On the Construction of the CPR During the Season of 1884

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This paper was published March 23, 1886 in the Minutes of Proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineering. This electronic version was created by Alan Macek by scanning, OCRing, formatting and proofreading a copy of the Minutes.

It describes the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884 from the summit of the Rocky Mountains to the mouth of the Beaver River on the Columbia River.

The paper was published on pages 100-117 of the 1886 Proceedings. It was accompanied by Plate 5, showing a plan and elevation of the route. After the paper, there was a discussion by other engineers, but unfortunately only the first page of this discussion is available.

On the Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (Rocky Mountain Division) During the Season of 1884

by Granville Carlyle Cuningham, M. Inst. C.E.

Page from original article

WHEN the work of constructing the western division of the Canadian Pacific Railway was suspended for the winter in December 1883, the rails had reached a point about 4 miles short of the summit of the Rocky Mountains. This point is 960 miles west of Winnipeg, and 120 miles west of Calgary, the last station on the plains, where the line enters the mountains by the Bow Pass. From here two possible routes are available for further progress westwards: one following the Bow Pass to its summit, and thence descending by the Howse Pass into the Columbia Valley; the other diverging from the Bow Pass, reaching the summit of the Rocky Mountains at the commencement of the Kicking Horse Pass, and following this, entering the Columbia Valley at a point about 12 miles to the south of the mouth of the Howse Pass. The first route presented comparatively easy grades and curvature, but crossed the summit at 1,000 feet greater altitude, thus bringing the line into much deeper snow in winter; and it was 30 miles longer than the second. The second route, though of a lower altitude and shorter distance, would entail very heavy work at the head of the Kicking Horse Pass, in order to maintain equally good gradients. After considering the problem, the Directorate decided to adopt the shorter route by the Kicking Horse Pass, and to use a steep gradient at its commencement, in order to temporarily avoid the heavy work that will be required on the permanent line, and thus to effect the connection with the railway on the Pacific coast by the autumn of 1885.

...page 101...


(Plate 5)

Portion of Plate 5

The route follows the valley of the Kicking Horse River, from its commencement near the summit of the Rocky Mountains, to its entrance into the valley of the Columbia River, a distance of about 45 miles. The Columbia Valley is from 6 to 8 miles wide, and is heavily timbered. It is the westerly limit of the Rocky Mountain range, which it divides from the Selkirk range. The general direction of the valley is north, for some 80 to 100 miles, when the river makes a bold sweep round the northern end of the Selkirks, at what is called "the Big Bend," and thence flows southwards, on the western side of the Selkirk range, to Oregon territory and the Pacific Ocean, The railway, entering the Columbia Valley at the point above mentioned, follows it northwards for a distance of about 30 miles, until the mouth of the Beaver River, flowing out of the Selkirks, is reached. Here the line turns west, ascends to the summit of the Selkirks by the Beaver Valley, and thence descends, by the valley and cañon of the Illecilli-waet, to the second crossing of the Columbia River. From the second crossing it ascends the Eagle Pass, through the Gold range, and passes by the valley of the Shoo-swap Lakes to Kamloops, to which point the rails from the Pacific coast have been laid. The distances, measured from the summit of the Rocky Mountains, and the altitudes above the sea, at various points along this route, are as follow:

Distance     Altitude    
Miles Feet
Summit of Rocky Mountains .. 5,296
Mouth of Kicking Horse Pass 44¼ 2,539
First crossing Columbia River 62 2,521
Mouth of Beaver River 73¾ 2,340
Summit of Selkirks 94½ 4,300
Second crossing Columbia River     139½ 1,600
Kamloops 270 ..
Port Moodie (tide water) 501 ..

Geological System

The geological system through which the line passes is the Lower Carboniferous. At the upper portion of the Kicking Horse Pass, hard crystalline limestone is found, in several instances of a quality so pure and homogeneous as to form marble of some commercial value. Lower down the pass, the shales of the system appear in every variety; sometimes dark hard slates, sometimes soft laminated clays.

...page 102...

With the exception of the hard limestone at the head of the Kicking Horse Pass, none of the rock, between that point and the mouth of the Beaver, is of quality good enough for building purposes. Generally the mountains rise directly from the valleys, at a very steep slope, without any intervening foot-hills, and continue with an even inclination to their summits, often from 5,000 to 6,000 feet above the valley. The lower half is covered with a comparatively thin layer of soil, resting on the smooth and slippery surface of the shale, and bearing a thick growth of timber and underbrush; the upper half is bare, affording, by its rugged surface, a gathering-place for the heavy snows that fall in winter. The consequence of this mountain-formation, combined with the friable and treacherous shale rock, is that "land-slides" are no unusual occurrence. The wash of a stream at the mountain's base wears away the clay bank, and the support for a large stretch of soil on the steep mountain-side being thus removed, a slide takes place, and acres of ground are left stripped of the covering soil and trees; while snow and ice, gathering on these steep mountainsides, are liable to descend in spring, or during a winter thaw, with great force, bringing down boulders and trees in their course.


