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Canadian Rail 510 2006

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Canadian Rail 510 2006

ISSN 0008-4875
Postal Permit No. 40066621
The Story of CPR Royal Hudson 2860, Don Evans …………………….. 0 •• 0 •••• 0 0 ••••• 0 •• 0 • 0 0 •• _ •••• 0 ••• 0 .3
Winters Rage, Douglas NoW. Smith •••• _ •••• 0 0 •• 0 ••• _ • 0 •• 0 •• 0 •• 0 ••••••••••••••••••
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Snow Plow West, Bill Barr …. 0 •• 0 _ • 0 •• 0 •• 0 •• 0 _ ••••••• 0 • 0 0 • 0 0 •• 0 _ • 0 •••• _ •••• 0 •••••••• 0 ••• _ • 0 0 •• 0 • _ ••• 0 • 0 o. 17
William G. Cole Fond, Josee Vallerand 0 • 0 0 • 0 0 • 0 0 0 • 0 0 ••• 0 •• 0 0 _ 0 • _ • 0 • _ 0 ••••••• _ ••• 0 •• 0 0 •••••• _ •• _ ••••••• _ 0 •• 033
FRONT COVER: British Columbia Railway Royal Hudson 2860 was photographed at the northern terminus of its run at Squamish
B.e. on July 7, 1996. Photograph FredAnguso
BELOW End of the line for Canadian Pacific 2860 which is stored in the scrap line at Winnipegs Ogden Shops. This is the condition of the
locomotive when it was discovered and eventually saved. Photo CRHA Archives, Fonds Corley.
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EDITOR: Fred F. Angus
CO-EDITOR: Douglas NW Smith,
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The Story Of
Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson No. 2860
By Don Evans
Canadian Pacifics Roya] Hudsons
The Canadian Pacific Railway received its first
Hudson class locomotive in 1929, when builder
Montreal Locomotive Works delivered #2800.
The big
4-6-4 wheel configuration locomotives were the latest in
high-speed passenger mainline locomotives for the
railway, and were successful from day one.
The class name
Hudson came from the New York Central Railroad in
the US, the first to use the 4-6-4 wheel arrangement,
naming the class after the Hudson River.
The first 20 CPR
Hudsons were conventional in style, and were built in
1929 and 1930, numbers 2800 through 2819.
In 1937, the railway opted for more Hudson class
locomotives, an additional
45 locomotives in three sub
classes were added to the locomotive roster between the fall
of 1937 and mid 1940. These 45 Hudsons were given
the Bowen
streamline treatment. Henry Blane Bowen
was appointed
Chief of Motive Power and Rolling Stock
in 1928. British by birth, he was instrumental in the
establishment of the CPRs streamline motif for which
the railway became famous. The Hudsons were
constructed with the same rounded and smooth lines
treatment that had been applied to the CPRs class F2a 4-
4-4s in 1936. Many have called them the most beautiful
steam locomotives in
North America. Again the design
was successful, and in1937 the
CPR took delivery of 30
units (H1c 2820 -2849), 10 units in 1938
(HId 2850 –
and 5 units in 1940
(HIe 2860-2864).
CPR Hudson class H1A, road numbers 2800 to 2809, 10 units built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1929. 2803 was
photographed on June
28, 1936 and is decorated to celebrate the 50th. anniversary of the first CPR transcontinental train in
1886. Photo CRHAArchives, Fonds Corle
CPR Hudson class H1b, road numbers 2810 to 2819,20 units built by MontrealLocomotive Works in 1930. 2816 was caught by
1. R. Lee at Chatham, Ontario on May 6, 1946. Photo CRHAArchives, Fonds Corley.
CPR Hudson class H1C, road numbers 2820 to 2849,30 units built by MontrealLocomotive Works in 1937, these were the first
Hudsons to be given the Bowen treatment. 2830 was photographed hauling a freight at Winnipeg, Manitoba in July, 1948.
Photo CRHAArchives, Fonds Corley.
CPR Hudson class Hid, road numbers 2850 to 2859,10 units built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1938. After pulling the
Royal train across Canada, 2850 was exhibited at the New Yorks World Fair in 1939. Photo CRHA Archives, Fonds Corley.
CPR Hudson class Hie, road numbers 2860 to 2864,5 units built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1940.2862 was officially
photographed at
MLW prior to delivelY in 1940. Photo CRHA Archives, Fonds Corley.
In 1939, streamlined CPR Hudson #2850 was
assigned to
handle the Royal Train from coast to coast, for
George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen
Mother). The Royal Train was impressive, and the Royal
couple was impressed
that a single steam locomotive
handle the train such a distance without engine
changes (as would have been common practice in
era). CN, for example, on the return trip eastward used
three different locomotives. The CPRs streamlined
operated flawlessly the entire distance.
Following the Royal tour, Canadian Pacific
applied for
and was granted permission to designate the
entire class of streamlined Hudson locomotives as
Royal, with permission of the Royal family for these
magnificent engines to
wear the Royal family crown on
their running boards.
They have been Royal Hudsons
ever since, the only locomotives outside of Great Britain
be permitted the Royal designation.
Royal Hudson No. 2860 on the CPR (1940 -1956)
Royal Hudson #2860 was the first of the last
of five Royal Hudson locomotives for the CPR,
built in June 1940 by Montreal Locomotive Works. These
last five were numbered 2860 through 2864, and
the latest in steam technology. Royal
Hudsons now were operating all across Canada, but the
last five were built as oil burners (vs. coal) for use in the
mountains and forests
of the west. #2860 spent most of its
career on the CPR mainline, operating between
Revelstoke and Vancouver.
Their career on the railway
was short-lived, as
steam was retired in 1956 and these
great engines were relegated to
the scrap line, replaced by
modern streamlined diesels. They represented, however,
the last great modern steam technology
on the railway,
and were assigned the highest profile passenger service
roles, usually on the transcontinental trains.
No. 2860 Is Saved (The First Time -1964)
Most steam locomotives were scrapped, and
such was the fate
of the Royal Hudsons as well. CPRs
corporate records showed them all as retired by 1960 and
off the company roster
by 1966 (the last Hudson to be
scrapped by the
CPR was 2827, cut up in June 1966). The
famous #2850 had been preserved and donated to the
Canadian railway Museum (now Exporail) in Saint­
Constant, Quebec. This impressive locomotive forms
of the centerpiece of Exporails new exhibition.
In the early 1960s, a group of railfans visited the
scrap line in Winnipeg and discovered -to their
amazement -Royal
Hudson #2860 sitting forlornly in
2860 is saved for the first time and after a complete re-build was photographed at CPRs Drake Street facility in Vancouver in
1974. Photo Bob Booth.
that line, not yet cut up for scrap. Efforts were started to
see if the engine could be saved, and a museum group
Vancouver formed with the intent of rescuing the engine.
They had to convince the
CPR with photographs that it
really did still exist,
and with the help of the City of
Vancouver as well, #2860 was saved from the scrap line
and brought to Vancouver.
The locomotive was cosmetically restored and
painted, and was displayed
on several occasions in
Vancouver, but things never went any further, political
winds changed, and
#2860 once again found itself
languishing -this time
in CPRs Vancouver roundhouse.
Hudson in Tourism Service (1974 -1999)
In the early 1970s, British Columbia Premier
Dave Barrett
had an idea for a new tourist attraction for
the Province, a revival of the steam era with a tourist train
run on the provincially owned British Columbia Railway.
The Province assembled a team of people, led by Robert
E. Swanson, to oversee the project. CPR steam crews at
the Vancouver
roundhouse carried out restoration work,
and in June 1974, the Royal Hudson steamed back into
service on a five day a week round trip excursion between
North Vancouver and Squamish, B.c.
The excursion was immediately successful, and
the next 2S years the summer season service operated
regularly carrying over 1 million happy passengers and
generating an estimated $300 million in economic
The Royal Hudson became a tourism icon of
British Columbia, known around the world, and one of
the Vancouver areas top ten attractions.
After a charter trip in 1999, operated by the West
Coast Railway Association for a convention, the
locomotive was once again put away for the winter. This
time, however,
her winter inspections were not successful
the beautiful locomotive was deemed unfit for
further service until a rebuild could be done. As the BC
Rail steam shop was fully engaged on a major steam
contract to rebuild CPRs 2816, the Royal
Hudson was set
aside for a rebuild slated for 2001/2002 after
the contract
work was completed.
Southbound at Britannia, Don Evans caught 2860 in action along the shore of Howe Sound.
No. 2860 Is Saved (The Second Time -2002)
A change in government in British Columbia
again brought a change in plans.
The new government
took a decision to
not continue to support the steam
program at BC Rail, and further, as the railways sole
shareholder, changed the railways course as a business.
Suddenly, anything
not directly economic was shelved.
While the Royal
Hudson steam tourist operation could be
shown to create positive
economic benefit overall, it did
not genetate direct immediate financial return to the
The Hudson Excursion train operated with
vintage diesel locomotive
#4069 (leased from the West
Coast Railway Association) for the 2000
and 2001
seasons, then BC Rail
announced that the excursion train
would not
operate at all in 2002. The Province of British
Columbia decided to
put the Royal Hudson up for
disposition; meanwhile the locomotive
sat in storage in
North Vancouver.
The West Coast Railway Association got to work
and, with partnership from the District
of Squamish and
strong support from
the Vancouver tourism community,
developed a private proposal to acquire and preserve
Hudson #2860 for restoration and return to
operation. Presentations were made to the Ministers
responsible in
January 2002, and in March the Province of
BC agreed to the proposal. On May 13, 2002, the WCRAs
vintage diesel
#4069went to North Vancouver and pulled
the Royal
Hudson to Squamish, and into the West Coast
Railway Heritage Park where it was immediately cleaned
up, painted up and preserved from further deterioration,
and went on display to the public. The locomotive
remains owned by the Province, and is on a long-term (30
wi th renewals) lease to Squamish I WCRA.
The Royal Hudson Preservation Fund
commenced in July of 2002 accepting donations towards
return to steam of the locomotive. In 2004, Western
Economic Diversification Canada (WD Canada) kicked
in $110,000 towards the new parts needed, and at present
almost $200,000 has been amassed allowing the needed
parts fabrication to get underway. By the end of August
the boiler had been disassembled and parts delivery
was underway, with a target to complete boiler rebuild
and testing by the end
of 2005.
After 1999, 2860 was stored out of se/vice in Vancouver and finally moved to WCRAs museum in Squamish in 2002. From
2002 until 2005 the locomotive was
on display outside the MacNo/Tis station. Photo Greg Chadwick.
__ .J _______ _
— .. j
H 1 E
~——————-~d-O J1.TtI OWOlon
MD 1~.~ ~~ ________ _

CRHA Archives, Fonds MLW
Restoration Plans
While Royal Hudson #2860 enjoyed its new
public life as a primary attraction at
the Heritage Park,
efforts began to assess
the work required to return her to
steam. After careful review
by many steam experts, it has
been determined that the
current boiler can, in fact, be
repaired and the estimated cost for this work plus the re­
of the firebox is $500,000. These first phase
repairs should allow the 2860 to return to steam operation
for a period of 10-15 years. Corporate sponsorships are
being sought in 2005 to further support this work to return
our Royal lady of steam to the rails.
Plans are to then
generate further funding while
the engine operates again under steam, for a future major
overhaul project estimated to cost up to $2 million.
would be anticipated to be done in the 2015 time frame,
and would then
render the engine operable for at least
another 50 years. Royal Hudson #2860 is currently the
only operable Royal Hudson (2816 is an unstreamlined
Hudson, and 2839, 2850 and 2858 are not in operating
condition), and would thus be preserved for future
generations as a working icon of the steam era in Canada,
and a self supporting tourism
generator for British
The Future
Royal Hudson #2860 is now secure and faces an
exciting future. As
part of Canadas second largest
collection of heritage railway rolling stock, she has a place
of prominence at the head of the WCRAs collection.
With a full service restoration shop
on site, her future
looks bright.
And, WCRAs self supporting business
model assures
her preservation for future generations.
are to use the Royal Hudson #2860 on
specialty rail tours (something the
WCRA has 40 years of
experience with) starting in 2006 and also for the classic
engine to
playa major role in the planned 2010 Winter
Olympics as both a
promotional vehicle as well as a
unique transportation service during the Games
It is important that the era of steam railroading
in Canada be preserved, and an operating steam
locomotive is the only was to truly appreciate this era of
technology and what it
meant to the development of our
country. Thats the story the West Coast Railway
Association tells
at its attraction and in its educational
programs, and Royal
Hudson #2860 is the lead part of
that story.
