I received my 15 demerits for the sideswipe in The Classification Yard tracks C-31 & C-32, soon after this bulletin came out:

CP Rail Bulletin B 37 80.
July 6, 1978
To: Retarder Operators At: Alyth

A sideswipe occurred recently at the east end of C-31 and C-32, and a tank car loaded with gasoline was rolled over on its side.

It is my considered opinion that the sideswipe was a direct result of a cut of 12 heavy cars being handled in the manual mode.

Instructions have been issued to you gentlemen on several occasions reminding you that the system is designed to handle single car cuts, and to make certain that only single car cuts are handled. The exception would be multiple cars of poles, etc.

I remind you also at this time that my instructions regarding humping LPG products must be strictly adhered to, i.e. speed cut down to one mile-per-hour, single car cuts only. Not to be humped on top of empty cars or empty cars humped on to LPG.

When you come to a cut of LPG products and the TYC has not cut the humping speed down to one mile-per-hour, it is your responsibility to stop the movement until the speed is cut down, as directed.

H.E. McAfee

NOTE When bulletin is telegraphed operators must make extra copies as required. Conductors and Engineers and others concerned must sign in acknowledgment. Bulletins no longer in effect are to be sent to the Superintendent and Master Mechanic, respectively.

CC: N. Nickiford
G. Mikkelsen
G. Seright
A. Wirachowski
*L. Buchan
D. Smith

I carried on that summer working the retarder operator’s annual vacation vacancies. I saw some interesting things. When I was training Gordon Mikkelsen warned me about leaving the group retarder’s off when you started humping, while if you left the master retarders in the off position, you could not get a hump signal, but with the groups off you could. I thought to myself, this would be hard to do, but sure enough one night shift when we started humping I watched a loaded tank car of sulfur go sailing out of group two, at a very high rate of speed smashing into the stationary cars in the track it was destined to, I had left all the group retarders off, which I quickly rectified.

Another interesting incident I had was working day shift, the CPR handled a lot of lumber traffic from British Columbia, a lot of it on flat cars, the best flat cars had bulkheaded ends that help avoid shifted loads, but ordinary flat cars were still used a lot. They were equipped with pockets along their sides for stowing chains that were wrapped around the bundles of lumber when they were loaded. One day a flat car of lumber came off of the hump heading through group 3 retarder for C-23. I watched in amazement as it entered the group retarder one of its securing chains must have broken off and was dangling along the side of the car as it entered the group retarder the chain got caught up in between the car wheels and the retarder shoes and stopped the car of lumber dead in its tracks, with this sudden stop from the car going 12 miles an hour all the wood unloaded all over the tracks.

One day I came to work and to my surprise Group 3 was out of service, evidently on the day shift a car came up to the crest of the hump and a hump stop alarm came up. Cars listed in the hump files have codes to bring attention to certain conditions, like LPG will alert you that a reduced speed must be adhered to. Other codes are for special cars that cannot be run over the hump. An example would be cars of dynamite and other explosives. On day shift, a car came up with a stop code, the TYC Toby Frewin tried to get a hold of the retarder operator, but had no luck, he asked the hump crew, what was on the car, and they told him that it was a maintenance of way crane mounted on a flat car. Toby being impatient told them to let the car go, which they did. What they didn’t know was that the car had been modified with compartments of steel filled with ballast to keep the crane stable when it was operating. The problem that arose was that it created a restricted clearance, the master and group retarders have steel castings called chairs that are pushed by air cylinders to squeeze the cars wheels when they enter the retarder’s. The crane, with its modifications underneath would not clear the chairs and it damaged all of them in the master retarder and in group 3. They were able to use some spare ones and sent some of them to Ogden to be welded. But they did not have enough for group 3, so it was out of service for a few weeks until replacements came from the manufacturer in the United States. No discipline was assessed.

One other interesting incident happened that summer, where the hump units came off the shop track to go towards the tunnel underneath the hump to go towards P & V yards or two backup into little N yard. There was an automatic hand throw switch (these automatic switches could be trailed through with cars or locomotives and would automatically line themselves without any damage to the switch points or mechanism or be thrown by hand), to go through the tunnel on both side’s was a dwarf signal that would control movements, all you had to do was move your engine or engine with cars attached close to the signal where the bond would be activated and after a timeout of about two minutes, you would receive a restricted signal (yellow as opposed to the red which would be displayed normally). On this day, somebody had gone westward through the tunnel leaving the automatic hand throw switch in the reverse position lined for the hump shop track, on the west side of the tunnel was the 16:00 Stock engine with some auto carrier cars loaded with brand-new pickup trucks. They stopped at the signal and waited for it to timeout, which it did, then they shoved eastward through the tunnel at a fairly fast speed to maintain momentum to climb up the hill on the east side to go towards little N yard, the foreman Bob Fulton and his helper were riding on the point of the movement and when they emerged from the tunnel, they went towards the hump shop track, at the same time, the 14:30 Hump assignment was moving westward on the shop track to go for their coffee break, the helper Tommy Arnott was riding on the steps of the lead hump locomotive CP 8634. They were just about at the west end of the shop track when the 16:00 Stock movement emerged from the tunnel. The crew did not notice that the switch was lined for the shop track in time to stop the movement, and the inevitable happened. Tommy, a large, easy going, portly man, seeing the impending collision ran for it, people watching, said that they never seen Tommy move that fast in his life. The automobile carriers hit the stationary hump units and derailed, continuing into an auxiliary storage building that was demolished alongside many of the brand-new pickup trucks that were total write-offs. Bob Fulton and his helper were able to jump off and escape injury. After this incident, the signal maintainers rewired the circuits so that if a westbound movement wanted to go through the tunnel if the shop track switch was in the reverse position, they would not be able to get a signal. A bulletin also came out to notify the hump crews that any movement using the shop track switch “that the automatic switch would have to be manually restored to the normal position,”

Another interesting thing that would happen was that with humping extra long cars like auto carriers, and double piggyback flat cars, the computer thought that the car was clear in the destination track, and the automatically controlled switch in the bowl of the class yard would line up for the next car, so the lead wheels of these extra long cars would be going down one track, and the trailing wheels would be going down another track. It took the technicians in the computer room quite a while to solve this operating problem.

The summer was passing by quickly, and I did some soul-searching thinking about what I wanted to do next. In my railway career. The holiday vacancies I was working would soon be over and I was facing working another winter outside at the Alyth yard.

I read a book called Inside the Third Reich, the memoirs of Albert Speer, and Adolf Hitler’s Architect, and Minister of Armaments; in it he quoted the following;


The course of a railway train is uniquely prescribed for it at most points of its journey by the rails on which it runs. Here and there, however, it comes to a junction at which alternative courses are open to it, and it may be turned on to one or the other by the quite negligible expenditure of energy involved in moving the points.
Sir James Jeans

My career had definitely come to a “junction” so I made a decision to bid for an opportunity to train as a locomotive engineer

CP Rail Internal Correspondence.
Date October 13, 1978 File No. 010.864

From: M.M. Stroick

Seniority No.
Two Messrs. W.J. Avery Trainman Alyth 600
Dennis Sanford “ 601
R.J. Schmick “ 603
F.W. Porter “ 529
R.S. Ferguson “ 531
L.S. Buchan “ 595
A.T. Kuzmicz “ 602
E. Kinch 613
J.C. McFarlane 632
V. Sangster 636
B. Materi 647
L.J. Kosar 692

This is to inform you that your application for the Engineman Training Program.
Has been accepted. You will be required to have a further medical examination.
and have an “A” Book written before commencement of training.

Training will commence in Calgary on November 16, 1978

M.M. Stroick
Calgary Division.

When it came time to start training Ron Schmick had resigned from the company and Emile Kinch withdrew his bid, so Bruce T Hatton, Bill Todd, and Stan Zimmer were added to our class.

I wrote a letter to the GYM asking him to protect my car retarder operator’s seniority:

November 10, 1978

Mr. H. E. McAfee
General Yard Master.
CP Rail, Alyth Yard.
Calgary, Alberta

Mr. McAfee:

This letter is further to our recent conversation concerning my request for a six-month leave of absence from my position as a relief car retarder operator.

The reason I am requesting this leave of absence is, I have been accepted for the Enginemen’s Training Program, and I am to begin training on November 16, 1978. In the event that through some unforeseeable circumstances, I am not able to continue in this program, I would like to retain my seniority as a Car Retarder Operator.

Your assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely yours,

L.S. Buchan
Relief Car Retarder Operator.

I worked my last shift as a Car Retarder Operator on an afternoon shift Saturday, October 28th, 1978; I was paid $71.05, or $8.88 per hour. The change of Timecard took place on the Sunday, and I went into road service as a head end brakeman, assigned to Car No. 4 with a crew. My Conductor was Stan McCormick, and the tail end brakeman was George Wiberg. I made my first road trip on Tuesday, October 31, 1978 going north to Red Deer on Train No. 77, called for 20:15. My locomotive engineer was Joe Fedor, and we had CP 5853, as a leading locomotive and 93 cars of freight, my conductor this trip was Don Colson, as my regular conductor had booked off, we arrived at Red Deer 03:00. The next day on November 1, we were called at 16:00 for No. 988 a Grain Pick up train that would have lots of work to do, lifting loaded grain cars from the elevator tracks between Red Deer and Balzac, Alberta. For head end power we had CP 5852, we did all the work and were off-duty at Alyth at 23:10. The running miles on the Red Deer Subdivision are 93.5 miles. I made 146 miles at freight rates on the northward trip, and earned $62.69. And 125 miles at way freight rates on the southward trip, and earned $55.36, total time on duty. 13 hours, and 55 minutes that worked out to being paid $8.50 per hour.

At the time, road crews in freight service out of Calgary worked both the Red Deer Subdivision and the Laggan Subdivision west to Field, British Columbia with 136.5 running miles. I had a day off and on November 3 I was called at 04:30 for train No. 965, we had 91 cars of freight, the Locomotive Engineer was Mike Pasternak, and we had the CP 5789 as our lead unit and were off-duty at Field at 12:55. After a few hours rest, we were called at 19:00 for train No. 902 a hotshot freight was 71 cars, we were back at Alyth and off-duty at 00:30 only gone 20 hours with six hours rest between trips. For the trip westward, I made 178 miles, and was paid $76.64, for the trip eastward, I made 165 miles, and was paid $70.83 this worked out to being paid $10.53 per hour.

CP 5789 was built by General Motors Diesel, a SD-40-2. Date Outshopped June 30, 1978 and added to CPR’s diesel fleet on the same day. It was classed as a DRF-30r (Diesel Road Freight 3000 hp r the last of the order from 5779) Footnote 113: Units 5779 to 5789 and 5860 to 5864 owned by Ontario Hydro. They were purchased to haul coal from McGillivray, BC, to Thunder Bay, Ont. Locomotive consists are four head-end units with two robot-controlled units from McGillivray to Dunmore, Alberta. The units operate in a common pool with the other CP SD-40-2. An additional Robot car was built by CP in 1978 for this service. Units 5860 to 5864 are equipped with both Locotrol Master and Pacesetter Master equipment.

I had two days off and was called on November 7 for a double Bearspaw Turn for 23:15, on the Laggan Subdivision, turnaround service is when you are called to go to an intermediate point on the subdivision Bearspaw was the siding at mile 14, at Keith mile 9.6, the CPR had a large storage yard, and that was our destination, there was also a large gravel pit between Keith and Bearspaw where they could load ballast into hopper cars for track maintenance. Keith yard had 3 storage tracks on the south side of the yard that were called, KS 1, KS 2, and KS 3, and were used for storing maintenance of way crew boarding cars. On the north side there were three long tracks that would store over 120 cars, they were numbered Keith 1, 2, and were used mostly for storing grain and potash to relieve congestion at Alyth yard. Keith 3 was always kept clear, so it can be used as a siding. On the West end of Keith yard there were six smaller tracks numbered Keith 4 to 10, they were used to store cars for the No.2 Switcher assignment, the Exshaw Switcher and other cars of grain and potash. We had the CP 86384, a leading locomotive and the Locomotive Engineer was George Carra we had 51 cars going out on our first turn and 130 cars on our second turn. We were off-duty 08:45 so I was on duty nine hours and 30 minutes and made 212 miles, and was paid $90.92, making $9.49 an hour.

On November 9. I was called for a north trip at 10:45, the train was No. 987 with lead locomotive CP 5726, once again with Locomotive Engineer Joe Fedor we had 79 cars and we arrived at Red Deer and were off-duty at 17:00. After five hours rest, we were called for a southbound at 22:00; the train was 2nd No. 86 and were back at Alyth at 03:50. I made 141 miles going up and 138 miles returning, and earned $119.07, which worked out to be $10.82 per hour.

November 11. I was called at 11:00 for train No. 987, again, this time with Joe Cassidy as the Conductor and I worked as the tail end brakeman, we had locomotive CP 5849 as our leading locomotive and Don Towle as the Locomotive Engineer with 89 cars, we arrived at Red Deer and were off-duty at 16:20, we were called for our southbound trip at 01:40 for train No. 78, with locomotive CP 5781, we arrived Alyth and were off-duty 11:40. I made 132 miles going up and 147 miles on the return trip and was paid $121.96 being on duty, making $9.91 per hour.

On November 13 my day off between trips I had to go to see a CPR Doctor for my medical that was required before I could enter the Enginemen’s Training Program, for taking this examination I was paid 38 miles that added up to $16.25.

On November 14 I was called at 02:00 for train No. 605, a robot train of sulfur with lead locomotive CP 5846 and Locomotive Engineer Norm Tedesco, it took us two hours to put the train together, and we left Alyth at 04:00, and arrived Field BC at 13:30, we stayed there until 17:45, when we are called to deadhead on Train No. 902, arriving back at Alyth and off-duty at 22:00. This was my last trip on through freight until November 1979.

The Enginemen’s Training Program.

On Thursday, November 16, 1978, I attended my first class in the Enginemen’s Training Program; our classroom was an old baggage coach that had been converted for that purpose. Coach No. 54, was spotted on the east end of Depot 3 at the Calgary station, it had middle aisle with double desks down each side, and a desk and blackboard for the instructor, it was painted in Tuscan red, there were lots of mechanical charts on the walls, and a locomotive engineers controls set up as a simulator. Our classes started at 09:00 with a half hour lunch break, and we got out at 15:30. For the next 14 days until November 30, we had extensive instruction on the Uniform Code of Operating Rules Revision of 1962. Our Rules Instructor was Lloyd Snowdon a Locomotive Engineer from Kamloops, British Columbia, Lloyd was a true gentleman and a scholar, after five years of having rules instructors that were from the Train Dispatching Offices, it was good for all of us to have a teacher who looked at the rules from a Locomotive Engineers point of view. After the two weeks of extensive training we had to write an examination and were required to make 90% for a mark in order to continue on in the program. The good instruction we had paid off as nobody in our class failed.

On December 1, 1978, we started seven days of classes on Mechanical Rules, our instructors were Des Deroche a Locomotive Engineer from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Alf Strickland a Mechanical Supervisor from the Vancouver Diesel Shops, with classes that covered. CPR Form 582 Rules for the Operation, Maintenance, Inspection and Testing of Air Brake and Communicating Signal Equipment on Motive Power, Cars and Work Equipment and CPR Form 583 Train Handling and Other Instructions Relating to Brake and Communicating Signal Equipment lubrication, water cooling, and other subjects pertaining to the mechanics of CPR’s diesel locomotives. On completion of the Mechanical Rules on December 6, 1978, we went on to the next stage of our training.

Starting on December 8th, we went training on yard engine assignments. There were over 60 jobs in Calgary terminal covering three shifts, so there was no shortage of one’s to pick from. I started out on one of the afternoon assignment’s the 14:30, Hump working with Pete Laing, our consist had the 8634-4462-8412. The 8634, a GMD Class GP9 was outshopped October 30, 1956, and added to the CPR roster the same day, classed by the CPR as a DRS-17c (Diesel Road Switcher, 1700 Hp subclass c the last of the order, starting with 8611. 4462, a GMD class F7B outshopped February 28, 1953 and added to the CPR’s roster the same date classed as a DFB-15e (Diesel Freight B unit 1500 Hp subclass e) 8412, a GMD Class GP7R was outshopped on January 19, 1953, and added to the CPR’s fleet of locomotives, the same day classed as a DRS-15d (Diesel Road Switcher 1500 Hp first of subclass d) 8634 along with 8633 and 8635 had gone to Ogden shops for modification, there the electronics were modified adding hump controls, cab signals, short hood chopped to low nose configuration for hump service. Units outshopped from Ogden as follows:

8633 -. March 12th 1971.
8634 -. May 20th 1971.
8635 – December 3rd 1970

So Pete sat on the other side of the cab in the fireman’s seat and let me take over the controls, we were starting out by bringing a train in P-yard to the hump. The helper on the assignment radioed me to pull down to the dwarf signal to time it out so we could get a signal to go to through the tunnel to the west side of the yard, after we got a signal we went through the tunnel. I traveled through the rubber switch (a nickname of modern raycor track switches that can be trailed through with the locomotive without damaging the switch.) I had to pull down three unit lengths and stop so the helper could line the switch towards a V-yard track as a safety feature, and prevented a runaway car from going down towards the tunnel where there was vehicular traffic. Pete gave me a pointer, there was a telephone pole along the yard lead and if you stop the lead locomotive’s bay window even with the telephone pole was the exact location to clear the switch so the helper had jump off the trailing footboard and lined it back. We tied our train in P-6, and I called the pusher crew and asked them if they were ready for a stretch in P-6. The pusher crew were tied on and had taken off all the handbrakes that had secured the train in the yard track and they were ready, I slowly applied power from throttle 1 to 3 gradually stretching out the slack on the train, the pusher radioed us that they were moving, I then went to the open yard channel and called the operator at 12th Street E. tower telling him that the hump was ready to come out of P-6, he replied to keep coming and he lined the crossovers from P-yard to Hump lead 1, I returned the radio to the hump frequency, then opened up the throttle to the 8th notch to pull the train out of P yard and on to the hump lead, with our three units, and 4700 hp, it did not take me long to reach a speed of 15 miles an hour I was able to easily pull out the train. At times, if the train was really heavy, or under bad weather conditions, the pusher engine could assist. Approaching the top end of hump lead-1, there was a dwarf interlocking signal displaying green that told me I was good to cross 8th Street SE, and that the next signal west side of the Elbow River bridge would be permissive, and it displayed yellow, I would have to be prepared to stop. The pusher called us on the radio saying we had 30 cars to go, then 20 and 10 cars than to stop this I did shutting off the throttle and using the locomotives independent brakes, with a really long train sometimes I would be at the west end of the IYO. After coming to a stop the pusher radioed us telling us that we were lined up and it was okay to precede eastward 50 car lengths. I put the engine reverser handle into the reverse position, and opened up the throttle to get the train moving eastward, as the whole yard sloped to the east, it didn’t take much to get the train rolling, and I then shut off the throttle and use the independent locomotive brake to control our speed. The pusher kept radioing me, telling me how many cars we could go, and that the switch point derail was lined for us (there were two switch point derail’s one off of hump lead one, the other off hump lead two is a safety feature to prevent side swiping another movement if was coming down the hump lead) the pusher told me that the 08:00 hump still had about 10 cars left on their train, there was a stop sign just west of the ascending crest of the hill where the pusher had me stop. The other hump assignments was finished, the pusher engine cut off and went to the crest of the hill to get instructions from the TYC on where they would go next, usually out of the class yard through C-1, or C-48, depending on where the next train to hump is located.

With the train stopped Pete showed me what to do next, there was an electrical cabinet behind me on the wall of the engine behind me, he opened up the door and showed me a large electrical switch that was in the down position, he placed in an the up position, this placed control of the hump locomotives to the computer in the control tower, by the front window to the left hand side was a box with cab signals, they were lit from behind and would show the different modes that the hump was set into. From top to bottom. It read “Hump Fast” “Hump Slow” “Dead Slow” “Stop” “Speed” “1.75 mph” Other features of the counsel on the hump locomotive was a small box mounted above the control stand pedestal. It had four pushbuttons and the speedometer that read from 0 to 2 miles per hour. Pushbutton 1, on the top left side would place the controls in the “Tower Automatic” below it. Pushbutton 2 was the “Automatic – Manual”. Pushbutton 3, on the top right-hand side was the “On Board Automatic” and Pushbutton 4 was the “Speed Selection” Other Features was a Air Booster Gauge that worked in conjunction with a small console of Air Booster buttons that read; 18 pounds, 12 pounds, 6 pounds and Release, these were used to fine-tune the speed of the hump engines when in the Automatic Hump Mode. When ready to hump release the Air Booster button, Put. Pushbutton No. 2 into the Automatic Throttle position, and put the Throttle in the No. 1 position, and release the Independent Brake Handle. If necessary to go to Manual Humping leave Pushbutton No. 2 in Automatic, and Set Speed with. Pushbutton No. 4 and use Pushbutton No. 3 to start Manual Humping.