The climate has much to do with the difficulties of railway construction in any country. In 1884, in the district under consideration, snow lay deep in the bush at the summit of the Rocky Mountains into the month of June. The Kicking Horse Lake, at the head of the pass, was not free from ice until the middle of the same month. Rain fell almost incessantly during July and August, which, combined with the melting snow on the mountaintops, kept the rivers and streams in high flood. On the 28th of September, 1884, a depth of 4 inches of snow fell in the valley at the summit, and by the middle of the following month the Kicking Horse Lake was again frozen over, to remain so throughout the winter. In the Columbia Valley, owing to its lower altitude, a better condition of things prevailed. The snow was all gone by the end of March, and did not again fall, to remain on the ground, until the middle of December. Between these extremes the climate varied with the altitude, between the Rocky Mountain summit and the mouth of the Beaver. In the winter of 1883-4, a register of the temperature was kept in the Columbia Valley at the mouth of the Kicking Horse River. On the 30th of December, 1883, the thermometer registered -40° Fahrenheit, and on the 9th and 10th

...page 103...

of February, 1884, a temperature of -38° was recorded. In the interval of time between these two lowest extremes, the average temperature was â -12°. During the winter of 1884-5, in the Columbia Valley, the temperature fell to -42° on the 24th of December, and from the 15th of the month up to that day the average was -26°. At the summit of the Rocky Mountains, during the same period, a temperature of -48° was registered. It will be easily understood, with such a low temperature as this, how much difficulty may be caused by ice piling in the rivers about bridge-piers; by springs that force their way out of the sides of cuttings, and freeze as soon as they begin to flow; and by accumulations of ice that form on the mountain-sides, until they fall by their own weight.

Natural Products

The natural products of the district lying between the Rocky Mountain summit and the mouth of the Beaver, capable of use in railway construction, are very few. Throughout the whole length, timber is to be had sufficient for ties (sleepers) and temporary bridges, trestles, and culverts. At the summit of the Rocky Mountains, on the margin of the Kicking Horse Lake, a steam sawmill was erected by the end of July, for cutting up the timber growing in the immediate neighbourhood into bridge- and trestle- timber. This timber is chiefly white spruce, unusually sound, and, though not of equal strength with the ordinary American pine, is admirably adapted to the purpose for which it is required; being obtainable easily, and in large quantities, it was of much value in expediting the work. Further down the pass, better and larger timber was got, and in the Columbia Valley fine specimens of the Douglas pine (Pina ponderosa) - a very hard and strong wood - were used in bridge- and culvert-building. Everything else that was required on the work had to be brought in from the East for very long distances. The thick growths of moss on the ground, produced at the summit, doubtless, by the continuous wet weather during the period of vegetation, prevented any growth of grass that might be used as fodder for horses or cattle; and the totally uninhabited state of the country was a sufficient reason for the absence of artificial grasses or cereals in the Columbia Valley, where they might grow if cultivated. The importation of food for horses and cattle, as well as for the men employed, was a serious undertaking, and one which necessarily added much labour to the work.

..page 104..

General System

The following brief description is necessary in order to understand the manner and the difficulties of carrying on the work. In the first place, it was necessary to construct a wagon-road along the general line of the intended route, so that contractors with their men, plant and material, might be placed on the work at Various points; and for bringing in provisions and necessaries. Hitherto the passes and valleys traversed by the surveyed line had been reached only by narrow trails, affording sufficient, though often dangerous, accommodation for pack-ponies, but inadequate to the requirements of railway work. The construction of this road was pushed on as rapidly as possible in advance of the work, in many places merely enough being done, in the way of clearing timber, to admit of the passage of wagons through the bush. Contractors were then brought in and established in their camps on the portions of the line allotted to them. The contracts varied in length from 1 mile to 4 or 5 miles, according to the nature of the work and the capacity of the contractor. As each portion was finished, the contractor was moved on further to the front; and in this manner a stretch of about 40 miles in advance of the end of the track was kept constantly in hand. As the grading progressed, track-laying was continued, and the end of the track steadily advanced. The company's main stores were established at Laggan, about 6 miles east of the summit of the Rocky Mountains. Here an ample stock was kept of everything that could be required by the contractors or their men; such as tents, tools, wagons, harness, provisions, clothing, hay, oats, &c. These were sent out by rail to the "End-of-track store," a movable store, maintained in cars, and advanced every few days as the track was laid. From this point the goods were conveyed by wagon to the various camps. The heavy traffic which the roughly constructed wagon-road had to bear, in carrying forward supplies for four thousand men and one thousand two hundred horses or mules, combined with the copious and continuous rains, so cut up the road, that at times, and in many places, it was almost impassable. A weight of 1,000 lbs. constituted a load for a pair of horses, while 12 to 15 miles was the extent of a day's journey. The difficulty in maintaining supplies in sufficient quantities over such a road was not small, and the attendant expense was very great. The cost of conveying stores to a point 40 miles beyond the end of the track was 8 cents. (4d.) per lb., and this, when applied, to hay and oats made horse-food an expensive item, The opening

