in vain.
Just below the village lies “The Gates”. Here it appears as through nature had made a belated attempt to form a last line of defense against the rushing waters. At one time a rock barrier several hundred feet high crossed the river from bank to bank but the waters have cut through in several places forming a number of channels and leaving a small rocky island between each pair. Between these islands the water pours laughing or roaring, according to their varying moods, but onward — forever onward — toward the heaven of all waters in the sea.