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Clearing the Line

Photogravure Supplement


A tribute to the engineers of the mountain division of the Canadian Pacific Railway. This photogravure supplement shows some of the difficulties that face the engineers of a division that has never lost a passenger’s life.

Clearing the line

AFTER A WASH-OUT. A wash-out is caused by heavy falls of rain, snow, or rock damming the natural outlet of streams, which then race down in a torrent. The top picture shows a railway yard at Coquitlam after a torrent has swept through it, twisting the track and damaging the goods vans standing in the yard.

A TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION left behind after a mighty torrent has swept on its savage journey, is shown in the middle photograph. But the trains must run. The engineers must work day and night to clear the road. The illustration below shows part of a mountain-division track after a wash-out. No time was lost in erecting the temporary track that can be seen above the wrecked line.

(Top) THE GREATEST MENACE against which the Canadian Pacific engineers have to contend is that of snow. The centre of these three illustrations shows a rotary plough, in front of a pusher engine, working through a tremendous snowdrift. A wedge plough (left) then cleans the cut. The right-hand picture shows the track clear and ready for service.

(Bottom) A REMARKABLE ENGINEERING FEAT was carried out at Salmon River in March, 1930, without one train having been cancelled. These four illustrations show how a bridge was demolished and a new one erected in its place, and put into service on the same day. The partly demolished bridge is shown in the first of these pictures, looking from left to right. The second picture shows the new one. The third illustration is of the old structure at the moment of its demolition. Having served its time the bridge falls into the Salmon River (extreme right).

Clearing the line

A STRIKING EXAMPLE of the skill with which the Canadian Pacific Railway clears its tracks is shown in the top picture of the west portal of the Connaught Tunnel - the longest tunnel in Canada. This portal was filled to the brim, as shown, when the head waters of the Illecillewaet River broke loose and brought down with them the debris seen. The line was clear again in five days - a remarkable achievement and one of which the Canadian Pacific engineers might well be proud.

ONE OF THE WEAPONS AND ONE OF THE BATTLES. The second picture shows a single-track wedge snow plough used to clean the track. The third picture illustrates a locomotive negotiating a flooded track. Avalanches, floods, old bridges that have now become out of date, and a hundred other problems must be faced by the engineers of the Canadian Pacific in their ceaseless work of keeping the giant trans-continental expresses to their schedules.

You can read more on “The Conquest of Canada”, “Floods, Fire and Earthquake”, and

“The Track’s Heavy Artillery” on this website.

Clearing the line Clearing the line