The steam locomotive remains the most
fascinating machine ever developed by man, and draws
crowds wherever it goes. Royal
Hudson #2860 will
remain a prime example
of this technology for millions to
July 7, 2005, 2860 enters the WCRA shop and the dismantling process is about to begin. All dismantling photos courtesy Randy
Lucas, WCRA.
July 12, 2005, the superheateJ:
July 27, superheater out, tubes visible.
August 1, 2005, removing the sandbox.
August 1,2005, boiler with sandbox removed.
August 12, Tubesheet.
Old tubes removed, late August, 2005.
August 19, 2005, Locomotive dismantled, awaiting restoration.
No. 2860 Progress report
Work to make the major repairs to the boiler of
Royal Hudson #2860 got underway at the West Coast
Heritage Park in Squamish, B.c., in July, 2005.
The locomotive was moved back into the car shop, the
tender disconnected, and the tear down began. By July 10,
of the cosmetic coverings (the boiler jacket,
streamlining fascias etc.) had been removed from the
locomotive and
were stored on two flatcars. The boiler
fron t was
opened and inside work began.
came removal of the superheaters, a
that took around two weeks to complete. A major
part of that was the removal of the flues and the bolts
the superheaters up to the manifold, once these
were clear
the superheaters themselves came out in two
days. Removal
of the boiler tubes then began on July 29,
by August 13, 174 tubes were out with four being left
in place to
keep the tube sheets from moving or warping.
Also completed in August was
the removal of the sand box
and a complete cleaning
of the boiler exterior now that it
was completely exposed.
At the end of August, the work to disassemble
and clean the boiler has been completed and we are able
take a good look at the staybolts. Next up is a careful
examination by our project advisor, Doyle McCormack of
Portland, Oregon. Doyle will inspect the work to date and
take a close look at boiler areas that were inaccessible
earlier to make sure that the planned project work can
continue as planned.
While this work has been going on,
the new tubes
been manufactured and are in Portland being
swaged, while
the new Superheaters are presently in
manufacture. New firebox brick has also been ordered, so
up is to start boiler reassembly with the new inside
parts. Targets
are for boiler completion and testing by the
end of 2005, with a plan for steam up in the first half of
Don Evans is President of the West Coast
Railway Association.
Royal Hudson 2850 which pulled the Royal Train in 1939 is eased into the new Exporail pavilion in the early summer of 2003.
This locomotive along with CNR FPA -4 No. 6765 fOim the centC/piece of the display in the Great Hall. Photo Peter Murphy
Winters Rage
By Douglas N W Smith
February 1947 was
one of the most brutal winter
months experienced by
residents of the Canadian
prairies in the twentieth
century. From the very first
of the month, the weather
tried the patience of man and
trainmaster. As the month
dawned, a blizzard was
whipping the southern prairies
as the temperature sunk to a
bone chilling 50 degrees below
zero Farenheit.
The CPR was
particularly hard hit.
second section of Train No.8,
the westbound Dominion, a
transcon tinental passenger
train, stuck fast in a cut filled
with snow at Secretan,
Saskatchewan. Train No.8,
On CNR western lines, three locomotives, freed by
crews, are about to proceed with the work of
opening the line with a plough.
most branch lines the following
The reprieve was short­
lived as
another major storm
struck on February 6th once
again blocking rail lines and
On February 7th, the
Manitoba Free Press quoted a
CNR official
as saying
that every section man
and snowplow available was at
in Manitoba. The CPR
reported ten plows were
working to keep the
transcontinental line west of
Winnipeg to the Saskatchewan
border open. The situation was
particularly acute in
Saskatchewan where the coal
situation was described as
dangerous as supplies were
perilously low. As 50 mile an
Canadian Transportation, April 1947.
the Vancouver-Montreal section of the Dominion, was
marooned behind it. Both trains were supposed to have
reached Winnipeg the previous day at 19:05 and 19:
respectively. They finally struggled into the Manitoba
capital over
17 hours late. On the CNR, Train No.6,
running from Edmonton to Winnipeg via Regina, was 12
hours late. However,
CNR trains arriving from the Flin
Flon and Dauphin were only 4 hours late as Manitoba
received the least amount
of snow of the three provinces.
The blizzard conditions and cold temperatures
continued over the next three days.
The railways proved
their advantage as an all-weather mode, for all bus and air
services to points
in Alberta and Saskatchewan were
paralysed from February 2nd through the 4th. Eight
passengers on the second section
of No.4 were injured in
an accident near Gull Lake on February 2nd after that tra
became stuck in a snow bank. An engine and caboose
dispatched to assist the stuck train ran into the observation
car as blowing snow obscured
the engineers visibility.
Fortunately, the injuries on the train were minor and only
the rear wheels of the observation car were derailed.
railways cancelled most passenger trains operating west of
Winnipeg through to Alberta on February 3rd.
ordered all trains tied up at 10:00, but at 18:15 began
limited operations on the transcontinental line. In
Saskatoon, the streetcars retreated to the carbarn.
With a let up in the
storm on February 4th, the
beleaguered railway and highway forces
started clearing
mounds of snow. CN and CP restored services over
hour winds swept the open
prairie, the CPR transcontinental line became completely
plugged as trains were caught
in massive drifts between
Regina and Moose Jaw. CP officials called the situation
unprecedented on that section of double track main line.
Tracks at
most of the division points across Saskatchewan
Manitoba rapidly filled with stalled consists of CPs
transcontinental trains. Trains No.2, 4 and 8 that should
have arrived in Winnipeg that day were held at
Jaw, while No.2, 4 and 8 due to arrive on February 8th
were held at Swift Current. The First Section of Train No.
that had left Winnipeg for Vancouver on February 6th
was held
at Regina, while the second section of that train
and Train
No.7 were held at Indian Head, Saskatchewan
and Train No.1 was he
ld at Broadview, Saskatchewan.
The first and second section of Train No.3 and Train No.
7, which left Winnipeg on February 7th, were stopped at
Brandon, Manitoba while the westbound departure of
Train No.1 from Winnipeg was cancelled.
The situation on the branch Jines was even more
acute as many were plugged with drifts up to 22 feet high.
reported four engines and a snowplow were buried
beneath drifts at Weyburn, Saskatchewan. The arrival
times for
the local trains running over the branch lines
radiating from Winnipeg could not be determined. A
CPR official said, They will be coming in just as soon as
we can get snow plows in operation on the branch lines.
the storm raged, both CN and CP cancelled
all local trains running
out of Winnipeg on February 8th.
Oddly, the
storm had little effect on the transcontinental
trains running east of Winnipeg to Toronto and Montreal.
These trains continued to operate with their arrivals being
either on time or one to three hours behind schedule.
The storm also threatened to close industries.
The February 8th edition of the Manitoba Free Press
reported that Winnipegs flour mills and meat packing
plants faced closure as clogged rail yards and lines
prevented timely deliveries. The Ogilvie Flour Company,
which needed nine cars of wheat a day to operate its mill,
told a
reporter that over the preceding five days it had
only received five carloads. Canada Packers reported
that it would have to close if no fresh shipments of meat
were received by Monday.
Sporting events were also facing difficulties.
game between the University of Saskatchewan and the
University of Manitoba varsity teams had to be cancelled
on February 8th as the CNR overnight train from Regina
to Winnipeg via Kipling had
been cancelled. The executive
of the Manitoba Curling Association held an
emergency meeting to consider cancelling
the 59th annual
bonspiel, which was scheduled to start on February 10th, as
many of the contestants were stranded in their
communities since rail and road outlets were blocked.
Fortunately, there was a break in the weather on
Sunday, February 9th. All of the stalled CPR
transcontinental trains reached Winnipeg on Sunday.
The CNR reported the following day that all of its branch
lines were operating, with the exception of the lines to
Virden and Somerset in the southwestern part of
Manitoba. It was expected that the passenger trains
resume running over those lines the following day.
Meanwhile, roads, that had been closed since February
7th, were gradually being plowed out by the province.
However, the roads in the southwest remained closed
February 12th.
Barr was a young CPR fireman called for the
way freight from Winnipeg to La Riviere, Manitoba on
February 6th. As he rolled into the heart of the blizzard
little could
he foresee that the would not return t~
Winnipeg for five days and be ordered to assist efforts to
out the branch lines in southern Manitoba and
Saskatchewan. While a tuckered Barr rode back to
Winnipeg on CPR Train No. 122 on February 10th, Im
sure several men carrying brooms also boarded the train
not to help clear the switches, but to sport in the capitai
where the provincial curling bonspiel started, on
schedule, the next day.
Scenes like these explain why freight cars were in short supply in
February. A car cannot be unloaded at destination and spotted
for a new load
while it remains buried in a snow-filled cut.
TOP: A shovel crew clealing a mile-long dlijt on the Regina­
Yorkton line
in Saskatchewan.
RIGHT A small part of a locomotive is all that is visible near
Talmadge, Saskatchewan.
y,ansportation, April 1947.
Snow Removal Was Costly
The past winter was one of the worst in
the history of Canadian railIOading from the
point of view of trouble with snow and expense of
keeping lines clear. On the Canadian National
alone, about $2,500,000 was spent in this work in
January and February, and the Canadian Pacific
also was
placed at heavy expense. Conditions
were very severe from the Atlantic Seaboard to
the Rocky Mountains. In the east, where difficult
winter operation conditions are expected, the
snowfall was not a great deal above normal, but
in the central and prairie regions the fall was the
heaviest in many years. On the prairies
particularly, snow storms were accompanied by
high winds which filled
the cuts and created drifts
extending to 25 feet or more in height. The
prairie branch lines presented the greatest
problems. On one occasion, after heavy storms
and high winds had drifted the lines badly, there
was a brief thaw, followed by low temperatures,
and the drifts were transformed, into huge ice
barriers which in some cases defied the efforts of
ploughs powered by three locomotives to break a
passage. All railway
people were indeed glad to
see the end ofthe 1946-47 winter.
Snow Plow West
or: How
We Separated The Men From The Boys
by Bill Barr
This article appeared in serial format in the September 2004, November 2004 and April 2005 issues of the The Milepost, a
of the Midwestern Rail Association. Permission has been secured from the Association for the reprinting of this
CPR D-1 0 locomotive 936 was identical to No. 937 which figures in this stOly. Both were built by Montreal Locomotive Works in
September 1911] and both were scrapped in 1959] No. 937inMay, and No. 936 in December.
Addison Lake collection
The date: February sixth, 1947. The time: 21:15 (9:15 P.M.).
The place: La Riviere, Manitoba. Another place:
Canadian Pacific Railway.
The players: the crew of the La Riviere Way-Freight.
The weather: winter (What else in February?). One more
place: Napinka Subdivision.
The temperature: cold.
Did I miss anything? Oh, yes: blowing snow.
of course, is a true story of a trip made by
myself and four other members of the crew of the La
Riviere way-freight on a snowplow west
of La Riviere. We
pick up other people and snow-piles as we go along. The
winter of 1946-47 was a record year for snow, and the drifts
that came with it.
The Canadian National Railways had a
whole train buried
in a snowdrift in southwestern
Manitoba that winter.
The story actually starts early on the morning of
February sixth at seven-thirty AM., when we came on duty
in Winnipeg to work the La Riviere way-freight. Our
destination: La Riviere, come hell or high snowdrifts: and
there were plen
ty of those around -snowdrifts, tha tis.
We were ordered for eight-fifteen off the shop
track, with engine
number 937, another D-10, one of the
many fine hand-fired engines
on the Canadian Pacific
Railway. Fred Stowell, engineer; Alan Stacey, head end
brakeman; William Moffatt, tail end brakeman; Elmer
Molton, conductor and myself: WiJliam Barr, fireman. A
fine crew if I ever saw one. (Meaning motley).
r cant remember the exact number of cars we
took out that morning,
or the track that they were taken out
of; but there had to be twenty or more cars or it wasn]t
worth going. Thats the way the Canadian Pacific Railway
The train would have been marshalled in T yard.
So we pulled out
ofT yard, cleared Ruby Junction
at 09:35, after getting
our clearance and train orders. Up
the La Riviere Subdivision and into histOlY, wind, snow
banks, whiteouts, the likes
of which hadn]t been seen since
our last trip on Tuesday morning. We are on our way. Little
did we know what lay ahead for
us! Thank goodness for
Portage Avenue; Fort Whyte; La Salle; Domain;
Osborne; McTavish roll
by slowly on account of the wind
and blowing snow.
