Nakusp and Slocan Railway

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The Nakusp and Slocan Railway (N&S) was a railway between Nakusp, New Denver, British Columbia and Sandon, British Columbia in the Kootenay region of British Columbia. The railway connected with boats on Arrow Lakes at Nakusp (which connected with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) mainline at Revelstoke) and Slocan Lake at Rosebary (which connected with the CPR's Columbia and Kootenay Railway (C&K) at Slocan City). The line was extended to Kaslo with the purchase of the Kaslo and Slocan Railway in 1912. The railway has been abandoned.


The original route started at a boat slip on the Arrow Lakes near Nakusp. The railway climbed steeply up to the pass and Summit Lake and descended to Slocan Lake at Hills. The railway followed the lake's eastern shore to Rosebery where another boat slip and yard was constructed. Further along the lake shore, the railway started climbing just before New Denver and worked its way up the steep Carpenter Creek to Three Forks. The line was extended in 1895 using a steep 4.5% grade to Sandon. The line totalled 65 km in length.


The railway route was built during the mining boom in the Kootenays during the 1890s. A major silver find on Payne Mountain immediately grew into the city of Sandon (now a ghost town) and the CPR wanted to connect the region with their mainline. The Great Northern Railway, its big competitor in the region was backing the Kaslo and Slocan Railway(K&S) that was building a narrow gauge railway from Kaslo on Kootenay Lake west to Sandon.

The railway got its charter from the provincial government in 1892 and was immediately leased by the CPR. By October, 1894, the railway had been completed from Nakusp, along Slocan Lake and up the valley to Three Forks. When the K&S connected to Sandon in 1895, which was growing into the bigger community in the area, the CPR decided to extend the line to Sandon by a 7 km extension.

The N&S and the K&S were aggressively competitive for the ore produced by the mines in the area. At one point, K&S demolished the CPR depot after it was built on contested land. In 1912, with the mining slowing down, the CPR bought K&S and built a new line up Carpenter Creek to the pass and a connection with the grade of the K&S. The narrow gauge K&S was rebuilt to standard gauge and the entire line to Kaslo was operated as part of the CPR.

See the Kaslo and Slocan Railway for more information.

The N&S also served as a connection between the CPR's C&K railway connecting to Nelson, the smelter at Trail and other points. Before the southern mainline was completed, the N&S was the bypass route, rather than using boats up the entire length of the Arrow Lakes which was often blocked by ice and low water.

Dropping traffic and high maintenance costs in the later 1900s, meant that parts of the line started to be abandoned. The line between New Denver and Kaslo was severed in the 1950s due to mudslides; the last of the rails were removed from Kaslo in the 1970s, and the last rail car ferry on Slocan Lake was in 1988.

Parts of the line have been converted to multi-use trail.


Turner, Robert and Wilkie, David (1994). The Skyline Limited: The Kaslo and Slocan Railway, Victoria:Sono Nis Press

  • See the Wikipedia article on.