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Technical Innovations

The Mount Macdonald Tunnel

The Mount MacDonald Tunnel was built between 1984 and 1988 and was part of the $600 million Rogers Pass project. It marked the largest expansion of capacity since the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in the early 1880s. It is located in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia and was built by CPR to supplement […]

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Peter James McLean

Peter McLean began working for the New York Central Railroad at the age of 19 in St. Thomas, Ontario. Four years later on June 30, 1941 he became a journeyman machinist and quickly became assistant house foreman. Mr. McLean discovered a new use for magnets that saved a day of labour in keeping locomotive boilers […]

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Three–Motor Overhead Bridge Crane

In 1884 industry in North America was booming. Railroads were the key in this development as they brought heavy shipments to factories and industrial centers. The Canada Southern Station at this point was only in operation for little over a decade. St. Thomas had become the twenty-first city in Canada and the population was expanding […]

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Webb Ball and the Railwayman’s Watch

Webster Clay Ball (1847-1922) was a jeweler and watchmaker born in Fredericktown, Ohio who later moved to Cleveland to join a jewelry store. When Standard Time was adopted in 1883, he was the first jeweler to use time signals from the United States Naval Observatory, bringing accurate time to Cleveland. In 1891, there was a […]

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Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb was the first American built steam locomotive to be operated on a common-carrier railroad. The creator of the locomotive, Peter Cooper, built Tom out of the materials he had available in 1830. Peter Cooper modeled Tom Thumb after British locomotives. He wished to prove that steam locomotives were or would be superior to […]

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Oil-Electric Locomotive

Samuel J. Hungerford, President of the Canadian National Railway in 1934, and C.E. Brooks, Chief of Motive Power of the CNR, invented the first practical internal combustion electric locomotive. It made its historic run from Montreal to Toronto on September 26, 1929. The No. 9000 was the first engine to successfully prove the feasibility of […]

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The Timken Roller Bearing Axle Box

Henry Timken patented the tapered roller bearing in 1898. On December 15, 1899, The Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company was incorporated in St. Louis, Missouri, marking the official launch of what would become The Timken Company. The Timken Roller bearing Axle Company was set to make axles equipped with the new tapered roller bearings for […]

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Computerized Traffic Control

Railway traffic control is a means of regulating railway movements through remote operation of signals and switches. The first systematic attempt to control traffic on a large scale occurred on the railway lines after the use of trains became widespread. In order to maintain safe intervals between trains heading in the same direction, some form […]

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Automatic Coupler

The automatic coupler was invented by Eli Janney in 1873 and eventually became a standard among railroads in North America. Since the railroads first appeared in North America, railroads had relied upon the link and pin coupler to hold trains together. But the old couplers were dangerous because they required a railwayman’s personal touch; countless […]

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Rotary Snowplow

[youtube width=”650″ height=”390″ video_id=”QBSuNz3g0oA”] The first rotary snowplow was designed, but never built, by J.W. Elliot, a dentist in 1869. It took a trio of Canadian entrepreneurs to produce the first working Rotary Snowplow. The designer, Orange Jull, and the builders, Edward and John Leslie, constructed a prototype of their unstoppable invention in Orangeville, Ontario […]

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