MoboReader> Literature > Canada and the States

   Chapter 6 No.6

Canada and the States By Sir E. W. Watkin Characters: 18888

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04

Port Moody-Victoria-San Francisco to Chicago.

At "Port Moody," and even at the new "Vancouver City," I felt some disappointment that the original idea of crossing amongst the islands to the north-east of Vancouver's Island, traversing that island, and making the Grand Pacific terminus at the fine harbour of Esquimalt, had not been realized. Halifax to Esquimalt was our old, well-worn plan. The "Tete Jaune" was our favoured pass. This plan, I believe, met the views both of Sir James Douglas and the Honorable Mr. Trutch. But I consoled myself with the reflection, that if we had not gained the best, we had secured the next best, grand scheme-a scheme which, as time goes on, will be extended and improved, as the original Pacific Railways of the United States have been.

The sea service between "Port Moody" and "Victoria," Vancouver's Island, is well performed; and Victoria itself is an English town, with better paved streets, better electric lighting, and better in many other ways that might be named, than many bigger American and English towns I know of. I spent four delightful days in and about it, including an experimental trip, through the kindness of Mr. Dunsmuir -the proprietor of the Wellington Collieries, a few miles north of Nanaimo-over the new railway from Victoria to Nanaimo, constructed, with Government aid, by himself and Mr. Crocker, of San Francisco. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Sir Mathew Begbie, the Chief Justice of British Columbia, to whose undaunted courage Vancouver's Island and British Columbia owed law and order in the dangerous and difficult times of the gold discoveries.

Upon the question of relative distances, engineering, and generally what I saw between Port Moody and Chicago, I again take advantage of Mr. Edward Wragge's excellent notes.

"Table of Distances between Liverpool and China and Japan, via the Canadian Pacific Railway, through Canadian territory, and via New York and San Francisco, through United States territory:-


"Summer Route MILES.

Liverpool to Quebec, via Belle Isle 2,661

Quebec to Montreal 172

Montreal to Port Moody 2,892

Port Moody to Vancouver 12

Vancouver to Victoria 78

Vancouver to Yokohama 4,334

Vancouver to Hongkong 5,936

"Winter Route MILES.

Liverpool to Halifax 2,530

Halifax to Quebec 678

Other points as in summer.

Summer route, Liverpool to Yokohama 10,071

Winter route, " " 10,618


Liverpool to New York 3,046

New York to Chicago, via N.Y.C.

and M.C. Railways 961

Chicago to San Francisco 2,357

San Francisco to Yokohama 4,526

San Francisco to Hongkong 6,128

Liverpool to Yokohama 10,890

"For distance to Hongkong, add 1,602 miles to the distance to Yokohama.

"Note,-Distances by rail are statute miles. Distances by sea, geographical miles.


"The Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway runs from West Victoria, near

Esquimalt, to Nanaimo, which latter place is a small mining town in the

Island of Vancouver, lying on the east coast, on the shore of the

Straits of Georgia, nearly opposite Burrard Inlet, from which it is

distant about 28 miles.

"The line is well constructed with a good and substantial road-bed; steel rails, weighing 54 lbs. per yard (except a few miles near Nanaimo, where they are 50 lbs. per yard); well ballasted, and well tied; the bridges and trestles are all of timber, of which material there is about 1,000,000 cubic feet employed altogether. The steepest grade is 80 feet per mile rising towards Nanaimo, and 79 feet per mile rising towards Esquimalt; these grades are rendered necessary to enable the line to overcome the summit lying between the two places, and which is 900 feet above the level of the sea. Running, as the line does, through a rugged country, there are a good many sharp curves rendered necessary. The distance from Esquimalt to Victoria is 75 miles. The line was not quite completed when we went over it; and the buildings, turn-tables, &c. were not yet erected, although some of them were under construction.

