Snow Train?

British Columbia, Canada

When you hear the words Snow Train what do you think of? Possibly a Train stuck in snow, Or a Train plowing snow? or ?

Well in March 1898, a famous South Eastern BC, Sternwheeler Captain, named Captain Armstrong, an entrepeneur, engineering type, came up with a brain storm to take freight into the Teslin Lake area, via the Stikine River, Telegraph Creek, Gold Rush Trail from Wrangell Alaska. He was attempting to take enough supplies, to build a sternwheeler to be used on Teslin Lake.
During the winter, the Stikine iced over and stopped boat traffic up the river. Dog Sleigh was the only thing possible up to that point. This was to be a solution to that problem.

He used what one article said was a steam locomotive mounted on a snow sled with runners, with 8-10 Wagon/Carts built on sled Runners, being pulled by the Snow Train locomotive! This whole snow train was pulled along, by a wire cable, that was strung out ahead on the snow and ice, about 500 yds -1,000 yds ahead, which was anchored in the ice, and then a capstan would wind up the cable and pull the whole thing along. When they got to the anchor, they would unwind the cable, and stretch it out again for another set of the anchor, and so on.

Captain Armstrong, and his crew, were camped on Cottonwood Island, with around 1,000 miners, waiting for another expedition under Mackenzie and Mann's name, who were getting ready to go thru to Telegraph Creek, to start a railroad to Teslin Lake.

Another article said it was a steam powered capstan that wound the cable up, no mention of a locomotive. It also described the cable and achoring thing.

And then I have read another article that said he had 2 steam powered sleighs, complete with boilers, and capstan cable set up.

Either way, it carried 40 tons of material 8 miles up the Stikine River from Wrangell where they started, and then gave up the ghost.

No record of the cost involved, or what happened to the equipment after.

Funny thing Can't find any pictures taken of this contraption, and only these 2 articles that I have seen. I have read a bio on Captain Armstrong, written by a grand daughter, and it doesn't mention this machine either. I guess cause it failed it was forgotten about in history, but is right up my alley. I love stories like this. And hope you do too now.

Captain Francis “Frank” Patrick Armstrong
b- Mar 16, 1861 in Sorel, Monteregie Region, Quebec
d- Jan 26, 1923 in Vancouver BC, age 61
Buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria BC

Parents: James Shearer Armstrong, Marie Anne Charlotte Olivier
Spouse: Maria Howden Barber married Jan 8, 1890, she was also born in Quebec

daughters- Charlotte and Ruth Armstrong

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  • Last modified: 2017/12/08 14:03
  • by dlgent