1 Oct 2001

 Map - Click to enlarge
Click here to locate the Steam Train's route.

 Tunnel milepost 24.6
2816 enters the tunnel just north of Yale at milepost 24.6 of the Cascade Subdivision.

 Near Yale
Inaugural run of the Empress near Yale, British Columbia.

Accelerating past milepost 15 at Spuzzum.

 Signal 150 Spuzzum
The steam train approaches signal 150 with a green over red aspect at Spuzzum.

 North Bend
Train staff wipe down 2816's running gear while on the fuel track at North Bend.

 North Bend
Paint touch-up at North Bend.

The Inaugural Run follows the Thompson River and Trans-Canada Highway through the Thompson Canyon.

 Nicola River bridge
CP 2816 East crossing the Nicola River bridge at the town of Spences Bridge.

2816 heads downgrade on the old steeper Notch Hill track at Carlin.

The day was damp and overcast as 2816 passed Summit Lake at Clanwilliam just west of Revelstoke.

CP 2816 works upgrade across the girder bridge at milepost 99.5 near Downie.

The Empress departs Golden following the Kicking Horse River east towards field and the Rocky Mountains.

Seen from the Trans-Canada Highway the special is crossing the well-known bridge at Ottertail.

Dwarfed by the Rocky Mountains the steam train approaches Field on the south side of the Kicking Horse River.

 Wapta Lake
After climbing through the Spiral Tunnels the train passes Wapta Lake, Alberta.

A large crowd of spectators greeted 2816's arrival at the Banff Station.

Without diesel 3084, and with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, 2816 races by Seebe gaining speed as it heads for it's final destination at Calgary.

 Bow River
Running beside the Bow River 2816 approaches the Crowchild Trail bridge and overpass with Calgary in the distance.

The final destination not far from the Palliser Hotel and only a few feet from the pilot of the latest diesel model in use on Canadian Pacific.







Steam Train

 Logo Empress

Canadian Pacific Railway Hudson steam locomotive 2816, named "Empress" by the CPR, and it's eight car train departed Vancouver 19 September 2001 for a five day trip to Calgary, Alberta.
The "Great Locomotive Chase" was on, what a zoo.
During those five days I saw more railfans than I've seen in thirty years in this hobby. The game, of course, is to take a photo of the locomotive as it passes by, return to your parked car, then race ahead of the train to capture another shot farther down the road. By and large most fans observed traffic laws and remained calm during this exercise but there were some who drove far too aggressively for the given conditions. Add to this the general sightseers who slowed to watch the train and irritated truckers attempting to maintain a schedule in the congested traffic and you get the picture.
From what I've heard so far there were no injuries but I witnessed several close-calls. CP Rail police warned individual drivers and wrote at least one ticket to an individual who had been previously warned about his driving. If you ask me, I would say they showed great restraint.

Registered Railfans
Prevalent amongst the railfans enroute were those wearing bright orange and yellow striped safety vests. They were part of CP Rail Police Inspector Ian Libbey's safety plan. During the trial runs of locomotive 2816 between Coquitlam and Mission, British Columbia, on 16 - 18 September 2001, volunteer railfans and model railroaders were each issued a safety vest, hard hat, and safety goggles. They were stationed at grade crossings along the route to show a CPR presence and to remind onlookers of the dangers. As a reward for their services they were given a tour of BC Rail's Steam Shop where 2816 was refurbished plus a ride on the 2816's inaugural run from Port Moody to Mission.
Later, during the five day inaugural run of 2816, some of these same individuals took part in the "chase", including myself. Inspector Libbey had hoped their presence would set an example for safety awareness to the general group of railfans and spectators along the route. While I doubt my presence had any effect on the railfans present, several spectators believed I was a company employee until I explained the presence of safety vested railfans. Spectators typically asked questions such as... Why is there a crowd here? When will the steam train arrive? Where is the steam train going? Some even got chatty enough to ask history questions... Who owns it? When was it built? Where did it operate? I responded to the best of my knowledge and they seemed to be satisfied. Luckily I had previously read the CPR handout on the history of the locomotive.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?
There is one incident that needs to be mentioned. While waiting at Spences Bridge for the train to cross the Nicola River bridge I noticed a railfan wearing a safety vest, followed by another without one, walk across the bridge from the west side to a hill overlooking the bridge on the east seeking a better photo spot. Those wearing CPR safety equipment were in possession of a pass granting permission to be on CPR property. The permission to walk across a bridge five minutes ahead of 2816's departure was NOT included in this permission and does not constitute good safey practice. This is the sort of action that jeopardizes all the good relations developed by the Inspector's plan. Is it any wonder railways don't like railfans? Please, let's not give them reason to erect fences.

Operating Schedule - Inaugural Run
As noted earlier the trip was divided into five days. Departing from Port Moody the first overnight stop was North Bend. The locomotive was fueled, wiped down, and even touch-up paint was applied. A small rock dislodged from one of the tunnels had marred the finish. It was CPR's intent to have it arrive in pristine condition at Calgary and it did. Overnight stops were made next in Kamloops, Revelstoke, and Lake Louise. The crowd of onlookers seemed to grow as each day passed with the largest crowds delaying the schedule in Alberta. Aside from this, the train pretty much kept to it's published timetable. Arriving in Calgary only a few minutes late it was all over except for speeches by Rob Ritchie and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein. Schedule shown below:





19 Sep 2001

Port Moody







10:30 - 11:00


12:10 - 12:40


13:40 - 14:10

North Bend


Fuel track

20 Sep 2001

North Bend




09:10 - 09:30

Spences Bridge

10:30 - 10:50


12:00 - 12:30


13:20 - 13:40



South side Lorne St.

