Historical Overview (Timeline)

1910 – First standard gauge Railroad Tracks laid in Stewart, BC, Canada. Construction began in June by the Portland Canal Short Line Railway (PCSLR), whose operating right granted the right to build a railway from Stewart/Hyder inward across Bear Creek Pass. It served various mines along its 21km right of way. The roster consisted of two identical Pittsburgh Works 2-6-0 steam locomotives built in 1891. Cars were predominantly wooden box and flat cars. A single combine provided for passenger transport. There was no turntable or wye. Both locomotives operated with the front pointing away from the coast. At Steward an immense wharf had to be build to get the railcars across the tidal flats of Stewart Bay to the deep water area of the Portland Canal, where the steamers of both the Pacific and the Union Steamship Company usually moored. Several plans were made, to make Stewart the western terminus of a potential fourth transcontinental railway in Canada. And survey of the right of way was completed up the Bear River Pass to Meziadin Lake though the trackwork didn’t extend beyond Red Cliff in October 1911. The projected route included a more than 650m long tunnel under the pass and skirted the lake around its northeastern shore. From there plans were drawn to swing south toward Hazelton (Terrace), where there was the Grand Trunk Pacific line.

The railway was renamed to Canadian Northeastern Railway (CNER). It operated until 1915. By then in reality the railroad discontinued any plans to expand their network furthet east. Its operaring charta ended 1921.

In the alternate History of my BC Northern Railway, this marked the turning point. Contrary to the survey information that the Groundhog Mountains coal deposits were said to be warped and inaccessible from an economical point of view, this coal field proved to be as rich as Mann, the Railway Chief Executive Officer, had envisioned.

1912 – The BC Northern’s first 3ft narrow gauge line opens between Meziadin Lake, BC and three logging camps in the area. It was projected to interchange with the CNER. In 1916, the BC Northern aquired the CNER to merge the two railways. Standard gauge track was laid up to Meziadin Lake where there was a dual gauge interchage yard with the BCNR. This became Meziadin Junction (the name actually came from the road junction). When the motherlode of the Red Cliff mine was found in october 1915, traffic increased dramatically.

1917 – Two Copper ore mines opened, existing 3ft mainline was upgraded to standard gauge. Logging branches still used 3ft gauge. Trains were transloaded at various sidings of the mainline.

1920 – Coal mine opens near Meziadin Junction. Workforce requirements and increasing freight volumes boost population in the area.

1921 – Silver Mine opened in the backhills of Alice Arm. Several Logging Camps operate in the area. Logs were transported by truck or cable tram to the nearest siding.

1923 – Blue Hills Coal Mine opened near Alice Arm. Mainline extended south to haul coal frome this mine to the port of Steward. The old tracks to Meziadin Jct. were now officially called Northern Division, while the line south was then known as the Stewart Division.

1930 – Logging Camps, a Paper Mill and a Coal mine open near Mill Bay. BCN mainline further extended south to get the comodities to the sea. The two legs of the Stward Division were named Portland Subdivision (from Stewart South to Alice Arm) and the Alice Arm Subdivision (from it’s namesake town to Mill Bay.

1934 – Board of directors discuss a connection to Prince Rupert via Port Simpson. The plan is rejected due to the financial strain.

1940 – Northern Division extended via Meziadin Jct. to Thunder Ridge (a freelanced location name), where a big ore mine hase opened (this extension was known as the Thunder Ridge Subdivision).

1952 – Port Adams, a barge slip and ferry pier outside Mill Bay inaugurates Barge Service to Prince Rupert (to interchange railcars with CNR). Company housing is provided at the site.

1955 – BCN extends the Stewart Division west toward Canyon City, where numerous logging sites were located.

1960 – A decade of change that also marked some significant milestones for the BCN, as it aquired it’s first new diesel power as well as custom ordered railcars this year. Among those were brand new tank cars, covered hoppers, pulpwood flatcars, woodchip cars and retrofitted flatcars with fixtures for carrying trailers or containers. A pair of SD-40, SD-45 and GP-30 each provided modern MU capable power. The RS-1 both have been ocerhauled and the triplet of GE 65ton Switchers got a new coat of paint.

(1967 – BC Northern finally connects its mainline to Port Simpson and Prince Rupert to interchange with the Canadian National Railway.)

1970 – Port Adams now operates Barges to Alaska. The village of Mill Bay is now part of the town of Port Adams.

1978 – The year after BC Rail stopped contruction of the line to Dease Lake somewhere near Jackson, BCN finally finished construction of the last leg of it’s Northern Division to Chipmunk, BC, where a small interchange yard (at the BC Rail site) is located.

1990 – After financial crisis competitor CN aquired about half of the stocks dealed at canadian stock exchange markets and was technically in control of the railroad since then. The operation continued as a joint venture between BCNorthern Holding and CN, leading to a variety of rolling stock. locomotives sporting CN paint schemes with BCN sublettering joined BCNs fleet of locomotives in an Ontario Northland similar paint scheme.