John Marlor's Canadian Pacific

        Historical Background Choosing the Route Discovery of Rogers Pass Construction through      Rogers Pass Connaught Tunnel Revelstoke Eagle Pass Arrowhead Branch Continue

The Arrowhead Branch Line South from Revelstoke

In the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, the rugged West Kootenay District

of southern British Columbia was a remote, sparsely settled area. The

major routes into this vast land were from Revelstoke in the north,

where the Canadian Pacific Railway crossed the Columbia, and from

the south, up the Columbia and its tributaries from Washington State.

In between there were overland trails, but the distances were large

and the routes arduous and difficult.

Early Steamboat Traffic on the Arrow Lakes

Steamboats operating on the major lakes and rivers offered an easier

and more reliable alternative to packing overland, and this service

quickly developed.

During construction of the railway over Rogers Pass the railway

purchased and operated a small steam launch, the Alpha. The Alpha

was capable of navigating the Columbia River from Upper Arrow lake

to Farwell (later renamed Revelstoke).

However, the Columbia River was not always navigable, particularly in

later years when larger sternwheelers were built and operated on the

Arrow Lakes.

Construction of the Branch

In 1893, the Canadian Pacific constructed a branch line from

Revelstoke as far as Wigwam, a distance of 17 miles (27 km) to

facilitating steamer service between Revelstoke and Upper Arrow Lake

by bypassing shallow sections of the river. Three years later the line,

which became known as the Arrow Lakes Branch, was extended

another 8 miles (13 km) to Upper Arrow Lake, to eliminating the need

for the steamers to navigate up the river beyond the lake.

The Canadian Pacific was now able to provide year-round

transportation between the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline, and

the rich mining districts to the south. Docking facilities at Arrowhead,

the terminus at the northern end of Upper Arrow Lake, were used by

passengers embarking on sternwheelers which plied the Arrow Lakes.

Train cars were loaded directly onto barges for transport south to

branch lines at Nakusp on the eastern shore of Upper Arrow Lake and

Robson at the southern end of Lower Arrow Lake.