It was a particularly greasy afternoon crossing the Canadian prairie from Saskatchewan into Alberta in May, 1986 aboard VIA's Canadian, train No 1. This part of my trip to Steamexpo in Vancouver was scheduled to take about six hours from where my morning began at Wolseley to arrival in Calgary. I spent some time in the open vestibule from Webb to Tompkins. Then it got too unpleasant, rainy and cold and it was time to dry off in the Park car. (Vestibule-riding is now prohibited. At the time, my goal was to see the train ahead, photograph other trains and trackside treasure, especially the well-kept Alberta Wheat Pool grain elevators. It's important to note that this CP route has been rare-mileage since the Canadian switched to CN lines between Winnipeg and Vancouver in 1990.) When the rain stopped, it was back in the vestibule from Crowfoot to Calgary, which we'll complete in Part 2 of this two-part series.
The fact that it's taken me another ten years to document this intervening part of the day says little about my publication punctuality! Thank goodness for modern photo-editing, which in part allows me to restore some of these views. The greasiness and drabness of the afternoon was especially pronounced in photos taken through the tinted dome glass.
Traversing CP's Swift Current Subdivision, Piapot, SK at Mi 67.1 was named for an Indian chief. For the next 40 miles, the Cypress Hills were visible to the south, though they were 25 miles away. Maple Creek at Mi 84.5:
Maple Creek was the home of stockyards, and was a cattle shipping point using fully-depreciated CP stock cars, even at this late date:
Meeting Extra 5776 East at 1223 at Kincorth Mi. 97.3 - named for a village in Scotland.
Meeting No 404 Eng 5624 at Cummings, Mi 109.5 - named for an explorer from Boston!
Crossing the Saskatchewan-Alberta border at Mi. 114, the first of two towns named for notable Royal North West Mounted Police commanders and the March West. Major Walsh has been immortalized at Mi. 115:
Dunmore was the site of a large CP Rail yard. The town is named after a predecessor settlement in Scotland.
Reaching subdivision point Medicine Hat, AB at Mi 147.4 at 1320, power in the yard: CP 3075-3070-3109. The first two were a year old, and 3109 was built in 1986. Angus van 434707 is coupled to them.
The sizeable station is at left with van 434570 on the van track as we get out of town.
Now riding CP's Brooks Sub, we reach Tilley an hour later, Mi 52.9. Must've been lunch hour to account for that passage of time! Tilley is named after a Canadian statesman and a member of Canada's first government under Sir John A Macdonald.
Twelve minutes later, it was Brooks at Mi. 66.8. Named for W.E. Brooks, CP division engineer, this was a three-elevator town.
I also photographed an Engro fertilizer agency in this area.
Named for an Italian civil engineer, Bassano is at Mi 97.6. Another photo at Bassano leads off this post (top photo).
Though we could have hoped for sunnier weather, it was still a pleasant experience watching our sinewy streamliner negotiate the shower-soaked scenery! Make sure you check out Part 2.
Here's a Government of Canada grain car scheme to keep an eye out for - Jason Paul Sailer kindly shared his photograph of CP 601266 at Alberta's Kipp Yard. Not only is there no Canadian flag, the French version includes 'of' and is missing an 'e'. Wird.
Passenger train photography is not easy these days. With VIA running only one pair between Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto, my sister-in-law was lucky to catch VIA No 63 led by 6404 and tailed by 912 at Mi 183 Kingston Sub. Thanks, Susan! Also, watch for an upcoming post on VIA equipment moves here, enlivening some otherwise predictably pandemic-proportioned consists.
Thirty-six years earlier, it was VIA 6784-6865 leading a westbound at the same location, slicing through a significantly more scenic right-of-way!