..page 105..

out and construction of the road was begun at the summit in the middle of April, and by the latter part of the same month, contractors were set to work on the temporary line at time head of the Kicking Horse Pass.

Curves and Gradients

(Plate 5)

Up to the summit of the Rocky Mountains the curves amid gradients have been light ; the latter not exceeding 40 feet to the mile, except in one or two instances. From this point, however, the descent of the valleys and rivers to the west is so rapid, that it was necessary to adopt a heavier maximum gradient, in order that the line might be able, approximately at least, to follow the natural descent of the ground. The gradient fixed upon as a maximum is 2.2 feet per 100, or 116 feet to the mile, or 1 in 45.45. This gradient has been exceeded only in the instance of the temporary line, at the beginning of the Kicking Horse Pass. The descent in this pass, at its commencement, is very steep; the river falls 1,100 feet in 3½ miles, To follow such a descent the gradient would have been impracticable for a railway: while, on the other hand, with the 2.2 gradient the line would have been so high up on the mountain side, and so many miles of heavy and difficult side-hill work would have been required before it could reach the valley, that much delay would have been occasioned in the work further to the west. It was therefore decided to make the descent of the upper portion of the pass on a temporary line, with a gradient of 4.50 feet per 100, or 237 feet to the mile, or 1 in 22.22. The temporary line begins at a point about 4 miles west of the summit. At first there is ½ mile on a gradient of 3.50 per 100; this is followed by 3¼ miles of the 4.50 gradient, after which 3½ miles of the 2.2 gradient takes the line down to the base of the mountain and the flats of the river. This heavy gradient winds down the mountain side, with curves whose maximum deflection on 100-feet chord is 10° (573-feet radius). Though so unusually severe, the practical working has shown that a large traffic can be successfully carried over it. Details are given further on of the working of this gradient.

In every instance where curves occur in conjunction with the maximum gradient, the grade was equated for the curve so that the resistance to traction would not be greater on the curved than on the straight part of the line. The equation used was 0.3 of a foot rise per 100 feet for each degree of curvature; so that on a 10° curve, the rise per 100 feet was reduced 0.3 per foot. A rise

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of 0.3 per foot in 100 is a gradient of 1 in 333, which would develop a resistance to traction of 6.73 lbs. per ton; this, therefore, is the allowance given as the equivalent in resistance of a l0° curve (573-feet radius); and close observation on the heavy grade on the temporary line showed that this was very near the truth. The locomotive, when ascending with a full train, had a tendency rather to gain, than to lose, speed on the curves. It should be stated, however, that all cars and engines were mounted on bogies.


The cuttings are taken out to a width of 22 feet in the bottom, with a side-slope varying from to ¼ to 1½ to 1, according to tho nature of the material. The hardest rock encountered was that on the temporary line. It is a crystallized limestone. Owing to the impossibility of bringing machinery over such a road as has been described all drilling was done by hand. In the hardest of the rock two strikers and one holder could drill only 9 lineal feet in ten hours' work, the hole being 1½ inch in diameter. The amount usually accomplished in rock of average hardness was from 16 to 18 feet in that time. The explosive used was dynamite, generally of 75 per cent. strength, which was made at a factory erected by the company at the Kicking Horse Lake. The explosive was discharged sometimes by time-fuze, and sometimes by electricity. Lower down the valley, where shale rocks were encountered, the action of dynamite was found to be too quick, as its force was spent between the layers of the rock and through fissures, and better results were obtained from black powder. In some few instances, in rock-cuttings near the dynamite factory, pure nitro-glycerine was employed with good results; but the use of this was not permitted on other parts of the line, owing to great danger attending its transportation.

The width of the banks on the top is 14 feet. They were made, whenever practicable, from the excavation hauled out from the cuttings. But a considerable portion of the line, on the fiats of the Kicking Horse River, for example, and in the Columbia Valley, consists of a light bank, averaging 3 feet above the general level of the ground, formed by material collected with "scrapers' from the sides. *

Where the material has to be taken out of a cutting to form a bank at some little distance, wheel-scrapers are used. These are

  • Minutes of Proceedings Inst. C.E. vol. lxxvi. p.273.

