‘Old timers get off on trains’

By Calgary Herald Reporter Mark Hallman

Joe Chollack peered down the multitrack mainline toward the beckoning signal and notched out the throttle of freight No. 901′s lead locomotive four locomotives gripping the track with 12,000 horsepower and 83 cars of mixed freight in motion.

“We’ve got a shorter train than usual today and should make it to Field in good time” Chollack said as the train he would pilot westward through the Rockies and Spiral Tunnels crept through Calgary downtown.

Tall, lithe and alert Chollack 58 takes obvious pride in his work as an engineer a position he had worked toward since hiring on the Canadian Pacific Railway 35 Years Ago in Lethbridge.

“Back when I started I remember shoveling 20 tons of coal into the fire box of the steam locomotive on a 100 mile stretch between Lethbridge and Crowsnest Pass”

“I feel a bit of nostalgia for the steamers. All you needed to fix them was a hammer and chisel, but with these diesel locomotives being complicated, all you can do sometimes when something goes wrong is to throw up your hands” Chollack’s eyes remained glued to the oncoming track he knows so well as the train sped west into the foothills. A second’s glance and he could tell the train’s location on the 135 mile run to Field BC, within a tenth of a mile.

“Anybody can run an engine with a bit of instruction, but handling a train is another story. Every train handles different than others. You never know what might happen each trip”
Chollack said a foot of slack exists between cars in a train permitting the cars to surge forward and backwards – a situation having dangerous consequences if handled improperly.

“The challenge of running the train is managing the slack so the cars don’t travel back and forth and break apart”

Approaching Cochrane No. 901 navigated the passing track around a maintenance gang known as “Gandy dancers” among railroaders. Looking hot and weary in the noon day sun, the workers stretched up their hands in a supplicating motion asking Chollack to toss out cans of water. Chollack tossed out several tins and then shrugged his shoulders at the man he passed standing near the tracks when all but the engine crew’s supply was gone.

Stan Zimmer, No 901′s head end brakeman, called out signals to Chollack and talked about the easy money he makes working run through freights from Calgary to Field. “I don’t have to get off and switch cars off the train.” Said Zimmer, 27. Each trip’s different and what’s more. I get paid to travel through this beautiful scenery.

The train travelled swiftly through Banff and Lake Louise on superbly maintained track, representing several years’ heavy capital investment by CP Rail. Nearing Stephen B.C. Chollack slowed the train with a gentle application of the air brakes to undertake a brake test. The Continental Divide appeared as a slight hump in the distance.

Lighting a cigarette while awaiting the test’s completion. Chollack said “Being away from home so much on trips has been hard on my family. My wife is disappointed when I disappear at a moment’s notice. Giving a two-hour, the railway can call me for a trip anytime of day or night.
Test completed No. 901 started the descent towards Field travelling no more than 20 mph. Zimmer shut tight the cab’s windows to keep out diesel fumes as the lead locomotive entering the black darkness of the Spiral Tunnels upper loop.

The headlight stabbed through the darkness illuminating the tunnel’s Rocky Interior and small streams of water showering down the walls. Trailing out of the tunnel mouth, the tail end of the train could be seen above the emerging engines as No. 901 slithered out of the tunnel down the grade into Field.

At the Field bunkhouse the crew of No. 901′s eastbound counterpart freight. No. 902 was called for 7 PM. Conductor Doug Ferguson, 50 stood on the station platform looking over the waybills of CP Rail’s hottest freight train running east bound from Vancouver to Toronto and Montréal through points in between.

Ferguson bantered with locomotive engineer Mike Kulikowski 49 dressed in traditional engineer’s pinstriped garb, who to give the crew riding the caboose a smooth ride that would leave the coffee pot sitting upright on the stove.

“It can get mighty rough back on the tail end” said Kulikowski. “If the slack starts running in and out you can get a nasty jolt back there.

