CP Rail – Rosebery to Nakusp

I like to look beyond my own chosen little corner of the world and offer up suggestions for relatively simple layout themes that I think would offer the hobbyist a project that’s both attainable and satisfying.

A while ago, I gave the example of the CNR’s Waterloo Sub to Galt, Ontario. David Woodhead visited my layout yesterday and reminded me of another – this one from the west end of the country, and the other national railway.

David is a professional musician and he just got back from a tour that included parts of the British Columbia Interior. That location was home to a unique railway operation in Canada.

Until 1989, CP Rail operated a 31.2-mile line between Rosebery and Nakusp. What made this line special was its reliance on a barge operation to move traffic from Slocan City to Rosebery, along Slocan Lake. For more information, I recommend Railways of the West Kootenay, Part 1 by Corwin and Gerry Doeksen:
Railways of the West Kootenay Part One photo RailwaysKootenay.jpg

(While you’re searching for that, here’s a short video documenting the last run, including footage of the barge operation.)

If this all sounds familiar, it may be because modeller Mark Dance is building this line on line level of a large, complex multi-deck N scale layout called the Columbia and Western, which was featured in Model Railroad Planning 2012 (available from Kalmbach). A perusal through Mark’s online layout gallery will show that it’s an ambitious project.

I admire anyone with the time, energy and resources to tackle such a layout because I know I don’t have it in me. But have a look at Level 4 of his layout plan. This segment could easily be unwound and run around the walls of a layout room (with the tail of the Rosebery wye jutting into the space on a short peninsula). I think it would fit in my space in HO, and a slightly larger space in S. But it would really shine as a layout project in Proto:48 (fine scale O), using an upgraded Red Caboose GP-9 in CP Rail Action Red as motive power.

UPDATE: David recently posted some photos to his website of a trip he took to Kaslo in 1978. Click on this photo by David to view more of his images from that trip:
Kalso Barge Ramp photo KaslobargeWoodhead_zps47db0485.jpg

Just a thought prompted by a friend’s visit.

4 thoughts on “CP Rail – Rosebery to Nakusp

    • Hi Romain:

      Thank you for reminding me of that one. That’s the layout built by Andreas Keller (and it’s a different part of Galt than the portion of the Waterloo Sub that I wrote about here.

      But I’m glad you pointed it out. Andreas used to live in Southern Ontario, where he was building a layout based on the CNR at Guelph Junction, set in the mid-1980s. It was one of the most revolutionary layouts I’d ever seen and while I was not a member of his operating crew, I was fortunate to be invited to operating sessions that he hosted for a few friends after the annual train show that used to take place in March.

      His was the first layout I visited that was truly an RPM-style effort – a specific time, a specific location, and great attention to getting the details of the prototype just right. It influenced every layout I’ve built since.

      When Pierre Oliver and I were casting about, looking for prototypes to use for a Free-mo compliant layout to take to local shows, the portion of Galt that Andreas is currently modelling was one of our options. I visited the area, took several dozen photos, and started drawing.

      Andreas and I exchanged lots of information at that time. Unfortunately, the area was too complex to accurately render on a portable layout, so we set it aside and looked at other possibilities, including CNR operations in Chatham and Thorold, Ontario.

      But it was a section of Peterborough that best fit the bill and became The Peterboro Project.


  1. Hello Trevor,

    I currently am starting to build a P48 layout centred upon the Ladysmith diamond crossing of the CP by Comox Logging and Victoria Lumber (later MacBlo).

    My original plan was to build Rosebery in P48. I got as far as making CAD drawings for the rather unique barge loading ramp that rode on submerged railcar trucks. I did not have a P48 steam locomotive at the time to test the vertical transition from the track on grade to the track on the slip. The angle is equivalent to an abrupt 10% grade and I was unsure that sufficient equalization would exist on any purchased and converted steamer. The steam-diesel era that I wish to model used 2-8-0’s. I did not want to compromise the design of the ramp so I abandoned my plans without knowing whether or not it was possible to operate as the prototype did. Usually, us modellers get away with murder with respect to curvature, grades and turnout numbers but not this time I fear.

    Keep up the great work on the Port Rowan layout and blog.

    Bill Bear

    • Hi Bill:
      Sorry to hear that you couldn’t pursue Rosebery. You’re right – it would take some compromise. I think I might have been tempted to make those compromises in order to make it work, but we all have our own level of tolerance for things like that.
      The Ladysmith location sounds interesting – I seem to recall the late Ed Warren modelled that on his Proto:48 layout. Good luck with the project, and thanks for the kind words about Port Rowan.

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