...page 107...

large sheet-iron scoops of about ½ cubic yard capacity, mounted on wheels. By a simple arrangement of a crank upon the axle, worked by a hand-lever, the wheels can be raised, so that the body of the scraper drags on the broken-up soil, and fills by the traction of the horses. When full, a pressure of the lever again brings the wheels into action, and the load is run out and "dumped" in position. Wherever possible, ploughs were used to break up the material in the cuttings, so that it might be taken out by scrapers.

The following quantities were taken out on the different divisions of the line:-

From the summit of the Rocky Mountains to the mouth of the Kicking Horse River - 44 ½ miles: Solid rock, 256,834 cubic yards; loose rock, 115,371 cubic yards; earth, 988,255 cubic yards; hard pan, 136,457 cubic yards. Total, 1,496,917 cubic yards. This is exclusive of the excavation in tunnels: it gives an average quantity of 33,806 cubic yards per mile.

From the mouth of the Kicking Horse to the first crossing of the Columbia River - 17 ½ miles: Solid rock, 646 cubic yards; loose rock, 1,011 cubic yards ; earth, 341,336 cubic yards; hard pan, 18,990 cubic yards. Total, 361,983 cubic yards. The average quantity on this division is 20,393 cubic yards per mile.

On the succeeding 11 miles from the First Crossing to the mouth of the Beaver, the average quantity was 27,500 cubic yards per mile.


On the length of line constructed - 73¾ miles - there are seven tunnels. Their positions, length, and general nature, are as follow:

Distance from Summit.    Length. Remarks.
Miles       Feet      
No.1   8 130 On temporary line; solid rock.
No.2 33¾ 470 Clay; timber lined.
No.3 40 337 Rock.
No.4 40½ 298 Rock.
No.5 42½ 360 Part rock and part soft; timber lined for 200 feet.
No.6 63½   97 Rock; part lined.
No.7 67¼ 460 Gravel and rock; part lined.
Total   2,152

The general section adopted for tunnels is 22 feet in height, by 16 feet wide. This gives about 12 cubic yards of material per

...page 108...

lineal foot. The great height, as compared with European tunnels, is necessary in order to meet the requirements of the Canadian Railway Act, which specifies that every permanent structure spanning a railway line, shall be of such height as to give a clear space of 7 feet between the lowest part overhead, and the top of a box freight-ear; so that brakemen may not be endangered when on the roof of a car, in the execution of their duty.

Tunnel No. 1 is situated immediately at the foot of the 4.50 per cent. grade, on the temporary line. The material is hard crystalline limestone, much fissured and broken. The progress was 6½ feet per week at each face. Gangs were kept at work night and day. All drilling was done by hand, and the explosive used was dynamite.

Tunnel No. 2 is through a lofty spur, composed of blue clay, hard packed gravel, and boulder-drift. The blue-clay seam at the eastern mouth of the tunnel is about 20 feet in thickness, resting upon fine sand, and supporting an overlying mass of boulder-drift, having fine veins of sand interspersed. It would scarcely be possible to find material more treacherous than this. Streams and springs from the mountain slope make their way down through the soil, and working out in the veins of sand, and between the boulder-drift and the blue clay, cause deep excavations, which result in sudden and disastrous "slides." Work was begun early in June, and on the 23rd of July a heavy "slide" took place at the eastern breast of the tunnel, tearing away about 30 lineal feet of the timber lining, and bringing down about 15,000 cubic yards of material, which completely blocked the mouth, entailing a long delay. Again, in the beginning of October, when the piercing of the hill was completed, and the track about to be laid through, a second "slide" at the same end of the tunnel, brought down about 9,000 cubic yards.

Throughout its whole length, this tunnel is lined with timber, Each section of the frame of the lining consists of two upright posts 14 feet in height, 12 inches square in cross section, standing on a transverse sill, and supporting a longitudinal cap: from this cap spring two inclined pieces, straining against a central straining-piece in the roof of the tunnel 7 feet in length. These sections of the frame were put in at 3 feet apart from centre to centre. At the back timber-lagging was closely packed in, 6 inches square, in lengths of 3 feet. The quantity of timber used in the lining was 780 feet board measure per lineal foot. The timber was all obtained from the bush in the immediate

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neighbourhood, and was hewn with the axe to the proper dimensions.

When the tunnel was opened through, it was found that the action of the air on the blue clay at the eastern end caused it to swell, and the tremendous pressure thus exerted crushed the timbers of the lining in the roof. The track was laid through the tunnel on the 20th of October, 1884. All the work in connection with the piercing and lining was done by Messrs. Corry Bros., of Wisconsin. This tunnel is on a 9° curve (636 feet radius).

