Skip to content

Trail Blazers: The time of the tram

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives
Photo: Trail Historical Society

This week, Trail Blazers is going way back to a far-gone era at the hill.

Smelter operations used to manage a narrow-gauge tram system for in-plant product transfer. Here, lead anodes move between the smelter and the refineries in the late 1950s on an electric tram.

The trams were used to haul bi-products of the leaching plant and blast furnaces.

Maintenance of the trams was a company-wide collaboration; the track gang inspected rails, the trolley crew maintained the power lines above, the repair shop undertook basic equipment upkeep, the boiler, electric, machine shops handled body work and wheel repair.

Finally, the foundry made wheels and couplings.

By the 1960s, trams were in less use among the various departments.

As forklifts and trucking proved more efficient and automation made its way into operations, tramming as a mode of product movement fizzled.

By the mid-1970s, only one tram heading south from the lead refinery along the riverbank was in use.

Many a retiree worked the trams.

Let us know on the Trail Museum and Archives Facebook page about your experience working the rails!

Read more: #Local History (Trail Blazers features)

Read more: #City of Trail stories

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

Read more