Friday, 6 February 2015

F-Unit Friday #2 - CPR #1432 at Banff, Alberta August 1963

CP 1432 and 8129 spend a few minutes together on a pleasant afternoon in Banff, AB in August 1963. Uncredited slide, author's collection.

Well, I didn’t plan to do this as an F-unit Friday but once again Throwback Thursday was running late. We’re at Banff, Alberta, in August 1963 where we find CP 1432 leading the westbound Canadian in the late afternoon sunshine. There are a number of things in the photo that struck me as “really interesting” and help turn it into a mini time capsule of sorts.

First, the keen observer will note that the trailing unit on the train is in fact a Fairbanks-Morse engine. While CP did tend to keep the FM’s in the west, it is probable that not often they could be found on passenger trains (note the FM style of truck as well as radiators/exhaust stack). Likewise, the use of an SW1200RS in the west seems somewhat unusual. Typically associated with use on the DAR or Ontario branchlines, a switcher was maintained at Banff for a number of years to switch cars on and off the passenger trains stopping at Banff. Then, as now, the town remains a popular tourist destination, though the town’s connection to the railway is not what it once was. On top of CP 1432 is an interesting feature unique to the Canadian (not the icicle breakers) – the high-powered light aimed toward the sky used to illuminate the mountains as the train passed through them in the night. The idea was to light up the scenery for passengers riding in the dome cars, and even if it did not work too well, is an example of the blue-sky thinking that has largely disappeared from today’s railroading, and in particular Canadian passenger travel.

Additionally, it appears that the summer popularity of the train has exceeded what capacity the classy stainless Budd cars could provide, thus requiring that a number of older heavyweight cars be added to the train. A number, including some on this train, where painted with aluminum paint in an effort to blend them in with the rest of the consist, however it appears that a plain-jane maroon car has also been pressed into service. A lightweight CC&F baggage car has also been added and disturbs the streamlined stainless motif of the train.

While a Google street-view of the scene today shows that it is much the same (but with taller trees), the train in the photo above has indeed come and gone. CP 1432, built as #4041 in 1951 at GMDD London, was renumbered to 1432 in 1955, only to be renumbered back to 4041 in 1966 before again becoming 1432 in 1969. It was sold to VIA Rail upon formation of the crown carrier in 1978 but was later returned to CP and subsequently scrapped (despite a full repaint into VIA colors). CP 8129 served CP for many years before ultimately meeting its’ demise in a wreck at Laval, Quebec; it was subsequently sold to Andrew Merrilees in 1998. Many of the Budd stainless cars ended up being rebuilt by VIA Rail in their HEP refurbishment program and continue in service although the heavyweight coaches, baggage car and the FM unit likely have all long since been turned into razor blades.

But for at least a few minutes back in August 1963 CP offered the photographer a rather interesting scene to photograph. I wonder if the photographer found the slide as interesting as I do? Uncredited slide, author’s collection.


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