We are very careful to not miss any
train-order boards in this weather. All clear, so far.
Map of CPR lines in southern Manitoba, from CPs system timetable of April 27, 1947. It shows some of the stations mentioned in
article. Appropriately, one station is called Snowflake))! Collection of FredAngus
heavy flange doesnt help at all. I dont know why I
bothered mentioning
it. We are not making very good time
at all. I
dont know why Im out on this trip. I must love the
We will be heading in at Morris for the
trains –
#123 from Winnipeg, then #122 from
La Riviere. We are there for both passenger trains. We eat
our lunch here.
We slip out and take water after the passenger
trains are gone.
The wind is so bad it almost blows AI
Stacey off the tender, when he is taking water. Its a good
thing he has heavy boots.
He had a half sole put on the
week before.
He has at least two pairs of shoes on the go at
anyone time. These are the facts not fiction; ask AI. I clean
the fire and am ready to give
it shiezen-hiezen.
We pull out
of the siding slowly, hoping to see the
signal from the tail end. But the snow
is blowing so badly
it is impossible to see the red fusee that they had out.
We know that the conductor will pull the air and stop the
train if Moffatt cant get the switch lined back and get back
on the train. He certainly wouldnt leave all that talent in a
We plod along over to Rosenfeld and our meet
#78, the east way-freight. This is going to be a long,
long day. Why you ask? Because our
meet isnt here yet and
is now 13:15. We have to head in anyway unless our meet
is changed. We cant see the order board from the east
switch, so we pull into the siding at Rosenfeld and down to
the station.
When the smoke clears (meaning: when we finish
our switching, and our meet with #78, engine 996 is made)
we pull out to take coal, and line the switch back.
We clear
at 14:55. Highball Horndean.
Next we blast over to Plum Coulee to do our
switching. Must be going at least
20 MPH in this blowing snow and side wind. We arrive there at 15:20 and leave at
15:50, after setting off a car and some way-freight.
We may
get to
La Riviere for supper. We better; for I have been
invited over to Staceys for supper, and Flora
is a super
Winkler next; then Morden. We always have
switching to do at these towns.
The weather isnt easing up
at all.
We can see our van the odd time on the south side.
Its a little better on the north side, because thats where the
is coming from.
Up the hill we go out of Morden; highball
Thornhill; highball Darlingford.
We will soon be going
down hill and I can almost taste the supper I am going to
have at Staceys. Right now its
all I can do to contain
myself from eating the shovel, Im so hungry.
La Riviere, finally; 19:15 and it only took us ten
hours today. An ordinary crew would have been twice as
long. We
will put the train away, then the caboose, then the
engine and finally ourselves.
Then we will have supper. You
never know when your next meal
is going to be. At this time
I didnt know how right I was. Any switching to be done
left until morning.
After washing up a bit, just enough to find
where your sleeve ends and your hand begins, I went over
to Staceys to have tha t
home cooked meal and relax before
heading to the bunkhouse and a good nights sleep -how
wrong could I be?
I get over to Staceys and get
one shoe off, and Im
trying to relax or unwind. AI is showing me where he got
by a snow bank at Rosenfeld. His leg that is. A
knock on the door, and guess what? We are called S.A.p.
(meaning soon as possible.) Snowplow West. We had
gone off duty at 20:35 and it
is now 21: 15. We are on duty as
soon as we are called, like now. This must be an emergency
233 235 ~~~. ~~!. I TABLE 99 ~~~. ~~e4 234 236
Tu.. Mon. Wed. Thu. Miles Wed. Thu. Tu.. Mon.
Frl. Thu. ~ Sat. Fri. S.t. Fri. Thu.
—-,. lit. A.M:
central Time ,M. .M.
.• .. 10:~i5 10:~1 0.0 lV …… wl •• .. 9 …. Ar 1.30 ,.30
.• :. 8 8 4·9······
…….. 114 .14
.. .. . . 1.3 ……. rt Whyt…… 1.04 I 04
Ir:~ Ild::::::.[:rts:·
::::::::: 12~! li~!
. . k; ……… oom.,n …….. 12.3 12.3 I .
.429 …… O.borno …….. 1228 1228
3 I .2 35 ……. MoT •• I.h ……. 1218 12 !1
II: I :~21 39 …….. Trump: ……. 112.1211212.. ..
I. II 42 …….. MoI ……… 12 ~lli2 ° .. ..
. I . 49 ……. Sow.II …….. I. I ….
~ ~M-:-12. 12. 56. M ….. Ro •• nf.ld …. L I. . 7 .M~~ ~
9 4S 12-:-]( -.. ~~. Lv ….. Roun,.ld ….. Ai.. .. l I
10 15 I:~:: .. ~~.9 ….. · .Alton.. ……. .. .3.1.55
1045 1.2 .. 699Ar …… G ……… Lv.. .. .15.30
….. .10. !~·~l !~9l)6.TLVRo •• nldiilI]17 …….. .
.. .. 1218 12.1861.4 …… Hocnd •• n…… .2 .2 .. ..
.. 12.28112.2865.7 … Plum Coul •• 98…. I .1 ..
12451 i2.4S 73 8 ….. Wlnkl.r.,…… ..
lOS 1.05812 ….. · .Moed.n …….. a 8
.. .. 1.2 1.2 87.8 .. · .. · Thornhill ……. 836 . .. ..
.. –I iis I.~ 945 .. · .. ·0orllngocd …. 1 25 0.2 –..
.. 249 2.08 2·~102.3 …….. M.nItOu …….. 0.13 18.1 2~ ..
.. Wed./2.16f2.16 05.4 …….. Blnn ………. /0.05/:& W …
.. c..!.:~ 2.3i 2.35 12.9 Ar …. LA RIVIE.E n l 9.50 9~ ….. —
-.. -).I!-.. –;-:-llll:lII …. LARIVIE …… N.. ,,9:)5 ..
.. ).4 .. .. 1.S ……. Wood B……….. .. 9.Q~ .. ..
14.00 .. !i.9 ……… H.,boe……….. 8.4 ..
4.?C .3 …….. PUN ••. …… 8.1 ..
4.50.. .. .7 ……. Snown.k……. 7.~ ..
5).. .. 3.4 …….. Mowb………… 7.~~ ..
6,:,00.. 39.8J.r …. WI .. DYGAT.II …. b 6.1,_ .. _
….. 2:-s5 ~.?~ !R9 v …. ~A Rlv …….. N 2~ 2:~ ….. ..
.. 3.I~ ).12~.4 ……. WoodB ……… 9.!~ I
•. .. 3.25 3.iSI25.3 ….. ·Pllot Mound …… 8.59 . ..
.. .. 3.390 3.35129.9 …… C •• t.IClt …… 8.47 .4 .. •.
.. .. ).451 ).45134.I ……. CI •• rw … …… 8.38 ~.38 ..
.. .. 4.0~ 402141.6 ……. Math.r.. …. 8.23 .23 ..
—4.18 4. I 18.4 .. ·…… ~il . ~
.. 251 4.35 4.35155 …….. Holmfl.ld…… .5 .55 ~~;
Mon. 4.53 4.53164 …….. KIII.n…….. 5~ 7.~9 Fl
:: T.~~:., tW U5
If2:! :::::: ::~~~~:.::::::: f !7::~~71 t::~ I~ .::i
.. e.oo 5.40 5.40 8:2.7 …… Jol ….. ln 106. . 7.. ·12.
le.I 16.00/6.0 88.0 …….. C•d•ow
…….. 1 . 16. Ilf.
.. e.2 6.12 6.1 193.2 …. Whltew.t …….. 6.4 6.4 I.
.. fe.3 6.2i6jf~~.2 …… N.PI ……… /6.3V~·W 1·2~
18.4 6.3~ 6. 2. Ar … OlLOMI. 106 .. Lv 6.2 . .1
-… –fQi 6.40.. J~llV ….. OlLO … , ……. N.. r:~ JQ:
:: In r~:: !2:4:::::::.~~:~~~~~.::::::~.: I :~~/IO:
.. 10.00 7.2~.. 7.~ ……. W •• kld .43 O.
.. 10 il~il 7.4°1 H~ …….. O.lny…….. .. I :~3 19.
.. 10.3 7.55.. .~ ……. Coul .. , .. ……. 5. 9.
.. lO.~8.0S.. 3 …….. C.m.ron ………. 15.1 9.
.. lI.w 8.20 .. 37.2Ar ….. Lyloton …… l… 5. 9.
:: :: ::rl/tt~5Om.II;~::·.:~~~~~~:..·.·.·.::~/g: 3:: ::
•. .. .. 7.0 …….. M.dor ………. 03.. ..
,: .. .. 7.20 . Ar ….. N •• , ••• I06 … l .45 .. ..
P… r.M. r…. A.M. …… A … .
251 252 Ih 1~9 252 254
123 Mon. Tu., Ex. Mil.. TABLE 106 Ex. Tu •. Wed. 124
I Thur. ~ ~~ Sun. Frl.,~
…….-r,M. .M. A.M. Cintral Time t. P…. ,.M r,M. i:ii:-
I .. 11.1 0.0 lv ……. WI. ………. ~ 6.~:.. .. ..
.. .. .. 2.1133.1 Ar …. .BOON ……. lv 3·)4;.. . I—
-.. -., .. ~.?: /./ [v: …… BR.DO U 5 ……. Ai ~.~ .. -.. -..
.. .. .. 3.~; ;9·f .. ………. 2.36.. .. ..
.. .. .. 3.f. 16.6 ……… B.r .. ord …….. 2.~.. .. ..
.. I …… 3.4 24.6 Ar …. sourl.I9S ….. l 2.~.. .. ,.
. 2 .• ,.. 4.~~ lv …… souI.1 98 ….. ,Ir I.~~ .. 12.1 ..
.. •• ., 4.!~ 30.0 …….. Sohwltz..r …. o ,0 1.1 .. .. ..
.. .. .. 4.IS 34.1 …….. M.n .. lth …….. fI·2~.. .. ..
.. .. .. 4.~~ 4(J.7 …….. H.rtn …….. ,. 12.5 .. .. ..
.. .. .. 14.~~ «.6 …….. Embl.m …….. fl2.«.. ……
.. ).55_ .. _~~ 500 k ……. Laud.r ……. l 12.30 .. JiJ.-,-,-
.. —s:TI.. … ~I:.Q Y ….. , .. ~ud.r ……. AI .. ~.. ..
.. 5.4 .. .. 5:-X ….. : ….. O.nd…………. 2.~.. ..
.. 6.2 .. .. .0 .. 00 ••••• A.g.nt………. .. 2.~.. 0
.. 6.47.. .. 74.2 …….. : .. Croll…………. I·il ..
.. I 7.05 .. 79.5 ……… Orthn.. ……. .. 12.~
17(i 82.6 ……… 50h.lln. ………… 12.35
i 7.~~ 86.9 Ar …… Bol ….. ln …… l .. 12]2 ..
. 8.00 b ….. ,Bol … v4IIln.o …. AI •. 2.
.. If S. IQ.. .. 92.2 ……… Cad.ow ……… .. Ii
.. : 8.25 .. .. 97.4 .• 0 ••••• Whlt.wat.r…….. •. ,.
.. q~.. .. 102.4 ., ……. N.pIM.. ……. I.
__ ~ -T->o __. 07.0 Ar …. O.lo,.ln ……. l I. I ..
.. .. ~.~:.. lIT v ……. !:ud. ……. AI .. !9·~ ..
.. .. 5.3.. .~ ……… B.rnlce.. ……. 18:~25
.. .. 5.~.. 6. .. ……… B.d………… .
.• •. 6.~.. ~. .0 •• 0 •••• Broomhlll…. ••••• 9.t~
.. .. 6.3 .. 8… ….. TII .. on. Mon ……… .. 9.1
0 •• 7.0 .0 5J .. 0 •••• F.rtll., S •• k… …..0 0 83 .0
__ 7.2 .. 91. .. ….. Stortho.ka……….. .. 8]15 __
M .. 7.4 .. 97. .. …… Nottlngh.m…….. .. .. 7· T
wo~. __ 8J! .. 103·9 Ar …….. Alld ……… lv.. .. 7. T~
F~ .. -.. -~nLv ……. LaUd ……. 1f J.t~ rue. Sal
.1] .. .. 5.21 . Ar ……. N •• lnk …….. li 2.I)r-lPi .
