Princeton Subdivision

Statistical Data

Princeton Subdivision – Brodie Wye to Princeton

Operations started: 1915
Operations ended: 1989
Tracks removed: 1992
Lowest Elevation: 638 meters
Highest Elevation: 975 meters
Total Distance: 67.6 Kilometers

 

Princeton Subdivision – Princeton to Penticton

Operations started: 1915
Operations ended: 1989
Tracks removed: 1991
Lowest Elevation: 345 meters
Highest Elevation: 1098 meters
Total Distance: 113.4 Kilometers

 

Princeton Subdivision Notes

Princeton Subdivision – Brodie Wye to Princeton

This is a very interesting section of the Kettle Valley Railway, with some unique features to it. When you leave the Brodie Wye and head north east, you start to climb up to the town of Brookmere.

Brookmere is of interest because of the water tower and the railway station that was there. The water tower still stands, although it has been moved from its original foundation onto private land. It is the water tower itself that is the interesting bit, it has water spouts on both sides of the tower. That is because the Kettle Valley Railway ran on one side of the tower and the Grand Northern Railway ran on the other. They shared the rails south of Brookmere right to Princeton. At Princeton, the GNR continued on to Hedley, then crossed the Similkameen just before Hedley and headed south to the US. This is the railway that JJ Hill built.

Another interesting thing about Brookmere is that on the second weekend in August, every year, many retired (and active) railroaders meet there to discuss old times and the old KVR. The station here is long gone, but the section house remains and for a long time was a museum with lots of railway memorabilia. Many of the houses here in Brookmere are originals from the time of the Kettle Valley Railway. At one time Brookmere boasted a school and a hotel.

After you’ve climbed up to Brookmere, the railway takes a mostly southern route towards Princeton. You pass Spearing, Thalia and Manning before you reach Tulameen. In Tulameen is at the south end of Otter Lake and there is a nice Provincial campground located on Otter Lake. Ice used to be pulled out of Otter Lake in big blocks to be used for keeping things refrigerated.

From Tulameen the railway continues on until it comes to Coalmont. There are still some remants of the railway here. The Coalmont Hotel is one notable building that can be seen here. There used to be a general store that had been restored, unfortunately it closed down many years ago. You can cross a bridge here and visit the site of Granite City an old mining town.

From Coalmont the railway continues on to the station of Princeton which still exists. On your way there, you go through a very long tunnel that passes under Highway 3, the Hope Princeton Highway. The Princeton station has been renovated and is now a Subway Sandwich shop.

 

Princeton Subdivision – Princeton to Penticton

From Princeton Station, the right of way follows the Similkameen until it crosses the Tulameen River. For many years all that stood in the river where the concrete pillars of the old bridge, but a few years ago, a new bridge deck was placed on the old pillars. From here the railway passes the Princeton Castle Resort and Belfort before it starts the steep climbĀ  to Jura. Because this the hill that has to be climbed here is so steep, large winding loops were built which are known as the Jura or Belfort Loops (depending upon who you talk to). It is amazing that because of the loops, the grade never gets any worse than 1.7%. At Jura, trains would need to refill with water after the hard climb. The concrete foundation of the old water tower has been turned into a rest stop complete with a roof and seating for cyclists.

From Jura, the railway climbs higher into the valley, goes through a tunnel at Erris and then crosses a deep gulley where Dry Creek runs below. The route continues to Jellicoe and then Bankier. Bankier may still have a small general store operating. It has been a while since I went through this way. After Bankier you come to Osprey Lake, a great little lake to take the family camping at, as is Chain lake further back towards Princeton.

After Osprey, the gravel road and the right of way merge a few times. Bridges have been removed and you have to travel around these outages. You come to Thirsk, a water reservoir which I believe to be for the town of Princeton. There is a large damn at the Eastern end of the lake. From Thirsk you continue on to Kirton, Crump and finally Faulder. There used to be a nice general store at Faulder, which is long gone.

Faulder is where the rails start. Wait? What, the rails start? Yes, the Kettle Valley Steam Train Society was able to save about 10 kilometers of the original KVR rail bed and the rails are still there. In fact, spring through fall they operate one of two working steam trains on the line. From Faulder you come down into the valley of West Summerland and eventually West Summerland station which the society has refurbished. Here you can stop and look at the steam train if it is in the station. There is a gift shop, snack bar and washrooms. Check with the Kettle Valley Steam Railway website for opening times and operating schedules.

From West Summerland station, to Winslow, is where the steam train runs now. At Winslow there is the Trout Creek Bridge #4, this is the highest bridge on the Kettle Valley Railway. some 73 meters to the bottom below.

From Winslow the rail bed parallels the Okanagan lake on the bluffs above. Eventually working its way into the valley below. There used to be a bridge across the Okangan Canal, but CPR removed that. Once into Penticton itself, it is difficult to find much evidence of the old Kettle Valley Railway, save the Penticton station and a few small bridges.

Click on one of the links below to view the stations or points of interest in the Princeton Subdivision