"The traffic on the line will be light, the country being sparsely settled. It will consist to some extent of coal; but there is water competition for the carriage of this article of merchandize; and the station at Victoria is too far from the town at present for much of it to come by rail for consumption in the town. There is a wharf in the harbour of Esquimalt, at which coal can be delivered to men-of-war lying there. Mr. Dunsmuir, of Victoria, is the chief proprietor of the railway, and he has associated with him Mr. Cracker, President of the Southern Pacific Railway, and others.

"The Government of Canada gave a bonus of $750,000 (say 150,000_l_.) in aid of the construction of the railway, and a belt of land, with the minerals under it, of 10 miles in width on each side of the line.

"During the afternoon of the 23rd of September we visited the West Wellington Coal Mines, 4 or 5 miles beyond Nanaimo, and to which the railway is to be extended, work on the extension having just been commenced. The mines are owned by Messrs. Dunsmuir & Sons, and at the present time they are working at five shafts, the output for the month of August being 17,000 tons. We went down the shaft of No. 5 pit, which was 240 feet deep, and found the seam was very thick, from 10 to 11 feet, but not very solid block coal, having apparently been crushed. The mines are all connected with wharves on the coast at Departure Bay by a three-feet gauge railway; the lines around the mines were all in fair order. The line is worked by small locomotives, six wheels coupled and no truck, of the Baldwin Locomotive Company's manufacture, the load handled by them being 15 cars, each containing 3-1/2 tons of coal, and averaging in dead weight 1-3/4 tons each. The grade down to the port is very steep, and the heaviest work for the engines is in taking the empties back again.

"The coal is mined by white miners, who employ each of them a Chinese labourer; they employ gunpowder for blasting purposes, chiefly Curtis & Harvey's make, and use naked lights of oil. The miners are found in all tools except their auger drills, which they all use, and which cost some $30 each. Each miner has an allowance of one ton of coal per month for his own use. There was a little drip at the foot of the shaft we went down, but otherwise the mine was quite dry. The mode of unloading the cars at the wharf was rather primitive, but at the same time simple and ingenious. When the car has been weighed it is run forward by five Chinamen to the end of the wharf, the front end of the car being hinged at the top, with a catch opened by a lever, a short piece of track sufficiently long for the car to stand upon is built projecting beyond the wharf and over the hold of the vessel, this piece of track is laid on a framework, which is hinged to the wharf in front so as to tip up from behind, to it is attached a long wooden pole as a lever, round the end of which is a rope, made fast to the wharf by a belaying pin; as soon as the car is on the tipping track, the lever on the front end of the car is knocked up so as to allow the coal to fall out, and the end of the long wooden pole is allowed to rise slowly by the rope being loosened, the coal then shoots out of the car. When empty the Chinamen weigh down on the pole and bring the track, with the car on it, back to its former position, making the rope fast to the belaying pin, and the car is run back to make way for another. We were told that in this way five Chinese have put 1,000 tons of coal on board a vessel in a working day.

"On the following morning we visited the mine at Nanaimo, of the Vancouver Coal Company, and Mr. S. Robins, the superintendent, showed us over his works, and accompanied us down the shaft into the mine. The shaft is 600 feet deep, and the heading and workings are under the sea to a distance of 400 or 500 yards. The coal is hard and of good quality, making a good gas coal (which the West Wellington coal does not do). There have been one or two faults met with lately in the seam, which is 7 feet thick; but Mr. Robins thinks they have been overcome. There is only one shaft working, and the output in the 24 hours of the day previous had been 434 tons. The coal comes to the surface in two 'boxes' at a time, each containing about 35 cwt. This Company has good railway tracks of 4 feet 8-1/2 inches gauge, with English locomotives, &c. The machinery and appliances at this mine were all better and more costly than at the West Wellington mines, and the cars were hopper bottomed, and discharged their contents directly into the hold of the vessels by simply opening the hopper bottom. The staff of men employed at the present time amounts to 350, and the miners are white men, with Chinese labourers. The work at this mine and West Wellington is all done by piecework.