“I’d rather be up front, cause if the train derails and the guys in the caboose started seeing cars going into the ditch, you sure know where you’ll be going too.”

Once aboard the caboose, paperwork done Ferguson pulled out a grocery bag full of ingredients and started peeling potatoes and boiling water for a stew. I’m one of the few guys on the road still cooks his dinner,” said Ferguson “I just don’t like restaurant food.”
Coffee simmered on the stove as No. 902 moved eastward through the growing dark racing No. 901′s route through the Rockies. Ferguson recalled times past when brakeman had to clamber onto the roofs of freight cars whenever the weather to relay signals by lantern between the locomotive and caboose.
“It was dangerous running along the car tops and it could be miserably cold in the winter.”

Bob Rose, 36 Ferguson’s tail end brakeman sat in the caboose cupola watching the freight cars ahead wind in and out of curves and tunnels, looking for drag equipment or sparks from overheated bearings.

“Some of the old-timers get off on trains, but for the younger guys, it’s just another job.” said Rose who quit the railway twice but came back because he didn’t like jobs with regular hours. “I like the job but it can be a pain in the winter time if a coupler breaks and you have to drag a 75 pound knuckle half a mile through blowing snow to fix it.”

Rose said the hobo of the past who would jump a boxcar for a ride is given away to young people seeking the warmth and shelter of one of the unmanned diesel locomotives pulling the train During the 30s Rose said, brakeman would walk car tops throwing off freeloaders. But today if he finds someone on the train riding illegally, he said he’s wary of forcing the issue with an angry passenger.

“One night I walked back through the units and found about five people sleeping on the floor of one of the engine cabs. I stepped on someone in the dark but kept walking. You never know one of them might have a knife.”

Nearing Calgary No. 902 slowed for level crossings and pulled through the city centre reaching Alyth yard when the train would be serviced for a scant hour before departing east.

Ferguson and Rose packed their gear, stepped down off the caboose and headed for home, knowing the next call to move a train might come at any time, night or day.

Photos from the Calgary Herald article October 7, 1978.

1.) Joe Chollack at the throttle running CPR’s hotshot freight No. 901 west on the Laggan Subdivision.

2.) No. 901 approaches steel railway trestle crossing the Bow River with the Rocky Mountains in the background.

3.) No. 901 passes by telegraph wires along the track on the Laggan Subdivision.

4.) No. 901 emerges from portal of a Spiral Tunnel that were built by the CPR in 1908.

5.) No. 901 after emerging from the lower portal of Spiral Tunnel 2 crosses over steel railway trestle that crosses the Kicking Horse River.

6.) Joe Chollack stretches his legs, leaning against the control console of CP 5759.

Both the locomotive engineers mentioned in this newspaper article I choose to train with on the Laggan Subdivision in the summer of 1979


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In the new year January 1979 I finished making all my shifts on yard engine’s on January 2, I worked the 16:00 N. Industrial with yard foreman John MacLachlan, we had the 6714 for power and Ron Wilson was my locomotive engineer instructor.

The next day I worked the 15:30 S. Industrial with yard foreman Scotty Taylor, we had the 6717 for power and Bill Dixon was my locomotive engineer instructor.

On January 4, I worked the 09:00 Tramp at the General Yard Office, we had the 8102 for power and Bruce Hatton Senior was my locomotive engineer instructor, I had worked this assignment in December, and we switched piggyback trailers, and bad order cars off of outgoing trains. After lunch we would switch the Gulf Oil refinery in Inglewood.

