Monday 16 October 2017

COQUIHALLA STATION Part 2 Building Layout

There was a cluster of buildings at the Coquihalla summit for the various section men and other railway workers plus a family or two.  These included the water tower, the station shelter, the section foreman's house, a standard bunkhouse, a double tool house and three cottages.  In addition there were other dwellings below the grade on the geographical east side.  On the west side of the track there was a fishing lodge comprised of a main building and 5 cabins.  This photograph of our model shows the layout of the cluster near the water tower.  There are a number of major and minor details missing from the model structures but all of the originals are represented here with only moderate linear compression. 

The above photo can be compared with the following crop from the plan of the west end of the siding.  Basic measurements follow for the benefit of modelers who cannot discern the measurements on the plan.
In this 1955 plan, the shelter or operator shack is on the opposite side of the track from the water tank whereas in earlier drawings (see previous post) it was situated on the same side.  The telephone wire drop to the shelter is shown at right angles to the pole line.
  • The poles carried 5 CPR wires and 12 B.C. Tel. Co. wires on three cross arms in the late steam era.  The pole spacing varies considerably between 90 feet and 150 feet.  The wire crossing at the extreme right of the drawing probably connects to the fishing lodge as evidenced by poles leading up to it in the first photo in the previous post.
  • Off the page is information on the track centres which are 15 feet between the main and siding and 13 feet between the siding and the back track (usually referred to as No 2 siding)
  • The Water Tank is of 40,000 gallons capacity and measures 28' - 8" across at the foundation.
  • The Section House was the standard No. 3 with the addition to the rear as was common throughout the Division.  A hand-written notation designates this house as the dwelling for the Coquihalla West foreman.  The drawing's dimensions show it in decimal feet as 22.5' x 28.5' with a setback of about 30 feet.  As was also common with CPR housing, there is a shed close by for firewood and the requisite privy
  • The Tool House is a double with dimensions of 10.5' x 26.5'.  It is set back 24 feet from the track centreline and 40 feet away from the Shelter
  • The Shelter housed a stove, desk and telephone for the train order operator.  One relief Operator told me that there was an unofficial bunk inside.  The Shelter measured 12.5' x 18.5' and was set back 27 feet from the track centreline
  • The cottages are set back from the track 40 feet.  The west and middle cottages were both 22.5' long by 20.5' front to back. The east cottage is 40' x 21'.  This includes a six foot entrance porch on the west end.  The hand-written notation identifies the large cottage as being the dwelling of the Coquihalla East section foreman.  Behind the cottages are the usual privies 4.5' x 4.5' and a large common (firewood?) shed 30' x 5'.
  • Standard Bunkhouse 11' x 28' with privy and woodshed 5' x 1.5'.  The bunkhouse is 107 feet away from track.
  • House 29.5' x 30.5' with shed 13.5' x 14' The house is 97.5 feet away from track
The shelter had a train order signal which in earlier days was on a wooden bracket affixed directly to the front wall.  In later years the signal was mounted on a post. A train Order Operator was stationed there only intermittently but especialy in the winter to assist in the movement of plow and other work trains.  When the Operator was not needed, the boards were covered up or the blades were removed.  Sometimes the station was designated as having a regular operator with the Employee Timetable showing the letter "Q" listed next to the station name as in this excerpt from the 1954 Timetable.

 The other numbers and letters in this crop from a Timetable are:
  • the mileage from Brookmere (18.0 miles)
  • there is a telephone located here (D)
  • the presence of a water supply for locomotives (W)
  • a turning Wye (Y)
  • Yard Limits for the station (Z)
  • and the car capacity of the siding (48 cars)
  • Numbers appearing above and below the station name are the distances from the preceding and following stations (Juliet and Romeo respectively).

During operating sessions on the Kettle Valley Model Railway, an Operator is regularly "stationed" at Coquihalla with access to working train order boards.

A very good photo of the prototype shelter and its physical context is found in the Morning Sun book: Canadian Pacific Steam in Color on page 123.  Unfortunately we cannot reproduce it here but will comment on some interesting details to be noted.  This photo, in wonderful colour, shows that the winter snow is in retreat with locals in shirtsleeves and the right of way quite bare.  The Train Order board is down for the westbound passenger train just as our miniature version displays in this shot of the model.  The original photographer was shooting from the rear of  No. 11 on May 5, 1953 as it passed the shelter.  A train order Hoop is lying on the ground and the Operator is about to retrieve it after "hooping up an order on the fly" to the passing train crew.  Local youths are assisting the Operator with items that seem to have been unloaded recently from one of the trains.  A bed spring rests against the shelter wall.  A platform is built onto the roof for the benefit of the signal maintainer for his weekly refilling of the kerosene lamp of the train order board.  Close by on the shelter are nine 45 gallon drums and an electrical cable spool.  The fishing lodge is seen in the background showing detail that will be helpful in modeling them.

Another photo on the same page of the Canadian Pacific Steam book was taken moments before and it shows the head end of the Eastbound, No 12, in full view on the main track.  On the point is the road engine, a class P1n Mikado locomotive, No. 5261, which is assisted by the pusher cut in behind.  This engine is identified in the caption as 3639.  Besides the minimum 5 coaches in the consist, there are five PMS boxcars and one refrigerator car all of which together absolutely required the assisting engine on the Coquihalla grades.

This series of posts is a direct response to a reader for information as an aid to building a set of Free-mo modules depicting the Coquihalla station on the KVR.

In the next post we will present a few historic photos of the buildings for all modelers and railfans.  Eventually we will offer some plans for the standard buildings which were located at stations all over the Kettle Valley Railway including Coquihalla Station.  In the meantime here is an interesting film of life at the summit in 1946.

Coquihalla Man