Engineering played a decisive role in making the main railroad line between Alberta and B.C. safer and more efficient.

The original line between Hector and Field, B.C. had a 4.5 per cent grade - meaning there was a change of 900 feet in elevation over just four miles. It was an excessive slope for trains to maneuver. The slope was so steep that four 154-ton locomotives were required to move just 710 tons of freight up the hill, not an economical means of transporting goods.

The solution to reducing the amount of slope meant artificially lengthening the route. Spiral tunnels, which turned back around and underneath themselves were the answer.

Between 1907 and 1909 the first two tunnels were built. More than one thousand men laboured to remove more than 54,000 cubic metres of rock.

Tunnel #1 measures 3,255 feet long and turns 291 degrees; Tunnel #2 is 2,922 feet long and turns 217 degrees.

These spiral sensations are the only tunnels of this kind in North America.

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