In Pay Period No. 2 I worked six more yard engine assignments:

January 5, 07:00 Industrial (coach engine) 6717 foreman Ken Gray, engineer Stan McPhedran

January 8, 14:30 Industrial (coach engine) 6719 foreman Oscar Schwab foreman engineer Benny Maser

January 9, 09:15 Tramp (Western Cooperative Fertilizers & Canadian Industries Limited) the yard foreman was Pete Lotwin, our locomotive 8423 and my engineer instructor was Tom Craig. We would take a train full of rock phosphate from Alyth to the Western Cooperative Fertilizer plant to make fertilizer out of. Their plant was located halfway between Ogden and Shepard at Mile 169 on the Brooks Subdivision, we would also bring to Alyth any loads finished products, these would be covered hoppers loaded with fertilizer, and boxcars loaded with bags of fertilizer. We would also go to the Canadian Industries Limited this plant manufactured Nitroglycerin and Dynamite they would make batches of 10,000 pounds of Nitroglycerin and make Dynamite out of it, before we could enter the plants compound we would have to turn off all our portable walkie-talkie radios, and the radio on the locomotive, to prevent the radio signals from setting off blasting caps that they made there.

January 10, 10:00 N. Tramp 6714 foreman Kurt Sommers (Maple Leaf Mills, Calgary Brewing and Malting Brewery, and more warehouses out on the main track of the Red Deer Subdivision Engineer Ronnie Lamont

January 11, 09:00 Government foreman Gordon Engen 6717 (Switched Canada Malting Limited, Pillsbury Canada Limited, Alberta Distillers, and Iko Industries) my Engineer instructor was Elmer Benner. Going into switch Pillsbury Canada brought back memories, I had come a long way from the days I started working there loading boxcars with flour in the summer of 1968, when I was 19 years old. Now in 1979 I was taking all the loads out, and spotting up empties for loading, it was great talking to some of the old guys I used to work with.

January 12, 07:00 Pulldown Foreman George Clovechuk 8103, 8417 engineer Vince Watt, this was my last yard assignment.

On January 15, I made my first road trip on the Brooks Subdivision,

I phoned the Calling Bureau and asked which locomotive engineers took trainees, they told me Walter Guse did, and he was first out and lined up for train No. 952 a second-class train that ran daily, it was called the stock train, as it carried refrigerated loads of beef destined for Montréal and Toronto. I phoned Walter and introduced myself and asked him if I could go out with him on this trip, he said that it would be all right and I could meet him at the Alyth Diesel Shops booking out room. Walter H. Guse was born January 23, 1923 he entered the service of the CPR as a Wiper on February 21, 1943, when he was 20 years old, and was promoted to Locomotive Fireman on April 1, 1943.

The Calling Bureau phoned me at 17:15 for No. 952 at 19:15, I got down there just before 19:00, as locomotive engineers were paid on their trips 15 minutes Preparatory Time at the beginning of their trip, and 15 minutes Final Inspection at the end of their trip. Walter was a good-natured man, from the old school of engineers, his wife would wash, iron and starch his overalls, and railway cap, and he would wear a tie with his work shirt, we had three 3000 hp EMD SD-40 locomotives the 5613 was our lead locomotive followed by the 5716, and 5597. We read and signed the bulletin book, compared our Railway Approved Watches with the Seth Thomas No. 17 weight regulator. And marked the error of our watches in seconds on the Enginemen’s Booking Outward Sheet, the time signal was broadcast every morning at 11:00, and the crew dispatcher who looked after the clock would mark on the clocks comparison card its error in fast or slow in seconds. We then grabbed our grips and went out to the west end of Pit 3 for the shop staff had run our power outside.

Our head end brakeman had showed up, and he checked our flagging kit, to make sure it had a red flag, eight track torpedoes, and seven red fusees with matches. Walter and I walked through our locomotive consist, checking to make sure all the locomotives were online, and all the trailing control circuit breakers, for the dynamic brake, and air brake valves were in the correct position. Walking down the running boards between the locomotives we would check the water level for the radiators, the fuel filters, and the level of oil in the governors. We then did a visual of the running gear, and brake shoes on each side of the locomotive, with this done the head end brakeman would do a radio test with his portable walkie-talkie, and he would back us off the shop track.