On December 10, 1978. I worked the 15:30 N. Industrial with CPR 6717. It was built by General Motors Diesel Division and was outshoped to the CPR on March 23, 1955, and was classed as a DS-9a (Diesel Switcher 900 hp Series a). The locomotive engineer was Bill Dixon, who I had worked with before on the ground as a switchman, we came off the shop track at the Industrial Yard Office, and we switched out our caboose, and crossed over to “I yard” to switch out the cars we needed for the territory, we kicked their caboose up the lead and went into track “I-3” to get the cars we needed for Meridian Park industrial area, these 6700 locomotives were different from the hump. Units. I had ran earlier, they did not have a notched throttle, it was different to operate for a small locomotive. It had lots of pep, and with its cast-iron brake shoes one had to be careful not to skid them. With our cars altogether, and a brake test done by the Carmen, we were ready to leave northward to our territory, off of the Red Deer Subdivision. We did our required switching spotting the loads to the customers, and picking up the empty cars to bring back to the Industrial Yard where we shoved them into track F-2 the preference track were all empty cars were placed and when three tracks were filled, they were transferred down to Alyth for the hump, any loaded cars were set over EX lead, next to the shop track, and would be taken to Alyth SAP

On December 11, 1978, I went to the Alyth Diesel Shop for a four hour class on Steam Generators our instructor was Diesel Shop Foreman Don Hoare. The CPR used Vapor Clarkson Steam Generators to heat their passenger trains. The Steam Generator OK 4625, was the one we learned about as it was most used on the CPR. They were many valves on the steam generators, and were marked with brass tags. Valves designated by odd numbers are fitted with cross style handles, and must be in the OPEN position during normal operation of the steam generator, valves designated by even numbers are fitted with standard round handles and must be CLOSED during normal operation

On December 12, 1978, I worked the 16:00 “A” Pulldown with locomotive 8113 with locomotive engine Sandy Young; this was the first time I ran one of these locomotives. They were classed by the CPR as a DRS-12a and was outshopped by the CPR on August 8, 1958, these were very versatile locomotives and could be used in both yard, and freight service on the road. While most of the EMD locomotives and yard service were 900 hp, these locomotives had 1200 horsepower, this assignment worked out of Alyth, and we would switch out cabooses from the caboose track and put them on boat going trains, we would also pick up incoming cabooses, and take them to be caboose track so they could be serviced for their next trip. We would also look after the One Spot Car Repair Shop that had four repair tracks, on the east end, we would take bad order cars out of V-9 that ran along beside the shop, and we would fill up the for tracks, at times, we would be listed to pull the repaired cars out of the west end of the building, and put them in a track for humping.

On December 13, 1978, I worked the 15:30 S. Industrial with locomotive 6715, the locomotive engineer was once again Bill Dixon. The yard foreman was John MacLachlan and I remember we were switching cars in “F” yard, Bill had poured himself a cup of coffee from his service and was standing by the doorway talking to me, we made a rough coupling and Bill got coffee all over himself, but was not burned, he just laughed it off. This job went out South, on the Manchester Lead, to the end of track where Heritage Drive, and Deerfoot Meadows is now located, at that time the Cominco Fertilizer Plant was located to the south of Heritage Drive, it was built during World War II and its products were used for the war industry, we would spend the shift switching out covered hoppers of fertilizer, and spot up empty hoppers for loading. There was also a loading rack with scales were Ammonia was loaded into large tank cars, we would weigh the cars, and spot them up with empty tanks, we then would return to Alyth, and ask the Train Yard Coordinator where he wanted the loads from Cominco, he would give us a track in P or V yard where we would drop the cars into, leaving our caboose on the lead, we would then couple of to the caboose and ask the operator at 12 Street E. For a line up into the East end of F yard where we would kick our caboose into the caboose track, and put our locomotive on the shop track, and call it a day.

On December 14, 1978, I worked the 16:00 Hump with locomotives 8634-4462-8421 and Vic Currie was the locomotive engineer, the shift was much like the earlier trip I made with Pete Laing, one thing I do remember was that we had quite a long train, and it was starting to get dark, our head end was passed the Industrial Yard Office, and something looked funny as there was a signal that we could not see, it turned out to be a truck backed up into the freight sheds and was obscuring our view, and route I gave a couple of blasts on the locomotive whistle, and the trucker moved out of our way.

On December 18, 1978, I worked the 08:00 “A” Pulldown with the same locomotive I had working with Sandy Young on the afternoon “A” Pulldown the 8113, I was with locomotive engineer Stan McPhedren, whom I really liked from all the times we worked together when I was a brakeman on the Zone 3 Wayfreight in 1974-75. He was the first locomotive engineer that let me run the locomotives on the Acme subdivision.

On December 19, 1978, I worked the 09:00 Gulf Oil assignment with locomotive 8115 . Another DRS-12a that was outshoped on August 28, 1958. This locomotive became one of my favorites over the years I worked yard assignments. The locomotive engineer was Bruce Hatton, whose son, Bruce was in my class, his other son Bryan took the engineers training later. This assignment that started out of the GY0 would tramp around the yard switching piggybacks, taking bad order cars off of trains and other chores. After lunch (Beans). We would get a list for switching out The Gulf Oil Refinery in the Inglewood District, we would get the tank cars, we needed to spot out of the classification yard, we would then go behind the Pulldown Tower to the CNR interchange tracks, and find a clear track to run out onto mainline, this line was originally the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway route into Calgary, it ran down to where Fort Calgary use now, and the St. Louis Hotel was built East of Calgary City Hall to accommodate the passengers. The track now ended just past the refinery, where there was a concrete plant that was looked after by the CNR, we would go into the refinery, and pull out all the empty tank cars that had been unloaded, we would then spot them up with loads we had brought from the class yard, there was also a storage track outside the refineries gates, where we would leave cars to hold, and dig out cars for spotting.

On December 20, 1978, I worked the 07:30 N. Industrial with locomotive 8101. The locomotive engineer was Charlie Floyd, who was a very tall man, and was nicknamed “high pockets” we came off the shop track and switched out our caboose, we then crossed over to the east end of “I” yard, and we would kick our caboose up the lead, switch out the cars we needed from I-3 and couple them up to our caboose. We then waited for the Carmen to couple up all the air hoses and give us a brake test. With this completed, we would contact the operator at 12 Street E. and ask for a line up straight north, we would then go around the Wye by the Calgary brewery and stop at Bengal a register station to make sure that all the first class passenger trains had arrived and left, we would then go by signal indication north to Mile 2 of the Red Deer Subdivision, there was a switch there and we would pull our 10 cars and caboose by, the crew would line the switch and we would proceed southeast through a tunnel underneath Deerfoot Trail, when we emerged from the tunnel we had about 15 cars to a switch point derail that had to be lined normal for us to get by, this was a safety feature as the grades in the Mayland Heights Industrial territory were over 2.2% in places, and if a car or yard movement ever ran away this safeguard would let the cars run into the ditch, rather than out onto the mainline where there could be a catastrophe if a passenger train or freight train was coming down the track. Our assignment was to look after all the customers spurs above M-32, this would take us eastward over Barlow trail where there was another switch point derail that would have to be lined, we would then start looking after the customers M-49 was a Swift’s feeds mill, and M-54, was a Crown Zellerbach lumber yard, just past there was a team track, with an unloading platform, where cars of machinery would be spotted, and the customer would look after unloading them. Further down was M-78 a Co-Op Grocery warehouse, the track that was running northward then made a curve and ran south words towards M-96 the Hudson Bay’s warehouse, M-97 Simpson Sears furniture warehouse, and M-98, Alberta Brewers Agents, where we would spot up cars of beer from the Lethbridge Brewery. Once again, we would spot up all our customers and lift all the empties to take back to the IYO.

On December 21, 1978. I worked the 07:30 S. Industrial assignment with locomotive 6716. Barney Martin was the locomotive engineer. Once again, we came of the shop track switch to our caboose, and crossed over to the east end of “I” yard and kicked their caboose up the lead, we then went into track I-2 to get out our cars for the Manchester industrial territory. With this done, we would get a brake test, then we would ask the operator at 12th Street E. to give us a lineup from the east end of I yard down P-1 past 12th Street tower and line us south down the Manchester lead. It ran on the south side of the MacLeod Subdivision mainline. We would stop our train clear of the crossing beside the Shamrock Hotel we would then walk over to the Shamrock Grill for a coffee break. We would then shove southward down the Manchester lead to 42nd Avenue, this is where J lead splits up if you follow it, you end up down at Cominco, but at the bottom of the Hill, just across 42nd Avenue there is a switch that takes you to the Manchester Industrial Park where there are for leads Ja, Jb, Jc, and Jd that had dozens of warehouses, lumber yards, steel plants, battery manufacturer, newsprint, and paper goods warehouses, and cement plants. There were a lot of conventional derails in this territory that you had to watch out for. Below Ja lead was a runaround track that would hold 30 cars, this was handy to get on the other end of our cars for the customers who spurs ran northward, there was a large Triangle Steel yard that would get cars of steel, there was also a couple of other industries located there, alongside the runaround was what they called builders road, and they had an XL Brick yard, and several lumber yards for house construction, Jb lead had more warehouses to service, and Jc lead had a Crane Plumbing Supply spur that got carloads of pipe, pipe fittings, and porcelain toilet fixtures. There was also an Exide car battery factory, and a McMillan and Bloedel paper products warehouse, this was the only lead that crossed over 58th Avenue where there was a large, Ovenmeyer warehouse at one time the lead ran further south and connected with a lead that ran off the MacLeod Subdivision, another customer was LaGrande Oil Well supplies, and there was a team track with unloading platform. The final lead was Jd that serviced Sovereign Castings a smelter where they made cast-iron products like manhole covers; they would get carloads of coke for their smelter. Next was Jd-4, the Inland Cement Company there spur would only hold four cars, and when there was a building boom in Calgary during the 1970s, they would be spotted up three times a day. With all the customers looked after we would gather up all our empties and return to Alyth and back to the Industrial Yard Office, where we would put our cars into the preference track in F-yard and turn in for the day.

On December 22, 1978. I worked the 09:30 Imperial Oil assignment with locomotive 8692, a General Motors Diesel GP9r (GP called Jeeps were General Purpose diesel locomotives.) It was outshoped to the CPR on September 26, 1957 and was classed as a DRS-17d a Diesel Road Switcher my locomotive engine instructor was Harold Sangster. Harold was a small man but tenacious, he must have been hiring on as a wiper September 13, 1941, and promoted to fireman the same day, it would be hard work, hand firing coal into the firebox’s older steam locomotives. During World War II. Harold joined the Navy and was a stoker; he was quite high on the seniority list No. 56 in Alberta out of a total of 236 locomotive engineers. Unfortunately for Harold, he had some heart problems in 1960’s, and was restricted to yard service, I have attached a newspaper photo of him as the fireman on the first Royal Hudson 2833, converted to oil burning in the 1940s. He was a great guy to work with, this assignment started at the Alyth Diesel Shops, locomotive engineer were paid for 15 minutes before their shift started, and 15 minutes at the end of their shift for final inspection, this gave them time to read the bulletin books, check their pocket watch, and inspect the locomotive before leaving shop track. Harold was very thorough and he showed me how to do proper initial inspection of our 8692, inside the cab we checked the flagging kit, and if we had a spare air hose, and the yellow wrench to change out a burst air hose, and if we had drinking water, and a broom and shovel as it was winter and track switches and fill in with snow. We then went outside to do a visual inspection, before leaving the cab we turned on the sanders switch, this way when we walked around the locomotive. We could check on the rails whether the sanders were working properly, we would also check the running gear on each side making sure that all the brake shoes were in place and working. We would then walk down the running board, releasing the handbrake, and open up one of the hatch doors, where we could check if we had sufficient water for the cooling system, check that the governor had a proper oil level, and check the site glasses on the fuel filters to make sure they were not plugged, if we found any defects, or lack of supplies, we would call the Diesel Shops Planner and have the problem fixed. We would then leave the shop track, testing our radio to make sure it was functioning okay, we would then pick up our crew at the yardmen’s parking lot. From there, we would go to the classification yard to dig out the cars we needed to spot at the Imperial Oil’s loading racks. The old Imperial Oil had been closed and torn down around 1976. They built a storage facility with storage tanks and loading racks on the Brooks Subdivision Mile 168, here we would clear the main track, and there was a runaround track outside the gates that helped with the switching, we would get permission at the gate to enter and couple on to the cars on spot, we had left the empties we had brought from Alyth, and one of the runaround tracks, we could then pull all the loads into the clear runaround track, and then couple onto our empties and go back inside and spot up the cars on the loading racks, we would take our lunch break in our caboose, and when we had finished our work, we would call the Brooks sub train dispatcher on a trackside phone by the main track switch, if there was no traffic, he would give us a written authority to occupy the main track, we would back out onto the mainline, and go westward towards Alyth, we would then call the operator at 12th Street Ethan we were returning to Alyth, he would then call The Pulldown Tower Supervisor for a route into the yard and where he wanted our cars, most of the time, we would pull our cars into a classification yard track we were the various and had priority, we would get permission from the Train Yard Coordinator to come out of the class yard track, and we would go out through a clear track and to the shop track. The hump would pull the various track back over the Hill and the cars would be classified and be on their way to their destination.

On December 23, 1978 I worked the 08:00 Hump with units 8635-4460-8409 , with locomotive engineer Paul Panko as my instructor, I knew Paul as he lived out in Ogden near where I lived, his hobby was mechanics and he collected Studebaker’s, he had a big yard near Shepard, where he stored all his Studebaker’s. Paul was a big man, very and enjoyed smoking cigars, he had some quirks, he would never buy any General Motors cars, as he blamed them for bringing out the diesel electric locomotives, that caused Paul to lose his job as a locomotive fireman.

I’ve been took a break for the Christmas holidays. It was nice to have some time off with the family.

I returned to work on boxing day December 26, 1978, and worked the 22:30 Pulldown with locomotives 8100-8423 a DS-12a and a DRS-15c, my locomotive instructor was Bill Kercher. He was a good-natured guy who I have worked with on the Zone 3 Wayfreight. There were three assignments at the Pulldown Tower on each shift on nights, there was the 22:30, 23:00, and the 23:59, so working the early job you had your pick of the locomotives working there. The 23:59 Pulldown had to take what was left, and a lot of times they would have two DRS-15 locomotives that had very limited visibility around this very busy part of the Alyth yard. We would get our list, and we would have to tie up 3 to 4 tracks in the classification yard. This involved going into each track, guided by the engine follower, when coupled on, we would stretch out the cars looking for breaks where the cars failed to couple together, the senior yardman the long field man would be further up the track, looking for breaks and when the cars were all coupled together, we would go to the next track until we had them all coupled together. We would then start doubling the tracks together, and pull out of the class yard, by a route given to us by the pulldown supervisor and we would shove the cars into a clear track in N-yard, P-yard and V-yard, and securing it with eight handbrakes on the east end. This would be a train ready to leave the yard after the Carmen had inspected it, a caboose would be added and the crew would be called. We would then have a coffee break, and do a second list; we would then take our lunch break (beans) and then do a third list. When finished, we would put our locomotives on to the shop track, and call it a night.

On December 27, 1978 I worked 23:59 Industrial Tramp at the Industrial Yard Office with locomotive 6713 and locomotive engineer Ivan Miller as my instructor, this job would go to Alyth, and bring back transfers of city cars from C-48. In the classification yard, we would switch them out, and place them into their destination tracks in I-yard, G-yard, and F-yard. We would also spot cars on the fast forwarder warehouses like B-14 Howell up at 14th Street West on B alley, and another customer at EX-4 and EX-4a on the south side across from the Industrial Yard Office, one of our last moves for the shift would be to go down to the Alyth Diesel Shop and bring up the fueled and serviced Dayliner and spot it on the east end of Depot 3 for the morning North Passenger train to South Edmonton.

On December 28, 1978 I worked the 23:00 N. Industrial with locomotive 6713, and locomotive engineer Grant Cunningham as my instructor. Grant was another locomotive engineer that I had worked with on the Zone 3 Wayfreight, and we got along good. Grant had been a motorcycle dispatch rider during World War II, it had injured his hearing so he would have to turn on the cab lights so he could read your lips when you were talking to him. The job involved coming off the shop track and switching out our caboose, and getting the operator at 12th Street E to cross us over from the east end of F-yard to the east end of I-yard, here we would kick our caboose up G-yard lead, and we would switch out the cars we needed from G-1 and G-3, with our cars all coupled together, he would connect all the air hoses, and do a brake test, as there were no carmen working the night shift. We would then call up the operator at 12th Street E. that we wanted to go from the east end of I-yard straight North, when we got a signal we proceeded northward to Mile 2 of the Red Deer Subdivision there, we would shove our caboose, and cars through the tunnel underneath Deerfoot Trail and line normal the switch point derail switch, and up the hill to M-10, and M-10a Johnson’s Trucking Terminal warehouse, there was a length of straight track outside the gate of the warehouse. We would set our caboose there and go into the warehouse yard with our cars, the two tracks inside the yard and side-by-side and cars could be loaded and unloaded into the warehouse on both tracks, we would check all the cars to make sure there were no dock plates left in, and we would pull the tracks and set over all the cars listed to pull on to the caboose, we would then go back inside the yard and spot the cars we had brought with us into the two tracks. With this finished, we would go back down the hill, relining the switch point derail to the derailing position, we would then call up the operator at the 12th Street E. and ask for permission to enter the main track. We would then pull out and shove our empties and caboose back to the east end of F-yard where we would put our empties into the track that the preference was being built. We would then put our caboose away into the caboose track, and place our locomotive on to the shop track and call it a night.

My last shift for the year was on December 29, 1978 working the 22:30 Pusher assignment with locomotive 8416 with locomotive engineer George Rose as my instructor. This job was very straightforward, the yard foreman would call the Train Yard Coordinator and find out what track it was going to hump next, tonight it would be track P-4, we would then couple onto the east end. The yard crew would release all the handbrakes, and we would wait for the 22:30 Hump to tie on to the west end of the track. When the hump engines had coupled on to the train, we give them permission by radio to stretch out the track and see that it was altogether. When we started moving westward, I would release the independent brake and hump units would pull us out of the track on to the hump lead. Our yard foreman using the radio would let the engineer on the hump locomotives how many cars to go clear the crossover, I would put about 10 pounds pressure on the independent brake (engine brake) to keep the train stretched out, and to avoid the slack running in as we came to a stop. The operator at 12th Street E. would restore the crossover switches to normal, and we would be lined for Hump Lead No. 1. We were stopped underneath the Blackfoot Trail overpass, and 60 car lengths to where we would have to stop. The yardmen from the hump crew had watched our train pull out of P-4, and would stop us if we found any defects like handbrakes applied, or cars that were not bled off. The yard foreman would tell the hump engineer that the crossover was lined normal and we were good for 40 cars to a stop. There were switch point derail’s where the two hump leads conjoined, in our case it was lined for Hump Lead No. 2, our yard foreman would call the Train Yard Coordinator to line the derail switches for Hump Lead No. 1, we could see visually the derail switches lined for our route and our foreman would give the hump engineer another 40 cars to the stop sign west of the hump. When we came to the stop one of the yardmen would uncouple our locomotive, and I would run it up to the crest of the hump, and we would wait for instructions from the Train Yard Coordinator, Tonight he asked us to trim two tracks in the classification yard C-14 and C-37, this would involve pushing cars down that had stalled in their tracks. We then went through a crossover out of C-48 and set our locomotive, in one of the tracks in little N-yard. We would then go into the yard men’s lunchroom on the main floor of the General Yard Office for our coffee break. When the 23:59 hump crew arrived for their shift, we were told that we would be humping N-11 next. We would do this train, and the TYC told us to go out through the crossovers on C-1, as the next train was in V-yard, in this case we would be doing a double over of two tracks, V-4 V-6 with the 22:30 Hump crew, we would tie on to the east end of V-4 and release the handbrake’s, when the 22:30 Hump tied on to the west end, we would give them the okay to stretch out the track, when the cars were moving, we would uncouple from the train and tie on to the east end of V-6. The helper on the hump crew would couple V-4 to the west end of V-6, when we had finished releasing the handbrake’s on the east end of the track. We would get the hump crew to make the stretch and we would pull out through the middle crossovers on to Hump Lead No. 1. We would do two more trains and then take our lunch break, and do our last train of the shift with the 23:59 Hump assignment, then put our locomotive on the shop track at the Pulldown tower.


1.) A photo of me working one of my last shifts as a Car Retarder Operator, this was taken by locomotive engineer Dennis Garrett, who was working the 08:00 Hump.

2.) Photos taken on my first trip North on the Red Deer Subdivision, the Red Deer Station front, side looking westward.

3.) Photo of the Buffalo Hotel across the street from the station where we had rooms to stay in overnight.

4.) Photo of the Red Deer yard looking southward.

5.) Photo of the North Dayliner No. 9106 on its station stop in Red Deer to pick up train orders and passengers.

6.) Photos taken on my first trip West on the Laggan Subdivision as the head end brakeman on November 3, 1978, on Train No. 965, this view looks back at our train from my side of the locomotive, it is at Mile 16.6 to 16.9 where there is a curve with a permanent slow speed of 30 miles an hour.

7.) Going Westward approaching Ozada siding west of where we enter the mountains.

8.) Our lead locomotive CP 5789 taken at Banff Alberta, we are in the siding waiting for an eastbound train.

9.). Another view from Banff of our lead locomotive and CP 5576 our second locomotive.

10.) This view at Banff looks eastward and you can see by third unit which gives us 4500 hp to conquer the Rockies, also visible the Banff passenger train station.

