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Railroads Race to the North
By Aubrey Fullerton
HE mushers and the hus- Canadian side of the border. It is withkies have been driven back in easy memory when this entire region to the wilderness, and very was trackless, a virgin reach of unused soon they will be done out land, and now it is being networked by of even that. What was new main lines and branch lines that will
wilderness five years ago soon leave no part of it out of reach. is now a harvest-land, and what is wil- This represents the activity of four great derness now will shortly be as all the railway systems already in operation or rest is. The railroads are doing it. fully organized. Smaller and more local
In the days of the old fur-trading the undertakings are in project in the same dog-trains came to Detroit and St. Paul; territory by a number of embryo comtwenty years ago one was only occasion- panies, and some daring schemes are ally seen at Winnipeg; not long since shaping also in the far north, toward the they stopped coming to Edmonton, three Arctic Circle. The pathfinder and piohundred and fifty miles north of the neer in one is today the railway surveyor. boundary; and now it is only in the The largest single enterprise now country that we call the North-land that under way by any railroad interests in they are to be seen at all.
America is the building of the Grand But even the North is being narrowed. Trunk Pacific right across Canada. A The railroads are reaching up and up, new transcontinental highway that will and the mushers and dog-trains are being add 3,600 miles to a nation's railway driven back to the side trails where rail- mileage means brain and brawn. The roads will never be.
eastern section of this road—that is, the There never was so much and so half east of Winnipeg, which is being ambitious railway enterprise in the constructed as a national road by the North-West as there is at this moment. Canadian Government—will cost $30,000 Five thousand miles of road are under a mile and will include such engineering contract in the country between the feats as the crossing of the St. Lawrence Great Lakes and the Rockies, on tlie River at Quebec with the largest single
span bridge in the world, and the overthrow by a tunnelful of dynamite of a mountain-side at La Tuque, in the northern Quebec wilderness. Nine hundred miles of this section are now under contract, one-fourth of which has been awarded to the Grand Trunk Pacific itself, whose right to tender was provided by the terms of charter.
The picturesque part
of the new transcontiTwo symbols of progress in the wilderness,
nental, however, is its
prairie and mountain mileage, west of A second hunt for the Northwest PasWinnipeg, all of which the company is sage—a land-hunt instead of water-had building on its own responsibility but as its object to find where the road could with Government guarantee of its bonds. most easily cross the Rockies. Track-laying is already under way in the There are in all some ten or twelve section between Winnipeg and Edmon- points where the Canadian Rockies can be ton, and 1907 harvest-freight will be crossed. Nature cut these passes through moved over it to meet the lake boats at the mountains at fairly regular intervals; Port Arthur.
two have already been used for railway In terms of human interest the build- routes in the southern part of the range, ing of this prairie section means one hun- and others equally suitable are spread dred new towns to be begun within a along the mountain-line to the north. A year; for there is to be a railway station choice of four or five was before the every seven miles, and wherever there is Grand Trunk Pacific, and this narrowed a railway station there will be a town. down, after its engineers had examined It means that in this northern hinterland them all and had run their surveys there is shortly to be, is being even now, through every feasible or possible route, enacted the great drama that has already to a choice of two. It was to be either made the plains to the south, and forty the Pine River or the Yellowhead. years ago the Western States, a man's The hunt for the mountain passage beland instead of a no-man's land. The came exciting. It turned out to be a coming of the people is the sequel to the race, for another road with transcontilaying of the steel.
nental ambitions headed at the same time The course of the new transcontinental and in the same direction and with the across the prairie was pretty well decided same end in view. It was a quiet, on two years ago, the entire route from dogged, yet spectacular race, as surveythe Atlantic coast being chosen through ors' races always are. The Grand Trunk new and as yet undeveloped country; but Pacific won, and in November last filed the mountain section, west of Edmonton, at Ottawa complete plans of a route was until only a few months ago a puzzle. through the Yellowhead, from Edmonton to a point some fifteen miles on the other to which the name of Prince Rupert has side of the Rockies.
been given, has already begun. The situation of a terminus on the Between the Prince Rupert that is to coast was a matter of almost as much be and the Yellowhead, through which deliberation as that of the route through the transcontinental crosses the Rockies, the Rockies. The original choice was is a tangled wilderness as yet unopened Port Simpson, an old Hudson's Bay to settlement. It has been thoroughly Company trading-post well up to the surveyed, however, and in February preAlaska boundary; but a much better end- liminary plans were filed for the Pacific of-the-line will be the point now definitely grade of the railway route. On the map selected at Kaien Island, somewhat to the the new Grand Trunk Pacific will show south and about half-way between Van- an almost straight line from Winnipeg, couver and Skagway. Nature has pro- save for its deflection on entering the vided admirable terminal facilities here Pass, where it turns slightly to the south, for both railway and steamship lines, and crosses the mountains, and then goes the work of building a town, which will north again toward the Fraser River and be the great new port of the North, and the coast terminus. The road is under
contract to build across British Columbia in four years.
But the Yellowhead is the objective point of two other roads now building across the prairies. The race which the Grand Trunk Pacific won by reaching that point first was with the Canadian Northern, whose line is already
built and running beTHE LONG STRAIGHT LINE ACROSS THE FRAIRIE-A Road That Is To Be.
THE CRUEL TRAIL OF THE FORTUNE SEEKER. Dead Horse Gulch, where so much suffering was encountered in the early days. The gulch is seen far below the
Mackenzie and Mann, a line from To- almost its entire distance a grade of ronto to Sudbury, in northern Ontario, three-tenths of one per cent, with only a is built, and there lacks only the link few miles at one per cent. between that point and Port Arthur to Some of the largest engineering undergive a third road covering more than half takings in the West are proposed on lines the continent.
already in operation. The Canadian Apparently with the intention of going Pacific has planned an extensive betterinto every field touched by its rival lines, ment scheme this year, which involves the Canadian Pacific, first of Canadian the construction of one of the largest transcontinentals, is now building a new railway bridges in the world and the remain line northwest from Winnipeg, the duction of the grade in the Rockies by logical motive of which is an extension tunnelling. In the Crow's Nest section, to and across the Rockies to the coast by among the foothills of the Rockies, a way of the Yellowhead, the pass first pro- viaduct of a mile in length, carried on posed by the Canadian Pacific twenty- steel wers three hundred feet high, eight years ago, but then abandoned in will straighten and shorten the road and favor of the southern route. For the will cut out a number of trestle bridges. time has come now when all the railways Farther into the Rockies proper, the sec