MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
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The Railway And Its Influence
On Whiskey Gap

Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and
surrounding Districts Pages 44 - 45

Back in the time of the whiskey runners, the area was know as Whiskey Gap. Roads were prairie trails. Homesteaders came into the area in the early 1900's. Freight came in by freight wagons hauled by four to eight head of horses over rough prairie trails.

The Post Office was called Fareham after a place in England. The school district was Valleyfield, because the Department of Education wouldn't sanction Whiskey Gap as a name for a school. The school was north of the road across from the end of the steel.

When Alvin Knight came as manager of the store and post office, he got up a petition and the name Fareham was changed back to Whiskey Gap because nobody knew where Fareham was.

In 1929 a spur of the C.P.R. was made from Woolford to Whiskey Gap. The Public Relations and Advertising of Canadian Pacific reports that during 1929, Canadian Pacific constructed a branch southward from Raley to Whiskey Gap, 20.4 miles, which was opened for service on 30th August of that year. This new branch was apparently built on the roadbed of the old narrow gauge line between Raley and Woolford, 7.8 miles, but then followed a new course to Whiskey Gap.

Several local men were employed by the railroad during construction of the railways to Whiskey Gap. A freight shed was built near the railroad. Large parcels, repairs, and other shipments which came by train were stored there.

Not only was the railroad a boon to Whiskey Gap, it also brought markets closer for the farmers of the Del Bonita, Twin River, and surrounding areas. Cyril Nelson owned the land where the railway building crew was camped. Work on the railway track was done with horses, mules, and dump wagons. When the road bed was constructed through lakes, a long pole with a scraper in front was used. The teams pushed the dirt ahead of them to fill in the lake and build up a road bed.

Midge Smith and Otto Sommerfeldt both recall that the train came into Whiskey Gap three times a week. There was a passenger coach on the back of the train - and lunch was served in a dining car. This passenger service was discontinued after about six months.

In order that the trains might turn around a Y was constructed so that they could back up to turn around when leaving Whiskey Gap.

A station house, three elevators, and stockyards were built. Later a large store was built. Groceries, hardware merchandise and post office were downstairs. Living quarters was upstairs. If the store didn't have what was needed, Alvin and Dorothy Knight ordered it.

William Harper was Justice of the Peace. He was a tailor by trade and worked at it in Cardston. The post office was moved from the Harper residence to the store. People got their mail three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Mail was hauled by Casey Jones of Twin River. He made stops from Cardston to Twin River. A lumber yard was run by Charlie Secretan. In 1929 Huey Gum had a combined restaurant, hotel and pool hall built. He bought cream and milk from Otto Sommerfeldt once a week so he could make ice cream on Sundays.

Clare Kimball and family moved in. He had around sixty head of horses that he was breaking and selling. His brother, Chet, helped him. Clare was a boxer who organized a club and had practice once a week. Vem Dudley set up a garage. Frank Eyre had a blacksmith shop near the store. Lefty Lang ran a harness and shoe repair shop. Land was donated by Alf Barton for a cemetery just south of his cabin, but it was never dedicated or used.

Excerpt from Lethbridge Herald 19 Sept. 1929

"First train on Gap Line Leaves City

Woolford extension to Fareham Taps Fertile Territory. Construction under way for 18 months.

The first train will go out from Lethbridge today over the Woolford extension, the new line into the Whiskey Gap area having just been turned over to the operating department of the C.P.R. from the construction branch. This new branch, consisting of some 13 miles south of Woolford, has opened up a valuable farming district which formerly had been many miles from railroad facilities. Elevators have been erected at the new stations along the line and these are being rapidly filled with wheat and other grains of the 1929 crop.

Jefferson, and Fareham are the new stations, the latter being the end of steel, about two miles from the International Boundary. Residences and business houses have sprung up like magic in these new towns and like other towns in the southern section of the province, are enjoying an air of prosperity and expansion.

Approximately eighteen months was taken in the construction work. The country being rolling necessitated many fills and cuts, and at least one fair-sized bridge had to be built. While it is not known definitely what trains will be run over this line, in the meantime a train each Thursday will leave Lethbridge for the new district. "

In later years stockyards were built at Whiskey Gap. For a time community auction sales were held there. The coming of the railway enabled the ranchers and farmers to ship their cattle, hogs, sheep, and grain from Whiskey Gap.

Operations over C.P. Rail's Woolford Subdivision between Raley and Whiskey Gap were terminated, effective 31st July, 1978. The reason for abandonment, as in the case of many branch lines since the coming of the automobiles, was decline of traffic due to road competition.

The termination of the railway service was a loss to the surrounding community.

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Mary Tollestrup