CN Railway Bridge - Penticton, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 30.220 W 119° 35.491
11U E 312377 N 5486676
The last remnant of the Canadian National Railway in Penticton, this small railroad bridge serves as the only reminder that the Canadian National Railway was ever in the city.
Waymark Code: WM14Y5Q
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 09/10/2021
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Weathervane
Views: 0

While the Canadian Pacific (CPR), through its subsidiary, the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR), was the major player in the Okanagan, railroad wise, its major competitor, the Canadian National Railway (CNR), also played a part in the development of the Okanagan Valley in the early 20th century. The CNR, after more than a decade of hopes and promises began construction of a spur line south from its mainline into The Okanagan in early 1925, entering the city of Kelowna on September 10, 1925.

That, however, is where the steel ended, the CNR thereafter running barges south to Penticton on Okanagan Lake to service the large fruit industry between Penticton and Osoyoos, at the Canada-U.S. border. In order to connect with the KVR to ship commodities under a joint use agreement, in 1930 the CNR constructed a short rail line across Penticton Creek, from its wharf, to connect with KVR tracks. This little wood pile trestle bridge allowed the connection between the CNR and KVR facilities.

In the 1970s the transportation of fruit and vegetables by road became more economical and the rail facilities fell into disuse, quickly disappearing. This little wooden bridge is the last vestige of the presence of the CNR in Penticton, in the early 2000s becoming part of a waterfront walkway.

CN Railway Bridge

Description of Historic Place
The CN Railway Bridge is a timber bridge spanning Penticton Creek situated near the mouth of the creek on Okanagan Lake in Penticton, British Columbia.

Heritage Value
The CN Railway Bridge is valued as a symbol of two important transportation systems in Penticton in the early 1930s. The bridge linked the CN docks and industrial spur lines on the Penticton waterfront east of Penticton Creek to the Kettle Valley Railway line, a CPR subsidiary, located to the west of Penticton Creek.

The waterfront area developed in the late 1800s into an industrial area and transport point connecting the paddle wheelers which plied Okanagan Lake between Okanagan Landing and Penticton, to land based transportation. When the Kettle Valley Railway was started in 1912, it traversed the slope east of downtown and passed through the central part of the City before crossing Okanagan River to head north to Summerland. A spur line, generally referred to as the Town Line, connected the main lines to the waterfront. By the 1930s an array of cold storage plants, fruit packing warehouses, and canneries were strung along the shore but there was no rail line connecting the industrial areas on either side of Penticton Creek.

With the growth of the fruit industry in the South Okanagan, the railway applied to construct a bridge over Penticton Creek so fruit and other commodities could be shipped on the Kettle Valley lines under a joint user agreement. Constructed in 1930, the bridge allowed CN to have a rail transfer barge in operation to transport rail cars directly from water to land.

The Penticton waterfront industrial area thrived until the 1970s. With the closure of the Kettle Valley line, industries closed and the west side of Penticton Creek became a waterfront Park. In the early 2000s a waterfront pathway was completed between the creek and Penticton Marina. In 2005 the Japanese Gardens were built immediately east of the creek. The area in front of the previous CN headquarters and dock was developed as a park and the bridge became a gateway to the Gardens and the new park area. Today, the railway bridge is the sole remnant of Penticton's once bustling industrial waterfront and the two railways that served it.

The CN Railway Bridge is also valued as an example of industrial design from the railway era. This is illustrated by the use of heavy wooden timbers and cross ties surmounting solid wooden support posts. The bridge also adds to the continuity of transportation along the Penticton waterfront as evidenced by its conversion into a waterfront trail and its embellishment as a gateway to create an entrance into the Japanese Garden.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the CN Railway Bridge include its:
  • location in the historic industrial waterfront of Penticton
  • flared east end, indicating splitting of tracks to sidings on eastern side of creek
  • surrounding public park, walkway and art gallery
  • original wood timbers and cross beams
  • original support posts
  • decorative Japanese gateway and railings
  • From Historic Places Canada
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

94 Lakeshore Dr East
Penticton, BC
V2A 1H5

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

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