Lumber and the Crow Route, 1950-2000
Over the years, the forests along the Crowsnest Route in the East Kootenay slowly recovered from the excessive logging and fires of the pre-1930 era. Most areas are now forested in young second growth. Subsequently, the lumber industry has expanded again although not to the levels it enjoyed before the First World War and during the 1920s. Improvements in logging equipment, truck transport and the highways expanded the areas that could be logged economically.
The Canadian Pacific remained the primary means of shipping finished lumber and cedar poles into the 1960s. Increasingly after that time trucks began to haul more of the finished lumber in the region although most major mills still ship by rail particularly when the lumber is destined for markets in the United States and in Eastern Canada. Chips, another important forest product, were once an important source of traffic for the railway and were hauled to the large pulp and paper mill at Castlegar. However, most chips are now handled by large trucks.
Poles, used for electricity power lines and telephone lines, cut from the stands of clear, tall cedars in the Kootenays were, and are, an important forest industry product. Poles are shipped by rail from yards at Galloway in the Crowsnest Pass.
Other uses compete for the forest lands and improving standards of logging and a greater understanding of forest ecosystems argue strongly that the lumber industry along the Crowsnest will be a very different one from what it was in the past.