Columbia and Kootenay Railway

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The Columbia and Kootenay Railway was a historic railway in the interior of British Columbia between Nelson on Kootenay Lake and Robson at the confluence of the Kootenay River and the Columbia River near Castlegar operated as part of the Canadian Pacific Railway(CPR).

History pre-1900

The railway was chartered by a senior officer of the CPR and immediately leased for 999 years to the CPR. The CPR built the line to obtain mining traffic that was then being sent by boat along Kootenay Lake and south to the United States. By building along the 25-mile unnavigable Kootenay River between Kootenay Lake and the Columbia River, the CPR used steamers to connect with its mainline at Revelstoke up the Arrow Lakes and the Columbia River. In 1891, the first train travelled between Nelson and Robson.

Low water and ice on the Arrow Lakes made connecting route unreliable so in 1897, the CPR extended the railway up the Slocan Valley to Slocan City on the shore of Slocan Lake. Boats and barrages moved railway cars and goods to the north end of the lake which connected with its Nakusp and Slocan Railway which continued to Nakusp on the Arrow Lake much closer to its mainline at Revelstoke. This branch also provided a connection to the rich mining region around Sandon.

History post-1900

The section of railway was later connected both east (along Kootenay Lake) and west, (via the Columbia and Western Railway) to become part of the CPR's southern mainline through British Columbia. After numerous abandonments in the region, this section of railway is active as a branch line connected at Cranbrook and terminating in Trail. The branch up the Slocan Valley was abandoned in 1993 and has been converted into a multiuse trail.


Sanford, Barrie McCulloch's Wonder: The Story of the Kettle Valley Railway