Mar 042016
 
Unfinished railway

File this under obscure. We’re looking at the roadbed remains of a Canadian Northern Railway branchline that was to break the Canadian Pacific Railway’s monopoly in southern Alberta. Some sections, including this one inside Calgary city limits and being encroached on by development, were built, about 1910-1912, but track was never laid. I doubt many people, even hard-core railway buffs, are aware it’s here. It’s not well known.

The section we’re seen walking is the most northerly that’s not been bulldozed under and is near the Bow River at the southern city limits. Further into town, any remains have been obliterated. Paying careful attention, one can still follow the line, on Google Earth, south from the where we took our photo to a point near Okotoks. A second section trending southwest from Fort MacLeod was also graded. Work on the middle was never started. The line’s planned destination was a place called Fishburn, south of present day Pincher Creek.

Why this section of track was never finished is not clear. On can guess they ran out of money or perhaps just had seconds thoughts about taking on the CPR Juggernaut.

The Canadian Northern Railway was folded into Canadian National Railways in the 1920s.

To read more about that unfinished section mentioned above, and the line in general, click the link below:
Unfinished Canadian Northern Railways line Fort MacLeod.

Short Subjects: reports that for any number of reasons are brief in nature. They might be updates to older articles, previews of posts planned or not yet published, brief snippets of things that don’t fit in anywhere else or subjects that are so obscure that information on them can’t be found.

If you need any more information on what we talked about here, by all means contact us!

Date of adventure: February, 2016.
Location: Calgary, AB.

The former line appears to be on public land

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Unfinished railway

This old railway line was never finished.

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18 Comments on "Unfinished Railway Line Calgary"

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Jeff Bish
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Jeff Bish

Neat find!

Philip Mason
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Philip Mason

There was a 1900’s “coal rush” toward the Crowsnest Pass area of BC and Alberta. CP and the Great Northern from the US actually built lines into the Pass and the Canadian Northern graded this route south of Calgary. The Milwaukee Railroad from the US did a detailed survey up from Montana, and the Grand Trunk Pacific published a “wish list” map showing a GTP line paralleling the CP southern route all the way from Saskatchewan.

Kyle
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Kyle
This is a really neat find. I think there is more of this line still to be found inside the city limits and out. From just west of Sikome Lake it proceeds north across Fish Creek Park. The route then follows Bow Bottom Trail to just North of Canyon Meadows Drive there it then it more or less follows to west side of the bottom of the river valley through Lake Bonavista, Maple Ridge golf course, throught Deerfoot Meadows (east of Railway St north of Heritage Dr), then North of Glenmore Tr. through the buildings on the west side of 10 St SE, just west of Navajo Metals, through the east side of the Engineered Air building on 46 Ave SE and connecting with the CN spur behind that building. South of Okotoks in Google Earth you can see embankments on both sides of the Sheep River just west of… Read more »
Donald Klippert
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Donald Klippert

I just wanted to add that the actual rail line ran only as far as the former Cominco site, which is now Deerfoot Meadows. At least a kilometre south of Heritage Drive. Most of this trackage into Cominco was likely built by CPR in the early 1940’s, when the plant was opened. I don’t know when CN built the spur off their main line, but it rarely showed on old city maps. I only discovered it in the mid-80’s, driving up 11th St. SE where there was a level crossing near 59th Ave. It joined up with CP’s spur further to the south.

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