~ ~:.~ Lv …… DoI.,..ln …….. Ai .. I 11, -.. -o.~
7. 9.~~ 6.0 …….. Goodl.nd…. ….. .. 10. .. 6.
I 7:~I I 9.~~ .0 ……… C,.nm.r.. ……. .. Il
.. 5.
7. 10.00 Q4.8 ……… W .. k.d………… . .. 5.43
17.~~ 10.15 .. 99.5 ………. 0.ln …………. I. .. i·33
7.5 10.~Q .. 105.6 ……… COult.r……….. 9. .. .~
18.~ 10.4> .. 1°.0 …….. COm.ron……….. ~.~.. I .
_e~_ 11.00 .. 4.8 Ar ……. Lyl .. on ……. l .. ~ _,, ___ ._
~:~ If:fl.l~:::::: :~:rl;.kn:::::::~ ~ ..
6!~ 74:2 ……….. £1 …………. 11·to~
6.30 D·3 ……. Pl.on. Man……. . I
6: .. ~4 .6 ….. Galnsborough, S..k… .1
5 7. 9.0 …….. C.,lovol……….. 8.5
7. 41~S …….. ;C.nduH……… .~
7.~ Sf …….. Q.I.n Ew.n …….. ~.
8.~ I 3. .. ……. Oxbow B……… fQ£
8.321 . .. ……. AI.m.d……….. 3 ..
U21~d :::::: .:.~Ht:!~~ • .::::::::: nt ::
9.~ 6.~· … Blln,.It ……. T il~ ..
.M. .M. …M, ~~ .. ~ 64. ~ …… £u.van C.T ….. VI A.M. A.;. A.III. A.M.
I Meal Slolioo. • ~~I~.LANflo~~e~~,;;~.GH7s10Hpl~n ~i:~1~ d Slop.lodotr.ln.
These timetables show the CPR passenger trains that were scheduled to operate in Manitoba and Saskatchewan at the time of the
great stOims of Februmy 1947. They are from CPs system timetable effective Febnlwy 23, 1947.
Collection of Douglas N W Smith
to call an assigned crew for a snowplow. That relaxed
leisurely meal went
out the window. We ate hastily, not
doingjustice to that homemade meal that Flora prepared.
La Riviere has a snowplow stationed there winter
and summer. It is in the stub track by the bunkhouse. I have
passed it many times, and never taken notice
of it. The next
few days it
is to be our dancing partner, and then some. It
will dance in front of us wherever we go. This is not our
headache; its up to the section gang to get this machine in
shape. We
will have enough to do getting the engine ready.
the engine ready is something else. After
we bring the engine out of the shop track and take water,
shop foreman and his helper bring out a roll of canvas
almost the size
of a house. It weighs a ton. We struggle with
it till we get
it on top of the cab of the engine. It is to be
unrolled over the coal tender and protect the coal from the
snow we are to plow.
It is attached with rope to the
handrails above the windows on both sides
of the cab, and
just clear
of the vent in the middle of the cab. This is our
escape hatch! We wont be opening the vent on this
expedition. Noway. Wrong again!
When we backed the engine out of the
roundhouse on a normal day, it was headed east. Not this
time. We
will have to turn the turntable around, so the
is headed west. I might add here, this is a man­
powered turntable.
When the engine is properly balanced,
you can push
it around by manpower, you and whoever else
you can con into thinking
that its fun. So far so good,
Next we
will have to pull the snowplow out of the
stub track, so we can run around it and get it ahead
of us if
we want to plough snow. It is already headed west. The
snowplow first; then the engine; then the caboose. How
clever, you say.
The engine that we put into the shop a little over
an hour ago hasnt had time to thaw
out and drain properly.
Thats when our trouble starts. By not having time for it to
thaw and dry
out properly, we have done more harm than
Our air pump, which supplies air to operate the air
brakes and also the snowplowS flanges, has been sucking in
snow and moisture. It has now befouled
our air system. In
other words, moisture in the pipes and reservoirs freezes
up in cold weather and restricts the flow
of air.
Little is visible of CPR 5144, stuck and derailed in a huge
snowdrift. Photo, Canadian Pacific
A visitor
to CPR lines, CNR 2-8-0 No. 2814
was dive/ted because of a snow blockage on
CN However it seems to be just as badly
on CP as the section men
contemplate how to free it. Photo,
Canadian Pacific
So after thawing and draining and thawing a few
more times, we get close to departing. We put a piece of
canvas around the air pump intake strainer in hopes it will
in keeping out the snow. The large lumps, anyway.
There is a long strong piece of rope that has to be
connected to the whistle lever and then into the plow,
which will be in the hands
of the Road master, Sven
He will be blowing for all road crossings and
telling us
by the whistle what he wants us to do. When we
are standing: two blasts to go.
When we are moving: one
whistle-blast to stop and two blasts of the whistle to
increase speed. We
will be traveling fast; like say 40 to 50
M.P.H. Sven told
us he wanted the snow drifts off the
property and over the
other side of the snow fence some
fifty feet
or more away.
The conductor has the orders and also
information on where we are off to and why. We now know
that there is a mixed train, with passengers, stuck behind
one long snow bank up the Boissevain Sub. They were
holed up at a section mans house at a place called
Schaffner, which
is a point nine miles offthe main line from
a place called Sanger, which
is just a wye, where you can
turn your engine
or train. Sanger is one-paint-four miles
of Boissevain.
Our orders read; rights over all trains; which
means we own the track, rails, and even the track-spikes
that hold the rails down.
No time limit. We are Snow Plow
Extra, West. Anyone getting in the way will be dealt with
severely. Well plow them under.
Put them in the clear. We
sometimes get carried away when we get this much power.
We leave
La Riviere at 23:55: thats five minutes
to midnight, Pilgrim.
Up the west hill like a scared rabbit
with only gravity, the snowplow and the little red caboose
holding us back.
The Road master, Sven Benson, is in the plow. He
sure likes to blow that whistle, and my ears will be ringing
for a month
or more after this trip. In fact that strong rope
we had breaks before the trip is over. We knew something
was wrong when
he missed a couple of whistle crossings.
This being
our only means of communication, Sven pulls
the air -meaning -applies
the brakes -with the emergency
valve, and we stop. We repair
the cord, only to have the
lights go
out in the cab. Which means there isnt any
The dynamo, which supplies electricity for the
headlight, and -most importantly, the bulb behind the
water glass -has shorted out, on account of the blowing
snow. In
our haste to get away, we overlooked the covering
of the dynamo with canvas. We clear the dynamo of snow,
and continue on hoping it will dry
out as we sail along; and
it does eventually. We travel a long way in
the blowing snow
without the headlight.
It wasnt the first time this crew of
ours was in the dark. (Fireman included.)
We still have to make sure all
order boards are
clear when we pass through every town. Although there
isnt any
operator on at thjs time in the morning, the
dispatcher can still wake him up and put him on duty. Then
the dispatcher can stop us and give us new orders that could
change things.
In this storm there is no one moving except
us and I
dont think he wants us to be delayed in our
mission. Of course if the tru th was known, all of us wish we
were in bed. Anybody
out in this weather has to be out of
his or her gourd.
Although it
is dark out, and we cant see where we
are going, we can tell however when we are plowing heavy
by the way the engine shudders and lurches. I think at
times its going to leave the track but then it settles down
and runs smoothly. They
sure knew what they were doing
when they
made these DIOs (whoever they are).
Anytime when you were putting in a fire and
plowing snow, which was most of the time, you would get a
shower of snow down your neck –
or on your head; or your
or on the seat; or on the hot pipes, which turned
the locomotive cab into a satma.
It wasnt the most pleasant
of places to work. So you delayed putting in a fire as long as
The snow coming from over the top of the engine
would be sucked in through the top vent, even though it
closed, and up from around the ladders, around the
windows into
the cab, then into the firebox. You would be
the only obstacle in its way on its way to the firebox;
therefore you suffered the most. It kind
of kept you awake,
like you have been for
the last 48 hours.
Its 69.8 miles from La Riviere to Boissevain.
40 miles per hour it should only take us a little under two
hours running time, but
not on a snow plow. Everything
that can go wrong will go wrong. Whistle cord breaking;
dynamo shorting out; ash pans freezing up; air
freezing up; wings on the plow not opening nor closing
properly; and even the lid
to the water tank freezing shut.
We have to take
water at Holmfield, 42.8 miles out of La
Riviere, because
there isnt a water tower at Boissevain.
CPR plough 400779, built in
1924, about to make another
attempt to
push its way through a huge snowdrift.
Photo, Canadian Pacific
Coal dock yes, water tank no. We arent using that much
water; but even so you
dont know how long you are going
to be digging this train out. Take water at Holrnfield and
coal at Boissevain, and do not overflow the water
tank as
the water in the winter time has a tendency to freeze. It
freezes the air hoses (the coupling between engine and
caboose) together, and makes a real mess
of the grab irons
and steps. Take water carefully and fill it to the brim.
Before the day
is out the section men are shoveling snow
into the water tank, and I have to blow
steam back into the
tank to melt it, as we are getting low on water.
By pulling
the steam injector handle back quickly, you allow steam to
come from the top main steam valve; through the injector
and hose bag into the tender. But
dont put too much steam
or the water will get too hot and then you wont be
able to lilt it (meaning lifting the water
out of the tender
with the injector and into the boiler and through the top
check). And too much pressure going back to the tank can
blow a hose bag (the connection between engine and
tender). Now youre in big trouble, I
mean BIG trouble.
not serious, its worse than serious. It is the end of your
short career.
dont know when the sun came up that day (if it
ever did), as we couldnt tell, with all
that snow blowing and
the exhaust from the engine. But if it did, it didnt matter
Ti-avelling blind through the snow, the plough, though almost completely hidden, makes a superb action scene as it attacks the drifts
and makes the snow fly. Photo, Canadian Pacific
that much, because we were on a mission. Sounds pretty
dramatic dont it? You know the mailmans creed: well, the
railways creed
is just a wee bit larger and longer to do.
When we finally get to Boissevain, we get more
on what has happened. A snow plow with
engine and caboose are stuck in the snowdrift up the
Boissevain branch line.
The drift being more than a half
mile long holds it easily.
The thing was: they went into the
drift at full tilt; and when they tried to pull back and take
another run at it, the caboose went
on the ground on
account of snow falling in behind them. With the drifting
snow it doesnt take too long until youre really snowbound.
Game over. That is, unless you can lift a caboose. If it had
been daylight, they could have seen how long the drift was,
they might never had taken the caboose with them. At this
point its hard to second guess.
There werent any section
out to clean the tracks and maybe avoid this. We learn
by our mistakes, hopefully. When it
is snowing and blowing
it doesnt take long for everything thing to get snowed in
and that
is exactly what happened. A train and engine
crews worst fears: snowed in.
Before we can tackle that snowdrift, we have to
wait until more section men arrive, as they are an
important part
of our strategy. One thing that is for certain
and that
is we are all getting pretty hungry, as it has been
over 12 hours since
our last meal. So the whole crew goes
over to the restaurant for a big feed
of bacon and eggs. We
eat like it is our last meal. Five bedraggled men that havent seen a bed for over
24 hours. I get my coffee bottle filled
and pick up some chocolate bars.
That should last me for a
of hours.
Now we finally find out what we had thought all
along that the engine with the plow
is dead -thats the
engine, not the crew.
The engine, a D-lO, ran out of water
and had to be drained.
If it hadnt been drained, some of
the pipes would have frozen and burst. The engine crew
could hole up
in the caboose, along with the train crew for a
or until they ran out offood. How long can you play
rummy? They would have access to
the coal on the engine,
so least they could keep warm
in the caboose. The train
is trapped on the other side of the snowdrift is getting
pretty low on coal and water.
We sit out in front
of the station at Boissevain
waiting, waiting and have a little nod-off, now and then,
of a nice warm bed and thinking that there is
more to life than snowdrifts and coal piles.
is still blowing snow something fierce. I cant tell
if it has stopped snowing
or not. Nor can I tell if the snow is
coming down or going up. They say every snowflake is
different -which leads me to believe Im seeing the same
snowflake passing my window every two or three minutes. I
do believe, however, that this
is what you would call a
blizzard; but
of course we are snug in our engine close to
the boiler Uoke).
