While the television news and the internet and every other possible means of communication now known to us moderns keep informing us daily of disasters far and wide, none of them seem to cause more than a passing interest in most of us.
Until, of course, one of those bad things happen right close to you.
Such is the story of the Hope Slide, a rumbling disaster that took place early in 1965.
It was early in the morning of January 9th, when 47 million cubic meters of rock crashed down the side of the Cascade Mountains in the Nicolum Valley, killing four people.
The Hope Slide was the largest landslide ever recorded to that point in Canada.
The town of Hope, B.C., is just east of Vancouver— and the slide is east of Hope, on a stretch of the Hope-Princeton Highway, below Johnson Peak. (Note: some now refer to that stretch of highway as The Crow's Nest Pass Highway)
The first news reports of the disaster were from CHWK Radio in Chilliwack ,where reporters sent voice reports to Broadcast News and Canadian Press. The slide buried a Chevrolet sedan with two occupants, another car and driver, and a tanker truck and its driver under a torrent of 47 million cubic meters of pulverized rock, mud, and debris 85 metres (279 ft) deep and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) wide.
Just before the big slide hit, a small avalanche had forced four people to stop their vehicles a few miles southeast of the town of Hope, British Columbia—150 kilometres (93 mi) east of Vancouver—on a stretch of the Hope-Princeton Highway below Johnson Peak. As those people contemplated waiting for clearing crews or turning around, a second slide occurred.
Two earthquakes were said to have been recorded in the general area of the slide. One quake occurred at 3:56 am and the second at 6:58 am. The slide that obliterated the mountain's southwestern slope was reported to have been discovered when members of the RCMP detachment at Hope B.C. were sent to look over "a couple of small rock slides".
To this day, the bodies of the Hope Slide victims remain entombed in their silent, stony graves.
And, don't forget, rocks hate you.
(Sources include the author's home reference library, on-line sites, personal memories and news accounts.)