The Great Grey North
For a country with a name like "The Great White North"
you'd think there would be an abundance of photographs showing trains in the snow. Not so! And the reason why?
Most Foamers use their car to reach photo spots. What do you expect in such a vast country bereft of passenger
railways? They drive to the best accessible photo site by vehicle then jump out to take a picture. Walk? Well, maybe
if it's not too far.
This works fine during our one month of summer but during the eleven months of winter you can't find a parking spot.
The snow banks are too high, too close to the roads, and snow shoes are prohibitively expensive. Consequently there
are few GOOD photos of Canadian trains in the snow. So far in my lifetime I've only caught one that I was really
( Taken from a 35 mm slide, hence the poor image
So... every winter I feel obligated to get out and find that perfect image of a train sunlit against glistening pure
white snow with ice crystals sparkling in the air. This year was no different and had the same predictable result;
dull, grey, overcast photos. I'm ashamed of what follows, but desperate for anything to publish this month, so here
Day One of Two
13:20 Sunday, 4 Feb 2007 - Fraser Canyon, British Columbia -
CP 8821 East works its way along the Fraser River close to signal 212 between Saddle Rock and
Spuzzum. Its damp and low-lying clouds hug the hills which have some snow at higher elevations. The
batteries in my GPS are dead so there will be no latitude and longitude co-ordinates until I buy
batteries later, somewhere down the road.
13:35 - CPR Milepost 15 Spuzzum - CP 8821 East with its empty
grain hoppers ( Trudeau hoppers as they were so-named by railfans when the federal government
purchased them. Pierre Elliot Trudeau being the current Prime Minister at the time. ) has progressed 6 miles in
14:20 - North Bend - CP 8821 East departs after a crew change.
Standing on the embankment by the bunk house provides enough height for a close-up shot but those
damn overhead wires are in the way.
14:40 - North Bend - This curious locomotive was spotted at the far east end
of the yard. Locomotive may not be the correct term to describe this contraption. Judging by the metal skirt
panels hanging beneath the walkways it looks like it may be used for rail grinding. Perhaps someone can explain
16:05 - CN 2661 East approaches CPR signal 817 as it passes
beneath one of several Trans-Canada Highway overpasses located in the Thompson
16:15 - Ten minutes later and a little farther up the road at the next
Trans-Canada Highway overpass CN 2661 East heads for the green board. Spences Bridge is
not far ahead around the hill to the right.
Day Two of Two
09:15 Monday, 5 Feb 2007 - Basque, British Columbia - The morning
dawned, grey and overcast as usual. This location is railway west ( south ) of Ashcroft and close to the eastern
end of co-production trackage which ends at Coho on the Canadian National or Nepa on Canadian
Pacific. Reaching Coho/Nepa would require crossing a fenced area posted "no trespassing" so I made due
with Basque. The CN tracks are on the left with a Westbound freight moving along. CPR trackage was empty as a
Maintenance of Way crew held a T.O.P. ( Track Occupancy Permit ) for some purpose. They moved their
hi-rail onto the track at the visible crossing then headed east, out of sight around the hill to the
10:15 - Ashcroft - The village has constructed an imitation railway station
containing public restrooms next to Canadian Pacific tracks near the ore transfer facility. The building is
surrounded by a neat little park containing artifacts and buildings from the town's history. A refurbished CN
St. Charles caboose is also located on the site.
Directly across the street lies what appears to be a re-painted CPR
station. It fooled me as in fact it is the B.X. Express building built in 1911. As the headquarters of the B.C.
Express Company it handled freight going north until the end of the stage coach freighting era. From 1925 to 1975
it was used as the provincial government Court House.
10:40 - Ashcroft - After exploring the express building
CP 8791 East announced its approach with a distant whistle. A ridge overlooking the town, accessible
from Highway 97C, provided a platform for this photo as the train passed what looks like a grain silo. The roof
line behind the locomotives belongs to Villa Fronterra, and adult residential
10:41 - Ashcroft - Swinging the camera to the right as the train passed shows
this image of Ashcroft nestled in the Thompson Valley. Covered gondolas contain ore from the
trans-load facility just out of sight on the right. The B.X. Express building lies on the extreme
left. The imitation station is directly behind the lead locomotive.
11:45 - Milepost 47.3 CN Ashcroft Subdivision - After a short drive along the
road leading to the Ashcroft tie plant CN 5649 East appeared and crossed from the north side of the
Thompson River to the south on this girder bridge. Notice the second unit, BC Rail number 4506, there's still a
few left in this paint scheme.
12:15 - Ashcroft - Returning to Ashcroft to fuel up, stomach and vehicle,
the local Kamloops way freight arrived to work the yard. It typically utilizes an SD-40 for this
12:16 - Ashcroft - A caboose usually brings up the rear on this turn, or is
that an end-riding-platform?
13:10 - Spences Bridge - In the afternoon I headed back towards the coast
looking for spots in the canyon. Just west of Spences Bridge CN 6015 West headed to the Pacific with
some empty well cars. CN is currently suffering an equipment shortage due to the high volume of container
14:30 - Goldpan Campsite - While taking a rest stop at this campsite next to
the Thomson River a coalie, CP 9801 West, pulled by on the CN side of the
14:55 - Skihist Provincial Park - CP 9801 West is shown here on
the opposite side of the river threading CN tracks far below the level of the Trans-Canada
14:58 - Skihist Provincial Park - CP 9801 West in this
photograph. By this time of the day, in winter, in the canyons, sunlight tends to disappear quickly. That's my
last excuse for these grey photos.