Kettle River Museum
Midway, British Columbia

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Along the Line: the Kettle Valley Railway as a Community Link




"In May of 1910, the President of the Canadian Pacific decided to begin construction Midway to Merritt of the Kettle Valley Railway, the name of a charter operation in the Kettle River area that the C.P.R. had acquired, and A. McCulloch as Chief Engineer of same, left Montreal for Grand Forks to begin work. This in spite of the fact that several engineers at different times reported against building this line, giving the following reasons: a very difficult country: the cost would be excessive: the population was very small with not much chance of increasing. In spite of this... the project was launched.

For the present the Coquihalla section was not mentioned as a part of this project, the object being to begin at Midway and get to a connection with the Spence's Bridge branch line at either Nicola or Merritt.

...Some engineers were secured and placed on sections Midway west, and also Merritt, and in spite of the fact that no plans had been approved, a contract was let on July 5th for the grading, bridges, etc. from Merritt to Coldwater Summit (some 30 miles), and the first sod was turned at Merritt that same day. The grading of this section was quite heavy and with regard to bridges, there were eight crossings of the Coldwater River. On August 11th, a contract was let for grading and bridging from Midway to Rock Creek... and very soon grading was started. Work on these sections, while not rushed, was continued to the end of the year.

Grading was completed from Midway to Mile 35 west, with some grading done between miles 35 and 40. Arrangements had been made with the contractors to do the grading Penticton to Mile 7 west where there would be a steel bridge over Trout Creek, and this was partly done. Track was laid from Merritt to Coldwater Summit, and ballasting nearly completed. Track was laid Midway to Mile 35 west and the ballasting 75% done.

At the end of the year (1912) the following named sections were covered by men: Mile 45 West of Midway to Hydraulic Summit; Hydraulic Summit to Penticton; Penticton to Trout Creek Summit; and Coldwater Summit to Coquihalla Summit. In all some 2,175 men were on the work. The grading to date covered about 132 miles.

On the Kettle Valley Railway a lot of work was done in 1913. At the end of the year grading was completed from Midway to Hydraulic summit. Other sections completed were: Otter Creek Summit to Osprey Lake; The Loop near Otter Creek Summit to Coquihalla Summit; Penticton to Osprey Lake; and on the section Coquihalla Summit to Hope, grading was going on.

Track had been laid from Midway west for 83 miles, and from Penticton west for 39 miles, and the Coquihalla sub from the Loop west for 11 miles, and from Merritt east for 29.5 miles; yard track had been laid at Penticton. About 120 miles had been ballasted and about 100 miles of telegraph lines erected.

On the Kettle Valley Railway a great deal of work was done during the year (1914). Early in October track was completed Midway to Penticton, ballasting done, the work equipment taken off and the track closed up for winter... The track was completed Penticton to Osprey Lake, and grading practically completed Osprey Lake to Princeton, but no track laid.

Track had been completed Merritt to Otter Creek Summit, and from the Loop to Coquihalla Summit. The grading was nearly done Coquihalla Summit to Hope. Very little had been done in the way of building bridges on the Coquihalla section; these would be numerous, and some of them quite large... There would be several steel structures as well... In all, about 222 miles of track, with necessary sidings, had been laid, and 220 miles of ballasting done.

In 1915 construction work proceeded on the unfinished sections... Trout Creek Summit to Princeton... and Princeton to Coldwater Summit. Therefore by the end of May, there was a completed line from Midway to Merritt, and shortly after this was changed to allow the Kettle Valley Railway men to carry on through Spence's Bridge, and so on to the main line of the Canadian Pacific. On the above date, the first regular train left Midway for the west, the proposed schedule being three trains per week each way, Midway to Spence's Bridge... The railroad as first outlined, after five years, was a reality."

- from "Railway Development in Southern British Columbia" by Andrew McCulloch - Penticton BC, November, 1938. Boundary Historical Society 4th Report, 1964

Read by Jack Godwin


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