"The harbour at Esquimalt is quite land-locked, and can be very easily protected from an enemy approaching by sea, the heights around being easily fortified, as there are many in good positions for commanding the entrance, both at a distance from it, and also in the immediate vicinity; there is plenty of depth of water at low tide to

enter the harbour. A fort on the Race Rocks, where there is a lighthouse, and which are some 2 miles or so from the coast, would, if supplied with heavy guns capable of long range, command the whole of the San Juan de Fuca Straits, the distance from Race Rock to the American shore not exceeding 8 miles.

"The harbour contains an area of about 400 or 500 acres, in which there is sufficient depth of water for large vessels to lie at all states of the tide.

"The line of railway from Nanaimo to Esquimalt touches the harbour, and has a wharf at which coal from Nanaimo and West Wellington mines may be delivered at any time.

"The graving dock, which has been some eleven years in progress, or rather which was commenced eleven years ago, but which practically has been constructed within the past two years, has a length of 430 feet on the ways, and could easily have been made, in the first instance, 600 feet in length for a comparatively small additional cost. The cost will have been, when completed, about $700,000, and it is now waiting only for the entrance caisson, which is being made at the Dominion Bridge Company's Works, near Montreal.

"The masonry of the dock is of a hard sandstone, the character of the workmanship being very good, and the dock very dry and free from leakage; it has been constructed, so as to save excavation, in a small creek, but this has caused an additional thickness for the walls, and a considerable quantity of filling behind them. It would appear that it could have been built for very much less money had a site been selected among the numerous rocky situations in the harbour, where the rock would only have required facing with masonry instead of the work having been done as it has.

"The naval-yard is a fair size; the workshop is small, however, and apparently little or no materials for the repair of vessels are kept on hand. It will be a necessity for this to be remedied if the graving dock is to be of any use for ships of the navy. We saw two torpedo boats, and some Whitehead torpedoes, the boats were built in Great Britain for Chili, and purchased from the Chilians two years ago.


"Left San Francisco on 29th September, 1886, at 7.30, by steam ferry to Oakland, 4 miles across the harbour; left Oakland by train at 8.10 a.m.; 32 miles from Oakland we reached Port Costa, where the train was ferried across an estuary of the sea to Benicia; for 20 miles from there the line (the Central Pacific division of the Southern Pacific Railway Company) runs, across a flat, marshy country, then into a cultivated country with the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada rising around it, the country being very dry and parched, having had no rain since March: the farm-houses have the Eucalyptus, or Australian blue gum, planted around them; and about 75 miles from San Francisco we entered the vineyard country, which continues to and past Sacramento. Reached Sacramento, which is 90 miles from San Francisco, and only 30 feet above the level of the sea, at 12 o'clock; the schedule time from Oakland, including the ferry at Port Costa, being 25 miles an hour. At Sacramento we crossed the Sacramento and American Rivers, the former by a Howe truss bridge, one of the spans being a swing-bridge, and having a total length of 700 or 800 feet; the latter by a Howe truss bridge, and fully a mile of trestle work.

"From Sacramento the line begins to rise so as to cross the Sierra Nevada Range; the country is rolling, and with the 'live oak' trees scattered over it among the grass presents quite a park-like appearance. The grades as we ascend are very steep, 116 feet to the mile, this line being well ballasted. In the valleys the line was laid originally with steel rails of 50 lbs. weight, and 3,080 ties to the mile, in the mountains with 60 lbs. rails, but no renewals are made with less than a 60 lbs. rail. From Rocklin to Newcastle the vineyards and orchards are very numerous, and again at Colfax, at which latter place we got some very fine grapes grown at an elevation of 2,400 feet above the sea. In the afternoon we passed the mining country, where the whole features of the country have been changed by the use of the 'Monitor' for hydraulic mining, by means of which the sides of the mountains have been washed down to the valleys, filling them and the streams up, and doing much damage to the flats below: this system of directing a stream of water through a six-inch nozzle against the cliff to wash out the gold has now been discontinued, and is illegal, owing to the damage caused by it. The snow sheds commence at Blue Canon, 4,693 feet above the sea, and 170 miles from San Francisco. They are simply rough wooden sheds to protect the line from drifting and falling snow, there being no avalanches to contend with on this route.

