SS Trail

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SS Trail
Steamers Trail, Rossland and Minto at Arrowhead, British Columbia c.1900.jpg
Steamers Trail, Rossland and Minto at Arrowhead, British Columbia c.1900
Name: Trail
Owner: Canadian Pacific Railway, Columbia and Kootenay Steam Navigation Company
Route: Columbia River
Builder: J. McCain
Launched: May 7, 1896
Completed: 1896
Maiden voyage: June 11, 1897
In service: 1897-1900
Out of service: 1900
Fate: Burned
General characteristics
Class and type: Sternwheeler
Tonnage: 633 gross
Length: 165 feet (50 m)
Beam: 31 feet (9.4 m)
Depth: 5 feet (1.5 m)

SS Trail was a sternwheeler used for freight on the Columbia River and Arrow Lakes in British Columbia, Canada. Built to replace SS Kootenai,[1] Trail began service on June 11, 1896 and operated until she burned down in 1900.[2]


By 1896, the earlier sternwheeler Kootenai had aged and was in need of a replacement. The new steamer was built at the shipyard in Nakusp, British Columbia by J. McCain and was named Trail. Her engines likely came from Kootenai, but her boiler was probably new, as the local newspaper, The Miner, reported on April 11 that SS Nakusp had brought one down from Arrowhead, British Columbia.[3] Trail was an important addition to the Columbia River fleet due to heavy traffic from mining and railway development and at 633 gross tons, she was the largest vessel in the fleet, alongside Nakusp. Trail was designed as a larger and improved version of Kootenai and although she was not a passenger ship, she was attractive.[3] Trail was launched on May 7, 1896, and began freight service on June 11.[4]


Trail was used for freight service on the Columbia, which continued after Canadian Pacific Railway bought the Columbia and Kootenay Steam Navigation Company in 1897. Administrator and Captain James William Troup was soon taken by Trail's design and used it in 1898 as a basis for several future vessels on the Stikine River, including Hamlin, Schwatka, Duchesnay, and Constantine. After the launching of SS Minto in 1898, Trail and SS Illecillewaet were used to haul rail and construction materials for the extension of the Columbia and Western Railway to the Boundary region.[3]


While many Columbia River steamships of the time were dismantled or abandoned after retirement, Trail escaped such a fate by burning down at West Robson, British Columbia in June 1900. Only a charred hull, intact boiler, and still-standing funnel remained.[3]


  1. ^ "Steamships on the Columbia." Columbia River. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Steamships Of The Columbia." Edgewood Cap. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Turner, Robert D. (1998). Sternwheelers and Steam Tugs. Winlaw, British Columbia: Sono Nis Press.
  4. ^ Volovsek, Walter. "Steamships on the Columbia." Trails in Time. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2015.