In the late 19th
century, the Selkirk Mountains of south-eastern British Columbia were the last great obstacle to the completion of a transcontinental railway line. Major Albert Bowman Rogers was dispatched to the Selkirks in 1881 to find a route for the Canadian Pacific Railway through the "impenetrable peaks" west of the Rocky Mountains. He confirmed that a pass existed in 1882 and construction was underway through Rogers Pass in 1884. By 1885, the railway to British Columbia was complete, fulfilling the commitment which Prime Minister John A. Macdonald had made to the new province when it joined Confederation in 1871. The main rail line was operated over Rogers Pass from 1885 to 1916, when the terrible human and financial cost of dealing with avalanches finally pushed the railway company to build the Connaught Tunnel under the pass.