1 Feb 2001

 Map - Click to enlarge
Locate Shaw Springs here.
Map by Mapblast

 Lytton bridge construction September
This photo of the Lytton bridge construction was taken in September 2000. See the next photo taken in January 2001 and note the progress.

 Lytton bridge construction January
A CP "box" train (grain) bound for Vancouver passes new bridge construction at Lytton on CN's trackage.

 CP9120east at Jade Springs
CP9120east left Lytton at 10:00 hours after waiting in the hole for a westbound, an exception to the normal running. It is shown here at Jade Springs heading up the canyon towards Spences Bridge.

 CP9120east at Rattlesnake Hill
CP9120east crosses Nicomen Creek three deck plate girder span near Rattlesnake Hill. CP9120east is pulled by two General Motors SD90MAC (4,300 horse power).

 CP9120east near milepost 82
CP9120east works upgrade passing by milepost 82 in the distance. The Trans-Canada Highway is visible behind the autoracks.

 CP9120east at milepost 78
This panned photo of CP9120east was taken at milepost 78 where the tracks pass beneath the highway overpass.

 Skoonka Tunnels on CNR
Canadian National's Skoonka Tunnels and rock sheds are reached by this suspension bridge across the Thompson River not far from CP milepost 78. The public are not permitted to use this bridge and who would want to?

 Spences Bridge then
Spences Bridge yard used to boast a coaling tower, enclosed water tank, and a modern station in the past. It was also the junction to the abandoned Princeton Subdivision where the tracks followed the Nicola River east to reach Merritt and points south on the Kettle Valley Railway.

 Spences Bridge now
This is Spences Bridge yard today. There remains only a wooden shed containing a fire hydrant and hose with the station name board on the front.

 CP9120east departs Spences Bridge
CP9120east departs Spences Bridge with the Thompson River on the left. The Nicola River bridge is located under the curving track about where it disappears.











Shaw Springs

I spent three days at Shaw Springs one night, in a van, NOT a caboose, kept awake all night by the continuously racing "semi's" and eastbound trains. Don't they run trains during the day anymore? Shaw Springs... the name conjures visions of Alice Springs, in far off Australia. They're both semi-arid. There is just one house and a truck stop restaurant at Shaw Springs. The trucks stop at night when the restaurant is closed, and by the time it opens at 6 a.m., they are long gone. There is a "For Sale" sign out front, little wonder.

Shaw Springs British Columbia lies in the Thompson River Canyon on Canadian Pacific's main line between Vancouver and Calgary. There is a passing siding and a private grade crossing, use at your own risk, and little else but sagebrush and pine trees. However, Shaw Springs is near the center of one of Canada's best rail fanning locations, the Thompson River Canyon between Lytton and Spences Bridge.
Canadian Pacific's Thompson Subdivision starts at Kamloops, mile zero, and travelling westbound the mileposts increase to end at 121.5 in North Bend. (I'll refer to directions as east and west but in fact the tracks physically run north and south in some places due to the twisting route through the Thompson and Fraser Canyons. Distance is still measured in miles on Canadian railways as they were excused from converting to metric when that occurred several years ago.)
Spences Bridge lies at milepost 72.8 of CP's Thompson Subdivision while Lytton is located 22 miles west at milepost 94.9. Between may be found some of the best scenery locations along both of Canada's two major railways, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. Currently, due to the sharing arrangement between the railways, westbound traffic runs on CN's line while eastbounds follow CP's route. (There are exceptions.) CN's track is located on the west and north side of the river, CP on the other. The Trans-Canada Highway stays to the east and south side of the river between these two points. The canyon is narrow enough in several places to get a good photo of trains on the opposite side of the river. At other locations the highway is so far up the mountainside trains below are dwarfed by the scenery.
Beginning at Spences Bridge, travel west, there are several spots to visit. Because there are so few places to stop along the highway I would suggest you drive the 22 miles both ways making a note of safe stopping places. In the summer months traffic can be quite heavy and the trucks, oh the trucks, they do not want to slow down!
First, check out the Skoonka Tunnels on the CN, there is an access road near CP milepost 78. Next you will find Shaw Springs located at CP milepost 79.3 which CP calls Drynoch. The siding here is 7,380 feet long. The next interesting spot, we call it Rattlesnake Hill, (We surprised a 3 foot long rattlesnake there last trip. Correction, the snake wasn't half as surprised as we were!) is the junction of the Nicomen Creek with the Thompson as the Thompson turns west. The highway follows the Thompson just above the flood level protected by a concrete wall here. There are possible photo sites until reaching the Jaws of Death Gorge around milepost 87 then the highway climbs the mountain side as glimpses of the canyon and tracks below catch your eye. If you stop at Kumsheen River Rafting near the top of the hill you can find a place to park then walk towards the canyon for a view. The last good photo opportunity lies just east of the Jade Springs store found a few miles before reaching Lytton. There is a safe spot to pull over near the store.
These photos are from my latest trip to the Thompson Canyon, on 16 January 2001. It went to sub-zero temperature during the night with a slight warming during daylight hours. It is such a dry area there was little snow in evidence but the wind which whistles down the canyon can cut right through you without warm weather clothing. Now, if only it would snow, and I could be there immediatly after, and the sun would shine brightly on the newly fallen snow, and the TOPs would be infrequent, and the RTC would run street cars, and, and, and...
Associated Links
Canadian Pacific Railway
Canadian National Railways

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