One of the conditions for British Columbia to join the Canadian Confederation was that Canada would connect the new province to the rest of the country by railway. Early in the negotiations a route for the railway was surveyed. The best route through the Rocky Mountains was determined
The first part of the newly chosen route leaving the prairies included going through the Kicking Horse Pass. But, that was all of the planning that had been done. As the railway progressed across the prairies toward the mountain the CPR was getting desperate to find a route through the Selkirk Mountains. Major A. B. Rogers was hired in April 1881 by the CPR to find the route through a pass in the Selkirks. He was promised that the pass would be named after him and he would receive a bonus of $5,000 if he would find a way to get through the mountians. Rogers' survey party started out from what is now Revelstoke and went up the Illecillewaet River. It took them two summers, but in 1882, he discovered that the longed for pass really did exist. He was presented with a cheque for $5,000 and the pass is truly named after him.
The trains first went through the pass in winter in 1886. The heavy snows of the pass that winter were taken as a warning sign by the CPR. The first defense was to build wooden snow sheds along the route. However, dried wood in the summers receiving a shower of sparks from passing steam locomotives proved them to be a fire hazard. It wasn't until 62 men were killed in one avalanche while clearing snow from another avalanche in 1910 that the CPR decided to construct a tunnel through the mountain. The construction of an eight-kilometer tunnel under Rogers Pass and through Mount MacDonald was begun in 1912. The Connaught Railroad Tunnel opened in 1916.
It currently sits in what is known as Glacier National Park and can be reached using the Trans-Canada Highway.