Columbia and Western Railway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Columbia and Western Railway was a historic Canadian narrow gauge railway located in southern British Columbia.

Constructed in 1896, its route connected silver and gold mines at Red Mountain and Rossland and a smelter at Trail. Augustus Heinze was the force behind the line as he also was the developer behind the Trail smelter and worked quickly to gain competitive advantage prior to the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway into the Kootenay region.

Premier Turner of Victoria passed “An Act to Incorporate the Columbia and Western Railway Company” (C&W) on April 17, 1896. Capitalization was stated to be $5 million. Besides bestowing a grant of 10,240 acres (4,140 ha) of land per completed mile of the narrow-gauge trackage—20,000 acres (8,100 ha) for any standard gauge built—the Act permitted the C&W to build west through the metal-rich Boundary District and on to Lake Okanagan at Penticton to connect with the CPR’s lakeboat service to its Mainline via that lake to the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway. The company had four years to accomplish the construction or lose the $50,000 deposit that it was required to remit to the government within six months of the Act’s passage.

A spur ran to the Arrow Lakes steamer landing at Robson Heinze sold to Canadian Pacific Railway in 1898.

The Section from Castlegar to Grand Forks is now a cycling trail.[1] From The Paulson Summit,[2] it is about 5 km (3.1 mi) uphill, 50 km (31 mi) downhill, then 5 km (3.1 mi) flat to the City of Castlegar water intake.[3] About 4.5 km (2.8 mi) in, one passes a memorial to Doukhobor Peter V. Verigin, who was killed in one of the earliest terrorist attacks in Canada; a still-unsolved Canadian Pacific Railway train explosion on October 29, 1924 near Farron,[4] between Castlegar and Grand Forks, British Columbia.

Verigin Memorial

Initially it was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line, and the steep, 3,400-foot (1,036 m) rise up the mountain from the Columbia River necessitated the use of three Shay locomotives to move the open ore cars, past the fruit trees of Warfield, and onto the LeRoi and War Eagle mines. The line was regauged to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge by the CPR in 1899.

The CPR took the C and W and its generous land grants and merged it into the Kettle Valley Railway it was then building. J. W. Stewart the famed general and builder, worked on the project (see Foley, Welch and Stewart). Technically, the portion of the Kettle Valley Line that runs from West Robson through Gladstone and Grand Forks to Midway is the Columbia and Western line.


  1. ^ Volovsek, Walter. "Columbia & Western Railway (Boundary Rail Trail)". Trails in Time. 
  2. ^ "BC HighwayCams - Highway 3". British Columbia. 
  3. ^ "Civic Works: Water System". Castlegar. 2010. 
  4. ^ Nesteroff, Greg (April 6, 2014). "Farron: site of mysterious explosion has mysterious name". Nelson Star.