11.) Westbound at about Mile 94 Castle Mountain is visible in this shot. It was renamed Mount Eisenhower after World War II

12.) Taking the siding at Eldon, the eastbound is waiting on the main track for us to clear, this subdivision is CTC and all the switches are controlled by the dispatcher in Calgary, in this high-altitude environment with lots of snow the track switches are hooked up to propane fired switch heaters to keep them from freezing up.

13.) This view is at the summit of the Great Divide at Stephen we have climbed upwards from Calgary at 3500 feet to the summit at 5280 feet traveling 122.2 miles the steepest part of our ascent was from Lake Louise at Mile 116.6 W. of the summit is British Columbia where we will descend 14 miles to Field at Mile 136.6 this steep downhill mountain grades some over 2.2% when the CPR was built in 1885 this was called the “Big Hill” with grades of over 4%, this was supposed to be temporary but it took them still 1908 to build a set of spiral tunnels through the mountains that reduced the mileage and grades by half.

14.) I took this photo on our trip home, this looks back at our train alongside Cathedral siding with Mount Stephen in the background.

15.) I took this photo outside we are in the siding at Eldon waiting for No. 1 The Canadian the westbound passenger to pass us.

16.) My “A” card that expires in three years on November 27, 1981, it is signed by our rules instructor locomotive engineer Lloyd Snowdon he was from Kamloops BC and was a great teacher of the rules looking at them from a locomotive engineers view.

17.) A set of hump units sitting at the Alyth diesel shops, 8634 is the lead unit followed by “B” unit 4462, with Diesel Road Switcher 8412 as the trailing in with its 4500 hp it is able to pull any train out of the yard, the only concerns would be a heavy train with bad weather conditions in this case the pusher engine is always there to assist. This is the locomotive consist I ran on my first student trip.

18.) Control stand on CP 8634 a hump lead unit. On the left is the radio control set with 8 frequencies, below it is the automatic brake stand. Next to it on the bottom is the brake booster switches, then the independent or engine brake that is in the applied position, behind me black brake handle is the engine bell control. Going up the right side is the air booster gauge, and above that is the rheostat that is used to dim or brighten the front or rear headlights. The black panel in the middle has the air brake gauges on top, under the gauges is an aluminum sign that says “THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE OPERATING SPEED OF THIS UNIT IS 65 MILES PER HOUR” the days of operating at that speed for this old war horse are over. Underneath are some alarm lights for ground relays, PC switch open, wheel slips, and engine shut down. At the bottom of the panel are 12 circuit breakers, these are for the headlights, classification lights, cab heaters and lights, and the most important are the generator field, fuel pump and engine run circuit breakers.

19.) A wide-angle photo of the cab showing the radio handset hanging on the whistle cord. This view shows all the windows in the cab, the ones in the middle that give better visibility were part of the renovations when the 3 units were modified at the Ogden shops, the front nose was chopped down. The right-hand side of the photo shows the aluminum pedestal that the engine reverser, throttle, and dynamic brake controls are located; above my work gloves is a control panel for the hump.

20.) Hump control panel with mode switches, buttons and speedometer.

21.) A better view of the aluminum pedestal, the reverse lever is just out of sight on the bottom, the chrome lever on the right-hand side is the throttle control and, on the left side is the lever for the dynamic brake, they are disconnected as there is no use for them in the yard. Besides the top of the window on the left side is a box that contains the cab signals for when the hump is in operation.

22.) Another good wide-angle photo of the locomotive cab.

23.) Two SW900 locomotives 6716 and 6714 sitting on the shop track at the Industrial Yard Office, note the yellow cast-iron re-railing frogs, hanging off the running boards above the front wheels of the locomotive. All locomotive are supplied with these, and they are very helpful for rerailing cars that have come off the track.

24.) Another look down the shop track.

25.) DRS-1200a 8100 the first of these locomotives that were built for yard and road service, it’s easy to tell the difference between the 6700s as they have only one exhaust stack while the 8100’s have two exhaust stacks.

26.) A view of the 12th Street E. Interlocking tower on a winter day this is an eastward view and from the main track P-1 there is a clear signal in front of the tower.

27.) A photo I took back in 1974 from the Blackfoot Trail overpass it shows the hump pulling out of N-11, to the right are the piggyback trailer ramps, and the large building in the background is the Burns Packing Plant.

28.) This view shows the hump pulling out of P-4 he will crossover underneath the overpass where I am standing, V-yard and P-yard on the right-hand side of the roadway and Hump lead 1 & 2 are on the left-hand side, you can see the middle crossovers out of V-yard in the foreground.

29.) No. 2833 the first CPR locomotive converted to oil burning to operate on the mainline passenger run between Winnipeg and Calgary, completed its first trip between Winnipeg and Calgary this morning. Seen here beside the oil burning locomotive are left to right A. A. Langdon of Calgary, Division Master Mechanic Gregor Grant, Calgary, District Master Mechanic; E.G. Bowie, of Winnipeg, Superintendent of Motive Power and Car Department at the Weston Shops of the CPR in Winnipeg, Jim Kirk 716 14th Street E. Engineer of the train; George Russell, Calgary, Road Foreman, who directed firing of the locomotive and Harold Sangster, 1006 8th Avenue E., Regular fireman.

30.) An aerial view of Keith yard there are three long tracks on the North side the first two are used for storing grain and potash in, track three is left clear as a siding. There are smaller tracks on the West end they run from 4 to 10 and I used to store cars for the No. 2 Switcher, and other cars left in storage waiting disposition. There are three tracks on the South side these are used for storing maintenance of way gang cars during the winter.

31.) This view was taken from the West end of Keith yard, looking westward you can see past the telephone pole a hill with a roadway running up, this is the Bearspaw gravel pit there is a track below it where they could load 30 cars with ballast for the CPR. Further to the left out of sight is the Calgary Power limited’s Bearspaw Hydroelectric Dam.




























(1) Comment   

1978 was my fifth year back with the CPR, and I started the new year working the night car retarder operator position, my career was still quite interesting, our General Yard Master Harold McAfee was pleased with my progress working as a car retarder operator, and approached me and asked me if I would be interested in the opportunity to train as a yard master working relief assignments at the General Yard Office, and the Industrial Yard Office, I thought it would be a new challenge and agreed to do it. The pay rates were a lot higher than the car retarder operator’s position, so I started training sitting in on my days off with a regular assigned yard master’s at Alyth and the IYO.

I trained first with Nick Farion on the afternoon shift 14:30 to 22:30, he had a desk on the fifth floor of the General Yard Office, where the Train Yard Coordinator was located, Nick was the West End yardmaster and looked after the afternoon assignment, that included 15:45 Tramp, 16:00 Stock, and the, 17:00 A Tramp, he would make out the switch lists for the different assignments and take them down to the main floor lunchroom where the yard crews booked in, most of the work on the West end involved switching on and off cabooses for trains arriving, and trains being built for departure, the caboose track was located west of the GYO and had three tracks Y-4,5, and 6. They would also do a lot of switching at the piggyback tracks where trailers from incoming trains had to be switched out and spotted, and loaded piggyback trailers had to be gathered up and taken to the East end of the yard, and placed in tracks designated by the Pulldown Supervisor. There was some container traffic at this time that would have to be spotted for unloading. Other duties were taking bad order cars that needed repairs off of outgoing trains. The 16:00 Stock engine at one time worked there shift mostly in the stockyards located off of the South mainline where there was the Burns Packing Plant, and Canadian Packers, livestock would come in on special CPR railway boxcars in the 272000, and 278000 series, by the 1970s, most cattle were being delivered by truckers with special tractor-trailers to accommodate livestock. The Stock job did have to go out XL Beef’s processing plant at J-50 on the Manchester lead to bring in refrigerated meat to put onto the head end of Train No. 952 that at one time carried lots of stock to Montréal. Nick had a radio on his desk so we could communicate with all his yard crews to update them if there were any changes in their lists, and any extra moves that came up, he gave me some good advice like physically checking the tracks on the West end of the yard before coming on duty so you would have an idea how much room there was left in the tracks so you knew where you had space to put cars.

I next trained with Don Ferguson the night yardmaster at the Industrial Yard Office, Don was a burly man, and at one time was a wrestler. There were four assignments that worked night shift the 23:00 North Industrial, the 23:30 South Industrial, the 23:45 Tramp, and the 23:59 Industrial, there was a clerk to help the yardmaster with the switch lists for the customers in the industrial areas. The 23:00 North Industrial would start their assignment by switching out there caboose near the shop track, then would crossover from the F yard on the south side to the I yard lead on the north side, they would kick there caboose up the lead and get their cars out of tracks G-1 and G-3. With their dozen or so cars marshaled, and brake test done, they would then the operator at 12 Street tower and ask for a line up straight north and they would proceed around the north wye and go to the Mayland Industrial lead and shove their movement up the hill with the caboose leading, through the tunnel on Deerfoot Trail and line the switch point derail, a safety feature that would derail any cars that got loose on these 2% grades, they would shove up to M-29 where there were two spurs inside the Johnson Terminals warehouse, and a single lead outside the gates, they would shove their caboose up the straight lead after removing the derail, and open the gates to access Johnson Terminals gates, the two spurs inside the gates would hold 12 cars each. They were numbered M-10A closest to the building, and M-10B next to M-10A. The customer could load or unload cars from both tracks so it was important that they were placed on spot accurately. There was a road crossing on 19 street N.E. that was a busy thoroughfare so the switching crew would place burning red fusee’s into the wooden beam that held the crossbucks of the railway crossing sign, they would burn for 10 minutes and would be replaced as needed, I remember there was a pile of ashes that formed a cone a foot high. All the loads and empties coming out of Johnson’s Terminal would be placed on top of the caboose on the lead outside the gates of the terminal.

The next job that went to work was the 23:30 South Industrial assignment. They would switch out there caboose, and when the 23:00 North Industrial assignment had left, they would crossover to the East end of I-yard and kick their caboose up the lead. They would then go into track I-1 and get out the cars they needed for J-lead, they usually had anywhere from 9 to 12 cars. They would then couple in the air, and do a brake test, when completed, they would call the operator at 12th Street E. and ask for a line up down to 12th Street E. When they received a signal they would crossover at 8th Street down P-1 and go past 12 Street E. and call for a line up straight south down the Manchester lead with the caboose leading the movement. They would proceed southward crossing 42nd Avenue S.E. and kick their caboose down the J lead and line some refrigerator cars towards the McDonald’s Consolidated refrigerated warehouse for the 09:00 South Industrial to spot up in the morning. They would then switch out warehouses at J-40 and J-41, and take their meal break in the caboose.

The next assignment to go to work was the 23:45 B Tramp, it worked without a caboose as its territory was on B-lead, it started west of 4th Street S.W. off of Depot 4, cars for B-lead were placed in F-7, there was also a flat car with a garbage dumpster on top of it, it was usually on the west end of the track with the B-lead cars on the east end, F-8 was full of empty boxcars that had been unloaded, here they were upgraded by the carman that did car repairs in track F-9. They worked a day shift and would roll the garbage flat car down the track and fill it with all the garbage that they took out of the upgrade cars, these cars would be released and could be used for loading again. The assignment would come off the shop track light engine, and call the operator at 12th Street E. to line them from the east end of F-yard to the west end of F-7 when the crew received a signal they would run out onto the Elbow River Bridge the operator at 12th Street would give them a signal westward up the eastbound main up into the passenger depot where they would receive a signal to go eastward onto the lead that ran into F-4 to F-9, they would go into F-7 and couple onto the garbage car and the rest of the cars on the east and pull them out They would ask the operator at 12th Street to give them a switching signal out of the west end, 12th Street could setup is panel to allow a westward signal out of F-yard every time the locomotive was East of the westbound signal. They would pull the track out onto the lead, and switched the cars they needed in towards F-5. When finished switching, they would put the remaining cars back and spot the garbage car on the west end.

Next, they would couple onto their cars in F-5 and asked the operator at 12th Street tower for a line up into B-alley. Downtown Calgary at one time had been the warehouse district for the city, between 8th Street E., and 24th Street W., there were dozens of warehouses and railway spurs that ran up behind 10th and 11th Avenues, off of Depot 1 was A-alley that the Robin Hood Flour Mills that faced 9th Avenue and straddled 4th Street W. with the mill on the west side, and the elevators on the east side further west near 14th Street W. was the Eaton’s warehouse. The customers on B-alley were a Pilkington Glass spur at B-4, the Albertan Newspaper plant at B-8 and Howell Forwarders at B-14 east of 14th W. on the west side was Consolidated Concrete’s plant at B-15, and further west under the Crowchild Trail overpass was a BAPCo paint spur. The usual procedure would be to switch out Pilkington Glass Co., who would get special flat cars with “A” frame bulkheads that ran the length of the car, and supported wooden crates of plate glass on each side. Then there was the Albertan, they would get cars of newsprint, and as it was Calgary’s morning paper, one of the crew members would go into the plant and get a dozen free newspapers. Then B-14 the biggest customer would get half a dozen boxcars. At times, the assignment would have to go down BZ and BY leads that were accessible off of the 14th Street W. underpass. They ran eastward and serviced the Canadian Natural Gas yard, and A.B. Cushing Mills, a lumber factory. These customers were always serviced on the night shift, as during the day, people would park their automobiles there. With the customers all switched out, and the empties gathered, the next move would be to make a running switch of the empties to get them on the other side of the locomotive, otherwise a crew member would have to ride on the point all the way down to the IYO. I will give a little explanation about the numbering system for track switches in industrial territories, and the mainline, in this case all the even-numbered spurs ran eastward, and the odd numbers ran westward. A running switch would be done at B-14, all the empties would be checked for handbrakes and air brakes to make sure the cars would roll. The next move would be the engine would push the string of cars eastward, with a crew member on the footboard of the locomotive handy to the operating lever on the locomotive that would be used to uncouple the empty cars. Another crew member would be stationed at the B-15 switch that accessed the Consolidated Concrete spur where there was lots of room on the east end. The locomotive engineer would open up the throttle and reached a fairly high-speed as it was uphill towards B-15, approaching the B-15 switch the locomotive engineer would give a little slack to the cars that were all stretched out by using his locomotive independent brake. The crew member on the running board would uncouple the cars and give a nod of his head to the locomotive engineer who would then open up his throttle wide, to get away from the free rolling cars. The other crew member would have him lined into B-15, when he was in the clear the he would line the switch normal and the cars would roll down the straight lead, where they would come to a stop as the lead was in a dish so they would not run away too far. They would then couple onto the empties and the crew would then pull them down B- lead, and call 12th Street Tower for a line up from B- alley to the east end of F-yard lead. From the bridge a crew member would wait for a signal and the other crew member would line the lead switches for F-3 or F-2 where the preference would be built. An explanation of the preference tracks, during the course of a week many cars that were empty and unloaded from all the industrial territories would be gathered together in the designated preference tracks, and when full an afternoon shift yard assignment would gather the tracks together twice a week and take them down to Alyth for humping on a busy week, there could be up to 100 cars, when they handled that many cars they would double over F-3 to F-2, and another yard assignment would double over F-5 from the west end of F-yard. Any hot loaded cars from B-14 would be set over to the Ex-lead so they would be handy to take down to Alyth right away.

With the cars all put away the 23:45 B Tramp would go to the yardmen’s lunchroom, and would have a nice long break for lunch. They gave the yardmaster and his clerk a newspaper, while eating lunch, there was usually a card game named smear, or hearts. The last move for the assignment was to go down to the Alyth Diesel Shops, stopping by 12th Street tower to give the operator a newspaper. At the diesel shops, they would pick up the RDC (Rail Diesel Car) or Dayliner for the morning North passenger train. It would run 195 miles north to the south side of Edmonton, Alberta the provincial capital. It would be on a west track of the diesel shops, and the crew would runaround it, getting on the east end, and call 12th Street E., tower for a line up from the fast track to the east end of Depot 3, they would shove the Dayliner into Depot 3, put on the air brakes, and apply the handbrake, and head for the shop track and home.

The last assignment at the IYO was the 23:59 Industrial, its purpose was to bring up transfers to Alyth, and take down any hot cars from Ex lead. The transfers from Alyth would be located in C-48 the last track on the east side of the classification yard, to access the cars, the crew would have to radio the Train Yard Coordinator for permission to enter the track. As cars were being humped into these live tracks, he would check his list to make sure there were no city cars on the hill for C-48; the TYC would place a plug into his computer control console on his desk, so no cars could go into C-48. With permission from the TYC the helper would line the crossover from N-1 into the class yard, and couple up all the cars in the track, and pull westward lining back the crossovers. Sometimes there would be more cars in N-2 or N-3 to double to in this case the helper would couple on and walk to the east end to take off the handbrakes, in cold and inclement weather, he would walk back to the locomotive, if it was nice he would ride on top of one of the boxcars. The yard foreman would then call the operator at 12th Street for a line up from little N-yard to the east end of F-yard or I-yard that the IYO yardmaster had designated. If it was F-yard. they would use F-5 that was used for transfers, and if I-yard they would run down the G-yard lead the helper would secure the transfer with handbrakes the foreman would uncouple a locomotive and ask 12th Street for a line up out of the west end of F-yard or I-yard to the east end, the crew would have a coffee break. The yardmaster from the window in his office would check all the car numbers as the transfer yarded, this was marked down, and if there were any doubts about the cars destination he could phone the billbox at the General Yard Office, the billbox was actually a yard clerk whose job was to look after all the way bills for all the cars in Alyth’s yards. The yardmaster would have prepared a list of where the transfer cars had to go. If the crew had yarded on G-yard lead they would look at their list, and switch out all the cars that were for tracks I-1-4, and any for G-yard, any cars for F-yard were left on the lead, they would then called 12th Street tower for a line up from the east end of I-yard to the east end of F-yard, when they received a signal they would crossover onto the Elbow River Bridge and when they got a signal would back into F-yard, and switch out the cars to their designated tracks. They would then take a lunch break, and do other switching around the IYO; there was another fast-forward freight company that was located on Ex lead that they would look after, and the Canadian Pacific Express company.

The CPR knew how to save money, at the IYO they had a Masonite board about 3’ x 2’ and it was painted white with black lines that represented all the tracks in the industrial yard. It was covered with a sheet of Mylar, and the CPR had large soft lead pencils that we would use to mark all the car numbers in the individual tracks. As the car moved in and out of the yard the pencil markings could be easily erased,

Another chore the IYO yardmaster had to do was a Recapitulation of the yard assignments on his shift, this was more fiction than fact, it would show the time the assignment left the shop track, and time spent switching in the yard. There were always delays when trains to and from the west departed and arrived. The Hump assignments also caused delays as they crossed 8th Street East and pull westward towards the depots. Times were also shown for when the crew returned, with their time off duty marked.

I also sat in with the day yard master at the IY0, Al (Curley) Stewart; day shift was much busier with its seven assignments.

I finished my student training, and it wasn’t long before I was called out I worked the afternoon yardmaster assignment from 14:30 to 22:30 on January 7, 1978 at the GYO, and the day yardmaster assignment from 6:30 to 14:30 on January 9, 1978 at the IYO. Soon after I was assigned to a relief yardmaster’s job. It had Monday and Tuesday off and worked the 22:30 W. end yardmaster at Alyth on Wednesday and Thursday, and then on Friday, it worked the 22:30 yardmaster assignment at the IYO, with eight hours off. I would then work the 14:30 shift at the IYO on Saturday and Sunday.

Working at the GYO on Wednesdays and Thursdays was all right, I had 3 yard assignments to list. There was a 23:00 B Tramp, that would do some switching in the yard, then went over to the Gulf Oil Refinery, where they spent the rest of their shift looking after that customer. There was also a 23:30 yard, and a 23:59 Government assignment. These two assignments looked after switching hotshot trains when they arrived, they also looked after cabooses gathering up all the incoming ones and take them to the Caboose Tracks in Y-5, 6, and 7. These tracks were protected by blue flags that were clamped to the rail, and had a blue light by night; this was to warn yard crews not to couple on to these tracks. As the Carmen were working them. One of the crew members would have to walk down and get the Carmen to take down the blue flag, so they could switch the incoming cabooses, they were usually listed with serviced cabooses that were ready to go on to outgoing trains on the west end of the yard. The yard crews also looked after switching out cars that were bad ordered by the Carmen. I would have a hot sheet on my desk with priority moves to be done. I was also working underneath the authority of the Deputy General Yardmaster whose office was on the fourth floor of the GYO. One was Gary Hebert, who came to Alyth after a career supervising supermarkets in Lethbridge, Alberta; he was really ambitious and tried to talk me into going out into the yard and spying on crews to see if they were working efficiently. I told him I would have no part of doing that, as I was working under the UTU yardmaster’s collective agreement, and nothing in the agreement would allow me to do this. Most of the time I had Mel Leinweber who rose up from the ranks of the CPR clerks. Mel was short and wore glasses; his hair was red, but balding on the top, so the crews gave him the nickname “Kojak” from the TV series starring Telly Savalas. I liked working with Mel he easy to get along with, the one thing that I didn’t like was that I would write up lists for my crews, and would have to show them to Mel, before I took them down to the yardmen’s lunchroom. Mel would peruse the lists, and right away would start making changes; sometimes he would rip them up and make his own lists. So this made me more or less a glorified messenger boy.

