Sunday, October 2, 2011

The tail end and the tale ends . . . but not the trail

In the early part of the last century, Vancouver Island had several competing railroads.  Most of them ran from Victoria to Sidney however, two also ran tracks up Island.  Of those, only the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Rwy still exists.   It runs from Wharf Street in Victoria to Courtenay although it is only running sporadically now, having suspended passenger service since early 2011 due to track safety concerns. 

At first it may seem incongruous to find a CN caboose permanently
housed along the former CP Rail E&N Rwy station however,
CN Rail has an important place in the rail history of the Cowichan Valley.

It's main rival for passenger service and freight on the Island was the Canadian Northern (later renamed Canadian National or CN).  It's line ran through Victoria's "Western Communities" to Sooke and then to Duncan with a termination at Lake Cowichan.  Originally surveyed to extend to Port Alberni, it was never built beyond the Cowichan Valley.  Apart from it's rail bed being turned into the Trans-Canada Trail, the only visible reminder of the former CN Rail line on Vancouver Island is a retired CN caboose resting along the E&N behind the Duncan CP Rail Stations (Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives).

The Kinsol Trestle, rebuilt as part of the Trans-Canada Trail,
was built for the Canadian Northern Railway in 1920

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