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

Reducing the hazards through Rogers Pass

The Canadian Pacific was not initially interested in building the most

economical road with low grades and slow curvatures, but in building

as quickly as possible. Thus the route through Rogers Pass clung to the

mountainside with steep grades. The eastern approach up the Beaver

Valley to Rogers Pass was an average 89 feet per mile. The descent to

the second crossing of the Columbia at Revelstoke was only slightly

less severe at 62 feet per mile.

In 1912-13 more than 6,100 trains passed over this section. To keep

this traffic moving, a large force of pusher engines, snowplows and

equipment shops were stationed in this section. It was one of the most

costly divisions from an operating point of view in the whole system.

In winter, despite miles of almost continuous snowsheds in Rogers

Pass, avalanches at times held up traffic for days. In 1910 a

slide off of Avalanche Mountain killed 62 men.

The Connaught Tunnel

The solution, the Connaught Tunnel, a five mile long tunnel through

Mt. MacDonald.

By 1913, the necessity for this tunnel was so great that the Canadian

Pacific, everything else being equal, favoured the party who could

guarantee completion of construction in the shortest time. The

partnership of Foley, Welch & Stewart won the bid.

To expedite construction Foley, Welch & Stewart proposed to bore a

small “pioneer” tunnel then making crosswalks to several locations of

the main. This allowed work to be started at many spots on the main

tunnel inside the mountain instead of the usual practice of the time of

drilling from one end.

Another novel idea was to use mechanical shovels run by compressed

air. These, along with the drills run on compressed air, required the

use of large boilers and exceptionally powerful pumps and


The tunnel openned in 1916. On July 18, 1916 a special train carried

the Duke of Connaught, the Governor-General of Canada, through the

tunnel. At a western portal ceremony he officially named the tunnel

the “Selkirk Tunnel.” However, later it was renamed

Connaught Tunnel” in his honour.