I liked working at the Industrial Yard Office, for my other three shifts, Friday nights, and the two afternoon shifts on Saturday and Sunday. The best thing was that I had no supervision and was able to make my own decisions on the work to be done. Friday night was pretty straight forward I would list the 23:00 North Industrial assignment. They would come off the shop track switch out their caboose, and crossover from F-yard to I-yard and switch out the cars they needed for Johnston Terminals from G-1 and G-3. Once they had their cars together, and a brake test done, they were on their way to the Meridian Park lead to service Johnston Terminals at M-10A and M-10B. The other job that worked Friday was the 23:59 IYO that brought up transfers from Alyth, and switched them out, and then did other switching around the IYO such as looking after the fast forwarder’s on EX lead. Their last move would be to go to Alyth Diesel Shops and pick up the RDC (Dayliner) for the morning North Passenger Train to Edmonton, they would spot it in the East end of Depot 3 and head to the shop track. I would be relieved by the day yardmaster and would go home for a short sleep.

On Saturday afternoons at the IYO, I would relieve the day yardmaster, there was the 14:30 coach engine that I would list, they did some small switching chores around the IYO, and spend the rest of their shift looking after any switching moves to be done on the eastbound passenger train The Canadian No. 2, this would involve bringing up fresh passenger units from the Alyth diesel shops, and take units from the incoming train down to the Alyth diesel shops for servicing. They would also do any coach switching that needed to be done. In the summer months, there would be two extra passenger coaches that would be added on at Calgary for the westbound Canadian No.1, and would be taken off the eastbound Canadian No. 2. These would be taken down to 12th Street East and turned around on the wye and placed into the East stub track overnight, and would be ready to be placed on the westbound Canadian No. 1 the next day.

There was one other assignment, the 15:00 IYO Tramp, they would do transfer work, or go out into the industrial territories to finish off any work left by the regular assignments that serviced those areas. The 14:30 coach engine would turn in once The Canadian No. 1 was ready to go eastbound. If the train was running on schedule they would usually be done around 20:30. Once the other assignment had finished their work, and had headed for the shop track, I was finished for the night. There was no assignments that worked Saturday night shifts, so there was no yardmaster, I would lock up the building and go home usually after only six hours on duty, which was a bit of a break after the shortchange from midnights to afternoons that I had the night before. Sunday was pretty well the same with the exception that I would have to be around until I was relieved by the night yardmaster at 22:30.

As I had Monday and Tuesday off, sometimes I would be called in to work overtime on the day shift yardmaster assignment at the IYO. The regular assigned yardmaster was Harry Huish. Harry started with the CPR after he returned from Europe where he served in World War II. He started in February 1 1946, and worked his way up from Crew Caller and Yardmaster in 1954, was General Yardmaster for a while. I knew he was quite active in the Millican Ogden Community Club as I had lived in the district since 1965. He got involved with civic politics being elected Ward Alderman for the district from 1975 to 1980. The Calgary City Council would meet on Mondays. Harry was quite a horseman in his own right, and his nickname around the yard was “Harry the Horse” he was tall and slim, with black hair combed back, and a Boston Blackie mustache, he was part of a group of horsemen called “Steele’s Scouts” they wore leather buckskin clothes, and fired old western revolvers and rifles, and would reinact the horsemanship and shooting skills of the original Steele’s Scouts who along with the North West Mounted Police helped keep law and order in southern British Columbia and Alberta before it was a province in the 1800s.

The day shift at the IYO was a very busy assignment, there were seven jobs to list starting with the 6:30 Industrial, starting first, it would use the locomotive first out on the east end of the shop track, and they would switch out their caboose and crossover to the east end of I-yard, where they would kick their caboose up the lead. They would then ask the operator at 12th Street E. for a lineup to the west end of I-4 and switch out the cars they needed from their lists. With their cars tied on to the caboose, they would wait for the carman couple up the air hoses, cut in the air, and give the cars a brake test. The carman would check the air pressure on the gauge in the caboose, and when it had reached 75 pounds per square inch, he would signal the locomotive engineer Frank Radics to set up the brakes, the Frank would move the automatic brake handle and would reduce the air pressure to 55 pounds per square inch. The carman would then walk alongside from the caboose the locomotive and check each car to see that the piston from the brake cylinder had come out from 9 to 12 inches, and that the brake shoes were in contact with the cars wheels. He would then tap on the side of the locomotive with a 2 foot 3/4 inch steel bar to get the Franks, attention, and tell him to release the air brakes. The carman would then walk back towards the caboose and visually inspect that all the brake cylinders had retracted and the brakes had released. The carman would tell the crew that the brake test was completed. When they were ready to go the yard foremen Bob Armstrong, and his helper Joe McKee would jump onto their caboose, and call the operator at 12th Street E. for a lineup to “H-lead that started on the west leg of the south wye, where they would switch out some of the industries located there, including a Texaco oil warehouse, Westco a steel products manufacturer, and CC Snowden an oil, lubricants, and paint manufacturer, with their chores done, they would go over to the Shamrock Grill for a coffee break.

After coffee they would check with the operator at 12th Street East, if there were any trains arriving or leaving Alyth on the McLeod subdivision. Northbound, there was a daily fourth class train No. 75 due out of Turner Mile 5 at 10:10, and Southbound there two daily fourth class trains No. 992 due out of 12 Street East at 7:00, and No. 74 due out of 12 St. East at 8:00, the crew had received a train order with their switch lists, saying that No. 75 was annulled between Lethbridge and 12 Street East, on that day. They operator at 12 Street East, told them that No. 992, had departed Alyth at 8:00, and that No. 74 had not been ordered yet, and that he would let them know when they were ready to depart. The crew proceeded southward servicing the city of Calgary’s Manchester yard, they would get anything from concrete sewer pipes, to electric transformers, further southward was a chemical company that would get tank cars of chemicals that they made pesticides from, then there was the Admiral appliance warehouse, just south of 58th Avenue, next was Irving Wire Products on Glenmore trail, they had a cast-iron foundry, and made many other iron wire products, and receive gondolas full of coiled iron wire. Further south was a spur that ran northeast of the mainline, and crossed Fairmount Drive where there was a team track where shippers could load and unload boxcars of materials; there are also was a spur into LeGrand Oilwell supplies. Clear of the mainline the crew stopped for lunch, as the operator at 12 Street East that No. 74 was ready to depart Alyth. After lunch, the crew show down further South to Turner siding where there was a lumber yard to service, and Wilkinson’s Steel warehouse.

The next assignment I listed was the 07:00 Industrial (Coach Engine) it did small chores around the IYO usually switching the CPR Express warehouse on E lead, and the fast forwarding warehouse on EX4, the rest of the day would be involved with switching No. 2 The Canadian CPR’s passenger train it was due into Calgary from the West at 13:15. Freshly fueled and serviced locomotives were brought up to the Calgary Depot, along with the afternoon RDC (Rail Diesel Car) for the North passenger train to Edmonton. In the summer there would be two coaches added on to the westbound Canadian, these would be taken off the eastbound counterpart by the afternoon Coach Engine assignment, turned around the wye and stored in the East stub track for the next day’s westbound passenger train. With the passenger train switched, there was nothing to do but wait until the train had departed at 13:50 the scheduled departure time, and the Coach Engine would go to the shop track and turn in for the day.

There were two assignments that both started at 07:30 one was the 07:30 N. Industrial that serviced all the warehouses in the Mayland Industrial Park above M-29, this involved the Firestone Tire plant, Swift’s Feeds mill, Crown Zellerbach lumber yard, Co-Op Grocery warehouse, a team track where shippers could load and unload their products, a Alberta Breweries Agents, a Hudson’s Bay warehouse, and a Simpsons Sears warehouse.

The other assignment was the 07:30 South Industrial, they serviced JA, JB, JC, and JD leads located South of 42nd Avenue on the Manchester lead.

Then there were another two assignments that started at 09:00 they were the 09:00 Government, they would get their lists and switched out some empties they needed from F-1, and proceed down P-1 where they would spend their day servicing all the mills and elevators, this was a three-man assignment, that used hand signals, no radios, they did not use a caboose, they would drop their empties down the mainline, and the Pulldown would shove up a track from the Classification yard with other cars they needed for their customers, they would switch the Pillsbury Canada flour mill at Q-9, the grain unloading track Q-9a, the export flour, loading track Q-9b, the domestic flour, loading track and Q-9c the feed grains, loading track. Next was the Canada Malting Limited plant at Q-4, Q-4a, Q-4 New, and Q-4a New, here were loaded and unloaded cars of barley from Opera cars, and one track where they loaded boxcars with bagged malted barley. Other customers down the Government Lead were the Alberta Distillers Limited at QA-5, they would get tank cars that were loaded with pure alcohol, these would be shipped out to destinations around North America, when they came back empty the crews would put a 5 gallon plastic pail underneath the bottom valve of the tank car and open it up letting it sit a couple of hours, and they would usually get 2 to 3 gallons of pure alcohol that had adhered to the walls of the tank cars, it was a pretty good deal for the crew members, until somebody got wise and the cars were sealed, after unloading and could not be tampered with. Another customer just before the Government Elevators was IKO Industries, and asphalt shingle plant who would get covered hoppers filled with different colors of sand that they use for their roofing shingles, and that the end of the Government Lead were the Government Elevators, an inland grain terminal that the federal government built in the early 1900s, there was one in Lethbridge, and Edmonton, and another in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. A lot of times the 09:00 Government concentrated their day looking after Pillsbury, and Canada malting were they would take their lunch break in the employees lunchroom, leaving the work down the Government Lead for the afternoon shift. When they had finished servicing the mills they would have a anywhere from 30 to 40 cars of loads, they would call the TYC for a track in P-yard or V-yard to put the cars into, the yard foremen would cut across to the designated track and start lining up, the engine follower would ride high on the ladder or roof of the car next to the engine, and the long field man would ride the point of the cars relaying hand signals, with the switches lined by the foreman, it was just a matter of riding the cars into the track and coupling on the cars in the track. With this done, the crew would call the Operator at 12 Street E, for a line up into the east end of F yard and into the shop track.

The 09:00 South would get their caboose and yet the operator at 12th Street E to cross them over to the east end of I-yard where they would kick the caboose of the lead, and go into the east end I-1 and dig out the cars they needed, with their cars put together, and a brake test completed, they would call the operator at 12th Street E for a line up out of the east end of I-yard down to 12th Street E, and out to the Manchester lead their first test, where would be Davidson Enman, a lumber yard at J-36 they would shove across to 42nd Avenue SE, where they would service the McDonald’s Consolidated frozen food warehouse at J-38 with cars from their drag, and the ones set over the previous night by the 23:30 South Industrial assignment, the this done, they would shove down over Blackfoot Trail SE and serviced a team track at J-60 were Navajo Scrap Metals would load gondolas from their scrap yard that was close by, there was also an Eaton’s warehouse at J-72, and another warehouse at J-73.

The last job to be listed at the IYO was the 10:00 East Calgary or (Brewery job.) As it serviced, the old Calgary Malting and Brewery Co. that had been in business there since 1893, the job would start off to shop track and switch out the cars they needed from F-1 and proceed around the north leg of the North wye where they serviced the industries located here, which included:
LA-1 Container Storage for empty container flat cars.
LA-2 Container unloading, ships containers loaded on flat cars were relatively new to the railways, yard assignments from Alyth looked after this work.
LA-4a Bird Construction lumber and construction materials
LA-6 Standard Brands, they made many food products, Fleishman’s yeast
LA-6a Bonar and Bemis, a manufacturer of jute bags for flour mills and other industries
LA-6b No.2 Gold Medal Feeds cattle feeds, No.1 Later Chemicals, became Tiger Chemicals manufacturer of industrial chemicals.
LA-8 and LA-8a Standard Brands got tank cars of liquid molasses.
LA-9 Royalite Oil Co. warehouse for oil and grease products.
LA-10 Western Grocers a wholesale grocery warehouse.
LA-16 Hector’s Steel received flat cars and gondolas of steel beams, and sheets of steel
LA-18 Simpson Sears received boxcars of electrical appliances, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers.
L-6 Mueller Metals manufacturers of steel products received covered gondolas of coiled steel.
L-9, L-11, Maple Leaf Mills feed plant L-13, L-15 Maple Leaf Mills flour mill
L-16, L-18 Calgary Malting and Brewery Co received covered hoppers of malt for making beer
L-20, L-20a Calgary Malting and Brewery Co loaded boxcars with beer
L-41 Shell Pipe yard that received gondolas of pipeline pipe.
This assignment also looked after the low “M’s in the Mayland Industrial Park these included:
M-01 The Calgary Herald received boxcars of newsprint
M-02 Inmont received tank cars of printing ink for the printing industry in Calgary.
M-05 Northern Electric Co. received flat cars with spools of electrical wire.
M-09, Woodward’s furniture warehouse received cars of appliances and furniture.
M-09a. Bridge Brand Produce Co. received refrigerator cars of perishable vegetables
M-20 Plastic Industries received covered hoppers of plastic beads for manufacturing plastic products.
M-26, Alberta Liquor Control Board warehouse for hard liquor.
M-29 Nabob Foods Co. received cars of food products

By the time the 10:00 East Calgary job left the yard, it was time for a little lunch break as the morning I had gone quite quickly. The telephone was always ringing and half the calls were for Harry, for city hall business. The next thing I knew, it was 11:55 and the 06:30 Tramp had returned from the South mainline and kicked their caboose into the caboose track, and place their empties in the preference track F-3, and put their engine on the shop track and called it a day.

Next to show up were the two 07:30 assignments from the North and South. They would do the same thing placing their empties in the preference track F-3, and would turn in. The 09:00 Government would turn in to the shop track light engine, as they had put all their cars away at Alyth.

By 14:30 I was relieved by the afternoon yard master and he would look after the 09:00 South Industrial, and the 10:00 East Calgary.

In early spring on Friday March 31, 1978 a special train arrived at Calgary it was the BC Discovery Train. The train was traveling across the country to promote tourism in British Columbia, and was headed by CPR steam power, after an absence of over 22 years, as a yardmaster, I had the opportunity to be on the platform to record the arrival of the train, and I had a copy of the train consist it read as follows:

1.) CPR’s Royal Hudson 2860 on the point
2.) Katra water tender, 12,000 gallons #2860B
3.) CGTX 14087 (heated oil and pump).
4.) GM diesel “B” unit 1600 H.P. (CP Rail)
5.) GM diesel “B” unit 1600 H.P. (CP Rail)
6.) Box baggage car Nanaimo River
7.) Crew Sleeper Pend Oreille River
8.) Baggage powered car Prince George
9.) Museum Coach Nootea Sound
10.) Museum Coach Skeena River
11.) Museum Coach Kootenay River
12.) Museum Coach Cowichan River
13.) Victorian Lunch Coach “Discovery”
14.) Club Car “Resolution”
15.) Staff Diner “Endeavor”
16.) Staff Car “Shannon Falls”
17.) Sleeper (Sleeps 18) “Adventure”
18.) Business Car “Captain James Cook”

Arrival Time 16:30
Departure Time, 17:30

Rick W Moskwa Relief Stationmaster

Here is a little background on the CPR 2860 Royal Hudson that brought the BC Discovery Train to Calgary. Hudson steam locomotives were first used by the New York Central Railroad for their high-speed passenger trains, especially the 20th Century Limited and were named after the Hudson River that the railroad ran along. Their wheel arrangements were 4-6-4; a four wheeled pilot truck that supported the cylinders, followed by six driving wheels, and a four wheeled trailing truck that supported the weight of the large fireboxes. NYC owned 265 Hudson’s built by the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, and 10 built by the Lima Locomotive Works. They were built in three groups the J-1 between 1927 and 1931. The J-2 between 1928 1931. And finally the J-3 from 1937 to 1938. In the 1950s, when NYC converted to diesel locomotives, all of their Hudson steam locomotives were cut up for scrap.

The Canadian Pacific Railway had 65 Hudson steam locomotives in their fleet. The first series built numbered 2800 to 2819 were the H1a and H1b classes built in 1929 and 1930 they were non-streamlined. The semi-streamlined 2820 to 2839 were classed H1c, 2840 to 2859 classes H1d and 2860 to 2864 class H1e. In 1998 the CPR repatriated 2818 from Steamtown in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and moved it to Vancouver, BC spending over $2 million to restore it. At the present time CP 2816 and CP 2860 Royal Hudson are the only operating Hudson steam locomotives in North America. They were ideal for runs along the flat prairies for their high-speed passenger trains. In May 1939. King George VI his wife Queen Elizabeth and their two daughters Princess Elizabeth, and Princess Margaret came to Canada for an official visit to the country. It was the first time a Reigning Monarch had visited the country. The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railways share the honors of pulling the royal train across the country. The CPR chose to use a semi-streamlined Hudson built in 1938, the CP 2850 was specially painted in silver and royal blue. The steam locomotive ran 3224 miles across Canada with 25 crew changes without any engine failure. The King who was a bit of a train buff road in the cab whenever possible, and he was very impressed with the steam locomotive. After the tour, the King gave the CPR permission to use the term “Royal Hudson” on their semi-streamlined Hudson’s numbered 2820-2859 and 2860-2864. The steam locomotives were allowed to display Royal Crowns on there, running boards.

When the Reigning Monarch King George VI visited Canada in 1939, the president of Seagram’s Samuel Bronfman introduced Crown Royal whiskey as a tribute to the royal visit. The product introduced in 1939 and comes in a special bottle with a crown cap, and comes in a purple felt like bag. This whiskey was only sold in Canada, as kids growing up the bags were highly coveted and used as marble bags.

When May came I was back working full-time on holiday vacancies for the other four retarder operators, this worked out about 22 weeks, being the junior man my holidays started first. On May 15, 1978, I was working the 23:45 Bleeder assignment as my regular job. I had Wednesday and Thursday off and I had worked the night retarder operator position on Friday May 19th. On the completion of my shift Saturday morning I phoned the calling barrel and told them to put my regular position as the 23:45 bleeder up as a vacancy, as I was starting my annual vacation on Monday, May 22nd. I got home and just got to sleep when the telephone rang. It was the General Yard Master Harold McAfee, he proceeded to ream me out for putting up my regular assignment as a vacancy, and that I was using sharp practice to claim my annual vacation and car retarder operators rates, I hung up the phone on him.

After returning from my vacation I started working the holiday vacancies as a Car Retarder Operator. One thing I wanted to explain was the Classification Codes used at Alyth’s Class Yard, they ran from the 100s up to the 400s.

Here are the Codes and Areas used in the 100s group:

102 No. 2 Switcher: sulfur and LPG tanks for the Copithorne spur and Cochrane traffic gondolas for reloading railway ties.
105 West Short Hauls: traffic destined for the Laggan Subdivision, Keith yard, Larson pit, Banff, Castle Mountain, and Lake Louise
110 Exshaw: empty cement hoppers, hopper loads of iron filings, for the Lafarge cement plant, and empty limestone hoppers for Steele Brothers.
115 Field: first divisional point west of Calgary local traffic for Field yard OCS (On Company Service) roadmaster’s materials, and storage cars.
120 Revelstoke: the second divisional point west of Calgary OCS roadmaster’s materials, and diesel shops, and traffic for local customers.
125 Okanagan: traffic destined for the Kootenay Central subdivisions that ran south of Golden, British Columbia.
130 Kamloops: the third divisional point west of Calgary local traffic destined for Kamloops.
140 Mission: local traffic for customers in Mission district.
150 Coquitlam: loaded traffic designated for storage in Coquitlam’s yard
152 Vancouver Wharf Wheat: export loaded cars of wheat, barley, oats, and rapeseed (canola)
153 Vancouver Covered Hoppers: other export commodities such as, lime, cement, and fertilizers.
155 Vancouver Potash: covered hoppers loaded with potash from Saskatchewan for export.
160 New Westminster: local traffic destined for local customers in New Westminster
175 Vancouver: local traffic destined for customers in Vancouver area
176 Vancouver Trailers: piggyback trailers on flat cars destined for Vancouver’s local customers.
180 Coquitlam Empties: empty boxcars, hoppers, gondolas, and lumber loading cars for storage in Coquitlam’s yard until needed.

The 200s groups:

202 Acme: empty grain hoppers and boxcars for loading on the Acme Subdivision.
203 Wimborne empty sulfur tank cars for the Meers spur Shell Oil plant.
204 Princess: empty oil tank cars destined for loading Gulf Oil’s crude oil on the Bassano Subdivision.
205 Zone 2 Assignment: traffic destined for the local industries at Brooks, Alberta, steel for the tubing plant, refrigerated cars for loading vegetables, fertilizers cars for the local agent, stock cars for loading at Bowslope Ltd. Also alfalfa cube loading hoppers for Tilly on the Brooks subdivision.
210 Bassano/Suffield: local traffic for Bassano and Suffield also cars for the Bassano and Suffield subdivisions.
220 Medicine Hat: traffic designated for unloading at Medicine Hat, also empties for loading ethanol at the Cousins fertilizer plants, and cars for Redcliff’s Dominion Glass Plant and other local industries.
225 Swift Current: grain, potash, and LPG empties for loading on the Empress, and Burstall subdivisions including the Grant, McNeil and Ingabright Lake spurs.
230 Portal No. 2 “PC”: Traffic destined for the CPR’s wholly-owned subsidiary the Soo (Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie) Railroad
235 Portal No. 1 “PM”: Traffic destined for the CPR’s wholly-owned subsidiary the, Soo (Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Sault Ste. Marie) Railroad across the northern states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, which would include Milwaukee and Chicago.
240 Prairie Region: traffic designated for the CPR’s Prairie Region which would include, Saskatchewan and parts of Manitoba.
245.Thunder Bay Grain and Weston: loads of east grain destined for shipping from Fort William on Lake Superior through the Great Lakes to European markets. Weston traffic would be for the repair shops at Winnipeg, Manitoba.
250 Winnipeg: traffic destined for the Winnipeg area.
251 Winnipeg Trailers: loaded piggyback trailers on flat cars.
275, Toronto: Toronto local traffic, and communities in the area.
276, Toronto Trailers: loaded piggyback trailers on flat cars for the Toronto area.
280, Montréal local traffic for Montréal and surrounding communities.
281, Montréal Trailers: Loaded piggyback trailers on flat cars

The 300s groups:

302 No. 1 Switcher: empty LPG and sulfur cars for the plants that the No. 1 Switcher on the Red Deer Subdivision between Bedington and Crossfield.
305 North/South Short Haul: traffic for spotting at industries between Calgary and Red Deer on the Red Deer Subdivision.
310 Cremona: traffic for the Cremona Subdivision east of Crossfield, Alberta
315 Red Deer: traffic destined for the Red Deer yard, and its local customers.
325 Wetaskiwan: traffic destined for the Wetaskiwan subdivision.
350 Edmonton: traffic destined for the yard at Edmonton, and its local customers.
360 Edmonton NAR & CNR: traffic destined for the jointly owned (CPR & CNR) Northern Alberta Railways and the Canadian National Railways.