Tunnels No. 3 and 4 are pierced through slate shale. Work was begun in July and finished in September. Messrs. Muir Bros., of St. Paul, Minnesota, were the contractors. The following are the particulars of the work:-

Average progress at every face in twenty-four hours, working eleven-hour shifts, 3 feet 3 inches; average depth of hole drilled (all by hand) in heading, 3 feet 6 inches; diameter of hole, 1½ inch; average quantity of material moved per man employed in twenty-four hours, 1.625 cubic yard. Each shift at each face consisted of one foreman, nine drill-men, one dump-man, two drivers, and eleven shovellers.

The fifth tunnel is pierced partly through gravel and partly through shale rock; that part which is through gravel is timber- lined, in the same manner as tunnel No. 2. The sixth tunnel is only 97 feet long, and timber-lined for 30 feet. The seventh tunnel is on a 10° curve (573 feet radius); is 460 feet in length, and is timber-lined for 150 feet. The material through which it is pierced is partly gravel and partly hard shale rock. Work was begun on it at the end of July, and it was finished in time for the track to be laid through it in the middle of December.


As might be expected on a line traversing deep valleys and ravines, the amount of bridging constructed is extensive. There are nine crossings of the Kicking Horse River, six of these crossing within a distance of 12 miles. Such a fact as this gives most concisely an idea of the winding and difficult nature of the pass through which the line is carried. There is one crossing of the Columbia River,* and numerous crossings of smaller rivers and streams.

All the bridges and trestles constructed during the season

  • Minutes of Proceedings Inst. C.E. vol. lxxxii. p.345.

...page 110...

were of wood. Most of the timber was obtained in the district, the main-posts, caps, sills, and such pieces being hewn on the spot; while the floor-timbers, deck-material, and lighter pieces, were sawn at the mill on the Kicking Horse Lake. The heavy chord- sticks, principal truss-members, and track-stringers, were of sawn white pine imported from the east, as was also the oak used in trusses. One general design was employed for trestles: the openings were of the uniform width of 15 feet from centre to centre. Piles, usually four, were driven in a row at the position of each "bent." When the rail-level was not more than 8 to 10 feet above the ground, these piles were cut off at from 5 to 7 feet, and a cap, consisting of a timber of 12 inches cross-section by 14 feet long was drift-bolted on to the top of them. From cap to cap the rail-stringers, consisting of pieces 9 inches by 15 inches by 16 feet long, or 6 inches by 15 inches by 16 feet long, spanned the intervening space of 14 feet. The stringers were placed so that their ends lapped past on the caps. For one span, three 6 inches by 15 inches pieces were placed under each rail; for the next span, two 9 inches by 15 inches pieces, and so on alternately. In this way a good bearing was obtained on the cap, the stringers were in the best position to support the rail, while in each span there was the same amount of timber. At the outer ends of the caps, additional 6 inches by 15 inches stringers supported the ends of the floor-timbers. These latter were 6 inches by 8 inches by 14 feet, and were placed transversely on the stringers at 15 inches from centre to centre. To these the rail was spiked. When the height of the rail-level above the ground exceeded 10 feet, or thereabouts, a "trestle-bent" was put in to support the cap. The piles were then cut off at the level of the ground, and a sill 12 inches square in section was drift-bolted down to them; on this sill were erected two vertical and two battering posts 12 inches square, and of the necessary height supporting the cap; at the meeting place of the posts with the cap, or sill, the junction was made secure by a mortise and tenon-joint, and the posts were further secured by cross-bracing of 3-inch plank. When the height of the trestle exceeded 35 feet, an intermediate sill was inserted, carrying a fresh set of vertical and battering posts, and thus the structure was carried up by "lifts" or storeys of 20-feet height each, to the required altitude. In the instance of the trestle crossing the Otter Tail Creek, this altitude exceeded 100 feet above the ground.

The general system of building trestles and bridges was as follows:- After the ground had been cleared of trees and prostrate

...page 111...

timber, the piles were driven in position by the pile-driving gang. The main-timbers, such as sills, posts and caps, were hewn in the immediate neighbourhood, framed and erected ready to receive the track-stringers. When the track, as it was being laid, arrived at such a structure, a car, laden with the requisite number of stringers and floor-timbers, was run forward to the extremity of the rails, unloaded, and the pieces placed in position by a gang of bridge- men. This generally involved some delay to track-laying, but by proper organization and promptness the delay was small. It could usually be arranged that any large structure could be completed by the bridge-men at night. It was impossible to transport heavy bridge-timbers by wagon over the wagon-road, as had been done on the prairie sections of the line.