"Some of the views on the Sierra Nevada are very fine, notably that at 'Cape Horn.' There is very little timber until Blue Canon is reached, but from there to Truckee and beyond the timber is good, and about equal to that on the Rocky Mountains of the Canadian Pacific Railway. There are several saw mills in this vicinity. After leaving Emigrant Gap we ran through a continuous snow shed for 39 miles, which was very unpleasant, both by reason of the smoke in the cars, and the noise, as well as the loss of the view. We reached Reno about 10 p.m., an hour and a half late. The schedule time over the mountain, up grade, is 17 miles an hour, and from Oakland to Reno, 246 miles, 20 miles an hour. Reno is 4,497 feet above the sea. The summit of the Sierras, which is 196 miles from San Francisco, is 7,017 feet above the sea. We remained all night at Reno. While there we saw in the morning a locomotive engine, with cylinders 22 x 30 and eight driving wheels coupled, said by the driver to weigh 165,000 lbs., start for the ascent of the mountain, up grades of 116 feet to the mile, with 22 cars and a van.

"The country round Reno is table land with high mountains around it. The only crop grown is 'alfalfa,' a species of clover. Three crops a year are taken off the land, and it fetches, as fodder, from $8.00 to $16.00 per ton, according to the season.

"At Wadsworth we saw a very nice reading-room and library for the employes of the railway. This is quite a model station, kept green and bright with lawns and flowers. It is a division terminus, and has a machine shop, round house, &c. The country from Reno to Salt Lake is dry, and almost a desert, sandy, and with sage bush in tufts; the journey through it was hot and terribly dusty. The view of Brigham and other villages, with farms at the foot of the hills on approaching Ogden, was a great relief after the monotony of the last day's run.

"At Ogden we were transferred from the Central Pacific to the Union Pacific train, and upon leaving there passed, after a few miles, through Weber Canon, and afterwards Echo Canon; the scenery was very picturesque, and, at this season of the year, was rendered more so by the beautiful autumn tints which were afforded by the foliage of the bushes which grow up the mountain sides for more than half their height. At Evanston we left the mountains and got on the high table land, over which we ran all day, having it cool and pleasant, a great contrast to the heat of the previous day. During the night of the 1st October we had it quite cold, our altitude being at no time less than 6,000 feet above the sea.

"On the morning of the 2nd October we reached Laramie, where we saw the works of the Union Pacific Railway Company for Burnettizing their ties. The ties are placed on trucks, run into a cylinder, steamed, treated with a solution of chloride of zinc, with glue mixed with it, and afterwards with a solution of tannic acid. When dried they retain only about 1 1/4 lb. of the material with which they have been treated. Mr. Octave Chanute, of Kansas City, Missouri, United States, erected the works for the Union Pacific Company, and has an interest in the patents under which the process is carried out, which is a modification of Sir William Burnett's process. At 8.55 we crossed the highest point on the Rocky Mountains, 8,235 feet above the sea, on table land, no peaks being more than a few hundred feet above us. The rock here is all red granite, and some of it disintegrated, which is used for ballast. There are many snow sheds on the high land here, but none very long. We ran rapidly down from 'Sherman,' the summit, to 6,000 feet level, and more gradually afterwards, running all day through the plains, over which, although very dry, numerous herds of cattle and horses were pasturing, and we reached Omaha at 7.50 a.m. on the 3rd October.

"At Omaha we crossed the Missouri River. The bridge here, of iron, founded on iron cylinder piers, is for a single track only, and is being taken down bit by bit, and a double track iron bridge on masonry piers substituted..

"From Council Bluffs, the station on the Iowa side of the Missouri River, we left by the Chicago and North Western Railway, which is a well constructed, well equipped, and first class American Railway. The line runs through a good agricultural country, the chief crop being Indian corn, and was doing a good business. We met many freight trains during the day, and saw several trains of cattle going east also. We reached Chicago on time at 6.50 a.m. on the morning of the 4th October."

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top