The 300s groups:

402 Special SSH: traffic for the South Short Hauls.
403 MacLeod Short Hauls: traffic for the MacLeod Subdivision between DeWinton and Fort Macleod, Alberta
404. Aldersyde Short Hauls: traffic for the Aldersyde subdivision between Aldersyde and Lethbridge.
404 Lomand: traffic for the Lomand subdivision east of Eltham on the Aldersyde subdivision.
415 Lethbridge Proper: traffic for Lethbridge city
420 Lethbridge Area: traffic for industries in the Lethbridge area
425 Coutts: traffic for interchange with the Burlington Northern at the Alberta Montana border.
452 Pectin Drywood: traffic for the Pectin spur for sulfur loading, and Drywood on the Crowsnest subdivision.
460 Kingsgate: traffic for interchange with the Burlington Northern at the British Columbia, Idaho border.
470 East Kootenay: traffic for the East Kootenay’s
475 West Kootenay: traffic for the West Kootenay’s

The 500s were used for Calgary customers and were coded with an initial then the number as follows:

B-500: traffic for B, BY, BZ alleys in the downtown Calgary industrial zone.
CN-540: traffic for the Canadian National Railways interchange north of the Pulldown Tower at Alyth
CO-550: traffic for the IYO that would go to the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Co. fertilizer plant in southeast Calgary.
E- 550: traffic for E lead’s Canadian Pacific Express terminal and EX lead a fast forwarder at the IYO.
G-550: traffic for G-lead stub tracks, for storage of cars being held in bond.
GO-512: loaded and empty tank cars for the Gulf Oil Refinery in Inglewood.
H-550: traffic for the H lead’s customers along the South mainline in yard limits.
HO-500: Hold Track for traffic of unknown destination.
IT-509: loaded and empty tank cars for the Imperial Oil Terminal.
IO-510: traffic for Imperial Oil.
IX-511: Imperial drag “Special”
J-550: traffic for the IYO for Manchester leads J, Ja, Jb, Jc, and Jd.
L-550: traffic for the IYO for L lead customers on the Brewery, Cushing leads and the North mainline in yard limits.
M-550: traffic for the IYO for Meridian lead customers in Northeast Calgary
OG-530: cars destined for repairs at the CPR’s Ogden Shops.
Q-554: Q lead mills Pillsbury Canada, Government Elevators, Alberta Distillers, and IKO Industries.
QA-555: QA , Canada Malting Limited
RX-530: Bad Order Empties for the One Spot Car Repair Shop.
599: Hold cars for heavy repairs.
CA-571: Canadian Automobile Carriers unloading ramp at Alyth
RA-570: Piggyback ramps for loading and unloading at Alyth
ME-569: Melchins Automobile Compound access from Mile 170.9 Brooks Subdivision.
S-572: FYO Industrial S yard lead north of Alyth Diesel Shops.
SY-550: Stockyards, Burns Packing Plant, Canada Packers, and X Beef J-50
T-532: Ogden area industrial leads, Bell Poll,
TA-532: TA, TB, and TC industrial leads along irrigation ditch down to Prudential Steel South of Glenmore Trail.
U-520: Canadian Industries Limited explosives plant and Western Cooperative Fertilizers plant.
WR-507: Wash rack located west of the Government lead, used steam from the powerhouse at Alyth to wash out refrigerated stock cars originally, now used as storage track for surplus wooden cabooses.
XC-503: Empty coal loading boxcars for the Atlas Mine at East Coulee.
XG-502: Empty grain loading boxcars still in use in the 1970s until they were replaced with Government of Canada, and the Western provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba covered hoppers.
XW-501: Empty high class (cube) boxcars.
XR-505: Empty Reefer cars (refrigerated cars.)
XV-508: Empty, Vancouver cars.
NG-360: Empty NAR (Northern Alberta Railways.) Cars.

I was working the afternoon shift as the Retarder Operator on Wednesday, June 28, it was a hot summer day, and the General Yard Office where it was located caused a unique operating problem. Alyth’s General Yard Office was geographically located north to south, and the east wall of the building, with its many windows would get a lot of heat from the afternoon sun, the computer room on the third floor of the building, in spite of air-conditioning would heat up and could not handle all the functions of the day-to-day operations. To alleviate this problem, we would operate the hump on hard manual, as opposed to automatic operation where the computer lined all the track switches and controlled the speeds of cars running into the class yard tracks. In hard manual it was the Retarder Operator’s job to manually line the routes, and control the speeds of the cars entering the bowl by controlling the group retarders with a feature called “dial a speed”. On this afternoon we had a 100 car train to start out with, the Train Yard Coordinator was Johnny Donald he had sent me the hump list through the teletype, I laid it out on my clipboard and used a rumor to mark each cut of cars, while normal humping in automatic was done in single car cuts, in manual we would do multi car cuts to simplify the operation. With my list marked I would let the TYC I was ready, and would call the hump foreman and tell him to start humping, things went quite smoothly, and we soon had the train put away, I radioed the TYC and said we were finished, and that I had got them all into their correct tracks, he replied yes, but unfortunately they did not all stay there. He told me that a cut of cars that went into C-31, had had contacted a sectionmen’s water car shoving it into the track next to it C-32 where the 09:00 Gulf oil assignment were switching out their cars for the refinery and one had rolled over on its side. I picked up my binoculars and looked at the site of the collision, I had a sick feeling in my stomach, there were city fire trucks on hand, and news travels fast around the yard, one of the helpers in the hump shack was talking about the sideswipe and telling how gasoline was pouring all over the yard, this was of course exaggerated as I found out later. Looking at my list to my horror I realized I let a cut of 12 potash cars go thinking that they were the empties and I used the dial a speed that is calibrated between 1 and 10 mph, letting them go at 5 miles an hour to make sure they rolled into the track okay, I should have used 3 mph as they were loads of potash. So I knew I was in trouble and would have to make out a statement over the incident.

It was not long after I received a letter from the GYM Harold McAfee using stationary from a school kid’s scribbler:

June 29, 1978

Mr. L Buchan:

Please arrange to be in my office for 10:00 Friday, June 30 for statements concerning unauthorized leave of absence.

Submitting a claim not entitled to.

Sideswipe east end of Alyth Classification Yard June 28, 1978.

You should have your Local Representative with you. Bring Mr. K Smith and Ivan Demers, if you so desire.

HE McAfee
General Yardmaster.

I phoned Ken Smith and asked him to represent me for the statements, Harold McAfee really held a grudge, not forgetting that I had hung up the phone on him when I started my annual vacation in May, this was what the unauthorized leave of absence, and submitting a claim not entitled to was about. We discussed this first and I got a stern lecture from the GYM, and that matter was settled.

We then started the statement over the sideswipe on the east end of the Alyth Classification Yard. It read as follows:


STATEMENT OF: (NAME) Larry Buchan (OCCUPATION) Retarder Operator.

IN CONNECTION WITH. Sideswipe at the east end of C-31 and C-32 Alyth classification yard on June 28, 1978

AT: Alyth yard DATE: June 30, 1978




ANSWER: Yes K. Smith

PARTICULARS: State your service record. I entered the service of Canadian Pacific Railway June 18, 1973 as a yardman. I was promoted to yard foreman June 18, 1976 and to really retarder operator October 13, 1976. I am presently working as a retarder operator. I have written my “A” examination papers and I am familiar with the company’s rules. On June 28, 1978 you were working the 16:00 retarder operator position. At approximately 17:50 a side collision occurred at the east end of C-31 & C- 32 in the Alyth classification yard. CP 415089 empty water car and UP 13280 were pushed out the east end of C-31 by a cut of 12 cars of phosphate rock in C-31 into the side of UTLX 73254, a car load of fuel oil for Blairmore and CGTX 29307 car load of gasoline for Lethbridge, which were standing stationary in C-32 foul of C-31 causing CGTX 29307 and CP 415089 to be turned over on their sides, causing extensive damage to both cars, plus extensive damage to UP 13280 and UTLX 73254.
Please explain why these cars were allowed to leave the group retarder at such a speed as to cause the two cars standing stationary in C-31 to be shoved out through the inert retarders into the side of cars standing stationary toward C-32, and foul of C-31.
Answer: The computer was down, and we were operating in the manual mode. I instructed the foreman to shove the 12 cars towards the master retarder, stopped and got the pin and released them. I set the dial a speed at between 4-5 miles per hour and the cars rolled down into C-31. They did not seem to be moving too fast.
Question: Were you aware that these cars were extra heavy cars weighing approximately 130 tons per car, totaling approximately 1600 tons.
Answer: Yes
Question: When you are working in a manual mode, you can still operate the group retarders in dial a speed is this correct?
Answer: Yes
Question: Are you aware that the system is designed to handle single car cuts.
Answer: Yes
Question: Are you aware that if more than single car cuts are released off the hump that the system can use only average weights.
Answer: Yes
Question: Would you agree that average weights given to the system would not actuate the system the same control as actual weights?
Answer: I do.
Question: You have stated that you had the dial a speed set at 4-5 mph for the 12 car cut, what speed did you have the system set for the previous single car cut into C-31?
Answer: 5 mph.
Question: Would you agree that a cut of 1600 tons would create more and take more retardation to control the 130 tons.
Answer: Yes
Question: Then why would you have the dial a speed set for the same control for both actions.
Answer: I had the control set at 4-5 mph and was also working the retarders on extra heavy.
Question: Would you agree that have the cars been cut off in single car cuts as per my instructions and the dial a speed set in the group retarders for 4-5 miles per hour that this accident could have been avoided.
Answer: Yes.
Question: Are you fully aware of the seriousness of the accident and the potential danger or disaster that could have happened?
Answer: Yes, I am, and I have been quite concerned about it ever since.
Question: what can be expected of you in the future to prevent a similar accident?
Answer: You have my assurance that I will follow instructions and make sure that we hump only single car cuts when humping heavy equipment.


1.) West End Yardmaster’s view taken by me in January 1978 of Alyth yard, to the left you can see one of our yard assignments tied on to cabooses in the caboose tracks switching them out. The hump is busy sending cars over the hill in the center of the photo, and the tunnel and tunnel leads are visible, to the right you can see N-yard, and the old yard office that was now the radio shop. In the distance are the Alyth diesel shops.

2.) Photo by Locomotive Engineer Walter Kot taken in the 1960s, on the left-hand side you can see Burns Packing Plant and some CPR stock cars spotted for unloading.

3.) Another photo by Walter showing the loading and unloading docks at the Calgary Stockyards, on the right-hand corner you can see the handrails of the diesel locomotive, Walter must have taken this picture from his bay window, in the distance you can see one of the yardmen beside the third car, there is another one in the distance, who will be making the cut between the cars so they can pull out and switch out the cars that are listed.

4.) A photo of the Industrial Yard Office in the foreground is the eastbound main line, and the westbound mainline with the bottom crossover power switch, and the power switch into I-yard controlled by the operator at 12th Street E., interlocking tower. The yardmaster’s desk was situated beside the window closest to the tracks where he had a clear view to the east, and there was a window behind that he could watch movements coming into and exiting the yard. The window towards the front of the building was the Deputy General Yardmaster’s office, the lead running along the yard office has four track switches for I-1, I-2, I-3, and I-4, the lead goes past into the G yard stub tracks. You can also see the yellow fence that has plug-ins for the yard foreman, yardmen, and locomotive engineers that worked the assignments starting here, out of sight behind the yard office is a CPR sectionmen’s shack that was used by the locomotive engineers for their lunch and locker room.

5.) Here is a photo taken by Locomotive Engineer Walter Kot of Donn Parker, a yard foreman who is hamming it up for the picture, in the background you can see the sectionmen’s shanty west of the IYO.

6.) A photo of “B” alley on the left, “A” alley on the right, and a freight train arriving at Sunalta from the West on the eastbound main track.

7.) A photo of Harry Huish working as a yardmaster at the Ogden shops in the 1960s.

8.) Another photo of Harry dressed in buckskin’s shooting his revolver, and re-enacting the Steele’s Scouts with his comrades that was close to his heart. The Steele’s Scouts help the Northwest Mounted Police keep law and order in what was to become the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta in 1800s

9.) CPR RDC (Rail Diesel Car.) 9023 at Alyth diesel shops, after being serviced and turned.

10.) CPR Alyth yard, showing wash rack in the foreground and Canada Malting Limited’s plant, the Government lead ran down to the other industries, and the Canadian Government Elevators in between the wash rack and the front of the Canada Malting elevators.

11.) Photo taken from Calgary’s CPR depot tracks, looking westward, I am standing between Depot 1 and Depot 2, the other two tracks to the left are Depot 3, and Depot 4, the newly constructed buildings on the left and right will be part of the Gulf Canada Square, the building on the left will be the parking garage accessible from 10th Avenue, and the main building on the right that will face 9th Avenue.

12.) British Columbia’s Discovery Train arrives from the west powered by CPR’s Royal Hudson steam locomotive 2860, and two CP Rail diesel “B” units that were used as boosters to climb the Rogers and Kickinghorse passes in the Rocky Mountains.

13.). Another view of Royal Hudson 2860, with two tenders for water and fuel oil, followed by a tank car with more bunker crude oil for fuel, and the two CP rail diesel “B” booster units, on the right-hand side of the picture is Calgary’s Post Office building.

14.) Side view of Royal Hudson 2860, going past the CPR’s Palliser Hotel

15.) British Columbia Discovery Train going underneath the Palliser Square parking structure.

16.) British Columbia Discovery Train business car Captain James Cook stopped beside the Palliser Hotel, two CPR carmen are walking up to inspect the tail end of the 18 car train.

17.) CPR carmen inspecting business car Captain James Cook

18.) View of Palliser Square parking structure, that I helped construct when I worked for Trotter & Morton 10 years ago in 1968, visible is the BC Discovery Train in Depot 1, Depot 2 unoccupied, Depot 3 with business cars and spare coaches, and Depot 4 to the right.

19.) Photo taken underneath the Palliser Square parking structure showing Sleeper coach “Adventure” and Staff car “Shannon Falls”

20.) Another view underneath the Palliser Square parking structure looking eastward, showing Staff Diner Endeavor”, Club Car “Resolution”, Victorian Lunch Coach “Discovery”

21.) Photo of power on head end, showing crew sleeper “Pend Oreille Lake”, Box baggage car “Nanaimo River”, GM diesel “B” unit 1600 H.P. CP Rail, GM diesel “B” unit 1600 H.P. CP Rail, CGTX 14087 (Heated bunker crude oil and pump), Katra auxiliary water tender 12,000 gallons capacity #2860B, and CPR’s Royal Hudson 2860.

22.) View of front CPR 2860 with British Columbia’s crest above headlight, and British Columbia, Canada above pilot, spare coach, and CPR Rules Car No. 49, stored in East Stub track on the right-hand side of photo.

23.) The other side of the head end with the East Stub track visible.

24.) Side view of the CPR Royal Hudson 2860 with lots of spectators.

25.). Another view of shop staff on top of tender filling it with water, it also has the British Columbia crest on the side.

26.) View of Royal Hudson Crown, builder’s plate, and semi-streamlined front end of steam locomotive.

27.) A close-up of the Royal Hudson Crown and builder’s plate inscribed “Montréal Locomotive Works Serial No. 169292, H1e Class, June 1940.

28.) A member of the engine crew observes the mechanical staff try to get the bunker C oil flowing from the tank car into the locomotive, they were not having much luck, every time they turned on the pump the hose connection would burst, leaving a thick pool with the consistency of molasses in January between the tank car and auxiliary water tender.

29.) I took this pre-departure photo from the walkway on the Palliser Square parking structure.

30.) From 10th Avenue Southeast I got a shot of the BC Discovery train departing Calgary on its trip to Eastern Canada to promote BC tourism with its museum cars.

31.) Car Retarder Operators control panel showing dial a speed feature on Group 4 that controls cars entering Tracks C-25 to C-32.

32.) Letter to me from GYM Harold McAfee June 28, 1978

33.) Discipline assessed on July 12, 1978 15 demerit marks, it takes 60 demerits to be dismissed from the service of the CPR.

Alyth yard from control tower, 1978Alyth yard from control tower winter 1978Alyth yard and Burns Packing PlantCPR's stockyardsCPR's Industrial Yard OfficeLocomotive Engineers shack at IYOCPR's A alley, and B alleyHarry Huish yardmaster Ogden 1960sHarry and Steeles Scouts 1995CPR RDC at Alyth diesel shopsCPR wash rack & Canada Malting Ltd.CPR depot and Gulf Canada SquareCPR 2860 arrives with, BC Discovery TrainCPR 2860. At Calgary's post officeCP 2860 and Palliser HotelDiscovery Train going into depot 1BC business, Capt. James CookCPR Carmen servicing business carDiscovery Train and Palliser Square parking structureDiscovery Train looking West from Depotdiscovery train in depot oneDiscovery Train in depot one2860 stopped at water stand2860. Front view2860. From Fireman's sideCPR 2860. Servicing2860. Filling tendersCPR 2860. Streamlining2860. Royal Crown, builders plate2860. Auxiliary oil tankDiscovery train from Palliser SquareCPR 2860. Leaves Calgary
Group retarder's and dial a speed
CPR letter. June 28, 1978
CPR brownies July 12, 1978

(1) Comment   
Posted on 15-01-2013
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, Calgary 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

1976 working as the helper on the 22:30 Pulldown with yard foreman Bill Armstrong, he got bumped and Vern Sinclair came on the job. I wrote my “B” card examination on January 8th. I was placed on the No. 12 Relief on January 14, and was bumped to the spare board on January 16th. On January 18, I was called for a road trip as the head end brakeman on a through freight North on the Red Deer Subdivision to Red Deer, Alberta 92 miles north of Calgary. My call was for No. 987 for 11:15 with unit CP 5521 and locomotive engineer Al Peters, the conductor was Clare Robinson it was a quick trip and we arrived in Red Deer and were off duty at 16:05. Our accommodation was at the Buffalo Hotel across the street from the station, I shared a room with the tail end brakeman whose name I don’t recall. We laid over and were not called until 20:15 the next day it was for No. 78 with locomotive CP 5651 with locomotive engineer Mickey Young, and conductor Stan McCormick a different crew that I had going up we arrived back at Alyth and were off duty at 02:15. I made 271 miles for the round-trip; the worst part was a layover being away from home 39 hours. The rest of the month, I only worked two shifts a 16:00 Extra, and the 24:00 Government with yard foreman George Mattern. February was slow I worked a 09:00 Tramp (Gulf oil.), 23:30 Tramp, 24:00 Pulldown, 23:30 N. Industrial, 15:45 Tramp, 14:30 Pulldown when I was placed on the No. 1 Relief, bumped again I went on the No. 12 Relief with yard foreman Ken Smith for a couple of days when I went back on the spare board February 16 were I worked another nine shifts until March 8 when I was placed on the 24:00 Government with yard foreman George Mattern, I remember one night working this job I was the engine follower, and the long fieldman was Donny Hayes (nicknamed “Half a Buck” as his father was an old-time conductor called “Buck” Hayes” we were flat switching a train on the west end of N-12, setting out some trailers and adding some empty tri decks back onto the train, Donny was on the east end of the cut in position to make a coupling onto the standing portion of the train about 30 car lengths away, I was up around the corner on the lead relaying signals to the engineer from our foreman George, who was making a coupling onto the cut of tri decks, we were switching without air and when George tied on the coupling didn’t make and the cars started rolling, Donny, oblivious to the fact jumped on the point to ride it down to a coupling, we were working with lanterns on that job, no radios, George was frantically waving his lamp at Donny to try to tell him we had not coupled on, finally in total disgust George through his lamp about 20 feet into the air, letting it crash to the ground, Donny in the meanwhile was giving lanterns signals to slow up for the coupling and giving car lengths, finally realizing that the cars were picking up speed and not slowing down, he bailed off as they crashed into the standing cars, no damage was done, but George really took a strip out of Donny when we got everything back together, just another night on the railway. George himself was a real character, he would wear old striped coveralls that were so dirty with grease and dirt, they looked like they would stand on their own when he took them off at home, he also wore a red hunters cap with the brim curled up in the front, it was pretty dirty too, he was fairly short and stout like a barrel, had long, unkempt hair with a grizzled beard, he didn’t really talk that much and what kind of grunt like a caveman, he drove an old 1 ton truck with a flat deck and a wrecking hoist on the back, a true character, but great guy once you got to know him. I lasted a couple weeks and then was back on the spare board into April.

