The Royal Canadian Pacific Passenger 4106 West passes the derail at the west end of
the Crowsnest yard - 1 Aug 2009 Kevin Andrusia.
22 July 2011
Vintage Train Rollin' Round the Bend
Crowsnest Pass Alberta - Trains have long been surrounded with an aura of mystique and nostalgia. Exotic travel, intriguing characters,
and fascinating locations are often conjured at the sound of the whistle and the rumble of the rails.
As part of the Canadian landscape for well over 150 years, trains have also earned a significant place in our nation's history and cultural identity, tying the
country together as few symbols do.
So it was no surprise that the Canadian Pacific Railway's Vintage train quickly filled with eager passengers, many of them donning period dress for the
excursion. The ride to the Pass, and stop in Blairmore, on Sunday, 17 Jul 2011, by the vintage locomotive was part of Blairmore's Centennial celebrations.
Construction of the Crowsnest line began in 1897 and employed 5,000 men at the height of the project. By 1898 the track from Lethbridge through the Crowsnest
Pass to Kootenay Landing opened for traffic and the line remains today as an important corridor for shipments to the west coast.
The cars and coach used on Sunday were built in the 1950s as part of the Amtrak fleet in the U.S.
The train was originally to be pulled by a steam engine, Empress 2816, that was used until the 1960s for Montreal commuter trains. The steam engine was rebuilt
a year-and-a-half ago using the original blueprints. It was converted to burn oil and bio-diesel, and wired with modern telecommunications equipment.
Editor's Note: The rebuild was completed at North Vancouver in 2001.
Mike LoVecchio, senior manager media relations with CPR, said the steam engine had some mechanical issues and needed to have new parts machined from scratch.
"CP 2816 has legions of fans across the country," said LoVecchio, "The crews that work on her are the closest any railroader has to a rock
He said CPR always runs a backup engine so Sunday's ride used a diesel engine built in the 1960s by General Motors that is usually run behind the steam engine.
Dozens of residents rode the train from Fernie as part of CPR's partnership with the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. According to LoVecchio, this
partnership has been in place for over a decade whereby CPR donates their equipment, track time, and crews in support of the Foundation who sell the tickets
and coordinate departures and arrivals.
"Every dollar raised goes to Children's Wish," said LoVecchio. "Last year the CPR partnership raised $50,000 and we've surpassed that amount
The Children's Wish Foundation ride went from Fernie to Crowsnest on a track laid in 1896. At Crowsnest, one of CPRs main switching yards, dignitaries and
members of the Crowsnest Historical Society and Crowsnest Heritage Initiative then rode from Crowsnest to Blairmore where a short arrival ceremony was held.
Blairmore was originally the CPR's tenth siding, a location where tracks are doubled so that trains going in opposite directions or at different speeds can
pass each other.
Fred Bradley of the Blairmore Centennial Committee and Mayor Bruce Decoux welcomed members of the public who came out to see the train and gave a brief speech
on the railway's important place in Crowsnest Pass's history.