We then phoned the Train Yard Coordinator to find out what track our train was in, we would then call the Car Department Planner and ask him if it was okay to couple on to our train in P-5. He would then call the Pulldown Supervisor for a route to get on to our train. I was running the locomotives and Walter would coach me on some of the features of the locomotive controls. One pointer he gave me was that the brake shoes on the locomotives had a tendency to ice up in winter weather, and working the power with a 10 pound reduction on the independent (locomotives) brakes would condition the brake shoes. The cabs of these large General Motors locomotives were very comfortable, with good seating for the locomotive engineer. When we were coupled on in P-5 the brakeman would cut in the air from our locomotives to the brake pipe, he would advise the CD Planner that we were on our train. The brakeman would then release the eight handbrakes that secured our train, and walked westward doing a visual inspection of the cars, his counterpart the tail end brakeman would be doing the same from the caboose, when they met they would crossover to the other side to inspect the cars. The conductor Mars Wolfe would show up on the crew bus, and gave us our train orders, and paperwork for our train.

We compared our Railway approved watches, and read our train orders, and checked our paperwork, tonight our gross tonnage was 4099, and we had 50 loads, 30 empties, for a total of 80 cars, so our train length was about 4100 feet. It was 20:15 when we were ready to leave the yard, we called the Pulldown supervisor, for a route out of Alyth he told us to go out P-1, we called the Interlocking Operator at 12th Street E. and told him we were ready to leave Alyth and wanted to go out P-1, he said he would notify the Brooks Sub Dispatcher, and would timeout a signal on the Bonnybrook bridge crossover, we watched and the dwarf signal turn from red to green, which indicated it was a slow clear signal, and meant that we could go 15 miles an hour through the crossover on the Bonnybrook bridge. We could then go track speed when we cleared the crossover. When our caboose cleared the crossover the tail end crew would notify us and the conductor would give us the timeout of the yard as 20:45.

I opened up the throttle and was going 55 mph when we left Ogden, Walter coached me on some of the physical characteristics of the Brooks sub, and like the independent brakes in the yard, it was important to use the automatic brake on the train periodically to keep their brake shoes conditioned from ice buildup. We were in CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) for the first 50 miles between Ogden Mile 171.1 and Gleichen Mile 124.8 this operating system is controlled by the Brooks Subdivision Dispatcher from his office in Calgary, he has a panel that controls all the signals, and the switches at all the sidings, the first East of Ogden was Shepard with a siding capacity of 128 cars about 7000 feet, at Mile 165.6. Leaving Shepard it was downhill a bit so I had to set the automatic brake on the train, while bailing off the independent brake on the locomotives, this kept the train stretched out, and I could use the throttle to control the speed. Next we passed through Indus, with no siding just an elevator track, where the track was fairly level, 3 miles West of Dalemead, another 128 car siding at Mile 152.5, the intermediate signal displayed Approach Signal (indicating yellow) this told me that the next double aspect signal at the West end switch at Dalemead could display Stop (red on both the top and bottom aspects) Approach (yellow over red) or Restricting (read over yellow) that would indicate I was take the siding at Dalemead. I applied the automatic brake about 2 miles out that started to slow down the train, I could see the home signal at the West switch displaying Restricting so I had to get my speed down to 15 miles an hour to go through the turnout into the siding, it was a good meet as the westbound was coming up the main, once I had cleared the West end, he would get a clear signal, and we would get a restricting signal out of the East end of the siding.

