Ottertail was likely established as a typical construction camp and likely lasted only a short time. As railway construction advanced, the camps were moved closer to the end of track. Tents, commissary, work equipment, horses and wagons, personal gear, engineering supplies and equipment, were all relocated. Construction advanced quickly. The section between the Kicking Horse Pass and Donald, on the Columbia River south of Golden, was built in one year, 1884. Donald to Craigellachie, west of Revelstoke, was completed the following year, 1885.


On my 1887 route I have tried to portray the camps (“towns”) as they might have looked if they maintained their presence into the late 1880s early 1890s.

Ottertail as it might have looked in the late 1880s.

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The bridge south of Ottertail over the Kicking Horse River was likely a Howe Through-Truss bridge similar to other through-truss bridges further down the valley. Some of these had wooden cribbing in the riverbed, which probably didn't stand up long against the spring ice jams.

Through Howe truss bridge south of Ottertail took the rail line  from the east bank of the river to the west.

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A tote road was built to haul in equipment and supplies and for construction of the rail line. It was likely improved over the years but wasn’t replaced with a highway until 1927.

Tote road crosses the Kicking Horse River beside the rail line.

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Historic Sites of Field.




September 9, 2016

September 9, 2016