These two pictures were taken about forty years apart in the small town of Yahk BC. Not much remains from the first, with the only exception being the hotel shown on the left in the second picture. In the “then” picture you can just see it just peeking out behind the left side of the station.
The water tower foundation is still there but nothing could be found of the station. Where it sat has been built over and some radio towers sit in its place.
The train seen here is heading eastbound towards Cranbrook, located some 60km away. It’s being pulled by the ubiquitous to the region Canadian Locomotive Company, Fairbanks Morse (USA) designed “C Series and “H Series” locomotives. Common in this area well into the mid 1970s, these engines were known for being able pull which made them very suitable for the CPR’s southern BC lines, which often had a roller coaster like profile.
This train could have been coming in from the Trail or Nelson areas or it may have come off the line that heads south from Yahk, connecting with the Union Pacific Railway at the US border in Kingsgate BC (or Eastport Idaho on the US side).
It appears that the leading locomotive is number 4065. If so, this makes it one the very first (of two) Canadian Locomotive Company diesel engines that the CPR purchased. Built in 1951, it toiled in relative obscurity in the region, until being retired and donated to the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa Ontario in 1975. I could not make out the road numbers of the other locomotives seen.
The station seen in the “then” picture is a pretty typical structure of the era. Many towns had similar stations at one time. The waiting room would be on the left by the bay window, the right side would be for express shipments and baggage and the upstairs, living quarters for the agent. By this date, it may have been empty or may have been used for storage. The last passenger trains through here were in the mid 1960s.
Thy water tower is a typical CPR octagonal style structure, and in the days of steam, nearly every town and junction had one just like this. The ball on the roof indicates the water level inside. In this case it’s showing close to full. That’s a bit odd since by the time of the picture CPR had loooong since retired its last steam locomotive and one would think they’d have drained the tank since it was no longer needed. These enclosed octagonal towers were seen across the CPR system and they were insulated and equipped with stoves to keep the water from freezing in the winter.
There are only a few of these left across the whole of Canada and interestingly nearby Cranbrook is home to one (see link below). This author has seen many pictures from the 1970s showing numerous other CPR water towers still in place, however not long after they seem to have quickly faded from the scene. Why they were kept so long after the last steam engines were retired (around 1960) is uncertain. Perhaps it was just a “get around to it” project.
Canada’s other national railway, the CNR, used a similar style enclosed water tower and some of these still exist in museums and other places.
Yahk sits very close to the US border.
There are two former hotels in town sitting not far from each other – both named Yahk – the Yahk Hotel and the New Yahk Hotel. The right one, The Yahk, seems to have closed recently, and the second building the former New Yahk, has been turned into apartments. The latter looks to be in rough shape on the outside, especially that crazy balcony, but perhaps it’s a palace inside (or maybe not). In any case, it’s good that it still exists but it could some TLC. Let’s hope someone finds use for the other.
To see the CPR octagonal water tower still standing in Cranbrook BC, click this link…
Canadian Pacific Railway octagonal water tower.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: August 2012
Location: Yahk, BC.