Spiral Tunnels, British Columbia

Spiral Tunnels
Photo Courtesy Canadian Pacific

The famous Spiral Tunnels on the CP Rail Line were opened on September 1st, 1909. The route called for two tunnels driven in three-quarter circles into the valley walls. The construction and extra track effectively doubled the length of the climb and reduced the gradient to 2.2%. The labor force to build these tunnels through sheer rock amounted to about a thousand, and the cost was about 1.5 million Canadian dollars. This is one of the steepest, most scenic railway lines in North America, crossing the kicking horse river, and running under Mount Ogden and Cathedral Mountain, towards the town of Field, BC. 

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Eric Wicherts

It should be noted that these enormous spiral tunnels are the ONLY TUNNELS OF THEIR KIND IN NORTH AMERICA.

Fern Chaboyer

I think it's amazing how the tunnels were built and I am sure people wonder how they did it.  They had to make the tunnels bigger recently because the trains are made bigger now.

Caroline Taylor

Amazing feat of human problem solving and engineering, amidst (and because of) the most staggeringly beautiful landscape in the world.  And all done to accomplish a national rail line, from east coast to west coast, arguably forming a workable nation.

John Burns

They are a spectacular engineering feature on the CPR built in 1909 which allowed the important railway connection for canada to function. It is a marvel to watch the long trains carrying the freight  for export to vancouver harbour. Vital for our countries economy and a tribute to our earlier engineers and workers. Go canada go!

Carol Hindley

… an amazing feat of engineering. I first saw it as a young girl travelling out west with my family from Ontario in the early 60's. My father had us all wait until a CP Rail train approached the entrance. He told us to watch for the moment when the first engine emerged out the other end while the tail end had yet to enter the tunnel -- considering the length of the tunnel and the grade differential -- I remember I was totally blown away that this was possible and having been back twice to repeat the experience in my adulthood, I am no less amazed today.

Darren Frew

The Spiral Tunnels that help the CP Railway navigate the treacherous Kicking Horse Pass have an indelible place in the history of the railway, the region and civil engineering.

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