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Never-before-seen photos of Hope Slide released on 55th anniversary

The largest landslide in Canadian history happened Jan. 9, 1965 here in B.C.

Fifty-five years after the largest landslide in Canadian history, the B.C. government is releasing never-before-seen photos of the catastrophic Hope Slide.

Early on Saturday, Jan. 9, 1965, a snow avalanche came down onto the Hope-Princeton Highway, just outside Hope in the Nicolum Valley. A lineup of motorists on the east side of the slide started to gather, waiting for crews to clear the debris. 

But at about 7 a.m., a massive rock slide occurred at the same location. Half of Johnson Peak collapsed and came crashing into the valley, filling it with more than 47 million cubic metres of rock, mud and debris. More than 500-feet deep in some locations, the slide completely displaced Outram Lake. A yellow convertible that had become stuck in the first slide, an oil tanker truck and loaded hay truck were also buried. Four people were killed. 

Bernie Beck, aged 27 of Penticton, was behind the wheel of the yellow convertible. His body was found alongside 38-year-old Thomas Starchuck in the cab of his hay truck. The bodies of Dennis Arlitt, 23, and his girlfriend Mary Kalmakoff, 21, were never found. They had been passengers in Beck's convertible, driving to Agassiz to visit Mary's sister, according to the Aldergrove Heritage Society.

After survivors and the bodies were removed from the slide, the Department of Highways worked around the clock to re-establish the highway connection. Within 13 days, a drivable route had been established over the slide. 

The complete set of newly released photos can be found here. Photos and descriptions in the gallery above are courtesy the B.C. Ministry of Transportation.

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