Canadian Northern Pacific's Last Spike - Ashcroft, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 50° 34.221 W 121° 18.414
10U E 619894 N 5603416
The Canadian Northern Pacific Last Spike heritage plaque is located in a pull-out on the east side of the Trans-Canada Highway approximately 15 km south of Ashcroft and 19.5 km north of Spences Bridge.
Waymark Code: WM10T2P
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 06/19/2019
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member Dunbar Loop
Views: 2

This is a Dual Last Of Its Kind entry, as it marks the location not only of the last spike driven on the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, but also the location of the Last of the three trans-continental railway Last Spikes to be driven in Canada, all in British Columbia.

The first Last Spike was the final and ceremonial railway spike driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway track by company director Donald Smith on the morning of November 7, 1885 at Craigellachie. On April 7, 1914 the second Last Spike, that of the the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, was driven home just east of what is now Fort Fraser. The third and final Last Spike, that of the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, was pounded near Ashcroft on January 23, 1915, giving BC the distinction of having all three of the trans-continental railway last spikes.

From this historic marker one may catch a small glimpse of the railway that was the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway (now the Canadian National) on the near side of the Thompson River. A short section of track appears in a draw near the river. It is the shaded oval in the photos.

Canada's third trans-continental rail link was completed near Basque on January 23, 1915. In a simple ceremony the last spike was driven, witnessed by a small group of engineers and workmen. The line later became part of the Federal Government's consolidated Canadian National Railways system.


The Last Spike

The most famous “last spike” in British Columbia is the one which signaled completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, but there were two others pounded in the province. In June 1914 the Grand Trunk Railway completed its expansion to the west coast, with the last spike placed near Fort Fraser, and on January 23 1915 its rival, the Canadian Northern Pacific, hammered home its last spike between Spences Bridge and Ashcroft. A “Stop of Interest” plaque off Highway 1 near the site commemorates the event, and the railroad.

The Canadian Northern Pacific was an extension of the Canadian Northern line, run by businessmen and railway entrepreneurs Donald Mann and William Mackenzie. They wanted to expand their existing rail lines—mostly in the Prairies—to compete with the lucrative Canadian Pacific line, which meant moving east into Ontario and west to British Columbia. Unfortunately, Charles Hays of the Grand Trunk Railway had the same idea at much the same time, and the two companies found themselves in unofficial competition to be first through the Rockies to the Pacific coast: the Grand Trunk to Prince Rupert and the Canadian Northern Pacific to Vancouver.

The difficulty of building rail lines through the Rockies and the Interior, plus high labour and material costs due to World War One, meant that by the time the last spike was pounded home, the Canadian Northern Pacific was heavily in debt. In 1918, unable to pay the interest on its loans, it was taken over by the Canadian government and incorporated into its national railway system, which became Canadian National. The same fate befell the Grand Trunk Railway in 1920.

The CN line passes below the last spike plaque, following the west side of the Thompson River and cutting through Epsom Provincial Park. The 102 hectare park was created in 1997, and is one of the few places in the area giving public access to the Thompson.
From Gold Country
Type of Marker: Cultural

Type of Sign: British Columbia Tourism Sign

Describe the parking that is available nearby: Larhe pullout

What Agency placed the marker?: Province of British Columbia

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