January 20, 1995

 20 years ago today, a rockslide hit the Kootenay valley railway hotshot along Kootenay lake in the dark of a cold January morning. The lead locomotive plunged down the cliff into the freezing lake, and with engineer Peter Whitehead and trainman Shawn Trevor Hogg in the cab, those two men died that night. The train’s conductor had been riding in the trailing unit and managed to escape the wreck – But safety was not close. The highway is on the far side of Kootenay Lake here, and the only way in is by boat or rail. With no way to contact the outside world, he ran five kilometers down the track before meeting some maintenance of way men who were working serendipitously close.


Today there is a plaque on the sheer granite cliff at mile 111 of the Nelson subdivision. The CPR has done work to stabilize dangerous cliffs along this section, but the fact remains that this section of line is still as remote as when it was built, and the men who work on it are as brave as any.