f it is to the West one is looking for a holiday, or if business demands the footsteps be toward the setting sun, think and consider carefully the route. Every one wants the easy way, the scenic way and the shortest way, don't they? Then there is no choice of lines, for there is but one in whose composition these attributes will all be found. The SOO-SPOKANE line. Through the lakes of Minnesota, the wheat fields of Dakota, the plains and mountains of the Dominion, the roaring canyons and beautiful lakes of the Kootenay Country, and down into the inland Empire to Spokane, the chief City between the Twin Cities and Pacific tidewater. This broque, half guide book, half story, is offered to partially prepare one for the trip, and the start shall be from St. Paul and Minneapolis, giving but a brief description of the way along which the line passes before reaching the Rockies.
In Minnesota, famed throughout the World for its fishing, hunting, beautiful lakes and charming natural landscape vistas of forest and field, is seen the finest portion of the great Mississippi Valley, and the bread and butter State is left behind all too quickly as the Spokane flyer rushes forward and into the rolling prairies of the famous No. 1 hard, the wheat that is known around the World. Here in North Dakota the bonanza farms, those of from 1,000 to 10,000 acres, first had their start. This great state is rapidly becoming one of the richest commonwealths in the Union, through its wonderful crops which never fail, its [in]exhaustible lignite coal fields and its many other great resources which are being rapidly developed.
At Portal the boundary between the States and Canada is crossed, and from then on to Moose Jaw, at which point the Soo-Spokane line meets with the Trans-Continental line of the Soo-Pacific Railway, there is but little change. From Moose Jaw the line rises steadily and winds through an irregular depression to the Basin of the Chaplin Lakes. The prairies about and beyond are marked in all directions by old buffalo trails, and pitted and scarred by their wallows.
At Swift Current the altitude has risen to about 2,400 feet, and at this point is located the Government Meteorological Observation station. On to the West the way is still in the prairies, but here and there are tracts covered with valuable timber. The grasses grow finer, the water more plentiful, and passengers begin to see why this portion of the Canadian West is called the finest stock raising country in North America.
Arriving at Dunmore Junction, the point from which the Spokane train branches from the main line to the Crow's Nest Pass route, the line winds its way to the Southwest and towards the Kootenay Lakes. No decided change in the appearance of the country can be noticed for some time. There is still ranching, but the cattle ranches are beginning to disappear before the onslaught of the irrigation ditch. Great irrigation works are swiftly changing the country, making it vastly more profitable and doing much to encourage settlement.
At Pearce, where is obtained the first glimpse of the Old Man River, is a depot of the mounted police, and 150 of the famous guardians of the West are nearly always to be found stationed here. This organization has its counterpart nowhere else in the World, and the efficient service it has rendered Western Canada has been of a value which can hardly be estimated. Following the course of the Old Man River, we pass to the South of the Porcupine Hills, and as the mountains are approached, the Earth's surface becomes seamed with the numerous streams large and small, which flow towards the Saskatchewan from their sources amidst the eternal snows of the Rockies. Big game is plentiful here. Bear, Elk, Mountain Sheep and Mountain Goat can be found at almost any time. Shortly after passing Burmis, a glimpse is caught of a charming waterfall, where the waters of a river tumble and foam over a crescent sloped precipice on their way to join Old Man River. From here to Crow's Nest Lake, the line follows the Valley of the Middle Fork, which narrows into deep canyons and again broadens. The train swings into narrow defiles between almost vertical walls, that on the South being Turtle Mountain.