At Mile 147 there was a Hot Box Detector, a new technology that had been recently installed by the railway, it had heat detecting sensors near the rail on both sides of the track, and a large metal cabinet painted silver and full of the electronic equipment. On top was a large three number digital scoreboard. When the train went by it started counting the axles from the head end of our train. Our train had 80 cars times 4 = 320 axles, our 3 locomotives had 6 axles for a total of 18 axles added to the train gives us 338 axles, when the train had passed the detector the digital scoreboard would light up if there was a display of 000 that meant all was okay and the tail end crew on the caboose would radio the results. Now if the digital display red out 204 we would have to stop our train, and the tail end brakeman would have to walk up 33 cars and check the wheels and axles on 3 cars each side of the of the 33rd car, sometimes the problem would be simple, like partially applied handbrake, or a retainer valve left applied, if it was an overheated journal the tail end brakeman could change out the cotton lubricating pad, and add Galena grease to the journal, if this could not be corrected the car would have to be set out from the train at Carseland. Most of the cars by then had roller bearings, and were much more reliable than the old journal boxes, but when they overheated they could melt an axle off in a distance of 7 miles. This new technology, like the diesel locomotives that made the locomotive firemen’s redundant in the 1950s, this improvement was the first nail in the coffin that led to the eradication of the tail end brakeman’s in the summer of 1979, and eventually led to the elimination of the caboose. There were four others scanners one east of Gleichen at Mile 120.5, one east of Bassano at Mile 92.5, one east of Brooks at Mile 60.5 and one east of Alderson at Mile 30.9.

It was downhill towards Carseland another town with an elevator track, I kept my speed down and leaving there I had to slow down to 50 miles an hour on the curves between Mile 145 and Mile 134. The next 128 car siding was at Strangmuir at Mile 144.6 finally we approached Gleichen with its 128 car siding, and an open train order office on the east and where we would leave CTC and go into ABS (Automatic Block System where there were block signals much like the CTC system, but all the siding switches were hand thrown by the head end brakeman, and the tail end crew entering and leaving sidings) From here we would be governed by timetable and train order authority, so we had to look for the indication of the train order signal at the station, it could display green, (no train orders) yellow, (slow down to pick up train orders) or red (stop before fouling the siding switch if there was a conflicting movement, or the train orders were not ready)

In our case as we approached the station we can see the yellow light that showed up clearly in the night. The station operator is standing on the front platform and has a wooden hoop that he has clipped our train orders onto. I reduce our speed to 40 miles an hour, and our head end brakeman opens his window and sticks his gloved hand out the window to retrieve the hoop that they Operator has raised up to the height of the window. The brakeman than unclips the train orders and throws the hoop onto the ground for the Operator to retrieve later. The brakeman gives the orders to me to read over (The nickname for train orders is “Flimsies” as they are typed or written on onion skin thin paper as there are three carbon copies made) stapled on top is a Clearance Card that reads: Station Gleichen, January 15, 1979, Orders for your train are: and the numbers of all the train orders, there are a few orders that have four numbers and relate to track conditions, and other physical conditions on the subdivision. The more important orders have three numbers, and they give us time on opposing scheduled trains, train meets, and other pertinent orders that affect the running of our train for the next 125 miles to Medicine Hat. At the bottom of the Clearance Card is the time cleared and the three initials of the train dispatcher, along with the signature of the Operator, I read the orders and handed them over to Walter to peruse, he then gives them to the head end brakeman so we all have an understanding of what they contain, and making sure there are no errors. Another set of orders were hooped up to the caboose for the conductor and tail end brakeman. They radioed us that they have their orders so I could get the train speed back to 55 mph.

The next siding and elevator track was at Cluny, at Mile 117.2, with its 153 car siding, it was downhill through Cluny and then started uphill, then went
downhill to Crowfoot Creek Mile 110 then went uphill over to Crowfoot Mile 105.3 with its 151 car capacity and elevator track, next we went through Bassano Mile 97.5, there is a yard there and the siding holds 152 cars, it is also the junction for the Irricana and Bassano Subdivisions, and has an open train order office, its signal was clear so we high balled through, the next siding was Lathom at Mile 89.6 with its small siding that held 71 cars, next was Southesk at Mile 80.5 it had a 66 car siding that we had a train order on that it was out of service due to rough track. This was half way through our trip, and it was Walter’s policy with engineer trainees that they only work half of the subdivision, so he took over the controls and I watched and learned.

