Thursday 1 May 2014


Beaverdell is a tiny settlement near the right of way of the former Kettle Valley Railway.  It was a station 42 railway miles north-west of Midway and people still live in the neighbourhood.  Looking at the satellite images available through Google Earth, one can easily discern the former railway grade for the most part though there are a few intrusions due to later industrial activity.  By keying in Beaverdell and then looking to the west of the highway, the right of way and the approximate locations of the former buildings can be detected or calculated.  Zooming in with "Street View" one can follow the Beaverdell Station Road that runs west from the highway.  It crosses what appears to be a relocated railway girder bridge spanning the West Kettle River, passes a baseball diamond and then a truss-building plant close to the right-of-way.  The main industrial building of the truss plant shows on the right of the photograph below.  The central feature of this photo is the ore loading ramp for the ores shipped out by the Highland Bell Mine.  The gravel road to the left is the former right-of-way.  This shot dates from about 1985.

With a young family, I did not have a very large hobby budget so I had to scrimp on photography costs with the result that I took only two photos when our family passed through the area on our way to a Nelson high school reunion.  How regrettable that I could not afford a few more shots of the unique and interesting buildings, especially the concentrator.  Here is a photo of the Highland Bell Mill building.  Close examination under magnification reveals a company sign:  Highland Bell with the word "TECK" in 
larger print, followed by Corporation.  High on the right is what appears to be an unloading shed with cribbing for a ramp for trucks to dump their raw ores for processing in the ball mill.

We also offer here a black and white image of the other side of the concentrator from a book by John White entitled DRIVING THE KETTLE VALLEY, published on a small scale in 1994.  I hope he has no objection to my sharing this image.  It could be very helpful to modelers.  If he or anyone else has more photos or information to share, please contact me at or in the comments section below.

The station with its tie loading platform and Mill seems an eminently model-able station for a layout and here is a CPR drawing and some details to assist one in that endeavour. For scaling purposes, note that there are dimensions on the drawing of 50 feet on each side of the centreline of the mainline and a further 100 feet dimension given for the boundary near the mill.  The actual footprint dinmensions of the mill are given including the distance to the centreline of the spur to the mill building itself.  One can only speculate what items were shipped or received in freight cars through the large doors in the photo above.  The date of this drawing is not provided but my guess is that it would probably have been revised and updated about 1950.

Here is an enlargement of the concentrator showing clearly many important dimensions.  Of interest is the No. 11 spring switch and the derail on the siding.  The little triangle attached to the track centre-line is the symbol for a derail.  The diamond is the symbol for a headblock/switch stand with the letters "P. S." denoting Point of Switch.  The pair of dotted lines is the symbol for a culvert which seems to have been filled with drain rock in 1935.  Note also that the Mill is outside the railway property.  There are two 50' dimensions for scaling if necessary.

Here is some detail of the other structures and their locations.  Again, there is a 100 foot dimension with which the drawing can be scaled.  Incidentally, the little dots linked by a solid line are the locations of telephone poles which are all located inside railway property.  Interesting detail.  And there is a fence line bordering the right-of-way for the entire length of the drawing. 

Regarding the cattle corral on the railway property to the left, it appears to say "Woven Wire Fence" with dimensions of 35' x 50'.  This suggests another load to be shipped from Beaverdell but how did they load cattle into stock cars from the corral?  At the Tie Loading Platform of course we would expect Gondolas would be loaded.  I believe that flatbed trucks with ties would drive up the ramp onto the platform at one end and exit by way of the other ramp to avoid a backing movement.  The tie mills themselves would be located in the bush near the supply of timber.  The "Bell Mill Ore Chute" is the one shown in the photo above.  I have no info on the station other than what is reported in Joe Smuin's MILEBOARDS.  This station is a mere 15 feet square so I suspect that it was a simple frame shelter with a 50' cinder platform.  On the other hand, Joe Smuin reports that an agent/operator functioned there from 1935 to 1969 and a wire drop does appear to connect to the station.  Call sign "BD" appears on all my Timetables.  The presence of a "double privy" suggests there was actually passenger traffic.  This is confirmed by the denotation in the Timetables of Beaverdell as a "scheduled stop" for Nos. 11 and 12.  Finally, the "woodshed" also suggests that a stove was provided for the "comfort" of the agent/operator and any waiting passengers.   A photo and caption in MILEBOARDS shows a later station building (and train order board) that had been erected about 1959.  It is similar to a section bunkhouse with a width of 10 feet.  These were portable structures capable of being transported on a flat car.

Finally, we have a link to an article with a good deal of information and a superb photo which was sent to me by a blog correspondent:   
Here is the photo courtesy of the Okanagan Archives Trust Society:
In fact, it was Colin's input and questions which moved me to consider this post.  Movies of a Way-freight doing switching will have to wait.  So, if you have a pet subject regarding the KVR on which I might have info, you can write me.  Sorry for the tardiness of this post but a wedding anniversary trumps a model railroading post.

Coquihalla Man

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