We go into the station periodically to
warm up. Did I say warm up? Its just as cold in the station
as it
is in the engine. We go into the stationjustfor a change
/ .,
The equipment was a bit different but the conditions much the same in the early days. Here we see a wooden CPRplough paused for
a photograph
in the mountains, probably in the 1890s. Note the oil headlight in a rather vulnerable position atop the plough.
Photo, Canadian Pacific
of scenery and to see if anything is happening. The only
warm place
is in the caboose, where they have a good fire
in the stove. And where else would you put a fire?
But even the caboose is a little drafty and some conductors
dont like you coming in and bringing in cold air and snow.
So we cling to the boiler and pray for
an early spring.
It is now 11:00 a.m. in the morning. When you
have been up this long, and on duty this long, you are not
sure if
11 :00 a.m. is morning or 11 :00 a.m. is at night.
Also, when you have
been up all day and all night
and half the next day, things seem to become unreal. I think
its a sign
of your brain numbing up, or becoming unglued –
if a brain can numb up and
or become unglued. We were in
bad shape. Im talking about the Engineer, Freddy Stowell,
and me.
The train crew, the Conductor and Brakemen,
could rest
in the caboose, even though it was bouncing off
the track three to four feet.
We must get horizontal soon, or
dire consequences may occur. Did I say may occur? They
were occurring. Like falling asleep, standing up while
trying to put the injector on (putting water into the boiler).
I would prime the injector, then doze off until Freddy
would call out
my name, which would bring me around to
half awake, where I would automatically shut off the
injector, and then I would become fully awake, only to
my mistake, when I looked at the amount of water
in the water glass, then put the injector on once again,
hoping to complete my task and not fall asleep and overfill
the boiler. That was a trick we used when we were watching engines
in the west-end with the yard power. Fill the boiler
until the gun (injector) broke.
We used the term Fill her to
the nuts (the top nut
ofthe water glass) and then we could
get a couple
of hours in the hay (sleep.)
If you remember from the last episode we did a lot
of sitting at Boissevain before leaving for the action in the
snow pile. Trying to get more Section men and making sure
that all previous orders belonging to the snow plow, stuck
in the drift, had been cancelled; all regular trains that day
are cancelled. We didnt have the communication system
we have now. It was the old Morse code.
That was the
Dispatchers way of communicating with the Operator at
that station.
The Dispatcher would send the orders over
the wire to the Operator, who would then copy the orders
repeat the order, date, time completed, then give
them to the train crew, but keep a copy for his records.
although some operators were very fast with the operating
key, it was still very time consuming. I might add here that
some operators had beautiful penmanship. They took
in writing out their orders.
needed orders that gave us rights over
everything from passenger trains to handcars.
We had to be
able to go ahead or back up anytime or anywhere, over any
of the subdivision we are working on. In other words,
we have to have rights over everybody. I know it sounds
absolute, like the signal at a diamond, and it
is, but when
are plowing snow you dont have the time to be looking
out for any other trains. Plowing snow and staying on the
Digging out a passenger train on a CPR line on the prairies on Janumy 31, 1909. Conditions had scarcely changed at all by 19471
Photo, Canadian Pacific
rails is a full-time occupation. It doesnt matter if you cant
or dont know where you are, as long as you stay on the
rails and plow snow.
The westbound passenger train #121 that left
Winnipeg yesterday (the same day as we did)
is sitting up at
Napinka. They should be on their way
home on train #122,
but it is cancelled and the crew is sitting there twiddling
their thumbs, or playing Rummy. They were annuJled
sometime during the night, maybe even before we left La
Riviere. But we didnt have to
wony about them until we
got close to the station they were
due at. Does that make
sense to you? They wont see any action until we get this
snowplow unstuck and the track cleared, and
of course the
blizzard stops.
The same goes for the passenger train #123,
which was supposed to leave Winnipeg today (Friday) and
go to Lyleton.
That train is annulled. I dont know what is
happening to the rest of the trains on the Canadian Pacific
Railway, but this little branch line
of ours is out of service
until we straighten things out. Boy, does that ever sound
Meanwhile back at the ranch
the Lone Ranger,
disguised as a Baggageman -hold
on there, the brain has
become unglued. This isnt the same stOlY. See what I
Well, we are finally off to plow snow. So down the
mainline we go to Sanger, and the switch that
will take us
the Boissevain Subdivision and the big snowdrift, the
dead engine, and finally the mixed train, which
is standing,
waiting patiently at Schaffer. Apparently the passengers are holed up at a section mans house, and the train crew
and engine crew are on the train. How long they can last
anyones guess. How long will their water last on the
The coal supply should last for quite awhile.
We plow snow all the way down the mainline to
Sanger and
run by the switch, because of the poor visibility.
The Roadmaster could not see the switch until we had
passed it. Now we have to back up, and then dig
the switch
out. I say we, meaning
the Section men we have brought
along with
us just for this occasion. To my way of thinking,
we cannot get enough
of these Section men: the backbone
of the railway. They are the first men to be called out in
of an emergency (like now); then they are the first
men to be laid off when the traffic
is slow. The call has gone
out for more men, but its hard to move in this weather and
it will be a while
before we can get enough of them.
out of the plow they come with their shovels,
picks and brooms. (We got a good supply
of these before
La Riviere). When I mention picks, I mean it. The
snow is packed in so hard between the switch points that its
just like concrete.
To unlock and throw a switch only takes
less than a minute, tops -in the summertime, that
is. To
clean out a switch in a fierce windstorm could take, ten,
or even thirty minutes. Believe me, Ive been there.
And if we came back in fifteen minutes, we would have to
do it all over again.
It is not only the switch-points that have
to be cleaned,
but under the switch and four to five feet
from the switch,
where the bars are that move both switch­
points at once.
There is not much sense in moving one rail-
you need both of them.
dont hit any big drifts for the first little while,
but then the drifts become a little harder. Its a good thing,
because we want to get up to a good speed, so we
put the
drifts over the snow fence.
The wind has packed the snow
down real hard, and the engine has to be worked harder –
meaning heavy exhaust, meaning more steam, meaning
more coal, meaning more shoveling for -meaning me. And
of course with more draft, more snow comes into the cab
more moisture when the snow hits the hot pipes
and boiler. Some people spend good money for these
At this time I dont seem to care, as I am doing
these things automatica
lly. I can feel my body shutting
starting at the brain and working down. I
dont know
how Freddy Stowell, the Engineer, takes this.
He will be
in another five years. Thats almost 40 years older
than I am.
Here is where the Engineer and Fireman have to
put their heads together and do some thinking. OUCH!
We took water at Holmfield around four or five oclock this
It is now sixteen oclock -that is eleven hours; and
although it
is only ten miles to a water tank, we still have to
go over there to get it, which takes time and steam.
In other
words, how much time can we afford to plow before we
have to
run for water? We measured the water once at
Boissevain, but that was earlier
in the day. You dont go out
measure it every hour. Not in a blizzard, and certainly
not when the back of the tank is covered with snow and ice.
I get a chance to measure it when we almost get
in one of the snow banks we are plowing on our way
over to Schaffner and the Big Drift.
The Section men are
out once again with their shovels, clearing the snow from
under the engine and caboose. I think its about time we
uncoupled that caboose and just went on with the plow and
engine, but nobody asks for my advice. We have less than
half a tank, which isnt
that much when you are working the
engine fairly hard
in this deep snow. I say deep because I
can walk off the engine, through the gangway onto the
snowdrift, but I dont. I go
out the window onto the snow
bank, which saves
me untying and then re-tying the frozen
canvas curtains. We now know the snow
is over six feet
or high, it doesnt matter which way you look at it,
is plenty of it here.
This may be a good time to put some snow
in the
tank and increase
our water supply. We get the Section
men to put as much snow as possible into the water tank.
The snow starts to melt as soon as it hits the water, but then
the snow begins to turn the water cold. Now there
is a
of the water freezing. Are you with me so far?
Next comes the tricky
part, to unfreeze the water, or in
plain English, to melt the snow.
We could light a fire under
the tender and
heat up the tank. Too time-consuming; and
iii this weather who would have a match that big to light a
of that size? We will use the steam available to melt the
by means of the water injector. We will blow steam
back into the tank and melt the snow.
What a clever idea!
But not very original-this trick has been going on for a long
time and more often than not in situations just like this.
To get the steam back in the tank to melt the snow
we must put the injector
heater on, which allows steam to
flow from the boiler through the main valve, and pass
through the injector, through the feed pipe, through the
hose-bag into the tank, thereby melting the snow.
Howsoever -here lies the weak link
in this chain -the hose­
bag. (The flexible hose between engine and tender). You
• .I
The first train through when the line was cleared on Janumy 31, 1909. Thirty-eight years later the crews were doing almost exactly
the same work. Photo, Canadian Pacific
In mountainous regions, the big rotary ploughs were called into selvice. 400811 was the newest of ten rotaJies on the CPR roster in
1938. Photo, Canadian Pacific
must regulate the steam going into the tender very
It wouldnt take much to blow the hose-bag clear
back to Winnipeg.
There is 160 pounds pressure per square
inch in the boiler and if that ever got down to the hose-bag­
good-bye hose-bag.
The shut-off valve on the tender, right
above the hose-bag opening, could be used to
shut the
water off before it completely drains the tank;
but in this
situation, I wouldnt want to count on it. So we
are extra
in executing this procedure.
The snow melts very slowly and you are tempted
to increase the
amount of steam entering the tank to make
it melt faster,
but considering the risks involved, I shake
that one out of my head. To have one engine, caboose and
plow stuck in the snow
is one disaster, but to have .two
engines, two cabooses and two plows stuck -thats a
calamity, a debacle with an uncertain ending. We get a little
more water to work with, but I dont think it was worth the
effort. Time will tell.
We now have a meeting
of the big three: the
Engineer, the Conductor and the Roadmaster. Brakemen
and Firemen need not attend, but we do. We meet in the
caboose, where there
is a hot cup of coffee of sorts. Water
men tired and hungry, snow deep, darkness here.
Running out of energy, food, water, light, and we might just
on the ground, if we arent real careful. So the consensus
is; we must abandon our mission and high tail it out of here for water, food and rest, hopefully
in that order, or any
other order. To me, rest is on top of my list. But a hot meal
would also be nice.
The wind has died down quite a bit, which does
help somewhat, but it
is dark and we have to back up a
of miles pushing the caboose, which is very light and
can be derailed anytime if
it encounters too much snow.
We back up slow and easy,
if that is possible, when you are
pushing a caboose
in the dark, without a light. We do have a
few section men with us, in case the snow gets too deep, or
go off the track. We have re-railers to put the caboose
back on the track,
but at this time, we will be slow and
There is not too much energy left in this young
body, and what
is left in Freds body could be measured on
a micrometer. A red fusee on
the back of the caboose and
the conductors hand on the emergency valve, at
the ready,
to be used
in case the caboose gets too far from the tracks,
and guides
us to get back to Sanger and the mainline
of the Napinka Sub. Freddy keeps looking out the window
and the temperature drops down to a hundred and fifty
below zero in the cab and thats in
the warmest spot. Its
slow work, but we make it back safely.
We back up
the east leg of the wye to the mainline
switch, which now has to
be cleaned out once more.
Tempus fugit.
Out on the mainline we go and are now
heading west towards Whitewater and a water tower,
A rotary hard at work in the mountains. Photo, Canadian Pacific
which is ten miles away, unless, of course the wind has
blown it closer. Stranger things have happened.
We go the ten miles over to Whitewater and I get
out of the cab, through the window, making sure I close the
window behind me. I dont want to come back into the cab
and find Freddy frozen to the throttle. But someone has
already beaten
me to the watering spout. Al Stacey, the
Head end Brakeman has already navigated up the back
ladder on the tank which is a tricky manoeuver, as the
ladder is all covered in snow and ice. The tank lid will be
frozen over and
will have to be persuaded to open up with a
of smacks from the spare shovel we keep there for
just such occasions.
AI fills the water tank and gets back in
the caboose safely, frozen stiff and he wont be fully thawed
out until the middleof July. Thanks,Al.
We highball out
of Whitewater after checking at
the station to see if there is any change in plans. At this time
dont care what happens as Im going by instinct. Thats
survival instinct. All I want to do is to live long enough to
have a meal and a sleep, about three days would be just
Its five miles to Naples, then 4.6 miles to
Deloraine and we are still plowing lots of snow. From
Deloraine to Napinka its about twenty miles, going
through Leighton and Medora, but we wouldnt know that,
as it
is dark and the snow is still flying.