On April 3 I was called again for a road trip this time going west of Calgary to Field, British Columbia on the Laggan Subdivision. I was called for train Robot 603 with locomotive CP 5826 on the lead (These 5800 series General Motors locomotives were the only ones set up with the radio equipment to operate robot trains.), with locomotive engineer Bill Yeats, and conductor Eddie Pawlluk we were ordered for 22:15 and had 100 loads of sulfur, this train had come in from the Red Deer subdivision, they had brought in from the North towards the Calgary depot, and backed it into P yard, and we had to Robotize it at Alyth before going west. The CPR had pioneered robot controlled trains starting in the late 1960s, the system was called Locotrol, you would have a consist of six General Motors SD-40-2 3000 hp locomotives, and a robot car that contained sophisticated radio equipment. The procedure was to insert the robot car and two locomotives approximately two thirds of the way towards the tail end of the train, in this case behind about 60 cars, the consist was marshalled off of the Alyth diesel shop track with the four lead locomotive, followed by the robot car and the two slave locomotives. The lead locomotive CP 5826 with its special radio equipment could communicate back and forth with the remote consist through the robot car, the locomotive engineer via radio signals could communicate with the slave units, and could have the lead four units and throttle eight and the slave units and throttle two, or in dynamic braking, depending on the track profile, this made for smoother operation, and by having the extra horsepower towards the tail end of the train much more tonnage could be pulled with the locomotives more evenly distributed, another bonus was especially in cold winter weather conditions air could be pumped from the slaves in both directions towards the caboose, and they head of the train, this way the brake pipe, and reservoirs could be recharged much quicker them pumping all the air from the lead locomotives. I called the operator at 12th Street E. tower and told him we wanted to robotize our train that was in P-4, he gave us permission to come off the shop track and crossover the hump leads at the 11th Street E. roadway underpass, and to slave units into the pocket (a small run around track.) In front of 12th Street tower, I jumped off at the 11th Street crossovers and guided Bill back into the pocket in front of 12 Street, and asked him for permission to cut off the slave units, he did what was required on his part to isolate the units, and gave them permission to uncouple, I close the angle cock on our lead units, pulled the pin, and told him to go westward when we had gone far enough. I told him to stop, 12th Street tower lined us for P-yard running lead and I called Bill and told them it was okay to back up eastward 30 cars towards P-4 when we reached the east side of the Alyth overpass I brought them to a stop and lined a couple of switches, I radioed the Car Department Planner and asked for permission to couple on to our track, he give us permission and I brought Bill back to a coupling on P-4 and cut in the air, meanwhile the tail end brakeman had worked his way up from the caboose to the cut number, when Bill had sufficiently charged up the brake pipe the tail end brakeman made the cut and with permission from 12th Street E. tower we pulled westward on P-yard running lead to double over to slave units, I jumped off the head end just west of the pocket, and when Bill had pulled out far enough I brought him to a stop, when the operator at 12 Street E. tower had lined the switch . I brought Bill back 10 car lengths to a coupling on the slave units, I then got a stretch and cut back in the air, I proceeded eastward to the point of the slave units, and when Bill had everything set up, I asked 12 Street E. tower for a signal and line up out of the east end of the pocket, I got a restricting signal, and we proceeded eastward towards P-4 when we entered the west end of P-4, I called the tail end brakeman and said we were on our way back, he took over radio communication, and I bailed off to get on to the head end, with our train coupled up, we notified the Car Department Planner that we were ready for a brake test, in the meanwhile Eddie had arrived by crew bus to the head end with our paperwork and train orders, we compared watches, and I read out the train orders to the engineer, and we read over the paperwork we had 13,500 tons, Eddie took the crew bus back to the caboose, when we finished the brake test and the Carman signed our brake test forms, we were ready to go, I called the tail end and asked me if they were ready, they replied yes, I then called the operator at 12 Street E. tower telling him we were ready to depart westward out of P-4, he said he would get back to us, after a few minutes he called us and said it was okay for us to depart out of P-4 and that we would be crossing over to P-1 in front of the tower. So we went up P-1, by the IYO, through Depot 2, and across 14th Street West where we had a clear signal to leave the interlocking into CTC at Sunalta leaving the yard at 00:35 we started our trip 135 miles west to Field, BC, although it was dark this was a new experience for me, I had worked east of Calgary on the mainline all the way to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, this was usually high speed operation on the relatively flat prairie topography with the exception of the river valley in and out of Medicine Hat. This was different terrain starting out at the altitude of 3438 feet at Calgary and climbing through the foothills and into the east side the Rocky mountains range to the Continental divide at mile 122 at the altitude of 5280 feet, the highest pass of any railway in Canada, so we slogged along at a fair speed running parallel to the south side of the Bow River, by the siding of Brickburn and crossing the Bow River over the twin bridges at mile 7.6 & 7.7, west on the mainline through the storage yard at Keith mile 8.10 to 10.2, pass the siding at Bearspaw mile 14, and climbed up to the community of Cochrane, then downhill crossing the Bow River at mile 25.72, then climbing uphill past the siding at Radnor and Ghost Dam at mile 33.4, and picking up some speed through the Morley flats, by the siding at Ozada, and downhill past Mile 50.1 crossing the Bow River once again east of Kananaskis, then by the siding at Exshaw going past the massive Lafarge cement plant at mile 57, then through the Gap model 62 that had been relegated to a storage track, we then passed Canmore mile 68.7, a once thriving coal mining community, the mines were now shut down, but new development was just beginning for what became a major community being located outside of the Banff National Park movement, we went on our climb up around Tunnel mountain then downhill through the town of Banff where there was a descent to a level crossing just press the station at mile 82.2, we sojourned on through the Bow Valley Parkway by the sidings of Massive mile 92.7, the storage track at Castle Mountain mile 99.0 and Eldon at mile 106, then up to Lake Louise mile 116.6, altitude 5052 feet, where we climbed up the 1.8% grade to the Rocky Mountain Continental divide at Stephen Mile 122.2, where we tipped over downhill on our 2.2% descent, levelling off through Hector then it was all downhill past the siding at Partridge mile 128.0,

Seth Partridge was a Calgary locomotive fireman who became a hero on August 9, 1925, it was a hot night when a landslide came down the mountains and Seth, and his engineer noticed some rock coming down an early warning, he showed his heroism by leaving his train at this location and running down hill to where off duty sectionmen were sleeping in their bunkhouse at Yoho station, he was able to warn them before the catastrophic slide wiped out the buildings they were sleeping in. He received many awards, and had the siding named after him, something that is usually more reserved for high-ranking company officials, surveyors, or large stockholders. He was also promoted as a Road Foreman of Engines, which he did for a while, but eventually went back to running steam locomotives, and the first diesels on the Laggan Subdivision.

We then headed westward started into the 3255 feet long No.1 upper spiral tunnel making a 48 foot descent, and turning 288° inside Mount Cathedral emerging in a northwest direction, passing the storage track at Yoho mile 129.8 and entering the 2922 feet long No.2 spiral tunnel making another 50 foot descent, and turning 226° in the bowels of Mount Ogden to emerge going westward and crossing over a bridge on the Kicking Horse River, then passing by the siding at Cathedral mile 134.2 going through some snow sheds and a small tunnel on the edge of Mount Stephen and arriving at the bottom of the mountain valley at the village of Field, British Columbia mile 136.6 altitude 4200 feet where we stopped at the station and changed off with a crew from Revelstoke, British Columbia who would take the train through the mountains and the Rogers Pass, we were off duty at 07:10.

After a good sleep, I had some lunch in the bunkhouse cafeteria that was open 24 hours a day, I then had opportunity to walk around Field for some sightseeing, we were called for No. 902 a hot shot freight at 17:35 with locomotive CP 5685, and 89 cars, we made a great trip home, climbing up to Stephen, then it was downhill pretty well all the way into Calgary and Alyth and off duty at 22:50 a little over five hours, we were only gone 24 hours and 35 min. and I made 338 miles a lot better than that trip to Red Deer where I only made 271 miles and was away from home for 39 hours. It was also nice working a whole subdivision in CTC, not like the Red Deer that was dark territory, meaning there are no signals, and all switches are hand controlled. The rest of the month of April was pretty slow I only got three more shifts for the month, May was another story. I got another trip west on the Laggan subdivision getting called On May 1st for the Coquitlam Empties at 17:40 we had locomotive CP 5589 with 73 car the conductor was Eddie Pawluk and we were in and off duty at 00:30. We doubled out on the Boxes 6 (Empty grain loading boxcars.) at 03:00, we had 113 cars with locomotive 5826 the same lead locomotive I had for my first trip west in April we arrived back at Alyth at 11:05 and were off duty at 11:30 making the round trip 17 hours and 50 min. making 342 miles, this was another good trip, I had a chance to rest up at work the, 24:00 Pulldown that evening the spare board was really busy, that was away it always was being either feast or famine, April was the latter and May the former working every day on the first pay half from April 30, to May 13. I made a road trip west, 11 yard shifts at straight time, and 2 yard shifts at overtime, the second pay half was just as good making 10 regular yard shifts, 2 at overtime, and one eight hour statutory holiday for Victoria day, between May 14, and May 26. On May 27 I was placed on the No.13 Relief with locomotive engineer Jimmy Duncan and yard foreman Kenny Hauser, on my days off I was called for a road trip east on the Zone 2 Wayfreight with locomotive engineer Bob. Palser, and conductor John Mandzie we had CP locomotive 8823 and were called for 11:45 and arrived at Brooks and were off duty at 22:30, on June 3 we went to work at 06:45 going west to Bassano, then making a Standard turn on the Irricana subdivision arriving at Alyth and off duty at 23:00 making 503 miles, another good pay half.

Wrote my rules and “A” examination, and was promoted on June 1, 1976, which qualified me to work as a Conductor and Yard Foreman. Went on 10 days annual vacation between June 14, and 27 I traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia to visit my sister, at the time they were hiring brakemen for the British Columbia Railway, so I went up to North Vancouver, took my medical, and wrote my examinations with the plan of asking for a leave of absence from the CPR, and try out railroading in British Columbia, on my return from vacation I asked the General Yard Master about a leave of absence, but he would not give it to me as I had just written up for my promotion, and they would be short of Yard Foreman during the summer holiday time, so that finished my opportunity to try out railroading in British Columbia. On June 30 I took a day vacancy on the 09:00 Government with Cecil Head as the Foreman and locomotive engineer Bruce Hatton, I was bumped and went on a vacancy working the 10:00 E. Calgary assignment that worked out of IYO with locomotive engineer Vic Currie, Yard Foreman Alec Montgomery (nicknamed “Monty”) he was quite a character, a World War II veteran who lived downtown and spent a lot of time at the No.1 Legion, never drove a car just walked to work he was tall and lanky about 6 foot 3″ with bright red curly hair this assignment looked after all the customers on L and LA leads that ran alongside the North mainline in the yard on the Cushing and Brewery leads This included many customers on the South side Cushing lead there was Standard Brands that made yeast, Tiger chemicals, a couple of lumber yards, a Simpsons Sears warehouse, and Hector steel, on the North side was a concrete plant, the Calgary Brewery, and Maple Leaf Mills that had a flour mill and a feed plant. We also looked after customers on the North mainline there was a dog food plant called Dr. Ballard’s they made “Perky” a brand of dog food that I fed my cocker spaniel Wimpy when I was a youngster. They were some other warehouses, to spot, at one time the large Union Packing Plant was near here but it shut down in the 1960s. We also looked after the short “M’s” on the Mayland Heights industrial lead working after Spurs from M-4 to M-29 these included in Inmont ink that received tank cars of printing ink, M-8 National Cable Co. M-9 Bridge Brand produce, and Woodward’s furniture warehouse, a lumberyard, National Cable Ltd. warehouse, a plastic factory that got hopper cars of plastic pellets, and M-29 Nabob Spice Co., I was bumped again and worked a couple of shifts on the 07:30 South Industrial with Yard Foreman Harold MacLeod, and locomotive engineer Barney Martin, I then went on the No.3 Relief assignment with Yard Foreman Jack Boden, and locomotive engineer Norman Case with locomotive CP 6610 on the first shift, this job worked the 07:00 Industrial (called the coach engine as it did passenger work.) On Wednesday and Thursday’s, the 07:30 North Industrial on Fridays and Saturdays, and the 06:30 Industrial Tramp on Sundays. I see on July 21, we had the CP 6578 on the coach engine.

On July 24 I was set up as the Yard Foreman on the No.9 Relief assignment with locomotive engineer Jimmy Jones my helper was Emil Kinch we worked the 14:30 Hump on Friday and Saturday’s, the 16:00 Hump on Sunday on Mondays, and the, 15:00 Industrial on Tuesdays was bumped after a week and went on a vacancy on the 10:00 E. Calgary with locomotive engineer Vic Currie and Yard Foreman O.J. Hudson (Ole) a big Swede. I was then placed as Yard Foreman on the 16:00 Pulldown, assignment with locomotive engineer Vince Griffiths I worked this job until August 11 when I was bumped I then went on a vacancy on the 07:00 Industrial with Yard Foreman Bill Hermann, and locomotive engineer Norman Case work this job until August 23 when I was bumped and went and worked the No.13 Relief assignment this job worked the 16:00 “B” Tramp on Fridays, the 09:00 Gulf Oil on Saturdays and Sundays, and the 22:30 Pulldown on Mondays and Tuesdays the Yard Foreman was Ken Hauser, and the locomotive engineer Ben Maser, pulled Out of Service from October 16 to the 19th, and received 10 demerits for not being on duty when required, thereby delaying the starting time of the yard assignment. I had not booked off my assignment, and was unavailable were called, so a spare man was called out and took a to hour call that he was entitled to, causing the delay to the assignment.

Looking to expand my horizons, I saw a bulletin in the bid book asking for qualified yard foremen to apply for the position of Relief Car Retarder Operator, there was to successful applicants a senior foreman Harry Shunamon, and myself, I trained on my own time, coming in a couple of hours at a time and trained with the day shift Operator Nick Nikiford, the afternoon shift operator Gordon Mikkelson, the night operator Gordon Searight, and the relief operator Adolph Wirachowski and qualified as a relief Car Retarder Operator on October 25, 1976, Harry didn’t finish training and dropped out, so I became the No.2 Relief Car Retarder Operator behind Tommy Arnott, this would require me to work each Friday on the midnight shift, when Tommy was working holiday vacancies, and for men that were off sick.

I was bumped that day and worked the No.12 Relief assignment, but was pulled to work as the Yard Foreman on two Extra Yard assignments at the GYO on October 27, and 28, at 24:00 with locomotive engineer Fred Plotnikoff these extra jobs were crappy and you never got much of a break we worked our butts off the first shift, and got off with a 15 minute quit (quit was a railway term, most assignments in the yard were given they productivity bonus of getting off early from their shift when all the work listed was completed.) Most jobs were finished between one and two hours earlier, the next night we thought to ourselves were not going to let this happen again, our supervisor was Toby Frewin who was the Deputy General Yard Master those shifts. We did our usual work switching cabooses on the west end of the yard, spotting some trailers at the piggyback ramps, had our coffee break, then did more flat switching on the west end setting some bad orders off of outgoing trains, we then took the bad order cars and set them on to the west end of V-9 a track that was used to hold cars to be repaired in the one spot car repair shop, we then spotted our engine on the west end of “Y” yard and went on had our lunch break in the GYO lunchroom, after beans (railroad slang for lunch.) Toby give us another list with a pile of work we did some are flat switching and spotted some piggyback trailers, our last move was to dig a car out of the track in “P” yard and when the hump had finished doubling V-3 to V-4 use one of the clear tracks to take the car to the east end of the yard, and take it out to the East Foothills Industrial district, located behind the Ogden shops adjacent to the CNR Sarcee yard were there were industrial spurs that both railways looked after. We would then spot the car at a warehouse as it was a hot car that the customer needed to unload in the morning, so once again it looked like we weren’t going to get much of a break. When we went to go take the car to the east end of the yard we realized that the hump hadn’t even started to double the tracks together, I was about to phone the yard master and find an alternative clear track, when Fred suggested that we just follow instructions and do what we were listed with, so we sat and waited in the dark until, after about an hour the hump finally started to double the two tracks over by the time they had cleared the way we had waited another 40 min. then we slowly went down to the east end of the yard, by then it was 07:30 Toby then called us on the radio asking if we were on our way back from East Foothills, to which we replied that we hadn’t even left the yard yet, he said what delayed you so long, I told him we had to wait for the hump, for a clear track to run down as listed, he wasn’t too happy and grumbled why didn’t you call for a clear track, I said I do what’s listed. We had him this time and ended up making an hour’s overtime by the time we got back, we also benefited with a extra hours overtime that the old-timers called “The Golden Hour” this was from a local agreement made up in 1970, when the newly yard was being built at Alyth, at the time our local contract allowed us a second “beans” lunch break after working one hours overtime, with other shifts coming on duty an agreement was made to pay the extra power overtime to avoid tying up the yard engine so the next shift could use it. The customer was happy as you got his car just on time, and I never heard anything else about it.

The No.12 Relief worked the 24:00 Government on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the 23:00 “B” Tramp Fridays and Saturdays, and the 24:00 Tramp on Sundays, my Yard Foreman was Ken Smith and the locomotive engineer was Martin Blanchard I moved on to a vacancy on November 1 on the No.2 Relief that worked the 22:30 Pusher on Thursdays, the 24:00 Hump on Fridays and Saturdays, and the 22:30 Hump on Sundays and Mondays, the Yard Foreman was Andy Anderson, and the locomotive engineer was Pete Laing. On November 2,3,5, and 6th I worked my first pay shifts as a car retarder operator on afternoon, 2 midnights, and one day shift. I went back on the No.13 Relief working as the Yard Foreman the first two nights, and with Ken Hauser the rest of the week. On November 17 I went on an afternoon job the, 15:45 Tramp with Yard Foreman Jake Surette, and locomotive engineer Vic Currie, I worked one more midnight shift as a car retarder operator on November 25th, then moved on to a vacancy on the No.8 Relief. This job worked the 22:30 Pusher on Fridays and made a shortchange working the 14:30 Pusher on Saturdays and Sundays, making another shortchange and working the 06:30 Pusher on Mondays and Tuesdays, this was a good job as a week went really fast finishing on Tuesday afternoon about 13:30 and not having to return until 2230 on Friday it was like having three days off. One thing about being promoted and having your Yard Foreman’s ticket is that if you are working a regular assignment, you can be pulled off at your starting time to work any assignment that’s Yard Foreman is booked off, or called for an Extra yard assignment. This happened the next two days on Saturday. I was called as the Yard Foreman on the 14:30 Pulldown with locomotive engineer Lloyd Erb, and on the Sunday I was called as the Yard Foreman on a 10:00 Extra with locomotive engineer George Carra, I finally worked the 06:30 Pusher on the Monday and Tuesday with Yard Foreman, Donn Parker, and locomotive engineer Larry Letourneau on November 30. I jumped on a vacancy on the 07:00 Industrial (coach engine.) For a week with Yard Foreman Jack Boden and locomotive engineer Ron Lamont then I worked the 14:30 Industrial (coach engine.) With Yard Foreman Ron Niblett, and locomotive engineer Ralph Teters finished the year working the Relief Bleeder assignment


1.) CP Rail Internal Correspondence:

Date: Calgary, March 24, 1976 Files: 059.01
010.5 C&T
From: J.M. White

To: Yardman R.D. Band Trainman D.L. Jamieson
Yardman M.G. Showers Trainman R.G. Baril
Yardman L.T. Murphy Trainman D.M. Sanford.
Yardman W.J. Avery Trainman A.T. Kuzmicz
c/o General Yardmaster, Trainman R.J. Schmick
Alyth. c/o General Yardmaster,
Trainman L.F. Boissonneault Alyth.
Trainman L.S. Buchan

In accordance with Article 7 clauses (b) of the U.T.U. (T)
Yard Agreement and Article 35 clause (b) of the Road.
Agreement you are required to take examination in the
U.C.O.R. for promotion to Yard Foreman and/or Conductor.

Please obtain an “A” Book from the General Yardmaster at
Alyth, completed as per instructions in the front cover.
And turn it into the Assistant Superintendent’s office.
For correction. This book must be completed and corrected.
Before examination is taken in the Rules car.

Please present yourself to the Supervisor of Rules Instruction.
In the Rules car on its next day in Calgary. Bulletin notice.
Of instruction times and dates will be published.

Signed J.M. White
Assistant Superintendent

2.) CP Rail Internal Correspondence:

Date: Calgary, May 28, 1976 Files: 059.01
010.3 C&T
From: J.M. White

To: Yardman R.D. Band Trainman D.L. Jamieson
Yardman M.G. Showers Trainman R.G. Baril
Yardman L.T. Murphy Trainman D.M. Sanford.
Yardman W.J. Avery Trainman A.T. Kuzmicz
c/o General Yardmaster, Trainman R.J. Schmick
Alyth. c/o General Yardmaster,
Trainman L.F. Boissonneault Alyth.
Trainman L.S. Buchan

This is a reminder of my letter of March 24th, 1976
instructing you to complete an “A” Book and present
yourself for instruction in examination for promotion
to Yard Foreman and/or Conductor in the Rules Car.