The Howe truss, in spans varying from 100 to 150 feet, was chiefly used. The lower six crossings of the Kicking Horse River are from 200 to 300 feet in width, requiring two trussed spans. What has been said in regard to the impossibility of bringing forward heavy timbers by wagon for trestles, applies with greater force to the long chord-timbers, iron rods and castings needed for trusses. To obviate the delay to track-laying, which would have occurred had the truss material been run forward to the end of the track at each bridge, the truss erected, and the track then laid across, it was deemed expedient to bridge the river by temporary pile-structures at the various points, and to erect the trusses at greater leisure, after the material had been brought forward by the train, and the track-laying passed on. This plan was adopted for all the main bridges, except the second crossing of the Kicking Horse River, and the crossing of the Otter Tail Creek. The former is of 150 feet span, and crosses a chasm in the upper part of the valley 75 feet in depth; while the latter is of 100 feet span in the centre of a 500-feet length of trestle, and is 112 feet above water-level. In those places it was unadvisable to put in temporary work, and the permanent trusses were therefore erected in the first instance.

The piers carrying these trusses were formed of timber crib-work filled with stone. The greatest depth of the water, in the ordinary state of the Kicking Horse River, was not more than 6 feet where the piers were placed. The depth in the Columbia River was 15 feet. The total length of bridging and trestle-work from the summit to the first crossing of the Columbia River (62 miles) is 8,039 lineal feet.

The piles were selected from trees growing in the neighbourhood, and were required to be not less than 8 inches in diameter at the

...page 112...

small end, and 12 inches in diameter at the butt when sawn off. They were driven under a hammer weighing 2,000 lbs., and the driving was continued until there was not more than ½-inch penetration under a blow of this weight falling 25 feet. Five pile- drivers were at work during the latter part of the season. Including the delay of moving and setting up the machine, which is always considerable, the average work for each driver was ten to fifteen piles per day, in structures having about forty piles, driven an average depth of 10 feet into the ground.


A single line of track has been laid. The rail is steel, of the Sandberg pattern, with angle-plate joints, and secured to the ties (sleepers) by spikes. The weight of rail to a point 3½ miles west of the summit of the Rocky Mountains is 60 lbs. to the yard. From here through the Kicking Horse Valley, for a distance of 41 miles, the gradient and curves being severe, a rail of 70 lbs. to the yard was laid. In the Columbia Valley, to the crossing of the river (18 miles), the 60-lb. rail was adopted, and from this point on to the mouth of the Beaver (12 miles), through the Columbia Cañon the 70-lb. rail. The angle-plate connection, which has recently been adopted in Canada and the United States in preference to the old fish-plate joint, makes a very rigid and perfect track. The weight of the angle-plate joint is rather more than double that of the fish-plate, being 5.66 tons per mile with 30-feet rails, as compared with 2.51 tons. Ties were laid at the rate of three thousand to the mile, or 1 foot 9 inches from centre to centre. They were 8 feet long, 6 inches thick, and not less than 6 inches in the face, hewn on two sides. They were made from timber growing in the mountains, chiefly spruce and jack-pine.

Track-laying was begun in June, but was carried on slowly, pending the construction of the temporary line, on the heavy grade, at the head of the Kicking horse Pass. By the 18th of June it had reached only to the first tunnel, 8 miles west of the summit. From this point, however, it was continued more evenly and steadily. The Columbia Valley was entered on the 10th of November, the Columbia River crossed on the 1st of December, and the mouth of the Beaver, at the end of the Columbia Cañon, was reached on the 26th of the same month. Here the work was suspended for the season. The distance from the summit is 73¾miles, and the total distance track was laid, 75¾ miles.

...page 113...

The work was done by a gang averaging ninety men, They were carried along in a train of cars, fitted up with sleeping and boarding accommodation, so that they were always close to their work, since the train was kept at the end of the track. As the rails for laying were run to the front, they were unloaded immediately to the rear of the boarding-train, this train was pulled back, and the fresh rails, with the requisite ties, were placed on light push- cars, and hauled forward by horses to the last pair of rails in position. From this the ties necessary for a length of rails were laid out, a pair of rails was placed in position, and the car run forward, the same operation being repeated for the next pair of rails. Men coming behind put on the angle-plates, and spiked the rails to the ties. The greatest length of track laid in one day was 1.4 mile. This "record" is very small as compared with the work done on the prairie in the summer of 1883, when 6.3 miles of track were laid in one day; but on the mountain division it was impossible to obtain the same assistance from teams, conveying material to the front alongside the track, as had been given on the prairie section, and all the work of laying had to be carried on from the cars.

Dynamite Factory.