We arrive at the wye switch at 21:55, thats twenty­
four hours and forty minutes since we came on duty at La
Riviere and thirty-eight hours and twenty-five minutes
since we were on duty in Winnipeg. We will be another two
hours before we are off duty here. We wont be taking any
coal tonight.
There is no way Ill be peeling that frozen
of canvas that is covering that coal pile. If the
Watchman runs out
of coal, he has my permission to burn
the canvas.
We shove the plow into a track so it will be handy
in the morning; and the caboose goes
on top of the west
way-freight caboose, which has been held up
here unable
to go anywhere in this weather.
The west way-freight has
been sitting here all day waiting for us to plow out the line
and dig out the dead engine and plow. Little did they know
that they are now
part of the solution in our next attempt to
free the mixed train up
the Boissevain Sub. Both Freddy
and I fallout
of the cab and drag our weary bodies over to
the bunkhouse and are
met by the west way-freight and the
passenger crews, each wanting to know what
happened to
us. They rustle up some grub for us and we tell them what
all went wrong this last couple
of days and what lies ahead
us tomorrow.
I cant
remember what we ate, but I know Freddy
had to wake me up every couple
of minutes until I finished
the meal, as the days had finally caught up to me. We had
booked eight hours rest, knowing full well it was hardly
enough; but that was the most
restwe could book.
Off duty 23:50.
Thats a 26 hour and 35 minute
If you add the 13 hours and five minutes we were on
duty coming from Winnipeg to La Riviere (with a half an
hour off duty at La Riviere) thats 39 hours and 40 minutes

, .,,, _. ,. ~
.. .
A rotary attempting to clear the line after a snowslide in 1910.
Debris mixed with the snow could cause damage to the
ughs blades and other equipment.
Photo, Canadian Pacific
on duty in the last 48. And what did we accomplish? We can
sure plow a lot of snow. We sure are suckers for
And one more thing -we get to do it all over
again tomorrow.
Napinka bunkhouse -Midnight February 7th.
When you are tired, you sleep. When you are
dead tired, you are just that, dead. You sleep
in a trance,
without dreams, without moving, without feeling.
For eight
hours I did just that, lay there inside
my body oblivious to
evety ache and tired bone. You are not resting; its
like being in a state
of suspension. Time means nothing; in
fact I didnt think eight hours had gone by as I had just laid
my head down on the pillow to have a sleep when they
called me.
If they had left me there for a month I wouldnt
have protested
one bit. No such luck, they had to get that
train out of the snowdrift and the line cleared and start
running a railway, rest or no rest. So, you guessed it. They
our rest and said, youve had enough and we got to
start running a railroad aga
in. Get to work, you slackers.
After spending almost
27 hours on a dirty, drafty, cold,
coal-burning steam engine, built
in the early part of the
20th centUlY by a person, or persons, unknown, who had no
idea of what the word comfort meant, with the exception of
the sea t box padding and an arm rest, tha t you wont see or
lean on till spring, things can get a little bit dumpy. Also you
are a little bit apprehensive
of the next coming events. I
guess so!
After what we had gone through in the last two
ys anything is liable to happen.
They called us, this Saturday morning, February
the 8th, at 08:15 for 09:15 Snow Plow East. (We only need
an hour ca
ll; the engine is practically sitting outside the
front door). I
cant remember what breakfast was as we
didnt have any food with us. I believe the way-freight crew
and the passenger crew fed us,
or we might have gone over
to the hotel to eat. Now
were ready to do some work, I
or at least we have a strong belief that our bodies can
it for another day.
The west way (thats the regular way-freight
crew, west ou t
of La Riviere) is also called at the same time.
They have
been sitting here in N apinka for the last two days
twiddling their thumbs and chomping at the bit wanting to
get back on pay. We are now double heading on the
When I say they called us, I mean the
dispatchers in Winnipeg, sitting in their nice warm office,
trying to figure
out what we should do next. If they had
asked me, I would have told
them to wait till spring, but no,
they wouldnt ask a lowly old fireman for his opinion. They
want to run their railway. Did you
hear that, Their
I would have many differences
of opinion with the
dispatchers over the next 40 years. They had their way of
operating a railway; I had, like many other engineers,
another way, one that would look kindly on the running
crews. Howsoever, this was their show today,
come what
Putting together a
double-header snowplow is no
problem, if you know what
youre doing and its summer
time. Of course who needs a snow plow in the summer? As
you have two engines and two cabooses, you also have two
complete crews. Two engineers, two firemen, two
conductors, two tail end
men and last but not least, two
head end men.
Thats ten men of the running crew
Here lies a problem; if they cant see eye to eye
the two conductors may be at loggerheads.
Two bosses on a
train is
nt the ideal way to operate either a train or a
snowplow, so there has to
be a lot of co-operation all
The engineers have no problem. The engineer on
the lead engine controls the brakes and determines the
of the train. Of course the engineer on the second
engine can always cut in the air
brake and stop the train for
any reason, reasonable. As far as the conductors are
concerned, in this instance they are fine and very co­
operative as long as they stay in their caboose. Just bring us
the orders and well do the rest.
So away we go.
Now, remember it
is still winter out and cold as
it could be in February. So, every movement is in slow
motion. Every piece
of equipment is frozen solid. The air
hoses, made of reinforced
rubber, which have to be
connected between each
of the engines and the cabooses
plus the plow, are not very flexible. It takes time and muscle
power on the part of the brakemen to assemble our train,
but with four good
men on the job plus the brains of the
engine crew, we get it done.
We have the west-way crew
on the lead engine,
with engineer Dave Smith at the controls, along with his
then Freddy Stowell and myself on the second
number 937. This is the same engine we spent two
days on before getting barely eight measly hours
of rest and
some questionable food.
Then we have our two cabooses
and the
three trainmen in each one. The plow, on the point
is loaded with section men, shovels, brooms and picks and
Some of the section men will ride in the
cabooses, as it is a bit more comfortable to ride in. Nobody
wants to ride the engine. I wonder why?
At this point I might add an interesting point,
not as interesting as it is puzzling. No matter how
much snow you plow,
at the end of the day, there is always
some snow stuck to the front of the plow. Therefore at the
end of the day, or, the beginning ofthe next day, the section
men have to clear the snow from the front of the plow. Why
this occurs has never been explained to me. Could it be that
rubbing the steel plow against a snowdrift creates the
that makes the snow stick? Howsoever we start the day off
with a clean snowplow.
The caboose gets its share of snow,
I might add. Every time the train crew wants to come
out of
the caboose they have to shovel and sweep snow. At one
point in the trip they have to be dug out, as they couldnt
open the door on account of the packed snow. And we
thought they were
all asleep. These cabooses will carry this
snow until the spring thaw.
We come
out onto the mainline at Napinka to
load up with coal, and you know what
is involved here; the
pulling back
of the heavy, snow-laden canvas; which
the coal from the snow that is being plowed; which
would make the coal wet and
hard to ignite. The fireman
on the lead locomotive gets help from his train crew as I do
from mine. Its no easy task as the canvas
is frozen and
unyielding. You need at least two men, three is better.
the ropes is a real jolly time, especially when you
have to take off your mittens in three hundred degrees
below zero weather.
The footing is precarious (always
wanted to use that word) on top of the coal hopper, as the
little footing we do have
is covered in frozen coal and snow.
A slow process that eats up time, muscles, energy and
Now we have a tender full
of water and a hopper
full of coal. Are we ready to boil water or arent we? No.
The body is still in need of more horizontal rest, but we
must go onward in spite of what the body says. There is still
a train
or two that we have to free from their icy tomb.
Sounds dramatic, doesnt it, but its all in a days work in the
Good Old Days of 1947.
After loading up with coal we back down
the main
line to the station and await train orders.
Oh boy, another
one of these days where we sit around and wait and wait
In the diesel era snow still blocks the lines and buries trains.
Howevel; bulldozers and front loaders are now frequently
to remove snow, as we see in this scene taken in 1979. As
a result, the use of the traditional snow plough is diminishing.
Photo, Canadian Pacific
and wait. Of course we wait for orders from 222 miles away,
in Winnipeg, thats where the dispatchers hibernate.
I get a very helpful tip from Dave Smith the
engineer on the lead engine, which I kept
in my bonnet
(head bone) for future use.
That was; instead of struggling
open your frozen ash pans and dump your ashes after
cleaning your fire, leave them open. Any
live coals or ashes
do not last
velY long on snow and in 119 degrees below zero
weather. So I keep the ash pans
open and whenever the
firebox got too full
or the fire was not burning properly I
would give the grates a little shake.
The ashes would drop
down to the ash pan and
out into the cruel, cold world. I
made sure when I shook them that we were out on the
prairies, not going through a town
or on bare ties. There
werent any reports of barns burning down in that area at
that time
of year, thankfully.
The weather has eased somewhat; meaning the
wind has died down and the switches
arent filling up with
snow immediately after you clean them. A good sign that
we are going to win this battle over the elements, for now
Orders are here and we have rights over
everything on the Napinka subdivision, including trains,
planes and automobiles, and
of course snowdrifts,
jackrabbits and small herds
of buffalo. They are not
running any passenger
or freight trains today, just snow
plows. At least
not in this neck of the woods, which is all
that concerns
us at this moment. The highways are still
plugged with snow, so
there arent any cars or trucks
running. No delivery
of fuel or produce. Its as if time is
standing still, with the exception of the snowplows. The
kids are enjoying this, as all the schools are closed. They
could stay
in and watch TV, but the only trouble with that
is, there isnt any (remember this is 1947), but they could
listen to the radio.
There werent any stats. kept in those
days on births nine months later.
We clear
the Napinka mainline switch at 11:25,
which means
more than half the daylight is shot, and its
almost noon
and Im hungry. So what else is new? Maybe
Ill just chew
on the handle of the shovel for a while. I
dream of the crusts of bread mother told me eat. I wish I
had a few of those in my lunch bucket now. I dont know
what keeps old Freddy going, hes almost
40 years older
I am, he hardly eats a thing but hes very wiry. He did
live till he was 93 years old, as
I kept in touch with him after
he retired. He went to Vancouver where a lot of his old
were and, of course the more moderate
temperature to live. I guess he had had enough of the wild
prairies and wild snowplow rides.
Meanwhile back on the cold, snowy plains
Manitoba; we are running as snowplow east and flying
along with the two engines. We blast over to Medora, eight
five miles: then Leighton, another five miles. The
snow is flying in all directions as we plow along. The
snowdrifts dont know what hit them. I do believe we are
getting a little more snow being sucked into the cab when I
open the firebox
door to put in a fire in, more so with the
two engines then with just the one.
But at least we are a
little further away from the blasted whistle. Five miles to
Deloraine (a registry and junction point for all trains)
where we have to stop and register on account
of any trains
coming off the Lyle ton Subdivision. All trains off the
Lyleton Subdivision are annulled. Naples four point six
miles, Whitewater five miles.
We take on water here and
take as much as the tender will hold, as we dont know
when we will
be back here for more. The brakeman again
takes water for me and the message
is fill it to the lid. Now
would be a good time to eat if we had something to eat. We
do, as one
of the members of the train crew on the west-way
had got hold
of a huge amount of sausages. The invitation
of sausages and sausages is too great to turn down; we stop,
and its time to eat; like now,
or ifnot, when?
Freddy and I go to the caboose and
fill up on
sausages, bread and coffee, courtesy of the west-way crew.
To this day, and for the life of me, I cant remember where
the tail end crew got those sausages, but I can still see them
in the frying pan on the stove. I believe they gave us
strength to carry on
in our quest to free the snowed-in
plow. Its a nice change being
in the caboose instead of the
dirty dank cab. I think the dankness comes from the snow
sifting through the cracks and holes
in the engine and
hitting the hot boiler and turning it into dank.
We still have a long day ahead of us, but you cant
live on coal dust alone. It doesnt matter if its light or dark
out, when youre
on a plow you cant see anything on
account of the blowing snow and
of course that big red
out front doesnt help much. So when the sun sets or
rises it doesnt mean anything but the watch tells us the
length oftime on du
ty. So we keep our wa tches wound.
We arrive at the west switch at Sanger and the
biggest snowdrift in western Canada. Well
not really
western Canada, but western Manitoba. Well maybe not
really western Manitoba, but; lets
put it this way, I
wouldnt want it in my back yard.