You will note bulletin No. 114 dated May 26th, 1976
outlines and dates of instruction and re-examination.

You are also reminded to familiarize yourself with the
contents of Articles 35 of the Collective Agreement for
trainman and Article 7 for yardman.

To date I have received only one written up “A” Book

Signed J.M. White
Assistant Superintendent

cc: Mr. P. Lens, Calgary
Mr. H. Duby, Calgary
Mr. R.W. Fulton, Calgary
Mr. H.E. McAfee.
Mr. J.B. Kershaw, Edmonton

3.) CP Rail BULLETIN B 37-131. October 13, 1976






1.) My Rules Examination “B” Card dated on January 8, 1976 that requalified me as a Yardman-Trainman signed by Rules Examiner J.B. (Bernie) Kershaw, who was formerly a Train Dispatcher from Edmonton, Alberta.
1-1.) CPR Rules Instruction Car No. 54, this photo was taken by me at the east end of the Calgary passenger depot in 1979, the old converted passenger coach was made into a rules instruction car, with a classroom for 25 students were desks were set up on each side with a walkway down the middle with teachers desk and blackboard, at one and, it also had living quarters for the rules instructor J.B. Kershaw, he would travel around Alberta and teach rules, and employees would write there periodical rules examination, when not on the road it was stationed here in Calgary in the East stub track that was used to store extra passenger coaches, and was connected to steam heat in the winter.
2.) George Mattern at retirement party.
3.) Don Hayes (Half a Buck) 2003.
4.) CP 5826 photo taken by A. Patenaude in Montréal in 1986, this General Motors SD-40-2 3000 horse power locomotive was our lead unit on my first road trip West of Calgary on April 3, 1976 on sulfur train No. 603, 10 years before.
5.) East mile board for Partridge siding taken circa 1965, photo taken by Nicholas Morant the CPR’s photographer.
6.) A photo of the rock slide at Yoho station on August 10, 1925 from the CPR corporate archives.
7.) Another photo taken by the CPR’s photographer Nick Morant in the 1940s showing Seth Partridge on the right and his fireman reading over their train orders, these photos were published in John Garden’s Canadian Pacific featuring Nicholas Morant’s work.
8.) My Rules Examination “A” Card dated on June 1, 1976 for my promotion to Conductor-Yardforeman once again signed by Rules Examiner J.B. Kershaw, this now allowed me to work as a conductor on the road, and a yardforeman in the yard. If I accumulated too many demerits I could be demoted back to a trainman or yardman.
9.) Photo of locomotive engineer Fred Plotnikoff, Fred hired on at the Alyth roundhouse as an engine wiper on December 9, 1946 and was promoted as locomotive firemen on February 3, 1947. He was working the locomotive engineer’s spareboard when we were called to work an extra yard on October 28th.
10.) This photo was taken on the sixth floor of the control tower of the General Yard Office. This is the Train Yard Coordinator’s (TYC’s) control panel of the yard, at the helm with his back to us is Harold N. Frewin (Toby) he started with the CPR as a clerk and October 29, 1956 was his seniority date as a yardmaster he was No. 13 on the 1970 Yardmaster Seniority List for Calgary, yardmaster’s were taken from the ranks of clerk’s and yardmen who applied for bulletined positions. Toby was the GYM on October 28, 1976 when I worked as the Foreman on the extra yard with Fred Plotnikoff
11.) Below Toby on the seniority list in position No. 14 was M M Stroick (Mike) who started as a yardman in 1952, and became a yardmaster June 30, 1958, in 1975 he rose up into the ranks to the position of Superintendent, Alberta Region
12.) CPR Form 104 signed by Superintendent M M Stroick debiting my record with 10 demerits for not being available for duty on October 16, 1976
13.) Gordon Mickelson at control panel of Retarder Operators room on the third floor of the General Yard Office, he is watching the two CRT monitors that have a computer list of the cars coming off of and class yard track destinations, the two doors on the right-hand side were used to bring in all the large equipment for the computer room that occupies most of the floor behind him, the retarder operators room overhung the main floor of the building, but was poorly designed with the cement pillar in front of Gordon that obscured his view of the class yard, Gordon hired on August 31, 1948 as a Yardman, he was No. 2 on the seniority list of the six original whose seniority dates were March 30, 1970 when the new hump started operations.
14.) A photo of me at the control panel on midnight shift taken in 1976, there are many changes from the previous photo, the operators panel was moved over two feet to the left, improving visibility of the class yard, and the two CRT monitors have been replaced with a single monitor mounted on the cement pillar underneath the weather station, the telephone is gone, replaced by a direct system with a rotary dial on the control panel just above the newspaper on the table, and you could communicate directly through the boom microphone, many of the phones in the tower were connected to the system through the toggle switches on the panel above the rotary dial. There was a foot pedal to step on when he wanted to reply, and by lifting your foot off you could hear the other party talk through the intercom, lights above the toggle switches indicated when someone was calling in, the intercom system was also tied into outside speakers mounted on poles outside of the hump shack on the hill, and beside each set of group rechargers down in the bowl of the yard.
15.) General Yard Office control tower looking North towards hump, the master retarder is visible to the left of the double aspect signal mast that showed the status of the humping operations, with a loaded grain hopper entering group retarder, retarder operator’s control room is visible above Canada on the hopper, it is on the third floor of the building, above on the fourth floor was the Deputy General Yardmaster’s office, the fifth floor was used by the Car Department Planner, and the sixth floor was used by the Train Yard Coordinator, the TYC clerk, and the West End Yardmaster.
16.) A photo view of five of the six group retarders in the bowl of the classification yard, and five of the groups of eight tracks from 1 to 40, the telephone poles down the middle divide C-24 and C-25.

(1) Comment   

We were doing your regular switching at the Shell Sulfur Plant at Wimborne Alberta June 27, 1974 we have left Alyth that morning  with the CP 8641 called for 08:00 The crew was Fred Foulston, Conductor, Grant Cunningham, Locomotive Engineer, Head End Brakeman, Len Edwards, and Larry Buchan Tail End Brakeman. The usual procedure on arriving at Wimborne was to set the empty grain boxcars over to the elevator track, and leave the caboose in the siding spotted close to the engineer’s bunkhouse, the typical wooden structure used by sectionmen for accommodations out of town, these structures had a bedroom on one end with, one bed for the engineer, and one bed for the firemen. They had oil heaters, a kitchen area with water supplied, a table to eat off of, and a telephone for the conductor to contact car control at Medicine Hat, and the Train Dispatcher at Calgary when tieing up in the evening. A local woman in the town would provide fresh bedding each trip, and do general housekeeping in the bunkhouse. Once we had set off our caboose we would proceed with our empty sulfur loading tanks up the Meers Spur 2.72 miles to the Shell Oil Co. gas plant to switch the facility. There was a 30 car length run around track situated South of the plant that we would pull all our empties up into, and cut them off in the clear, putting the cars into emergency braking, by opening the ankle cock, opening it fully on tell all the air had evacuated, the ankle cock on the North end next to the engine was then closed, and a handbrake secured as a safety precaution against any unintentional movement, with the locomotive cut off, we would proceed northwards and line our self out of the run around on the North end, the track them preceded straight northward to the tank loading track, and to the left there was a North spur, that curved around a large pile of sulfur and used for loading bulk sulfur, which they were doing at this time, the track was used primarily for storage of extra cars, and No. Bills (loaded tank cars awaiting shipping information). We brought our engine up to the locked gates in front of the plant where are switch lists and loading bills were waiting for us in the locked yellow CPR bill box attached to the front gate. The instructions were pretty straightforward, we had brought eight empty tank cars from Wimborne, the four-inch by 10 inch blue paper list had a header;
Canadian Pacific (in script) CSC 10 (form number)
CUSTOMER Service CENTRE (Service in script), SHEET 1

There were four columns with 20 spaces.


Tk Track UTLX 63113 L N/B N. SPUR
Tk Track UTLX 60358 L              LIFT.
Tk Track CGTX 12322 L          LIFT
Tk Track UTLX 60709 L                LIFT.
Tk Track CGTX 15014 L    N/B N. SPUR
Tk Track CGTX 13224 L  LIFT
Tk Track UTCX 63112 L             LIFT.

So we coupled onto the loads that have been run down south of the loading rack, there was about a dozen cars to the north that held about 25 cars, we removed and brakes, and cut in the air hoses, and the air and stopped short of the North Spur, but was located just north of the run around track, and set the two No Bill cars over, we then lined our self for the straightaway on the run around and pulled our loads down cutting them off on the south end of the run around, and making sure the diverting switch into the run around was restored to normal before bringing the locomotive southward, we then tied on to the empties in the run around and went situated on the point of the movement, where northward out of the run around track up to the loading track where we tried on to the remaining empties, and shoved are six empties back to a spot, with this finished we run back down through the run around track closing the gates unlocking them, restoring the switches to normal, and picked up our five loads of the straightaway of the run around track and preceded southwards to Wimborne.

We had only one locomotive working this trip, and it was starting to act up on us electrically, as we went along, trying to pull the five loads the electrical contactors in the control panels would drop out and the locomotive would quit loading, Grant took a look at the electrical contactors, and figured that if we held them in manually using a wooden broomstick from a corn broom we had in the cab of the locomotive to keep it clean, we should be able to make it back to Wimborne, these contactors are in a high-voltage cabinet that generate up to 600 Volts, so one has to be a very careful doing this, Conductor Fred grabbed the broom and held the contactor shut as we moved along, but finally they overloaded in the locomotive came to a stop with flash over’s of brilliant sparks, and electrical smoke filling up the cab, this locomotive was toasted, and we grabbed our bags and walked a mile and a half back to the caboose and bunkhouse in Wimborne. There we tied up for the night, advising the Chief Train Dispatcher that our locomotive disabled, and we needed new power to continue our tour of duty. So we had a good night sleep and woke up to a beautiful summer morning, and ate a leisurely breakfast, Conductor Fred phoned the dispatchers office to find out what the plan was, evidently they were short of crews and power and we would not see any relief until at least 20:00 that evening, so we spent the day leisurely, there was a great fishing hole in the bush just southwest of the wye the head end brakeman Len and Grant went fishing to catch some for lunch, I just hung around the caboose, doing some cleaning up, that included taking apart and thoroughly cleaning our caboose markers finally around 20:31 the relief train showed up. The crew was locomotive engineer Ted Washbrook and conductor Al Muiren, Brakemen Art Ressler, and Jerry Bray they had brought us a newer DRS-2000 CP 3002  along with a SW-1200 CP 8125 series, that had used in the yard many years now. This was to take them back home, and they figured they would return caboose hop, the chief dispatcher had other ideas about that and instructed them to run ahead of us taking the loads of sulfur from Wimborne along with our dead locomotive, they weren’t too happy about this, and with a lot of grumbling did what they were told to do. We had followed them out of town at about: 21:30, and had a fairly long night ahead of us running down to East Coulee, and spotting the elevators along the way. One funny thing I do remember was that old CP 8125 then had not seen any hard road service service in many years, and it’s exhaust stacks were plugged up with an accumulation of soot, and carbon when forced to work so hard pulling these loads sulfur across the Acme Subdivision lots of sparks had flew and started spot fires all along the right-of-way, we branched off on the Langdon subdivision eastward at Cosway tieing up at East Coulee at 04:25, we made six hours layaway pay when we were delayed from our regular start time at Wimborne that paid as an extra 75 miles.


Electrical control panel from an EMD CPR 1200SW 8100 series locomotive, the electrical contactors are the three slots on the left-hand bottom of the picture, and are the same as our unit at Wimborne, this is where Fred held them closed with a broomstick when our locomotive had its meltdown on the Meers spur near Wimborne in the summer of 1974.

CP 3002 taken by Mark Forseille at Port Cocquitlam B.C. In 2006 looking freshly painted in its new Canadian Pacific livery 32 years after our trip with her.

CP 8125 taken by C. Prution at Kamloops, B.C. on June 27, 1975, one year to the day we made our trip to Wimborne wearing the CP Rail livery that the locomotives were painted in at that time.
You can see how hot these engines ran by the burnt paint on the top of the exhaust stacks.

CP 8641 photo taken by John Leming at Slocan City, B.C. on March 31, 1977 this GP9 was built by GMD in February 1957, it looks freshly painted in the CP Rail livery, and it’s quite possible that it had total rebuild after we fried the electrical system at Wimborne in June 1974

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Posted on 13-04-2012
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

In the spring of 1974 CPR had a chronic shortage power to run their trains, so they leased units from the Precision National Corporation I notice looking through my trip ticket books on March 23, 1974 we had PNC 114 for power on a Sharples turn. Next appearance was May 1, 1974 Zone 3 Wayfreight we had PNC 116 for power going from Alyth to Wimborne returning to Alyth the next day, and again on May 15, 1974 working a Sharples turn. On May 22, 1974 we had PNC 111 for power on a Sharples turn. And on May 29, 1974 we had PNC 111 and PNC 114 on a Carbon turn. On May 30, 1974 we had PNC 123 from Alyth to Tudor to Wimborne. On May 31, 1974 we ran from Wimborne to East Coulee and made a Finnegan turn returning to Alyth on June 1, 1974. These units were painted dark green with yellow lettering and PNC on the engine hatch, some of them had a painted logo under the cab’s windows a machinist’s micrometer and draftsman’s T-square, and the cab interiors were painted a horrible dark green that made a real depressing working environment in my opinion. These locomotives had seen better days, and Precision National Corporation, a company based out of Chicago had put them together from locomotives discarded from the other big carriers in the United States, some changes to the paint schemes were made, and the number boards on the units were changed to PNC, and the number. They were not very reliable always breaking down on the road, I remember on one occasion coming back from East Coulee to Alyth when one of these units started acting up from low water alarms, they leaked so much water, in order to keep going with the tonnage we were handling we had to get some 5 gallon pails from the caboose and a length of rope and get buckets of water from Kneehill Creek and pour it into the locomotives in order to keep moving. Here I was working this Turkey trail with track speed only good for 15 mile an hour, living in a caboose built around 1910 with a cast-iron coal stove for heating, and cooking, and an ice box to keep your food in. To add insult to injury, I would look over to the CNR running up and down their secondary, branch line with modern cabooses powered by electric generators, and fuel oil heaters, and refrigerators, lots of high horsepower locomotives to run their trains with, and decent track with speed limits of 45 mph, sometimes I wondered if I was working for the right company. Of course, that is the difference between a privately owned stock traded company of the CPR where they really knew how to sweat its assets. And the CNR that was crown corporation, a ward of federal government subsidies that kept it going since its incorporation after World War I.


1.) PNC 172 locomotive in 1974.

2.) PNC 1011 logo with “P” made from machinist’s micrometer, and draftsman’s square.

3.) CPR Langdon Sub running along Kneehill Creek, our source for water.

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Posted on 16-12-2011
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

On Monday, February 25 we made our usual trip with Lead unit 8628 the locomotive engineer was Paul Panko, working off the spare board, I had worked with Paul before in the yard, a jovial good-natured character who  loved to smoke cigars, Paul lived in Ogden and I knew he collected Studebaker cars he had over 100 of them in the storage yard of by Shepard. He hated anything made by General Motors because they built all the diesel locomotives that caused him to be laid off when they replaced steam locomotives. Fred Foulston was the conductor we were called for  08:00 out of Alyth and arrived at Wimborne  18:45we were  off duty at  20:00. On Tuesday February 26 we were on duty 07:00 departed 10:00 we arrived and were off duty at East Coulee 20:40. On Wednesday February 27we were on duty at 05:45 arrived and where off duty at Alyth 16:25.

What made this trip memorable was years later I met a retired CPR employee John Sutherland who happened to be out that day on February 26 when we arrived at East Coulee, it was around twilight time and he shot these following photos. One of the abandoned station, and a shot of us approaching East Coulee where the track ran below a cliff that was a bad area for slides, I am sitting in the cupola of the caboose. The other shot was taken further to the west.

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Posted on 15-12-2011
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

On February 21, 1974 we were called for 08:00, Fred had taken a trip off, and my conductor was Ray Burns who I had worked before with on the Maple Creek Subdivision, Ray who didn’t hold a regular conductors assignment, had his name on the list for spare running, and was called out to work Fred’s vacancy for the week, we had 8698 as our lead locomotive, and the engineer was Bert Collins nicknamed “Flatwheel” a moniker given to any railroader who walked with a limp. Bert, who had not worked on the road for many years, was called out of the yard on his days off as there was a shortage of spare engineers available. His skills at the throttle on the road were a little rusty which became evident a little later on during our trip. At the booking out office we read our work assignment list, today was going to be a little different, as we had to make a side trip out on the Irricana Subdivision 27 miles down to the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator at Tudor, we had about 100 empty boxcars for grain loading on the branch lines, we left Alyth at 10:05, and stopped at Shepard, to spot up the grain elevators and lift some empty sulfur tank cars for Wimborne. We then ran 10 miles over to Langdon to spot up the elevator track there, this is where I learned a valuable lesson about the slack action between the locomotive and the caboose on a 100 cars train, coming in to Langdon to slow down for the stop Bert used the locomotive independent air brake to slow the train down, rather than use the automatic train air brake which would have applied air brakes to each car on the train, between the couplers on each car is about 1 1/2 feet of slack, if you compound that by a 100 you get 150 feet of distance. I was sitting in the cupola on the leather covered horsehair seat cushion seat and back when I heard the sound of the slack gathering, so from going 30 miles an hour our speed was reduced to 5 miles an hour in an instant, the slack running in so violently that I had to hang on to the steel ladder to avoid being propelled out the front window of the cupola, when I was to experience next was the opposite, Bert had slowed down too much, so he released the brake and opened the throttle, and like cracking a whip, the 150 feet of slack ran out and I was driven back against the seat back cushion so hard that it physically knocked the wind out of me. This old wooden branch line caboose that was built around the turn of the century, had rigid couplers and drawbars. The modern steel mainline ones have spring-loaded shock absorbing draft gear that I was more used to; I was on my toes after that experience.

We did our usual chores stopping at Keoma, and Irricana spotting the elevator tracks, and switching out our train placing our caboose behind 10 empty boxcars for spotting on the Irricana Sub starting out at mileage 72.5., we then had our lunch at the local restaurant, and left for our trip to Tudor I rode on the lead locomotive as I had to help out further down the line, at one time this subdivision ran all the way down to Bassano on the Brooks Subdivision on the mainline, I referred to it earlier on my post of working the Zone 2 Wayfreight from Bassano to Standard. Just south of Tudor at mileage 44.9 there was an engineering problem with a sinkhole, every year dozens of cars of rock gravel ballast would be unloaded to keep track stable, when the mixed passenger service was discontinued in 1967 track was closed and the Wayfreight’s did all the work from both ends of the subdivision.

The track between Irricana and Tudor was so seldomley used that ranchers and farmers had leased parts of this right away for grazing cattle, and barbed wire fences were put up across the track to keep the cattle in, whenever the wayfreight was scheduled to make a trip the landowners were notified by car control in Medicine Hat ahead of time so that they could take down their fences down for the train to pass. We proceeded southward there with some snowdrifts as no trains had been through for a few weeks, they were not too deep, or long enough to cause us any concern about plowing through them. There wasn’t much left for communities on this stretch of railway at one time there were towns at Craigdhu mileage 67.8, Gayford mileage 62.5 and Hamlet mileage 50.8, all that remained was a siding at Nightingale mileage 54.9 and Tudor with its two Alberta Wheat Pool Elevators at mileage 45 5, leaving Nightingale we then approached a manual interlocking with the CNR at Dunshalt, this was the first time I had seen anything like this on my railway career I had read the following Timetable Special Instructions that stated “Railway crossing at grade with Canadian National Railways mileage 52.4 — Interlocking Signals will be operated by CPR trainmen and the left normally clear for CNR trains, Rule 605A does not apply.” I knew the by reading my rulebook that Rule 605A referred to flag protection not being required in interlocking limits, but the rest was all new to me. We brought our train to a stop at a manual interlocking single with the bottom aspect indicating stop, from here I have to walk about 500 yards up to a wooden tower to operate the signals as I walked along the track I could see steel bars mounted on concrete supports that were connected to the semaphore signals and ran to the tower. I reached the tower and climb up the rickety stairs to the door, there was a curved steel bar through the padlock staple that had two railway switch locks attached, one CPR, and the other CNR, I unlock the CPR one with my switch key and open the door. With the door open I entered the derelict tower there was snow all over the floor where it had drifted in, the windows are long gone and are all boarded up so the only illumination is from the daylight through the doorway, I am confronted with four large steel levers mounted to the floor, and under glass in a wooden frame on the wall were instructions for operating the interlocking, they were posted in 1930. The four levers were painted bright red, had unlocking handles at the back, and number plates from left to right painted in white 1, 2, 3, and 4. The way the signals were set always gave the CNR the right-of-way. The instructions stated for train movements by the CPR first unlock and pull to lever No.1 toward you this was to display stop signals on the CNR, what happened next scared the hell out of me, the open door violently closed shut and I was left in the darkness momentarily, there was enough light through the cracks in the boards over the window to allow me to see again, the next instruction was to unlock and pull lever No.3 by doing this a mechanical clock mechanism behind the lever started clicking and timed out for 3 min. with this done I was able to unlock and pull lever No.2 towards me, this gave our train a clear signal to proceed southward. Our engineer whistled twice and pulled lower train through the interlocking stopping the caboose just in the clear on the south side. My next step was to restore all the signals to the way they were when I entered the tower, by doing this a steel lever coming up through the floor opened allowing me to open the door and exit. This simple but ingenious method of making sure the signals were all restored to normal was probably thought out by the signal maintainers who probably got tired of being called out to restore signals by negligent CPR brakeman who have not followed the instructions. Of course the veteran crew had a good laugh at my expense, knowing beforehand about the towers locking mechanism, it was kind of a rite of passage for railway men.

