Canadian Pacific Railway’s Mountain Subdivision: Field to Revelstoke

British Columbia, Canada in ~1887



September 2, 2016

February 7, 2017

The original Rogers Pass Station with Mount Carroll (Mount Macdonald) in the background circa 1887. An avalanche that came down off of Mount Tupper to the left (out of view) destroyed the station in 1889.

Source: Wiki Commons.

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Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the decade following its completion in 1885 is perhaps the most interesting period in the Canadian Pacific Railway’s history. The section through the Kicking Horse Pass in the Rocky Mountains and Rogers Pass in the Selkirks Range in British Columbia was the last section of the transcontinental main line to be completed. By the time of its construction the CPR was running out of money. So this section, in particular, was built quickly and inexpensively to get the railway into a revenue generation position as soon as possible. Blasting, tunnelling, cuts and fills were kept to a minimum. As steel was expensive and not readily available and masonry construction time consuming, the abundance of timber along the route was used instead for construction including trestles, some of them massive structures. Mountain Creek Bridge in the Beaver River valley, for example, 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 and Stoney Creek Bridge were equally impressive.

Mountain Creek Trestle.

Source: Photographed by Charles S. Bailey (Public Domain)


Click on the image to enlarge/reduce.

To represent this period in the CPR’s history I have chosen the year 1887 to model. The CPR recognized that the wooden trestles would deteriorate rapidly and in the decade following completion of the railway most, in particular the larger structures were replaced with steel and masonry structures. Stoney Creek Bridge, for example, was replaced in 1893 with a spectacular steel arch bridge, which has become perhaps the most famous bridge on the entire CPR line and is still in use today.

The year 1887 allows me to model the spectacular wooden trestles. However, I have taken license to the period in order to represent other aspects of the route in the late 1880s and 1890s. For example, many of the towns established along the route were construction town which didn’t last long after construction was complete. It was the practice to tear down the town site and move as soon as the railhead advanced. Other town sites were established as mining town. But, as richer mineral deposits were discovers to the south these too disappeared. It is difficult for me to ascertain just how long some of these town lasted so I have interpreted their existence loosely. Today most are just names on a map, if even that.

Conversion of the route from Trainz 12 to Trainz: A New Era (T:ANE) began in early 2016. As the conversion progresses I will update previous posts with pictures from my T:ANE interpretation of the late 1880s and early 1890s. I hope to also add some of the history I have had access to that supports my interpretation of the route in this era. In the near future (summer/fall of 2016) I hope to make available the T:ANE interpretation.

A model railroad is never complete. Thus, rather than wait for “completion”, I hope to first make available a version that is scenically complete and functional. Then, as time permits, I hope to add detail, by replacing “generic” assets from N3V’s Download Station (DLS) with more authentic looking Blender creations. Functionality will be enhanced by reskinning or creating locomotive and rolling stock and adding sessions. Rather than using portals, I would like to create a fixed roaster of locomotives and rolling stock that can be moved from place to place on the route, e.g., by using exist or creating sessions. To this end portals have been replaced by staging areas at either end of the route (i.e., east of the Kicking Horse Pass and west of Revelstoke).