Canadian Pacific Railway on the Revelstoke Division, Volume One.
The Canadian Pacific Railway's mainline through the western Rockies, the Purcells, Selkirks and Monashee Mountains in British Columbia, which became the Revelstoke Division, has been one of the most interesting and challenging sections of railway in Canada. Since the opening of the transcontinental railway in the 1880s, it has featured severe grades, harsh winters with massive snowfalls, heavy traffic requiring frequent trains that often operated with helpers, and always impressive engineering with spectacular bridges, snow sheds and tunnels. The Revelstoke Division has featured some of the CPR's most interesting locomotives from solid, workhorse 2-8-0s, the CPR's powerful 2-10-4 Selkirks and Royal Hudsons to an array of diesels including just about everything from 1950s F units to the most modern diesel power. As well, the division's infrastructure was fascinating, especially during the steam and early years of the diesel era which began in the 1950s. Revelstoke was a major division point with a large roundhouse, station, hotel, fuelling and watering facilities, and many related structures. It was a base for rotary snowplows and piledrivers. Elsewhere there were helper stations with smaller engine houses, bunkhouses and other facilities.
Doug Mayer, a long time NMRA member and modeller, has selected a fascinating range of photos and maps, for this first book in what is planned as a series of similar volumes, to illustrate some of the features of the division in different eras. Most photos or maps are presented one to a page with a lengthy, well written caption that provides insights into the locomotives, structures or facilities shown and often provides background information on the operation of the railway. The photos also show how dramatically the railway has changed through the years. The last group of photos within the book document the cab of P2k 2-8-2 No. 5468, which is preserved at the Revelstoke Railway Museum. Fittingly, one photo shows the late Ernie Ottewell, retired CPR engineer, who was one of the key people in the acquisition of the locomotive for display at the Museum and who spent many hours as a volunteer explaining the operation of the engine to the public.
For modellers of the CPR, and mountain railways, there is lots of useful and informative material in the photos and the extended captions. Many details in the scenes are identified that otherwise might not be recognized by anyone of a younger generation or not closely familiar with the day-to-day operations of a railway in the steam era, long gone from the CPR in the BC and Alberta mountains.
I enjoyed reading this informative book and learned a lot about the Revelstoke Division and how it operated. It is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to model the CPR and one of its toughest divisions. The proceeds from the book go to support the excellent Revelstoke Railway Museum.
Robert D. Turner - Photographer, Author, Heritage Consultant