Lake Louise

  next stop down Kamloops  Kicking Horse Route 
 First Passage to the West 
  Lake Louise next stop to the Right 
Home<Canada<Rocky Mountaineer<Spiral Tunnels: Viewpiont

The Spiral Tunnels are one of the most bizarre feats of engineering to get the grade of a train line to be at or below 2.2%. They are located on the Big Hill just beyond the crossing of the Continental Divide just inside British Columbia on the transcontinental line of the Canadian Pacific Railway that united the Dominion of Canada together. The current two spiral tunnels where the railroad forms two spirals, crossing beneath itself twice, almost forming a figure eight, before continuing in the proper direction down the mountain were completed in 1909. The tunnels are referred to as the Upper and Lower Tunnels and since the massive VIA Rail cuts of 1990 have only seen passenger train service from the seasonal biweekly Rocky Mountaineer First Passage to the West. The tunnels were built to replace a railway that had grades of up to 8% and used the equivalent of runaway truck ramps for trains (by having various switches a train could be switched onto to go up the sides of the valley to slow it down) safety.

The Spiral Tunnels have never served as a passenger rail station but there is an overlook on the Trans-Canada Highway of the Lower Tunnel. This highway pull-off is a must stop (even if you don't get luckily and see a train coming through) on a tour of Yoho National Park and most Rocky Mountaineer Packages (like my Golden Circle via Whistler) include it. The overlook includes some signs about the history of the railway and a model of the tunnels in relation to highway since their quite hard to visualize
All photos in this section were taken on 3 October, 2011

Viewpoint|Train
Page 1|Page 2
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint1
The walkway down to the main overlook
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint2
The main sign at the entrance to the small overlook
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint3
Information Sign
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint4
The two portals of the Lower Spiral Tunnels
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint5
A freight train begins to enter
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint6
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint7
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint8
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint9
The Locomotives of a Westbound train enter the upper tunnel
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint10
The Locomoties come out of the westbound tunnel with the rear of the train still spiraled above
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint11
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint12
This is all the same train!
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint13
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint14
Everyone is a railfan for 20 minutes!
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint15
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint16
The same train continues through
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint17
A rear helper locomotive goes above the lower portal
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint18
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint19
The freight train clears the upper portal
spiral_tunnels_viewpoint20
This is all the same train!
Page 1|Page 2
Viewpoint|Train
Home<Canada<Rocky Mountaineer<Spiral Tunnels: Viewpiont
Rocky Mountaineer

Last Updated: 15 November, 2011
This website is not allifiated with Rocky Mountaineer, there official website is here
This Website is maintained and copyright © 2011, Jeremiah Cox. This website is not affiliated with any transit provider. Please do not remote link images or copy them from this website without permission.