One of the older engineers I knew told me at one time this tower and the automatic interlocking on the Langdon subdivision were both operated by local farmers and in the steam engine days they would blow whistle signals for the farmer/tower operator to come out and give them signals to pass. I was to find out later in my life one of my neighbours Dorothy Robinson where I grew up in South Calgary was raised on a farm at Dunshalt and her father William Gorman operated the tower from the time it was built circa 1914 until the Great Depression and the economic downturn forced the Railways to eliminate these jobs, and have the brakeman do the work. She gave me a postcard picture showing her father standing on top of the stairs in the doorway to the tower, it looks brand-new all freshly painted with all the windows in place levers visible through the glass, there are glass windows on the ground floor, and an access door for the maintainers, visible in front are the steel rods that operated the semaphore signals, and a chimney that at one time must have been connected to a stove that provided heat. It must’ve been a quite cozy and comfortable workplace, not like what I encountered 60 years later.

We returned to Irricana, picked up our train and continued on to Wimborne arriving at 20:30 and at 21:45 were off duty. Leaving the switching of the sulfur plant for the morning we started at 07:00 departed at 10:25 and arrived at East Coulee 17:50 and off duty 18:50 we went on duty at 07:00 and were off duty at 16:50 Alyth.

1.) Approaching semaphore signal indicating stop at Dunshalt manual interlocking.
2.) Walking towards manual interlocking tower control rods alongside rail on right side.
3.) View of our train waiting for signal taken from interlocking time, CNR right-of-way to the left.
4.) Manual interlocking control levers inside tower, instructions posted on wall, snow on floor.
5.) Manual interlocking control levers set to stop for the CNR on lever No 1, and lever No. 3 timing out.
6.) View of interlocking tower and diamond where the tracks intersect taken from our caboose.
7.) Close-up view of tower that day in February 1974.
8.) Postcard photo of manual interlocking tower newly constructed 60 years before in 1914.

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On Monday January 21, 1974 we begin next tour of duty with conductor Hurlburt we went north once again spotting elevators on the Empress Subdivision, he booked off after that day and was relieved by conductor Jerry Metcalf whose nickname was “Psycho” how he got that name I was soon to find out, we did our usual work running to Fox Valley and Empress spotting grain empties, and gathering up the loads of grain and taking them back to Swift Current I remember one morning about 04:00 we were spotting empties at Richmond, Saskatchewan as we had nothing out of Fox Valley we were turning at Richmond placing our caboose on the South end of the elevator track tying on the grain loads on that end, we ran around with the light engines coupling on to some empties we had left on the north end of the backtrack, I walked down to the point and began coupling up the loads at each elevator to gather them together with caboose when everything was all together we would pull northward and set the loads and caboose over to the main line, and returned to the elevator track with the empties to spot them up for loading that day, in the process of coupling up the loads that were scattered in groups of three and four between the elevators, you would make a coupling and stretch it out to see if they were altogether, and couple on to the next group, this works all well and fine but sometimes there are problems, as the elevator agents who load the grain cars load each one individually and roll them down the track by gravity they are uncoupled and sometimes they do not couple of together when a coupler does not align properly and the knuckles box together, as I coupled onto the last group of cars two of the loads started rolling towards the group that were tied on to the caboose and made a bit of a high-speed coupling I remedied the situation tying on to the last car where the knuckles were boxed, with the cars altogether I finished coupling the air hoses and cut in the air. I then climbed up out of the darkness onto the caboose. I opened the door and will never forget the look of hate on Jerry’s face, there he was standing by the caboose stove wearing his red plaid shirt, and suspenders, puffing on his pipe, laying face down in the sheet metal tray beneath the caboose stove, that was full of cigarette butts, and ashes was Jerry’s plate of freshly made steak, potatoes and eggs, anyways he really took a strip of me.

Jerry booked off on January 23, and was relieved by conductor Jim Kislanko, a new engineer Norm MacDonald and brakeman Sid Shock, he was junior to me in seniority, but I preferred working on the head end so he rode the caboose with Jim, we had lead engine 8801 and on our second day of the trip we were preparing to leave Leader returning to Swift Current to drop off loaded grain and spot the elevator’s with empties, the operator at Leader gave us our orders, one of them read “due to snow conditions, all elevator tracks on the Empress Subdivision are to be plowed out with light engines before any empties are to be spotted, due to ice accumulation in private crossings on these elevator tracks”, Sid rode on the head end with me which was the usual custom when spotting and pulling loads from elevator tracks, as it saves a lot of walking from the caboose, Jim rode on the tail end, and warned us about the order. We proceeded along the way stopping at each town cutting off the engines and running up and down the elevator track before we went in with the empties, it was time-consuming but everything was going as planned doing the work at Prelate, Sceptre, Lemsford, Portreed, Lancer when we reach Abbey we looked at the elevator track, and agreed on the engine that there was not much snowfall, and decided to take a shortcut and just go in with the empties, we had six of them for two elevators, I was riding on the running board on roof of the lead car giving radio instructions to the engineer, Sid was riding back about three cars preparing to tie down the handbrake when the first elevator was spotted. As we approached the first elevator I could see a little bit of snow accumulated over the crossing planks of the first farm truck crossing we were moving about seven or 8 miles an hour when the wheels hit the crossing we were suddenly lifted up and I was riding on top of the car towards the field behind the elevator, I quickly radioed the engineer to come to a stop but the damage was already done, two empty box cars had derailed, but fortunately for me none had fallen over. We were evaluating the situation when Jim came up, and dressed us down for not going in with the engines, fortunately for us by pulling ahead very slowly the cars rerailed themselves and we were able to set them back to the main line and go in with the engines and plow out the ice and snow that had accumulated. We finished the towns of Shackleton, Cabri, Battrum, Pennant, and Success stopping and plowing each track with the engines, tying up in Swift Current for a nights rest. Sid had booked off.

On Saturday, January 26 we were called for 7:00 with Barry Plant as the relief brakeman, once again I was the senior man but let Barry ride the caboose with Jim, not wanting to hear any more lectures on our goof up yesterday. The list we received for working the trip was overwhelming, not only did we have to do our usual grain elevator spotting, we had additional work to do the potash plant at Grant Spur, and work that the Burstall Wayfreight couldn’t finish at Ingebright Lake, and McNeil, the weather was bad again with lots of snow and drifting. We set out of Swift Current, doing some elevator work at Success, Pennant, and Battrum stopping our train at Mileage 31.1 where the Grant Spur left the mainline, the snow was blowing and drifting, and Conductor Kislanko made the decision to ride on the engines to go down to the plant to do the switching he got the engineer to pull the caboose up to the junction switch, and left Barry on the caboose to protect the tail end movement, and we cut off our two engines to back down to the plant that was 5.2 miles away. There was not too much to do just pull out a couple of loads of potash and spot to empties that were at the plant, Jim and I rode the trailing unit, and radioed to the engineer at track conditions behind him as we progressed we started hitting larger snowdrifts, about halfway to our destination I saw one of the biggest snowdrifts I had seen it must have been 300 feet long, Jim radioed Norm to open up the throttle full as we were going to hit this enormous snowdrift, and boy did the snow ever fly, we made it about half way when one of the engines quit and the alarm belts started to ring, we lost our momentum and stalled about three quarters of the way through the drift, there we were dead in the water, we were able to get the one engine started again so at least we had heat in both locomotives, you could walk off the running boards of the locomotives and step right onto the snow on each side and it was hard packed. Our radios were not powerful enough in strength to reach the operator at Swift Current, we could reach Barry on the caboose but that was of no help to us as he was miles away from any town. Jim was a tough old bird, and made the decision to walk the 2 1/2 miles to the plant to phone for assistance this was at about 12:00, Norm and I sat on our lead locomotive and waited, after about two hours Jim was back riding on a front-end loader from the plant that came to our assistance there was a level crossing just in front of the remaining drift. He proceeded to start scooping up the snowdrift and backing up and dumping it in a ditch and slowly but surely he was able to reach our trailing locomotive, in the meantime a gang of section men had arrived with shovels to assist us, one engine was stuck really bad, the section men shovelled out the snow between the two locomotives, and we were able to get one free so they could get in and shovelled more snow out finally after about four hours we were free and able to get back to our train on the mainline, because of the bad weather the powers to be told Jim not to bother with any other work just set our cars and proceed back to Swift Current where we arrived about 21:00

On arriving at Swift Current I booked my miles after being out there for ten days not three days that the crew caller told me. On Sunday, January 27, 1974 I deadheaded back to Medicine Hat on the passenger train, and rested for a couple of days, seeing that I had made so many miles I would be off until midnight Sunday, February 10, so I made a trip home to Calgary to visit friends and family.

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On the Empress Subdivision the snow had blown and drifted so much, the Roadmaster Albert Evanski had ordered out a snowplow, and we were the crew called for it, we had a new conductor Don Hurlbert, so John and I got our power off the shop track we had the 3015 leading and an 8800 trailing, we switched out are assigned caboose from the caboose track, and dugout a snowplow from the auxiliary track it was pointed in the correct direction, so we ran around it and put it on the point in front of the 3015, the tailend crew brought over our train orders, we did the brake test, and the snowplow foreman got us to hook up the brake pipe, and communicating hoses, the air filled up the massive air reservoirs that operated the blades, and the wings of the snowplow, which he tested. On the deck of the plow was a large air cylinder about 10 inches in diameter with a steel mechanism that lifted and lowered the blades on the front, this was covered with a steel cage to prevent injury if anyone were to fall from the operator’s seat. CPR snowplows were manufactured from the early 1900s up to the 1930s they were numbered in the 400000 to 420000 series and weighed 55,000 pounds or 27.5 tons, they look like half boxcar, with a sloped pointed double wedge profile on the front, on the front are air activated blades that run between the rails nearly touching the ground, they can be raised when approaching grade crossings, and many other obstacles that sit between the rails including railway crossings at grade, sectionmen’s speeder setoffs, and switch points, on the sides and there are air activated wings that are hinged to the side body of the plow these are pushed out to cut a wider swath through snowdrifts, and are pulled in when approaching switch stands, and other obstacles trackside that could be hit if the wings were fully extended. To warn the Roadmaster who usually operated the snowplow, along with the assistance of the snowplow foreman of approaching obstructions, signs are erected 1/4 mile, or 1320 feet on each side, the sign is rectangular 18 inches wide, 9 inches high, with a white background, and two circular black dots 6 inches in diameter painted on each side. This gives him ample time to retract the blades, and the wings to avoid damage to the track structure. Here are some views of snowplows, and signage.

We left Swift Current around 09:00 Friday morning and started to plow from Java to words Leader on the Empress Subdivision, everything went along slowly in this cold weather, we did hit some bigger drifts in the cuts, and hollows were the snow had really drifted in. The Snowplow Forman would communicate by radio when we were approaching a big drift, and John would open up the locomotives throttle accordingly for the amount of horsepower that was necessary to get through the drift. When you hit these drifts visibility in the cab of the locomotive was down to nothing, as the snow started flying over the top will plow and along our short train. In the cab of the locomotive you could really feel the force you were pushing up against, speed would slow down considerably, and more throttle would be applied to breakthrough. enroute we branched off and did some plowing on the Pennant subdivision, and the Grant spur along the way We arrived at Leader about 21:00 and tied up for the evening at Leader, as our only accommodations for this assignment were in the station at Empress, and the bunkhouse in Swift Current, the company had arranged rooms for us in the Leader Hotel, where we tied up around 21:00. The great benefit of working on snowplows under our collective agreement with the Company and Union was that, seeing we could not reach our objective terminals, we went on pay 24 hours a day, until our tour of duty was finished. It was nice to sleep in a quiet hotel, with all the amenities we didn’t have on the road. We went back to work at 08:00 after a leisurely breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, today we plowed northward towards Empress, where we even cleaned up some of the yard tracks located there, and then we returned to Leader around 13:00 where we stopped for a nice lunch at the hotels Chinese restaurant that had an excellent buffet. After lunch we then went to plow the Burstall Subdivision down to Fox Valley and including the spurs at Schuler, and Ingebright Lake, as we were plowing to words Burstall, the engineer was having trouble hearing me Snowplow Forman on his radio, so he asked me to take my portable and ride inside the plow to communicate with him, it was quite an adventure rioting in one of these old pieces of rolling stock that were over 70 years old, the suspension was something to be desired, it rode really rough, and the noise level was quite high from the noise the air cylinders made when raising and lowering the front blades, and when opening and closing the side wings, the only source of heat was a small cast-iron stove that burned coal. I rode on a bench seat alongside the Snowplow Forman in the front of the plow; there were two small glass windows with bars across them, to prevent breakage from flying debris. When we were approaching
the big drifts I would radio to John our engineer to widen on the throttle, and when you hit the drift was quite a sight as the snow shot up from the front of the plow and cascaded over the side’s landing on the right-of-way it was a complete whiteout in the plow. After another full day we tied up at Leader around 20:00, being a Saturday night we went to the local bar in the hotel for a couple of well deserved refreshments, before retiring for a good night’s rest, returning to Swift Current the next day.

Some Exterior and Interior views of snowplows taken at Alyh yard in Calgary, this plow is still in service at this time, the exterior shows site views of the blades and wings, side and front windows with roof mounted headlight, and the front coupler, the rear end with handbrake and electrical hookup for the headlight from the locomotive. The Interior views show the controls for operating the blades and wings, conductors emergency valve, air gauges, blade actuating cylinder, main reservoirs, steps, older side window, other features include more modern seats, windows, and an oil heater compared to the coal stove we had on the one I worked on back in 1973, the seats weren’t as luxurious, just wooden bench seats, also included a couple of other views of

snowplow’s in themountains.

snowplow foreman's seat with wing control

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On January 16th I was called to deadhead on No. 2 to work the next day on the Zone 1 Grain Train assignment, the crew caller told me that the trainman working the job was off for three days to attend his uncle’s funeral. Never believe what a crew caller tells you, it’s usually all lies, which I was to find out soon enough. I arrived at Swift Current went to bed for the evening and was called for 08:00 the conductor was Mars Wolfe, and the locomotive engineer was John Jangula and our lead unit was the 3015, as I said in my last post the weather in Alberta had been fairly mild with the Chinook winds blowing warm air from the Pacific Ocean over the mountains into our province. That was not the case in Saskatchewan where the vengeance of winter went unrelenting, we switched out are assigned caboose, and assembled our train which consisted of about 112 empty grain boxcars and hoppers that we were to take and spot at country elevators along the Empress and Burstall Subdivisions. The CPR at the time were not making very much money for hauling grain to the lakehead East in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and West to the ports in Vancouver, British Columbia, due to the outdated Crowsnest Rate agreement they had made in the 1890s, so their fleet of boxcars for loading grain had deteriorated, the Canadian Government in 1973 started a program where they built and provided the Canadian Railways with brand-new covered hopper cars for the sole purpose of loading grain. The problem with these hopper cars were the day were loaded through hatches in the roof of the car, while boxcars had their doorways sealed off with wooden grain doors and were loaded from the sides, as most country elevators were set up with spouts to load boxcars, they all had to be converted with higher spouts to load the new Canadian Government covered hoppers. So with our train of makes boxcars and covered hoppers we started our journey up the Empress Subdivision, we started spotting the first elevators at Success mile 13.2 there was Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator on the east end, two United Grain Growers elevators, then one more Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator on the west end they required 12 boxcars, 3 at each elevator, elevator tracks are graded so the boxcars and hoppers will roll downhill. At the east end elevator the cars rolled westward, at the first UGG elevator the cars rolled eastward, the rest of the elevators rolled westward.
National Elevator arrow
National Elevator
Alberta Wheat Pool Arrow
Alberto Week Pool Elevator
I have attached some views of country elevators that have arrows on the railway car loading side, to show the train crews were to spot the empty cars, the loading doors of the first car or hopper are always spotted above the arrow, and this enables the elevator agent to use gravity to roll the cars down as he loads them. At Success the elevator track (also called backtrack) held 33 cars, and the elevators were spaced out so the first elevator on the east end could hold 8 cars on spot, there was room for 12 cars between it and the first UGG elevator, so 8 cars could be loaded and ran down, leaving room for 3 cars to be spotted on the high side of the first UGG elevator that track rolled in the opposite direction, there was room for 3 cars between the 2 UGG elevators, and the last elevator had room for 3 cars. We left 8 empties 2 at each elevator.
Saskatchewan elevators
Here is another view of a typical country community in Saskatchewan showing a CPR siding, and elevator track on the right-hand side of the picture you can see a CPR mainline switch stand with its red target showing when it is lined for the diverging route towards the siding and backtrack, you can see the smaller switch with the green target that is line for the siding that runs adjacent to the main track this one is equipped with a derail that you can see alongside the yellow sign that indicates where it is, by lining the siding switch for the diverging route will take you to the backtrack that is also equipped with a derail, you can see three elevators with their loading spouts raised ready to receive empty cars for loading, the first elevator is a Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, the second a Pioneer painted in its characteristic orange, and the last elevator is a United Grain Growers.

Our next stop was at Pennant mile 22.3 it had two sidings and the 31 car capacity backtrack, there were 3 elevators 2 Pioneer and 1 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, this situation was a little different than Success where we had a clear backtrack. Here there were 12 cars loaded, and 9 empty cars to spot, so in this case we had to couple all our empties to the loads, making sure that all the spouts from the elevators were in the clear, and that no agent was still loading, with this done we coupled all the loaded cars together and shoved them towards the east end of the backtrack, and would spot the cars on our return trip as we picked up all the loads. Next up Battrum mile 27 with a backtrack and one privately owned elevator marked J. Leverson, some farmers bought abandoned elevators to store their grain in as it was in this case, there was one Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator that we had room to spot 4 empties, and shove the 4 loads down clear of the derail for a quick pick up on our return. Cabri mile 34.9 took 9 empties Next was Shackleton mile 42.9 with a backtrack and three UGG elevators that we shoved our 8 empties just clear of the west derail, as the elevator agent had his spout one of the cars he was still loading. Abbey mile 50.7 had 4 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevators, where we shoved loads down, and left our empties. Then it was Lancer mile 58.1 with 6 elevators, 3 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, and 3 Pioneer we left 6 empties there. Portreeve mile 63.9 had 2 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevators that we spotted 8 empties, and shoved the loads down for pickup. Lemsford was a repeat of Lancer. Sceptre mile 75.5 had six elevators one Patterson Grain, 3 Pioneers, and 2 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool we left 8 empties there, this required a little bit of switching as the Pioneer elevators were equipped with high loading spouts to accommodate the covered hoppers, so we had to set over 4 boxcars, and go back to our train and set off 4 covered hoppers. Prelate mile 81.7 had 2 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, 2 Pioneers, and 1 Patterson Grain we set off 12 empty cars. Leader mile 88.2 was a large community and had 2 Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, 3 Patterson Grain Company, and 2 Pioneers, along with Gulf, Imperial, and Shell bulk oil agencies for unloading fuel we switched out 9 empties, we had 4 empties left on our train, we grabbed 40 empties from the siding that we then started down the Burstall Subdivision setting off at the following communities Mendham mile 10.8 8 empties, Burstall mile 24.8 6 empties Hilda mile 38.7 8 empties Horsham mile 50.4 4 empties Richmound 56.8 10 empties, and Fox Valley mile 69.5 12 empties, we turned around and spotted Fox Valley and lifted 10 loads, at Richmound we had to switch out some hoppers for the Pioneer and lifted 12 loads, we spotted and lifted 5 loads from Hilda, 8 loads from Burstall, and 10 loads from Mendham arriving at Leader we put our 45 loads into the siding, and preceded to Empress where we tied up for five hours rest at 04:00 after being on duty 20 hours. We did not stay in our caboose, the station at Empress was empty, and the company had set up for us four beds in what was the old operator’s office. You have to make sure that you put your boots, and belt up high on a chair to keep the mice from chewing on your boot laces and belt. This problem was resolved later when the sectionmen who also used the station found a stray cat that took care of that problem. There was kitchen facilities to cook with, and after our short sleep and a quick breakfast we were on our way back to Leader to start lifting all the grain, and respoting the elevator tracks on the Empress Subdivision, we used the wye at the East End of Empress yard to turn our units in the right direction, the Saskatchewan Alberta border intersected the middle of the Wye so we were in Alberta on the west leg and in Saskatchewan on the east leg, by the time we reached Swift Current we had a pretty heavy train of loaded grain, luckily there were not many grades to cause us to have to double our train, doubling is a railway term that occurs when a train has too much tonnage and stalls, a portion of the train has to be taken to the next siding and set off, the locomotives return for the remaining portion and the train is reassembled at the double over siding, this can be very time-consuming. It was quite late when we arrived, and we were held out of the yard for an hour and a half until some congestion on the mainline had cleared up, by the time we yarded our train was 01:00 a 16 hour day.

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