Named for a Cree expression of awe and wonder, Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies is a place of vertical rock walls, waterfalls and towering peaks. At its western edge, Wapta Lake lies close to the Continental Divide, where the Kicking Horse River begins as a small stream. This Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) freight train was photographed heading east on Wapta Lake’s south shore. To reach this point, the train would have climbed 11.5 miles (18.5 km) up the steep route from the base of Mount Stephen and continued up through the Spiral Tunnels and Kicking Horse Pass.
This stretch of the line travels through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Canada. The completion of the transcontinental railway spawned a thriving tourism industry in BC, with this route being a crown jewel. When the Trans-Canada highway was built in Yoho in the 1950s, it became a very popular place with visitors, who could stop at viewpoints to see trains looping through the pass.
This photograph appeared in Beautiful British Columbia Magazine, a travel publication produced by the provincial government using large-format, full-colour photographs. The magazine experienced a sharp increase in sales in the early 1960s, as British Columbians started to send issues and subscriptions to friends and relatives worldwide.
BC Archives Series GR-3306 contains thousands of photographs taken by BC government staff ca. 1966 to 1982. I-06672 is “Spiral Tunnel, Yoho National Park”; I-06671 is “Viewpoint For The Spiral Tunnel, Yoho National Park”.