The following pictures and explanations were taken from the information site where we were.
In 1884 ,the Canadian Pacific Railway could spare neither time nor money to carve a gradial decent down the west side of the Kicking Horse Pass .
Instead the C P.R. obtained the federal governments permission for a steep but temporary line .The proposed Big Hill
track dropped at a dizzying 4.5 grade, twice as much allowed in the government contract.
Hired at $2.25 for a ten hour day ,thousands
of workers braved the spring snow avalanches and summer forest fires while they laboured on the Big Hill
Men balanced over the trestle timbers over the foaming river ,and blasted the Cliffs with
unpredictable nitro- glycerine and dodged,rocks knocked loose by workers abobe .
Deaths averaged one a week .
After a days work ,men returned to their tents
and shanties at the site of the present Kicking Horse Campground.
A 15 car train needed 4 extra pusher engines to climb the Big Hill.Shunting engines and inching up the steep grade track took much time and created bottlenecks.
Downgrade traffic was an other matter,the first train that run the Big Hill, derailed ,plunged into the river and killed 3 men.
The CPR built 3 spur lines on the Big Hillto catch run away trains,
Switches were left set for the spurs ,they weren't reset for the main line until the switchman knew that the oncoming train was in control.
An old-timer described spur lines on the Big Hill as places where '' wrecks could take place without hindering traffic on the mainline ''.
One engineer decided not to use the spurline to stop his runaway train.
He would whistle loudly at each switch, to signal each switchman to let him through.
The train sped dangerously down the track.
Arriving triumphantly in Field, where the engineer got a telegram marked '' Rush ''
In the telegram ,it stated he was fired for disregarding the rules.
Frustrated by accidents and congested uphill
traffic,the CPR sought an easier grade for the Bigg Hill trains.Designing a better line in the narrow valley posed a tremendous challenge.
In Switzerland engineers had solved a similar problem by using tunnels that spiraled into a mountain. Railway engineer
J.E. Schwitzer modeled the Spiral tunnels after the Swiss design.
Extra lenght gained by his new figure -eight track would cut the steepness of the Hill in half.
In 1907 ,thundering explosions once again echoed in the Kicking Horse Valley
Blasting in front either end , the crews met
with near perfect alignment in both tunnels.
Two narrow gauge engines hauled away over 600.000 cubic meter of rock.
It took 20 months,1000 men and 75 carloads of dynamite to finish the new Spiral Tunnels Line After nearly 25 years of use , the '' temporary '' Bigg Hill was abandoned. Part of it become a '' carriage ''
road ,and later it became the Trans Canada Highway .
In the cold winter days of steam locomotives,condensed steam would freeze
and cause Ice build up in the tunnels .
Large wooden doors at the portals of the
Upper Spiral Tunnel helped keep the cold air out .
Water seeping through cracks of the bedrock
is another cause of Ice build up.
Work crews used to chip away the Ice with
pickaxes. Today ,foam insulation lining the tunnel walls help minimize the problem,
As well metal bars mounted on the lead box car of some freight trains knock the Ice from the tunnel ceilings.
In August 1925 ,a gully high on Cathedral
Mountain began to move .
The engineer of a pusher locomotive saw the mudslide heading straight for the Yoho
Siding house .He ran downslope to warn those inside ,just in time to avert disaster.
Mud slides and avalanches are a fact of live on the Big Hill .Modern technology tries to keep pace.A concrete snowbed beneath Mount Sthephen diverts snow and Ice avalanches.
Pumps on Cathedral Glacier diverts acces meltwater.But the forces of nature prevail in this extreme mountain terrain.
In the narrow ,steep-sided Kicking Horse Valley ,wild life and people compete for precious space.Valley bottoms are the best places to live and the easiest route to travel
for people and wildlife.For the people the Kicking Horse Valley contains the
Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway the village of
Field and visitor facilities such as Campgrounds.
For the wildlife ,the valley is a conduit of life that allowes travel from one habitat or population to another, to find food,shelter and
mates. Clear movement corridors are essential for the wildlife long term survival.
Maintaining the Kicking Horse Pass
as a viable corridor is a priority for Parks Canada .To achieve this ,we monitor wildlife movements ,work co-operatively with the CPR and transportation groups ,and wherever possible , reduce the human impacts .
For excample, facilities at the west end of Field have been removed to allow the safe passage of wildlife around the village.
This is a picture of the Field Information Centre ,off course all the information on this Field page I found at, and near this information station.
This really was a beautiful and very interesting area, I can recommend a visit to Field very much , if you are nearby , please do not miss it.
As I traveled through the Alberta Province, I was pleased and delighted with the help I received at the various visitor centers I took the time to wander into. My only visitor center experience in British Columbia was right here in Field :)
Again, employees of the visitor center helped me decide which features to pass on, and which ones to explore more fully. Getting this information from locals was a Godsend! They helped me with my timing, and basically my itinerary for my last day in the rockies ... sniff, sniff.....
I visited Field on Sept 23rd on the way to Revelstoke. I drop in to get some info on the area.
While inside the information I took some pictures of the center inside. I must accidently included one of the staff in my photo taking. I suddenly heard a loud voice in a really rude manner from one of the old female staff who has short curly hair 'Don't take the picture of me'. That staff was really rude. So, I quickly apologized. But I think she was over reacted.
So, beware when you are taking picture inside the center. There is a very unfriendly staff in the center. Beware.
Hard to choose for sure! The vivid blue waters while canoeing at Emerald Lake, or walking right into the spray below takakaaw falls. We followed the advice given at a site called field.ca and had a great time tracking down all of the waterfalls in the Yoho Valley.
Fondest memory: We followed the advice given at a site called field.ca and had a great time tracking down all of the waterfalls in the Yoho Valley. What a phenomenal place!
Favorite thing: This sketch gives a better look at the Spiral Tunnel how these tunnels made train travel much safer through this difficult area.