A dynamite factory was erected on the bank of the Kicking horse Lake for manufacturing the explosives used on the work, so as to get rid of the danger attendant upon their transportation from long distances east by rail. The acid and glycerine were brought by train to the factory, which was immediately alongside the track. In the first instance, charcoal, made from the trees in the neighbourhood, was used as the absorbent; but its absorbing powers were not sufficient for the high grade of powder, while the charcoal-gas evolved on explosion rendered the air in tunnels very bad, and delayed the men at work. Latterly recourse was had to wood-pulp, brought from the east. Necessarily a much larger quantity, by weight, of raw material was brought in than would have been the case had the manufactured article been purchased from some eastern factory; but the risk of carrying large quantities of high per cent. dynamite 1,500 or 2,000 miles by rail, as well as the high rate of freight exacted by railway companies for its conveyance, more than counterbalanced the freight charges on the additional weight of raw material.

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The quantities entering into the composition of 100 lbs. of dynamite of 75 per cent. strength, are as follow :-

Raw Material. Dynamite.
    Lbs.    Lbs.
 37½ glycerine  75 nitro-glycerine
300 nitric and sulphuric acid    
 25 wood-pulp  25 wood-pulp
362½ 100

It will thus be seen that the weight of the raw material is more than three and a half times that of the manufactured article. More than 90 tons of dynamite were made at this factory during the season, and forwarded by rail and wagon where required, without accident. The factory has now been moved from the Kicking Horse Lake, and re-erected in the Columbia Valley.

As a gradient of 1 in 22 with sharp curves on the 4 feet 8½ inches gauge is not common, some particulars in regard to its working may not be without interest. The locomotives were without any special adaptation to such a grade, being the ordinary engines of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. They are mostly built at the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, and had two pairs of driving-wheels coupled, the weight on the drivers being about 26 tons, and the total weight of the engine 33 tons; the weight of the tender was 15 tons. Some were fitted with the Westinghouse brake, while others had only hand-brakes. Where the steam-brake was attached, it was used only on the tender, and was not applied to the cars. The diameter of the driving-wheels varied from 4 feet 8 inches to 5 feet. Two such engines were always worked together, both in descending and in ascending the gradient, one at the head of the train, the other at the rear. The train in descending usually consisted of from twelve to fourteen loaded cars, averaging 26 tons gross weight each; the ascending train consisted of from eight to twelve empty cars, averaging 10 tons weight each. The speed during the descent never exceeded 4 miles an hour, while in the ascent, with the rail in good dry condition and a moderate train, it was often at the rate of 6 to 8 miles an hour on the steep part of the grade. It was necessary to descend slowly, because if the train attained a speed much greater than 6 miles per hour, there was considerable danger of its getting out of control. Two "runaways" took place, while track was being laid, which demonstrated the necessity for care and extreme watchfulness. Since, however, the line has been used for bringing forward the company's supplies and material, a

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large quantity of freight, embracing provisions, supplies, rails, timber and dynamite, has been brought down this grade in safety. In the two months of October and November 1884, sixteen hundred and twenty-two loaded ears were taken down the grade, and fifteen hundred empties brought up; and this by four ordinary light locomotives, such as are in use in other parts of the line.

It is the intention of the company to use large and powerful consolidated engines on this part of the road, during the construction of the railway to the west. Two such engines have been built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and in January (1885) one of them was tried and tested on the grade, with very satisfactory results. This single engine took up a train of twelve ears, weighing 280,850 lbs. at a speed of 4½ miles per hour. It has four pairs of 4-feet driving-wheels coupled; the cylinders are 20 inches by 26 inches; the steam-pressure in the boiler is 150 lbs. per square inch. Two trials were made, the first on the 20th of January, the second on the 28th. The first trial was with the engine burning wood, when difficulty was experienced in keeping up steam. The second was carried out with coal as the fuel, and as maintenance of steam was then perfect, the results of that test are given:-

Test of Consolidated Engine on 4½ per cent. Grade (1 in 22.2) in the Kicking Horse Pass on the 28th of January, 1885
Thermometer, 25° Fahrenheit. Rail clean and dry.
Weight of engine on drivers 102,000
Weight of engine on front truck 14,000
Weight of tender when full 50,000
    Total weight of engine and tender 166,000
Weight of train (twelve cars) 280,850
    Total weight of engine and train 446,850
Length of grade 17,000

Time of ascent, forty-five minutes. Speed, 4.29 miles per hour. Steam- pressure at foot of grade, 126 lbs. per square inch; do. at head, 140 lbs. Consumption of coal, 2,676 lbs.; do. of water, 1,498 gallons; consumption of water per minute, 33½ gallons. Fuel consumed per gross ton moved 1 mile, 4.16 lbs. Resistance on grade per ton, 110 lbs. Total resistance of locomotive and train, 21,941 lbs. Equivalent in foot-lbs. in ascending grade, 372,997,000. Foot-pounds per 1 lb. of coal consumed, 139,386.

The adhesion developed in the engine was two-ninths of its weight on the driving-wheels. The coal used was not of the best quality, 1 lb. evaporated only 0.56 gallon of water.

