Posting vignettes based on great postcards found in my mail box and elsewhere.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spiral Tunnels of the Canadian Pacific Railroad

The postcard above was sent some time ago by Glenn from Canada. He has Gem's World Postcards (here). Glenn recently sent me several rail themed postcards. I send him airplane cards when I find them. Glenn has done more than anyone to improve my stock of Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) postcards. This particular modern color postcard shows the lower spiral tunnel (one of two) at Kicking Horse Pass, on the border of British Columbia and Alberta. The tunnels were built to lower the grade of the rail that passes over the great divide of the Rocky Mountains.

My friends Rick and Jan recently returned from Florida and the American Southeast with these two black and white postcards with two views of the same lower spiral tunnel. The spiral tunnels are the highest point on the Canadian Pacific Railroad's (CPR) transcontinental rail route. Prior to the tunnels construction, the grade was 4.5 %, nearly ten times the normal grade specified by rail engineers. Consequently, the grade was the scene of many fatal accidents for railroad engineers, workers and passengers.

In 1907, John E. Schwitzer proposed lessing the grade with the construction of two spiral tunnels that crossed in a figure-eight shape. The tunnels were completed in 1909 and cut the grade down to 2.2%. The construction took two years, 1,000 workers at a cost of $1.5 million. Workers removed 54,000 cubic meters of rock from the tunnels.

Notice the similarity of the concrete tunnel entrance, vegetation and rock slide on the hillside in both the old and new cards. Also, note that both trains' engines have crossed under their tails or cabooses.

1 comment:

  1. That's amazing. I thought those were two separate trains.