Photo of the day at Stephen, not Craigellachie

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Photo of the day at Stephen, not Craigellachie

  • The "photo of the day" is captioned as passing the monument at Craigellachie, site of CPR's last spike.  Unfortunately the location is actually about 150 miles to the east.  That monument is at the continental divide in the Kicking Horse Pass, known as Stephen in the railway timetables. 

    John

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  • Thanks for the correction, John!

  • This issue came up before on a TRAINS discussion thread.

    We need to be clear which Stephen station site we are discussing. I had opined on that thread that the original Stephen site was about 75-100 feet west (behind the photographer) of the monument. I later bought a set of all of the back issues of CP Tracks magazine and read a reprint of a travel guide for the Canadian printed about 1960. It said the original Stephen site was 205 feet west of the monument.

    Then the WB grade reduction project was done at the end of the '70's, on the east side of the divide, and two changes occurred. Just east of the divide, on the Alberta side, a new station (siding) was created called Divide. And the current Stephen station (siding) is now 9/10's of a mile west from where this photo was taken.

    In terms of today's situation, this photo could be described as either being taken at the "Continental Divide", or "several hundred feet west of Divide, Alberta station".

    I was impressed remembering Mom and Dad waving their arms about and saying the old Stephen station was "here" and then forty years later reading about how accurate they had been! Dad was the 3rd trick Operator at Stephen when they first started going out together in '52-'53.

    Bruce

    So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

    "A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

    "O. S. Irricana"

    . . . __ . ______

  • Here are a pair of pictures taken in 2010 at the same location, one of the monument and the second of F-units instead of the usual GE AC4400s.   The vertical curve at the summit can be discerned.  The image used as Photo of the Day was likely taken about 1980, when the lead SD40-2 was new and the grade reduction project was not yet completed between Lake Louise and the new operating point of "Divide".  Once complete the former passing siding became part of the new 7 miles of double track and is the usual one used by westbound freights.  The freight is on the original main track.  In this case the Royal Canadian Pacific also used the original grade, since the north track bypasses the station facility at Lake Louise.  With no conflicting movements there is no need to cross over at Divide when the end of double track is only 1.6 miles away at the operating point of "Stephen".

    The back tracks on the far side will still be known to car control as Stephen.  And before the new second track was built, both the east and west siding switches would be considered part of Stephen.  In train order days they were where trains cleared the main track when required.  The official mileage was at the station building but for most operating purposes Stephen was the whole distance between the outer siding switches, and likely a bit further if there were yard limits.

    John