21 Sep 2001




Salmon Arm

10:45 - 11:45


12:40 - 13:00


13:45 - 14:15



Adjacent Victoria Rd.

22 Sep 2001





10:00 - 10:20


12:10 - 13:30


14:30 - 16:00

MDT time zone

Lake Louise


23 Sep 2001

Lake Louise




09:30 - 11:00


11:30 - 12:00

Railway Ave. 17th St.


13:00 - 13:30

River Ave. 4th Ave.



9th Ave. 7th St.

The Consist
There were two locomotives plus eight cars in the consist as follows:
  • CP 2816 "Empress" ( locomotive and tender )
  • CP 35508 canteen car ( auxiliary tender ex-D&H 1517)
  • CP 3084 GP38-2 ( facing forward )
  • CP 96 ( Simulated Silk car )
  • CP 80 ( Historical Display car )
  • CP 81 ( Historical Display car )
  • Bcol 196180 "Shalath" ( Power car )
  • WCRX 598 "Mount Garibaldi" ( Observation car ex-CPR Hayrack )
  • Bcol 155940 "Seton" ( Coach )
  • CP 73 "Mount Royal" ( Business car )
  • CP 70 "Assiniboine" ( Business car )
The train was 790 feet in length, including 2816's tender, and weighed 790 tons. The 3084 was required to assist the train on ascending grades greater than 1.4 percent. At one point along the route I heard the lead engineer on the scanner request the diesel push so he could reduce his throttle setting to produce less smoke in a tunnel. GP38-2 3084 was removed from the consist and set-out at Eldon, Alberta, leaving 2816 to take the train by herself into Calgary.

Locomotive 2816 - The "Empress"
The latest saga in the story of CPR locomotive 2816 began in 1998 when the locomotive returned to Canadian Pacific rails from America's Steamtown in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Canadian Pacific Railway's last steam-era mechanical chief, Henry Blaine Bowen, took the helm in 1928. Before the great depression set in, he ordered 51 non-streamlined steam locomotives. Out of all 51 of these locomotives, 2816 is the only survivor. And locomotive 2816 is one of only a handful of the 48 preserved CPR steam locomotives in North America that can operate.
CPR's 2816 is a class H1b Hudson type locomotive with a 4-6-4 wheel arrangement. CPR acquired 20 non-streamlined Hudson type locomotives in 1929 and 1930, adding 45 more semi-streamlined 4-6-4 locomotives, between 1937 and 1940. These 45 semi-streamlined class H1 locomotives were later called Royal Hudsons after two of them were made famous with the 1939 royal visit of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Montreal Locomotive Works built class H1b locomotive 2816 in December, 1930, at a cost of $116,555. It first ran with its other "class mates" between Winnipeg and Calgary, and Winnipeg and Fort William ( now called Thunder Bay ) before being displaced by the semi-streamlined Hudsons arriving in service between 1937 and 1940. It then ran out of Toronto on the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, with some forays into Northern Ontario, and the odd trip into the nation's capital, Ottawa.
2816's last assignment was as a Montreal-Rigaud commuter train locomotive, making its final revenue run on 26 May 1960. 2816 was mainly a passenger locomotive, but spent a little more than half its 30-year operating career in fast freight service. In all, 2816 logged over 2 million miles (3.36 million kilometers).
CPR sold 2816 in December, 1963. And it spent the next 35 years sitting idle in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and then Scranton, Pennsylvania, before being transferred back to Canadian Pacific Railway in 1998.
Locomotive 2816 underwent an extensive two-year overhaul, including converting the locomotive to burn oil instead of coal, making it cleaner and easier to operate. The locomotive is restored to its 1950s appearance and will operate again in 2001 as CPR's roving ambassador - Canadian Pacific Railway

Locomotive Statistics






Montreal Locomotive Works

Date Built 

December 1930



Wheel Arrangement 


Tractive Effort 

45,300 Lbs.
20,548 Kg.

Driving Wheel Diameter 

75 inches
190.5 Centimeters

Operating Weight 

643,000 Lbs.
291,665 Kg.

Extreme Length 

91 Ft. 2 in.
27.8 meters

Extreme Height 

15 ft. 3 in.
4.6 meters

Original Cost 


Associated Links
Canadian Pacific Railway
West Coast Railway Heritage Park

1 October 2001 - Don Evans and Ian Smith quickly pointed out I had the incorrect reporting marks for the "Hayrack" observation car. They are WCRX 598. This car, restored by the West Coast Railway Association, is owned by them and leased to BC Rail for the Royal Hudson excursion. At other times it may be found on their museum site at Squuamish, BC. For more information try their link above.

© Copyright 2002 William C. Slim         pacificcoast.net/~slim