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There are several 10° curves (573-feet radius) of short length on the grade, but the grade is equated for the curves, and the resistance on them was no greater than on the straight parts. In descending the working of the engine was very satisfactory, and no difficulty was experienced in controlling a train of fourteen loaded cars when moving at 8 miles an hour. The engine is fitted with the Westinghouse steam-brake, which is applied to the driving-wheels and the wheels of the tender. With two engines such as this a large traffic can be successfully worked on this gradient.

A telegraph line has been constructed along the route of the railway.

The uniform rate of wages paid for common labour was $2 (8s.) per day of ten hours, and the men were charged $5 (£1) per week for board.

On a work such as has been described, carried on in an entirely undeveloped and uninhabited country, and at a distance of some 200 miles from any of the established institutions of civilized man, it was necessary to make provision for the wants and needs of the contractors and labourers in every respect. A bi-weekly mail service, by means of pony couriers, was established along the whole length of the route on which contractors' camps were placed, and beyond to the outlying camps of the surveying parties. This mail service was independent of the Government postal service, which did not extend beyond the end of the track-store. At this point the Government post-office was maintained in a car fitted up for the purpose, and which was moved on from time to time as track-laying progressed.

An efficient staff of doctors was maintained, and hospitals for the treatment of the sick and injured were erected at convenient points. All men employed were charged 75 cents. (3s.) each per month as medical dues, and for this all medicines, doctor's attendance, and hospital treatment, were given free of further charge.

A detachment of the North-West Mounted Police, numbering twenty-five men, was told off for duty along the line of railway, and this small body of men, under the command of Captain S. B. Steel, was successful in maintaining law and order among the heterogeneous population, in which were representives of almost every European nation, numbering over six thousand labourers and camp followers.

The work of construction has been carried on during the winter, and at the present time (February 1885) contractors are spread over the route, from the end of track to the second crossing of the

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Columbia River, a distance of 65 miles. It is confidently expected that the junction with the rails from the Pacific Coast will be effected by November.

The whole of the works, as well as the preliminary and final surveys, have been carried on under the direction of Mr. James Ross, the Chief Engineer and Manager of Construction.

The Paper is accompanied by a small scale-map and profile, showing that portion of the line which was completed in 1884, from which Plate 5 has been prepared.

Since the foregoing Paper was written, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway has been completed. On the 7th of November, 1885, the last rails were laid, and connection was effected with the track from the Pacific Coast at a place about 30 miles west of the second crossing of the Columbia River. During the season of 1885 the work was pushed eastwards from Kamloops to meet that being carried westwards across and beyond the Selkirk range. Thus in a period of barely eighteen months the line has been constructed from the summit of the Rocky Mountains to Kamloops, a distance of 270 miles, through a most rugged and difficult country, where, before the advent of the railway, there were no other means of communication than those afforded by a rough pack trail.

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Mr. W. SHELFORD observed that last year he had occasion to travel across Canada and British Columbia, returning by the United States, and he had paid considerable attention to the American system of railway construction. He had met Mr. Cuningham, and had, as the result of that meeting, become a sort of sponsor for his Paper, Mr. Cuningham himself being at the present time snowed up in the Selkirk Mountains, British Columbia. The works upon the Rocky Mountain section of the Canadian Pacific Railway were tolerably familiar to Mr. Shelford, and he could bear out all that Mr. Cuningham had said with regard to them. But since the Paper was written, the line had been extended farther west through a more difficult country, where the works were of a more important character, including one work which might be said to be the highest timber structure in the world - a viaduct over a place called Stoney Creek. which had a centre pier 280 feet high, upon which were truss girders 30 feet deep, making a total height of 310 feet. It was admirable in design and in execution, The rapidity with which that and similar works had been constructed was remarkable. Close by there was a trestle viaduct, with a span in the middle of 150 feet. It was 1,100 feet in length and 156 feet high, and in three months from the time of getting the first timber for it in the forest adjoining the first train passed over it. He had brought photographs of some of the works for the inspection of members. Among them was one bridge mentioned by Mr. Cuningham on the length described in his Paper - trestle viaduct over the Otter Tail Creek, upwards of 100 feet high. With regard to track-laying, Mr Bell had read a short Paper describing the track-laying on the Canadian Pacific Railway,* Mr. Cuningham had described the track-laying upon the division under his charge, but he had omitted what appeared to be the key to the position. The rails were brought up by a train as near as possible to the end of the track, each car in the train being loaded with a certain quantity of rails and a corresponding quantity of fastenings. The cars were unloaded by hand by the side of the track, and then the train was brought back. There was only a single track to work upon, and there were two or four trolleys (depending on the speed at which the operation was carried forward), which were worked

  • Minutes of Proceedings Inst. C.E. vol. lxxi. p383.

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