Morrissey, Fernie & Michel Railway

This railway was not a Canadian Pacific branch line or spur. However, one of its two lines was built by the CPR and later leased by the Crow's Nest Pass Coal Company which owned the Morrissey, Fernie & Michel. The railway was operated to connect the mines at Coal Creek and at Morrissey with the Canadian Pacific and Great Northern railways. The first of the MF&M lines was built by the CPR to the Coal Creek Mines near Fernie, a distance of about six miles (10 km), in 1900. The second extended up Morrissey Creek to a mine at Carbonado and nearby coke ovens east of Morrissey. It was built in 1901 by the Great Northern's subsidiary, the Crow's Nest Southern Railway, and was in use for only a few years. This branch was just over five miles (8 km) long. The mines at Carbonado operated only between 1902 and 1908 when the mine was closed.

The railway to Coal Creek was a busy one for many years. It carried countless trainloads of coal from the mines to the main line railways. In addition, free passenger trains operated several times each day to provide transportation for the miners who lived in Fernie. Similarly, the line to Morrissey was a key link for the coal mines and the miners working at the mines. The two railways also brought in any freight or equipment needed at the mines.

Although it hauled coal, the Morrissey Fernie & Michel purchased a Baldwin-built diesel locomotive in 1946 and became one of the first railways in British Columbia to do so. The Coal Creek line was closed in 1957 but much of the rolling stock survived to be preserved. The diesel, because it was an early and unusual Baldwin product, eventually went to the California State Railroad Museum at Sacramento. Two passenger cars and a flat car are at Heritage Park in Calgary and a snowplow and a combine (a combined coach and baggage car) are at Fort Steele Heritage Park. A small mining locomotive from the collieries was purchased by Gerry Wellburn and is now at the B.C. Forest Museum at Duncan on Vancouver Island.


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