The railway and the connecting steamboat services also fostered the growth of agriculture. Creston, south of Kootenay Lake, and many small settlements around Kootenay Lake and in the Columbia and Kootenay river valleys developed around agricultural lands. The products of the farms and orchards were shipped over the new railway or on the sternwheelers that provided connecting services.

Logging and sawmilling were important all along the Crowsnest route. Fernie, Cranbrook, Creston and Nelson emerged as the major centres for commerce and Cranbrook and Nelson were also division points for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Repair shops and large yards were located and many train crews were based there.

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