Cranbrook, BC, is home to the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel and is the largest city and service center in the East Kootenay region. Many parts of the city date from 1898 and self-guided walking tours are available with maps obtainable from the Chamber of Commerce, or from the Museum.The Canadian Pacific Railway played a major role in the development of Cranbrook. Much of the original railway infrastructure built in Cranbrook still survives, providing a good context for the development of the Railway Museum.The renowned Canadian Museum of Rail Travel is one of the largest museums of its type in Canada, with a valuable national collection of luxurious trains from the golden age of railway travel.
Open all year and located at 57 Van Horne Street South, which is Hwy 3/95 downtown. It is a must-see for any visitor to the region.The museum contains vintage passenger train sets representing various eras from the 1880s to the 1930s. The cars are luxuriously appointed with exotic inlaid woods, brass fixtures, plush upholstery, wool carpets, period furniture, stained glass and other displays such as railway china and silverware.The centerpiece of the train's displays is the only complete surviving 7-car set of the famous 1929 Trans-Canada Limited, a vintage deluxe hotel on wheels.
The railway constructed 12 new complete train sets comprising "A" class dining cars, "R" series sleepers (8-sections, 2-compartments, 1-drawing room), combination baggage sleeping cars (for the dining car crews) and the unique "River" class solarium-lounge cars that were at the end of the trains and especially popular. The train staff for the Limited was a little army; besides the driver-known in Canada as the "engineer"-and the fireman, the Limited had a conductor, trainman, sleeping-car conductor, one porter to each sleeping-car, a parlour-car attendant and the dining-car staff comprising of the chef, stewards and waiters. The Trans-Canada Limited, reserved for First Class passengers only, traveled from Montreal and Toronto to Vancouver, a distance of 2,886 miles.
Other trains on display include the 1907 ultra-luxurious Soo-Spokane Train Deluxe. There are also cars in the museum that were used by various visiting royalty over the years and interpretive cars.Another highlight of the building complex is the spectacular Royal Alexandra Hall, the restored 3,000 sq. ft.
and three storey high "Grand Café" from the Canadian Pacific Railway's former Royal Alexandra Hotel in Winnipeg. Demolished in 1971, the complete café was saved in hundreds of pieces and stored in a semi-trailer for 25 years before being purchased by the museum in 1999.Besides the Railway Museum proper, there is included in the surrounding infrastructure a 10-stall Roundhouse with a 100-foot turntable from 1920 and still in use today, together with another 7 stalls from 1907 with the roof and walls removed. The Railway water tower that was built in 1946 and rebuilt in 1989 is still standing. There is also the original (from 1898) CPR Cranbrook station (although altered) and the 1901 station from Elko that was relocated to the yards in 1987.
The railway Freight Shed built in 1898 forms an important part of the new museum complex of buildings, where it has two levels with a total of 10,000 sq. ft.Just 16 kilometers to the east and north of Cranbrook, is Fort Steele Heritage Town, considered one of British Columbia's premier heritage sites. On a daily basis, Fort Steele brings to life the Victorian age in a Rockies' boomtown. The Fort Steele Railway takes visitors on a scenic ride behind a real steam locomotive.The origins of Fort Steele are traced back to the small settlement of Galbraith's Ferry, created during the Wild Horse Creek Gold Rush of 1864/65.
Galbraith's Ferry was founded after Fisherville, the white man's town in southeastern BC. Located six kilometers up the Wild Horse River from Fort Steele, the Fisherville historic site, is well preserved by a local heritage society and offers a fascinating glimpse into how this region began.
.Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Canada Vacation.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.
By: Michael Russell