The section men are out in a jiffy, with brooms,
picks and shovels -all the implements needed to clear the
of snow, which has accumulated since we left it
Although it
is sunny, it is still frigid weather
outside; the canvas curtain we have in the back
of the
engine and around the ladders on each side leading up to
the cab
is frozen stiff and bound tight with rope. We use the
cab windows to exit and
enter the cab. That canvas is not
much protection and the sun on the snow makes it hard to
see anything.
There isnt too much to see anyway. The
highways are blocked and what hasnt moved for the last
few days is covered with snow. Its called a whiteout. (Not
be confused with the solution you put on a typing error.)
We plow up the Boissevain Sub. at a good clip
pushing the snow as far away from the tracks
as possible
without the train leaving the rails. With these two
locomotives you can get up speed pretty quick.
The tricky
part is to be able to stop before hitting and damaging
something that
is hard to put together in a snow pile. But
there is no problem here, because we have plenty of snow
to plow before we get anywhere
near that caboose, engine
and plow.
The wind has blown in fresh snow and covered
the entire track we had plowed out yesterday. This snow
was packed and blown
in from central Saskatchewan Im
told. (This information was obtained from a northwest
wind, believe it
or not.)
Its a little over a mile to the big drift containing
the snow plow components (plow,
dead engine and
caboose), which we are trying to free from their icy tomb.
But we must be careful when we hit this drift, for as you are
well aware, the caboose
is made of wood and you know how
wood splinters. And
of course it being on the ground
doesnt help the situation very much either. All
in favor of
waiting till spring raise your hand. Carried!
There isnt much fear of a collision because we are
slowed right down to a crawl as we hit the real heavy snow.
We have to get up more speed but still stay on the track.
The road master has whistled us to stop, so he can
assesses the situation. I can tell you whats going through
old Svens mind.
He doesnt want two more engines and
two more cabooses stuck
in the snow. Bad for the
reputation you know.
So he
is employing a new strategy. As we are
about a quarter
of a mile from the tail end of the snowed-in
and the drift
is getting real high, we will back up a
quarter mile, uncouple the engines, then the lead engine
and plow
will take one hell of a run at the snowdrift. The
reason for this is: when the plow gets as far as it can, it will
try to back up to take another run at it. If it cant back up,
is where we come to the rescue. We go in and pull him
out. But first the section men have to clear some of the
snow away so when we pull him back we dont go
on the
ground. A little tricky, wouldnt you say, and
it is all done in
the dark, without
smoke or mirrors.
Dave Smith, his fireman, plow and engine
take off; hit the snow at a goodly
rate of speed while we sit
there and listen to
the exhaust of their engine. One exhaust
one-quarter turn of the driving wheel. Now if you
want to measure the circumference
of the wheel then
multiply it by the
number of exhausts you hear, be my
guest. You can tell by the exhaust as it slows down that he is
hitting lots of snow. Finally, no more exhaust, he is stopped.
Now can he back up?
He whistles back after the section
men have cleared some
of the snow away. He cant back up,
so he whistles to us for help. Now
remember -no radios. To
the rescue!
Freddy whistles ahead and we go in with
headlight on to pull him out. Now for the first time we get a
better view of the depth of the snow. It is even with the arm
rest at the
bottom of our window when we tie on,
(approximately ten feet deep) and
Im sure that it will be
higher, much higher.
We ease back out of the drift with both engines
working and go back about a
quarter mile so Dave can have
another go. Again we listen to the exhaust. Freddy counts
the exhausts and announces to me; three pole lengths. Now
remember what I just told you –
one exhaust is one-quarter
revolution of the engines driving wheel, so if you measure
the circumference
of the wheel youll get the distance
in one exhaust. When the exhausts start to slow
down he
is again hitting heavy, deep snow. Once again he
whistles for help and once again we go to the rescue. This
time the snow
is almost higher than the window. We
werent going anywhere, anyways.
it is pull back, have a run at it; go in, pull it out;
take another run
at it, go in pull it out. You get the drift of it
(no pun intended),
dont you? Now the snow is as high as
the cab of the engine.
Thats it -I quit! We work like this for
a couple
of hours, and then finally, finally, I must
emphasize this, we are at the caboose. It
is now up to the
train crew and section men to clear the snow away so we
can re-rail the caboose.
There goes another couple of
hours. Some section men have been out here all day
digging the snow away from the caboose, engine and plow.
Now finally we tie on to the caboose
and nudge it forward
as it
is frozen to the rail. We pull the caboose slowly back
over the re-railers and it
is back on the track. Yahoo!
Remove the re-railers, then tie onto the engine, nudge it
as it too is frozen to the track. The engine has been
dead and drained for a couple of days now. Next its the
plows turn to be broken free. It looks like we are going to
win. Hey, its only three-thirty in the morning!
It was a struggle to get them out, but we did it. We
back down the Boissevain Sub to Sanger and push the
plow, engine and caboose onto the mainline. We havent
finished plowing all the way to Schaffner, so we head down
the Boissevain Sub. to get the last of the big drift. We plow
all the way like we were possessed, for now we are tired,
hungry, miserable and also running low
on water. Our job
will be complete when we finish plowing to Schaffner and
let the mixed train go on to Boissevain.
They have had a
tiring time sitting there for two days twiddling their thumbs
and waiting for us to come to the rescue. They would be
running out
of food also. Apparently they ran out of coal
and had to borrow some from a boxcar that was being
unloaded for the farmers and folks
around that district. All
that was needed was a pregnant woman to be rescued and
then that would cap this story.
No luck this time.
Mission accomplished.
Oh yeah. Its just so far so
good. We still have to get this conglomeration back to
Napinka in
one piece. Thats 40 miles away. And we have to
take water at Whitewater. We should get something to eat,
bu t lets not get carried away.
After the mixed train goes
by us at Sanger (its the
wye on the Napinka Sub.) we switch
out our train. We put
the two plows in the lead, then our two engines; then the
dead engine; then the three cabooses behind
us. Now we
are a train again and running as, wait for it, Snow Plow
Its almost 4:30 in the morning, which means we
have been on duty for over
19 hours. My, how time flies
when youre having fun.
And I was wondering why I was
falling asleep standing up.
Over to Cadzow: highball Cadzow; Whitewater:
we take water here, mainly because we need
it in the
operation of this steam engine; Naples: highball;
Deloraine: highball; Leighton: highball; and finally
Medora: highball. Eight point five miles to Napinka and we
will be
home free.
We sail up to the wye switch at Napinka and stop.
We stop -that
is, the two live engines, the dead engine and
the three cabooses stop, but the two plows keep on going.
The switch is lined for the south leg of the wye, which leads
to the mainline switch
at Napinka, which isnt lined, but
that doesnt stop the plows. They run through the switch
and continue on to the station where they finally lose
momentum and stop.
What caused them to separate from the engines,
dont know? Why didnt they stop when the air hoses
parted, we
dont know? All we know is when we stopped;
they took off, ran through a mainline switch and ended
at the station. The good news is that the whistle cord, which
leads from the plow to the engine, which Sven Benson just
loves to blow, breaks,
of course, and I put up a silent cheer
on behalf of my ears and all the
other ears around. Besides
who cares, we are finished.
We have accomplished what we
set out to do. Its five-fifty in the morning and we are tired.
Tired doesnt fully explain the condition you are in. Its
more like numb.
The poor section men will have to repair
the switch before they can get a rest,
numb or not.
It doesnt take us long to put the train away.
(Plows, engines and cabooses).
We have been on duty for
22 hours. Actually 22 hours and five minutes to be exact,
but whos counting?
Thats it -Im booking rest until noon
of July first.
Hey, this story isnt over yet, so keep reading.
There is talk of ordering the plow to go down the Lyleton
Sub. as theres a passenger train heading down
that way
tomorrow (Monday, February 10, 1947), and they need a
clear track.
Good luck! They are not getting this fireman.
Again we drag
our weary bodies into the Napinka
bunkhouse, looking for food and a place to go horizontal.
We book eight hours rest
then have a bite to eat and flop
into bed. Now, we
dont go to bed like an ordinary person
does, between nice clean flannel sheets and flannel
pajamas, after a nice
warm shower. No, we go to bed with
our long underwear and socks on and between the rough
wool blankets.
(The wool holds the heat better, the sheets
go on top)
The underwear and socks have been on for the
last four days and it will be almost two days more before
these feet see the light
of day and we take them off (The
socks, that is).
Thats a long time between baths I know, but
these are
The Good Old Days.
Well, they call for a plow to go down the Lyleton
That is a branch line out of De loraine and is about 37
miles long. Its only 30 miles from Napinka to Deloraine,
134 miles round trip. I
dont care if it was only two and a
half miles round trip,
Im not going. So they get the Souris
(The one that was stuck in the snow drift) and
then they get all
my crew; Freddy Stowell, the engineer, AI
Stacey, head end brakeman, Bink Moffatt, tail end
brakeman and
Elmer Moulton the conductor. My guess is
they didnt get enough miles or they didnt have much
choice. They were the obvious crew; the passenger crew
has their regular assignment,
as were the west way freight
crew, Monday morning. Why they didnt get the Souris
crew, I dont know. So much for being tired and numb.
East left without me, Im glad to say.
They were
18 hours on duty and didnt get back until the
wee hours on Monday mortling. Meanwhile I had 12 hours
nd if it werent for the fact that my stomach started
to growl I would have
gone another 12 hours. I took a bit of
nourishment and went back to bed, as I knew that we were
going to deadhead
home on the passenger train in the
They gave our engine, the 937, to the Souris crew,
as theirs was nowhere
near being thawed out. Hey, when
you have been sitting in a snow bank for two
or three days
you do take a while to thaw out. It would have to go into the
shops for a thorough inspection. Theyll check for any
frozen or broken pipes.
If the engine crew did a thorough
job of draining the engine, theyll have it back boiling water
inno time.
Monday morning and called for 6:15 to deadhead
on passenger train
#122Napinka to Winnipeg. Yahoo! 222
miles on pay with nothing to do but
sit there and look out
the window. As the caboose
is deadheading too, we will
ride there. We can always put our feet up and make a pot of
tea even though there is nothing to eat. I may get a chance
to slip over to Barclay House
in La Riviere and grab a
sandwich for Freddy and myself.
Somewhere between Napinka and La Riviere
train crew are called upon to assist the passenger crew to
help with the flood
of people that are entraining on
account of the aftermath of the blizzard. With highways
blocked there
arent any cars or buses moving, so anyone
going anywhere
is going by train, the only transportation
We travel over the rails that we had plowed just
the day before, making this trip possible. We fought the
battle and won.
And you think this is the end, not quite.
Both Moffatt and Stacey live in La Riviere and we
pass through there on the way to Winnipeg,
but they are
working and getting paid to go there.
Sowhen we stop at La
Riviere I get
out on the platform and find Mrs. Moffatt and
Mrs. Stacey looking for their husbands, their arms loaded
with food. They had been notified that both
AI and Bink
would be working through to Winnipeg.
The food was for
When I told them that they had both got off the other
side of the train and were waiting for the train to go before
made an appearance, they were happy to say the least.
They handed me the goodies and I hopped on the caboose
. with sandwiches cake and cookies.
Enough for Freddy,
Elmer and me to last a week. Fred put on the tea and I went
and got Elmer to tell him the good news. So we sailed along
La Riviere to Winnipeg with big smiles on our faces
and gorging ourselves on homemade goodies and tea.
Along about Plum Coulee, halfway to Winnipeg,
they started to
put passengers in the caboose as the coaches
were all filled, so Freddy and I headed for
the cupola with
our goodies. We meet #123 the passenger train going west
to Lyleton and he
is loaded down with passengers. Both
passenger trains are running late on account
of the heavy
traffic so we arrive two hours late into Winnipeg at
oclock instead of 13 oclock. Go home to a hot bath, a hot
meal and a sleep in a warm clean bed.
But wait, theres
The next day was Tuesday our regular day out and
Im ready to boil water, but all the regular crew book off,
the cowards. We have a spare engineer along with the
entire train crew, which means a long day both going and
No, not coming and going. Like I said, coming to
La Riviere and going home to Winnipeg.
But there
is a method in my madness, for when I
come in
on Wednesday I go on holidays for two weeks. My
mother and I go out to the West Coast (by train of course)
and visit relatives in Vancouver, where the grass is green
not white. Then we head down to Seattle to do some deep
sea fishing and forget all about that huge pile of snow we
left behind back on the prairies and that train, Snow Plow
The History Behind
the Williant
G. Cole Fond
La petite histoire
fonds William G.Cole.
