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Engineer’s Report on the Alberta Central Railway, 1914

November 10th, 1914

W.A. Bowden, Eng., Chief Engineer, Department of Railways and Canals, Ottawa.


n Sept. 24th last I inspected the Alberta Central Railway (Subsidy Agreement No. 20189) from Red Deer to Ullin (1.3 miles west of Rocky Mountain House), 64.5 miles, accompanied by Mr. W.A. James, Engineer of Construction, and Mr. MacGregor, Superintendent, and beg to report as follows:

The line is completed and has been in operation for some months by order of the Board of Railway Commissioners, three mixed trains each way per week being run.

The subsidy agreement prescribes the western terminus of this line to be Rocky Mountain House and as that station is 63.2 miles from Red Deer, this distance only is admissible for subsidy.

The grades and curvature are in conformity with the plans and profiles approved by Council under date July 1st, 1913.

The road is well ballasted and is fenced with 6 strand wire fence on cedar posts for its entire length and has wooden slab snow fences erected at all necessary points.

Water tanks have been erected at mileages 18.2, 32.6, 48.6 and 63.2.

A telegraph line of excellent standard has been erected for the entire length of line.

Small permanent stations have been erected at Mintlaw, mile 7.3, Crawshaw, mile 32.6, and Otway, mile 60.4.

Small temporary stations, subject to future changes of location as traffic develops, are located at Cygnet, mile 11.2, Sylvan Lake, mile 18.2, Benalto, mile 26.9, Kootuk, 34.2, Hespero, 38.9, Condor, 43.5, Alhambra, 48.6, Lochearn, 60.8, Rocky Mountain House, 63.2, and Ullin, 64.5.

There is a total length of 12 miles of corduroy across various lengths of muskeg—the latter being all shallow.

The line is laid with new 85 lb. steel except for a length of 4.7 miles at the western end of the line, (over which the Canadian Northern Railway have running rights) which is laid with new 60 lb. steel, and also a length of one mile about mile 59 laid with 56 lb. steel—the latter shortly to be replaced by heavier steel.

Practically all culverts in place consist of corrugated iron pipe.

The principal structures are as follows:

Mile 0.25 – Crossing over Calgary and Edmonton Railway. 2 deck plate girder spans of 50 ft. 1–½ deck plate girder span of 80 ft. Abutments timber, piers concrete.
Mile 6.00 – Red Deer River Crossing. 15 deck plate girder tower spans of 45 ft. 15 deck plate girder tower spans of 75 ft. 2 deck truss spans of 150 ft. (156 ft. c. to c.). Concrete piers and pedestals. Timber abutments, partly filled in.
Mile 20.0 – 6 spans of 15 ft. timber trestle.
Mile 28.0 – Pile trestle bridge – 7 spans of 15 ft.
Mile 28.5 – Pile trestle bridge – 1 spans of 15 ft.
Mile 29.0 – Pile trestle bridge – 2 spans of 15 ft.
Mile 29.8 – Pile trestle bridge – 2 spans of 15 ft.
Mile 32.4 – Medicine River Crossing. 1 steel deck plate girder – 100 ft. timber abutments. 2 pile timber trestle spans – 15 ft. 2 pile timber trestle spans – 11 ft.
Mile 32.8 Horse Guard River Crossing. 1 steel deck plate girder span 80 ft. timber abutments. 76 spans of 15 ft. pile and frame trestle. 2 spans of 17.5 ft. pile and frame trestle. 2 spans of 12.5 ft. pile and frame trestle.
Mile 35.9 – 23 spans of 15 ft. pile and frame trestle.
Mile 43.6 – 5 spans of 15 ft. pile and frame trestle.
Mile 48.5 – 3 spans of 15 ft. pile and frame trestle.
Mile 50.0 – 13 spans of 15 ft. pile and frame trestle.
Mile 60.0 – 3 spans of 15 ft. pile and frame trestle.
Mile 61.4 – 15 spans of 15 ft. frame trestle.
Mile 61.5 – North Saskatchewan River Steel Viaduct. 3 D.P.G. Tower spans of 75 ft. concrete piers. 3 D.P.G. Tower spans of 45 ft. concrete piers. 1 D.P.G. Tower span of 65 ft. concrete piers. 2 Deck Truss spans of 150 ft. (157.75 ft c. to c.) 4 spans of 15 ft. pile and timber trestle.
All trestles constructed to CPR Standard.

Attached hereto are statements of cost furnished by the Engineer of Construction, for the entire 64.5 miles constructed. They show a total cost of $2,271,907.11 from which, to bring within the provisions of cost of the line upon which the payment of subsidy is based, should be deducted the amounts of $1,479.21, $139,587.35, $346,098.33, and $12,698.06 expended over and above $25,000 on each of the following bridges respectively. C. and E. Crossing near Red Deer River and Horse Guard River, and totalling $499,862.95, thus bringing the cost of the line for subsidy purposes to $1,772,044.16 or $27,473.55 per mile.

I may state that, in my opinion, judging from my inspection, the quantities and cost prices given in the supplied statements as fair, just and correct and that the full subsidy of $6400 per mile for 63.2 miles, a total of $404,480.00 has been fairly earned.

I would point out, however, that Sec. 10 of the Specifications has not been specifically carried out as para. 2 of that Section calls for abutments of bridges to be of masonry or concrete, whereas abutments of certain bridges, as detailed in the proceeding list of structures, are of timber construction. Also, it would not appear that the written authority of the Minister of Railways and Canals had been given for the use of trestle and pile bridges as required by Section 17 of the Specifications.

These points are noted because of their divergence from the terms of the subsidy agreement. The actual timber construction referred to is sufficiently strong and quite satisfactory for the use of this line and, undoubtedly, will be replaced in time by more permanent structures when necessary. All other classes of construction are in conformity with the specifications.

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,
(L.) Sherwood Prin. Asst. Engr.

Source: Public Archives of Canada, RG 43, Vol. 260, File 2287 A.