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

Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway through

Rogers Pass

By the end of the 1884 construction season track laying from the east

had reached Beaver River (now Beavermouth), 28 miles (45 km) down

river (north) of present-day Golden.

The Beaver River Valley

In the spring of 1885 construction through Rogers Pass commenced.

The track first had to ascend the Beaver River valley, high on the

northwest slope in order to reach the pass.

This necessitated the construction of spectacular bridges over a series

of deep gorges.  Following Mountain Creek, the line ran over Cedar

Creek, Raspberry Creek, Surprise Creek, Snow-Bank Creek,

Stoney Creek and, finally, Cascade Creek.

In addition to traversing the shortest route, Van Horne was

determined to build the railway by the least expensive and most rapid

means possible. Building tunnels, fills, and masonry bridging were too

time consuming. The absence of an iron works precluded iron

bridging. Instead Van Horne relied on the abundance of timber in the

region and had built, in some cases, massive wooden trestles.

Mountain Creek bridge was, at the time, one of the largest wooden

structures in the world. The bridge was 164 feet (53 m) high and 1,086

feet (354 m) long and contained over 2 million board feet (650,000 m)

of lumber.

Surprise Creek bridge consisted of three Howe trusses on high wooden

towers. The Howe truss is a rectangular trussed frame of wooden

diagonals and vertical iron tie rods. William Howe, a farmer turned

inventor, invented the bridge design which was a standard railway

bridge design in the 1800’s.

Stoney Creek bridge was a series of Howe truss spans totalling 453

feet (147 m) in length and supported by three timber towers.  The

central tower was an imposing 292 feet (95 m) high.

Rogers Pass Hazards

Rogers Pass was plagued by avalanches. Rogers Pass station was moved

five times before a location was secured which was relatively free

from avalanches. The second location was wiped out by an avalanche

on January 31, 1899 killing 8 people including the station operator, his

wife and their two children. Today avalanches in Rogers Pass are

controlled using Howitzer guns.

The Illecillewaet River Valley

Beyond Rogers Pass the line had to negotiate the rapid descent to the

Illecillewaet River valley floor. To achieve this track was laid in a

double loop along the base of three mountains, which, while it added

3 miles (5 km) to the length of the section, enabled the rails to be laid

along the valley clear of the most formidable slide areas. Four wooden

trestles needed to cross Loop Creek and the Illecillewaet River

together measured over a mile in length. The bottom of what became

known as "The Loop" ended in the valley of the Illecillewaet, from

whence it descended to Revelstoke.