By/Par Josee Vallerand, archivist/archiviste
William Cole became a
CRHA member in 1932. A true
railway enthusiast, he seldom
travelled without his camera.
Upon his death in 1962, his family
transferred to the
CRHA a major
collection of his pictures and
documents related to the railway
world, between
about 1890 and
Graham Cole was
born in Montreal on August 27th
1880. His
father was, among other
duties, an engineer for the Quebec
Montreal Ottawa & Occidental
William Cole devient
membre de lAssociation
canadienne dhistoire ferroviaire
(ACHF) en 1932. Fervent amateur
ferroviaire, il ne se promene jamais
sans son appareil photo. A sa
en 1962, sa famille transmettra
ainsi une importante collection de
et documents qui se
rattachent au monde ferroviaire
entre 1890 et 1962.
Graham Cole est
Railway. As a teen-ager, William
William Cole with friend circa 1945
G. Cole made his entry into the William Coleaccompagne, vels 1945
ne a Montreal Ie 27 aoOt 1880. Son
pere fut, entre autres, ingenieur
pour la compagnie Quebec,
Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental
Cest a ladolescence que
William G. Cole entame sa carriere railway world at Coteau Station.
He then became an engineer for the Canada Atlantic
Railway Company.
Later he had to give up working on
the trains, on account of diminishing eyesight, but didnt
the domain entirely.
He worked as a machinist for
various Canadian and
American railway companies,
including the
Canadian Pacific Railway (at the De
dans Ie monde ferroviaire, ala gare de Coteau. II devient
chauffeur puis ingenieur pour la Compagnie Canada
Atlantic Railway. Par la suite, il doit delaisser les trains a
dune vue baissante, mais ne quitte pas entierement
Ie domaine. II travaille com me machiniste pour
differentes compagnies ferroviaires americaines et
One of the dwellings where William Cole grew up,from 1893 to 1901, near Coteau Junction. A train headed by CNR locomotive 6138, circa 1935
des maisol1s aLl a grandi Willaim Cole de 1893 a 1901, pres de Coteau Junction. Passage dun train tire par la locomotive CNR 6138, vels 1935
#30/the Thurso&Nation Valleyatthurso QC, 1935
Wagon de queue du Thurso
& Nation Valley Railway no3 a Thurso, Quebec, 1935
Lorimier workshops). Many years later, he associated
with his father in a family foundry which was in business
until 1952. A great fan
of the Canada Atlantic Railway,
he joined the Canada Atlantic Old Boys Association,
by William G. Ross, where he remained active
until its termination in 1960.
He published pictures in
railway magazines, including Railroad Stories (now
Railroad and Railfan) and
proceeded into numerous
exchanges and sales with
other fans and historians.
The fond attests the career of William G. Cole jr.
the Canada Atlantic Railway, within railway shops and
his activities with the
CRHA, between 1890 and 1960. It
also briefly covers the professional life of his father for the
Northern Railroad of New Jersey and the Canada
Atlantic Railway, from 1867 through the twenties.
This fond covers many specifics areas
railroading: steam locomotives, diesel-electric
locomotives and industrial locomotives as well.
Companies mentioned include: Canadian National
Railways, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the
Grand Trunk
Railway, the Delaware
& Hudson Railway, the Rutland,
& Maine and a few other companies, both
Canadian and American ones. Locomotives are mostly
pictured in the railway yards
of Montreal (Turcot, Glen,
Longue-Pointe and
Outremont): workers are also canadiennes,
dont Ie chemin de fer Canadien Pacifique
(aux ateliers
De Lorimier). Plusieurs annees plus tard, il
sassocie a son pere dans un atelier de fonderie familiale
jusquen 1952.
Grand amateur de la compagnie Canada
Atlantic, William G. Cole fonde Iassociation Canada
Atlantic Old Boys ou il est actif jusqua sa dissolution en
1960. II publie des cliches dans des revues ferroviaires
dont Railroad Stories
et procede a de nombreux echanges
de photos et a des ventes avec dautres amateurs et
Le fonds temoigne de la carriere de William G.
Cole fils a la compagnie Canada Atlantic Railway, dans
les ateliers ferroviaires
et de ses activites au sein de
lAssociaition canadienne dhistoire ferroviaire entre
1890 et 1960. II relate egalement brievement la vie
professionnelle de son
pere a la Northern Railroad de
New Jersey et a la Canada Atlantic Railway entre 1867 et
les annees 1920.
Ce fonds
traite de plusieurs thematiques
ferroviaires: la locomotive a vapeur, la locomotive
diesel-electrique et les locomotives des industries.
compagnies representees sont les suivantes: les Chemins
de fer nationaux du Canada, Ie chemin de fer Canadien
Pacifique, la Canada Atlantic Railway, la Grand Trunk
Railway, la Delaware
& Hudson, la Rutland, la Boston &
pictured. In order to take pictures of industrial
locomotives and
other traces of railroading, Mr. Cole
naturally had
to go off the beaten paths.
is also taken into account, with
stations and associated structures, as well as bridges.
are mostly those of the CNR and are located in
the Ottawa region and those within
Quebec (from 1930 to
1940): Whitney, Douglas, Galetta, Arnprior, Spruced ale,
Eganville, Barrington, Valleyfield, Rockland, Viger,
Coteau and Sainte-Justine among others. Pictures were
taken on excursions with friends or
CRHA members.
One can also find pictures of track construction,
in the Montreal area, pictures of passenger trains,
freight trains and
other items: freight cars, accidents,
people, etc. Some pictures concern
CRHA excursions,
mostly between years 1932 to 1945.
The Cole fond is made of negatives and pictures,
transfers, rule books, pamphlets, press clippings and
railway passes.
Maine et quelques autres compagnies canadiennes et
americaines. Les locomotives sont photographiees
surtout dans des cours de triages de Montreal (Turcot,
Glen, Longue-Pointe
et Outremont); on y voit les
cheminots. Pour photographier les locomotives
et les vestiges, Monsieur Cole a dO se
deplacer hors des sen tiers ba ttus, evidemmen
I.:architecture y est egalement presentee, avec les
et les installations attenantes ainsi que les ponts.
Les gares sont
surtout celles des Chemins de fer
nationaux du Canada
et elles se situent pour la plupart
dans la region dOttawa
et dans celie de Quebec (entre
et 1940) : Whitney, Douglas, Galetta, Arnprior,
Spruced ale, Eganville, Barrington, Valeyfield, Rockland,
Viger, Coteau
et Sainte-Justine, entre autres. Les cliches
ont ete pris lors dexcursions avec des amis ou des
de I ACHF.
On retrouve aussi des illustrations de la
construction de voies,
surtout dans la region de Montreal,
des photos de trains de passagers,
de marchandises et de
jardin ainsi que dautres sujets : wagons de marchandises,
accidents et les personnages, etc. Quelques photos
portent sur les expeditions de ACHF surtout durant les
annees 1930
a 1945.
Le fonds Cole est constitue de negatifs
et de
photographies, de correspondances, de livrets de
reglements, de brochures, de coupures de presse
et de
laissez-passer de compagnies de chemin de fer.
Group photographed in front of steam locomotive CNR 5251, 1944
Groupe photographie devant la locomotive a vapeur CNR5251, 1944
Men pictured on the turntable of the fO/mer Canada Atlantic Railway in Ottawa, August 1935
Hommes photographies sur lancien pont tournant de latelier du Canada Atlantic Railway a Ottawa, aoat 1935
MTC Employees welding rails on Notre-Dame Street in Montreal, August 1939
Hommes qui soudent des rails rue Notre-Dame, a Montreal, pour Ie MTC, amit 1939
CPR Snow plow #1 at C6te-Saint-Paul, Montreal, May 1939
Chasse-neige n01 du chemin de fer Canadien Pacifique a C6te-Saint-Paul, Montreal, mai 1939
CRHA members on an excursion to Saint-Albans VT, July 1939. From left to light: Messrs Iiudeau, Fred Sankoff?, TCB. Smith,
TenOLc( and Dt: R. VV Nicholls
de IACHF en excursion a Saint-Albans au Vermont, juillet 1939. De gauche a droite : MM. Tmdeau, Fred Sankoff (?),
M. T C H. Smith, TerraL/X et Dr. VV Nicholls.
CRHA members and their guests at the Pointe-Saint-Charles workshop entrance, onAugust 8, 1937
Membres de 1A CHF et leurs invites it I entree des ateliers de Pointe-Saint-Charles it Montreal, Ie 8 aaLtt 1937
CRHA members and their spouses
on a flatcal; on an excursion to the Johns-Manville Company in Asbestos QC, on July 9, 1939
Membres de 1A CHF et leurs invites sur un wagon plat lors dune excursion it la compagnie Johns-Manville it Asbestos, au Quebec
Ie 9 juillet 1939
Industrial steam locomotive in operation, Steel Company of Canada n. d.
Locomotive industJielle a vapeur en action, Steel Company of Canada, n.d.
Industrial Steam locomotive #11 of the Harbour Board Commission in Montreal, circa 1932
Locomotive indusnielle a vapeur noll de la Commission du port de Montrea4 VelS 1932
MI: Cole photographed in front of CNR Steam locomotive #3274 at Turcot yard, Montreal, circa 1940
Monsieur Cole photographie devant la locomotive it vapeur CNR 3274 it Turcot, Montreal, vers 1940
Railway employees in front of steam locomotive #98, circa 1900
Cheminots photographies devant
la locomotive it vapeur no 98 du Cen tral vermont, vers 1900
Remains ofindustrial steam locomotive #10 of the Gorman construction company, 1936
T1?stige de la locomtive industrielle it vapeur n01 0 de la compagnie GOiman Construction, 1936
Diesel-Electric locomotive #7700 (now #77) at Titrcotyard, Montreal, circa 1940
diesel-elect rique 7700 du CNR it Turcot, Montreal vers 1940
Garden train in action, circa 1949
1Jain de jardin en action, vers 1940
Employees photographed in front of a freight train pulled by steam locomotive #630 (GTR or CAR?), circa 1900
Cheminots photographies devant un train de marchandises tire parla locomotive a vapeu no 630 (GTR ou CAR ?), vers 1900
Employees in front of flanger #2 of the Canada Atlantic Railway, circa 1900
Cheminots qui
posent devant Ie deblayeur d entre-rails no 2 du chemin de fer Canada A tlantic, vers 1900
The Canadian Broadcasting transmission towers at Sackville New Bnll1swick
form the backdrop, as all-stainless-steel train No.
15, the Ocean : crosses the Tan tamar marshes at
Aulac NB, en route to Montreal on November 9, 2005. This 30-car train, one
of the longest passenger trains ever to leave Halifai, was canying a large group of veterans en route to Ottawa for
the Remembrance Day commemorations on November 11. This year the occasion was of special significance as it is sixty
years since the end
of the Second World Wm:
The train consisted of three locomotives, one baggage cm; three coaches, twenty-one sleepers, three diners, one Skyline dome
cm; and one Park dome cm: The actual consist was as follows: Locomotives 6420, 6409, 6431. Cars 8622,8113,8138, 8117,
8506, Chateau Dollard, Chateau Richelieu, Chateau Salabeny, Acadian, Chateau Argenson, Chateau 1belville, Chateau
Bienville, Chateau Levis, Chateau Closse, Chateau Maisonneuve, Fairholme, Chateau Jolliet, Dawson
ManOl; Hunter Manol;
Stuart Manol; Macdonald
ManOl; Chateau Lauzon, Louise, Chateau Marquette, Osler ManOl; Grant Manol; Thompson
Allan ManOl; Chateau Laval, Glacier Palko
By next summer it is expected that all three consists of train 15 will be made up of Renaissance equipment, so such a long
stainless-steel train
may not be seen again in eastern Canada.
Photo by David Morris
BACK COVER TOP: A view along the line of BC Rail showing the magnificent scenelY by Howe Sound that was enjoyed by
of passengers aboard the steam excursions out of North Vancouver with locomotive 2860. Photo by Peter Mwphy, 1986.
BACK COVER BOTTOM: CPR Hudson locomotive 2822 at Ottawa West in May 1959. Photo by Thomas L. Hughes, and
submitted by his son Harold Hughes.
This issue of Canadian Rail was delivered to the printer on February 8, 2006.

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