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The Rockies and The Canadian Pacific Railway

The Canadian Pacific Railway was founded to provide a link from the province of British Columbia to the eastern provinces. The main difficulty in providing such a link were the Rockies themselves: treacherous mountain passes, fast rivers and sheer drops made for a difficult railway construction process. The following articles describe in detail the political and technical feats involved: Canadian Pacific Survey Big Hill Field Hill Kicking Horse Pass Spiral Tunnels The Canadian Pacific Survey or Canadian Pacific Railway Survey comprised many distinct geographical surveys conducted during the 1870s and 1880s, designed to determine the ideal route of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Although much of the survey's activity focused on locating suitable mountain passes through the Canadian Rockies, Selkirk Mountains, Monashee Mountains, Canadian Cascades and Coast Mountains of western Canada, locating the best route across the rugged terrain of the Canadian Shield north of Lake Superior was also a primary goal. The survey played an important role in the exploration of Canada, especially in the mapping of hitherto-uncharted parts of British Columbia. In British Columbia, survey work was overseen by Walter Moberly, a former Colony of British Columbia land official and cabinet member, and involved steamboat support vessels on the Arrow Lakes and Columbia River, and on Kootenay Lake, Shuswap Lake, Seton Lake and others.[1] The survey entailed the first detailed mapping of much of southern British Columbia, including remote areas such as the Coast Mountains icefields and a range of potential pass and route combinations, including new discoveries - the most notable and crucial of which was Rogers Pass through the Selkirk Mountains, ut also less famously but no less crucially Eagle Pass through the Monashees. The Big Hill on the Canadian Pacific Railway main line in British Columbia, Canada, was the most difficult piece of railway track on the Canadian Pacific Railway's route.[1] It was situated in the rugged Canadian Rockies west of the Continental Divide and Kicking Horse Pass. Even though the Big Hill was replaced by the Spiral Tunnels in 1909, the area has long been a challenge to the operation of trains and remains so to this day. The essential problem was that the railway had to ascend 1,070 feet (330 m) in the space of 10 miles (16 km) from Field at 4,267 feet (1,301 m) climbing to the top of the Continental Divide at 5,340 feet (1,630 m).[2] The narrow valleys and high mountains limited the space where the railway could stretch out and limit the grade (hence the later decisions to bore extra mileage under the mountains and lower the grades) Field Hill is a steep portion of the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway located near Field, British Columbia. Field was created solely to accommodate the Canadian Pacific Railway's need for additional locomotives to be added to trains about to tackle both Field Hill, and the Big Hill. Here a stone roundhouse with turntable was built at what was first known simply as Third Siding. In December 1884 the CPR renamed it Field after Cyrus W. Field, a Chicago businessman who had visited recently on a special train. Difficult grades exist in both directions from Field, east through the Spiral Tunnels 137 miles (220 km) to Calgary, Alberta; and 126 miles (203 km) west to Revelstoke, British Columbia through Rogers Pass and the Connaught Tunnel, and where the modern Mount Macdonald Tunnel was opened in 1989.

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