A Brief History of the Spokane & BC Railway


The S&BC existed from 1900 until 1919, and ran from Grand Forks, BC down to Republic, WA. A short extension also ran north from Grand Forks up to a mine and lasted until about 1933 as a part of the CPR.

The primary purpose of the line was to haul ore from a number of mines around Republic up to the large Grandby smelter just north of Grand Forks. A combination of the smelter closing after World War I and the intrusion of the Creat Northern Railway into the valley put it out of business.

The layout portrays the railway as it might have been in 1955 if the expansion plans of 1908 to extend down to Spokane, WA and up to Nicola, BC came to pass, and the railway was bought out by one of the larger railways in Spokane, as they had wished. In the absence of any particulars about which railway that might have been, the assumption has been made that the railway is operated as a joint venture between the CPR and the Union Pacific. Inspiration for this scenario can be found within the Camas Prairie (joint NP and UP) as well as the Spokane International (UP).

Assumptions for 1955

Like most model railroads, the line that is portrayed is far more prosperous that it would have even been in reality. This is one of the great benefits of model railroading, in that we can play it however we want. While the real railway was quite short, and basically only hauled ore and passengers, their grandiose plans were to expand both north and south and connect with the existing railways at Spokane. The assumption is that all of this happened, and more. The closing of the smelter at Grand Forks did not spell the end of the line, but to the contrary, it just meant that some ore was now shipped over the CPR to the big smelter at Trail, BC, which exists to this day. Other ore is presumed to have headed south to Spokane and thence westward to the smelter at Tacoma, WA.

The other significant assumption is that the coal fields near Nicola, BC proved to be far more successful than in reality, and the line served as a conduit for coal to flow south to Spokane, as was bragged about in a 1908 copy the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper. While none of this prosperity truly came to pass, it is fun to play "what-if" with a bit of historical fiction.


There are numerous books, articles, etc. that mention the S&BC to some extent. More details on some of the more important ones will be included here over time.