Kicking Horse Pass

The Kicking Horse Pass, painting by Lucius Richard O'Brien


The Kicking Horse Pass (Eng. "Pass the kicking horse " ) is a mountain pass in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It lies at an altitude of 1627 meters on the border between the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and between Yoho National Park and Banff National Park, also runs the Continental Divide on the pass. Since 1885 leads over the pass the first transcontinental railroad in Canada.

The first Europeans to discover a listed by John Palliser expedition in 1858 the pass. The name of the pass goes back to the nearby Kicking Horse River, on which a participant of the expedition, the naturalist, geologist and surgeon James Hector was kicked by his horse. 1881, the Canadian Pacific Railway decided to build the railway line over the Kicking Horse Pass, although the terrain is significantly poorer than that of a route through the Yellowhead Pass was. The shorter distance and the closer proximity to the border with the U.S. tipped the scales in favor of the Kicking Horse Pass.

The original route of the Canadian Pacific Railway led between the pass and the Town Field on the so-called " Big Hill ". This distance had a slope of 4.5 %, which was the steepest main railway line in North America. Because of numerous accidents and costly use of additional locomotives the Canadian Pacific built the Spiral Tunnels, which were opened in 1909 and replaced the direct route. The route is thus indeed become longer at twelve kilometers but the gap was reduced to tolerable 2.2%.

1962, the Trans-Canada Highway was opened, which essentially follows the route of the original railway line.

Because of its importance in the construction of the transcontinental railroad was the passport on 27 May 1971 by the Canadian government, declared a National Historic Site of Canada.