Railroading in the Canadian Rockies has never been captured so beautifully on film. Whether blasting through the drifting snow banks during winter at its harshest, or sailing through meadows in the lazy heat of full summer, the only way to fully appreciate the extremes of the Continental Divide is to experience it from a train. Set against the astounding vistas of Lake Louise and Banff, nature in all its awesome wonder and strength is dramatically portrayed. Ride across the Divide on VIAís famous Canadian. Or hop veteran FP9 diesel locomotives as they put their shoulders against the grindstones of North Canadian weather and topography, and boldly push their way through Godís country. This program pays tribute to the trains, past and present, that spanned the continent. There are even film clips from the 1950ís providing a nostalgic look back at what was then considered state-of-the-art.
Treacherous and beautifulÖ infamous and magnificent. The 8,000 foot wind-swept and snow-covered summit of Donnerís peak stands sentinel over Donnerís Pass in Californiaís Sierra Nevada Mountains. Named for the ill-fated party of immigrants that lost over half of its number in their tragic attempt to cross it, Donnerís Pass was every bit as resistant to the Central Pacific Railroadís efforts to build a transcontinental rail line back in 1863. It took six years and an army of almost 10,000 men using only hand tools to carve a safe passage of this 7,000 foot elevation. To this day, no one can say how many men lost their lives in that massive and dangerous undertaking. Today, this 140-mile stretch of double-tracked mainline rail operations is still one of the most difficult climbs in America railroading. Steep grades, sharp curves, and cruel weather place staggering obstacles in the path of trains that have been making the same enormously difficult trek for the last 130 years. Crossing Donnerís Summit is a testament to manís determination in the face of the awesome power of nature.