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R.A. Harlow was born in Brewer, Maine on March 22, 1889 and died in Kelowna, BC on July 4, 1978 at 89 years of age. At the time of his death, Harlow was a retired roadmaster for CNR.
R.A. Harlow was a member of the surveying party for the Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP) Railway c.1911 and later worked on the Pacific Great Eastern (PGE) Railway as a Resident Engineer. While with the PGE, he was part of the engineering party which, on April 7, 1914, set the finish point stake and measured the required distance to the starting points for the two track-layer crews (East vs. West) who would race to the finish line. The West end crew cut and placed the last rail in place on the line after which PGE President E.J. Chamberlain drove in the last spike. After this historic driving in of the “last spike” on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway one mile east of Fort Fraser, R.A. Harlow was then commissioned to take a small can of white paint and a brush and inscribe the following notation onto the flange of the 11ft. last rail: “Point of Completion April 7th, 1914”. This marked piece of rail was later taken up, shipped to Winnipeg and sliced into quarter-inch-thick pieces which were polished, suitably engraved and distributed among railway officers as paper-weights. One of these commemorative pieces is at the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum. Aside from his involvement with the driving in of the “last spike”, R. A. Harlow was also intrinsically involved with the arrival of the first PGE train into Prince George from Squamish in 1952.
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