Passenger Trains (4 of 12)

The Soo Flyer at Moyie

Soo-Spokane Flyer—Soo-Pacific Train de Luxe

The completion, in 1906, of the Spokane International route from Yahk, west of Cranbrook, to Spokane, Washington, expanded the possibilities for travel on the Crowsnest Pass Route. The Canadian Pacific, in cooperation with the Union Pacific-controlled Oregon Railway & Navigation Company (O.R. & N.) developed a first-class express passenger service in direct competition with the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads. The trains originated in St. Paul, Minnesota on the CPR-controlled SOO Line (the St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway) and ran in a northwesterly direction to Portal, North Dakota and North Portal, Saskatchewan. From there they ran over the Canadian Pacific across the prairies to Lethbridge and crossed the Rockies through the Crowsnest Pass, passed through Cranbrook and re-crossed the Canada-United States border at Kingsgate/Eastport. The trains then passed over the Spokane International to Spokane and then transferred to the O.R.& N to make a fast run along the Columbia River to Portland. [See Map.] Times were competitive with first-class trains operated by the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific on their lines across the northern states.

The Canadian Pacific and the Soo Line spared little expense in outfitting the new trains. Contracts were given to the Barney & Smith Car Company of Dayton, Ohio for the construction of much of the needed equipment. Barney & Smith was one of the finest carbuilders of the era and produced beautifully constructed passenger cars for railroads throughout North America. Other cars were built at the CPR's own shops. The complete train set of passenger equipment consisted of a baggage, express and mail car, a tourist sleeping car, a 40-seat first-class coach, a dining car, a first-class sleeper and, the highlight of the entire train, a compartment-observation car which provided luxury sleeping compartments and a large observation lounge. The equipment was delivered from the builders in 1907 and placed in service as soon as possible on the new trains. In total, eight sets of equipment were ordered for provide the service. Some were ordered by the CPR and others were purchased by the Soo Line.

The 80-foot (24.4-m), compartment-observation cars with their spacious, open platforms and graceful arched windows, were named for cities along or near the route of the train. Canadian Pacific cars were named Spokane and Cranbrook and Soo Line cars were named Curzon, Yahk, Fernie, Nelson, Twin Cities and Winnipeg. The first-class Soo Line sleepers for the train were given names beginning with 'V': Viking, Venturia, Verga, Venus, Velva, Venlo, Valhalla and Vanoss. All of these cars were built by Barney and Smith.

Soo-Line Progress Brochure (1909), 17 pages.

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