This week we are going to Canada. The title on the post card says, “C.P.R. Passenger Train, Canadian Rockies”.
In order to convince British Columbia that being a part of the newly formed Canada was a great idea, the politicians promised the citizens of British Columbia that a railroad would be built across the continent to connect them to the rest of Canada within 10 years if they joined. They voted to become the 6th province of Canada on July 20, 1871. On November 7, 1885, the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven at Craigellachie, British Columbia. It was a little late, but the promise was fulfilled.
Part of the reason the train tracks were finished by 1881 is to be found in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. Kicking Horse Pass was the best the surveyors could find in which to lay tracks through the Rockies at a latitude close enough to the American border that they could send a message to the Americans that Canada is not for annexation.
The following paragraph is from the website:
The steep grade in Kicking Horse Pass posed a serious challenge. Under government pressure to complete the railway, and given the engineering challenges that came along with the geography, Canadian Pacific was not in a position to carve a gradual descent. A solution was reached, which temporarily allowed a grade of 4.5%. The first train to attempt the hill in 1884 derailed, tragically killing three workers. In an effort to improve safety, three spur lines were created to divert such runaway trains on what became known as the “Big Hill”. Switches were left set for the spurs and were not reset to the main line until switchmen knew the oncoming train was in control. Descending the Big Hill was challenging, but uphill trains had their problems too. Extra locomotives were needed to push the trains up the hill, causing delays and requiring extra workers. Although the mountains were a complication for CP, they were an inspiration to the many tourists who started to arrive by train. In an effort to preserve the landscape and encourage tourism, CP prompted the creation of Mount Stephen Dominion Reserve in 1886. The park was renamed Yoho in 1901.