I don’t think we realized how important Canadian Pacific is to this county until this trip. In the Tri-Cities, we see the massive Port Coquitlam train yard; however, it is hard to comprehend the magnitude and scale of the operation. Traveling through BC we could see trains heading for the coast to deliver Canada’s natural resources to market.
Going through the Rockies, one can see how the rail line weaves its way through tough mountain passages – an engineering marvel that was complemented by incredibly skilled workers. The Mount Macdonald Tunnel (supplementing the nearby Connaught Tunnel that the CPR opened in 1916) was built starting in 1984, with the first revenue train passed through in 1988. At 14.7 km, the Mount Macdonald tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in the Americas.
Did you know, there is a Spiral Tunnel? The famous tunnel was opened in 1909. The chosen route called for two tunnels driven in three-quarter circles into the valley walls. The higher tunnel — ‘Number One’ — was about one thousand yards in length and rain under Cathedral Mountain. When the new line emerged from this tunnel it had doubled back, running beneath itself and 50 feet lower. It then descended the valley side in almost the opposite direction to its previous course before crossing the Kicking Horse River and entering Mount Ogden to the north. The lower tunnel – ‘Number Two’ – was a few yards shorter than ‘number one’ and the descent was again about fifty feet. From the exit of this tunnel, the line continued down the valley in the original direction towards Field.
As we entered the prairies, we saw the CP line pass through communities and across the rolling hills of Alberta. Town after town, city after city, the railway plays a key role across this vast country. You start to understand that if we didn’t have the CPR, the abundant natural resources that our country has been built upon would not be able to get to market.