Walter took us through Cassils Mile 73.6 it had a 140 car siding, the next station was Brooks at Mile 66.8, it had a short siding that held 77 cars, it also had an open train order office, and the signal was yellow and we picked up some train orders, we had a meet with the westbound at Kininvie Mile 44.4 our train being superior by direction, we would hold the mainline and the westbound would take the siding. After Brooks was a new siding at Campbell mile 54.5 with the capacity of 153 cars, it was built to replace Bantry. The next station was Tilley with no siding just an elevator track, We Got to Kininvie and the westbound had not arrived, and he was stopped by the scanner at Mile 30.9. We pulled down to the east end, and our brakeman walked out and lined the main track switch so the westbound could enter the siding without stopping, Special Instruction U on Hot Box Detectors reads;

Special Instruction U – HOT BOX DETECTOR SYSTEM:
On Subdivisions where this Special Instruction applies the following will govern:
SCANNER – To avoid abnormal heat indication from a source other than defective equipment, enginemen should when practical avoid prolonged use of the train brakes approaching this point in any application of brakes while a portion of the train is passing the scanning equipment.
INDICATOR – This is the form of a WHITE LIGHT mounted on a mass and IS NOT A BLOCK SIGNAL. The last indication displayed will apply as follows:
STEADY BURNING or UNLIGHTED – stop before fouling switch at the inspection point and immediately communicate with the train dispatcher. If communication fails, perform standing train inspection.
FLASHING – No evidence of overheating.
The train dispatcher will provide information as to the location of overheating. The journal is to be inspected and if no evidence of overheating is found, that car and at least two cars on each side must be inspected for any condition which may be responsible for the abnormally heat condition, opening all journal box lids as part of the inspection. Before proceeding, the train dispatcher must be informed of the result of the inspection and any action taken.

New instructions had been bulletined for the new scoreboard type of Hot Box Detectors:

Special Instruction U does not apply. See Bulletined Instructions

Scanner and Direction Set off
Display Board of Travel Point

Mileage 30.9 Eastward Suffield
Westward Alderson

When display board indicates other than “All Clear” (Three Zeros) or “No Defects” stop must be made and inspection performed prior to proceeding to the set off point.

Luckily the problem was a sticking brake and they cut the brake out, and came westward through the siding, we had a 15 minute delay. If the defect required the crew to set the car off at Alderson, we would have been there at Kininvie for three quarters of an hour or more.

Our head end brakeman inspected the westbound for defects on the South side as the train entered the siding at Kininvie, and high balled the crew on the caboose, so they did not have to stop their train entering the siding, the crew on the caboose would inspect the North side of their train. When they cleared our brakeman lined the main track switch normal and we got a clear signal to proceed. The next siding was at Alderson Mile 35.3 it had a small 71 cars siding, and is elevators had been torn down many years ago, all that was left there of the town was some building foundations and the cemetery, before Alberta became a province in 1905 this was supposed to be the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan, but this was changed and the Alberta and Saskatchewan border ended up being near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan about 50 miles East of Medicine Hat.

The next siding was at Suffield Mile 25.8, it siding capacity was 149 cars. It had an open train order office, and the train order signal was clear. The Suffield Subdivision ran 83.9 miles south westward to Lomand. On the North side were loading tracks, during World War II the British Army had a training base that is still there today, the Army moves its equipment by train and it is a very busy time when they come to do their training. It’s great for the Medicine Hat’s economy, as when the soldiers are on leave they call for taxis to take them there, where they left off a little steam in the local bars, and frequent the restaurants. Prince Harry was there one year in the 90s, and he got a limousine to take into Calgary to check out the city’s nightlife, membership in the Royal family does have its privileges. Leaving Suffield the track goes downhill steeply to Mile 22.5, then it goes uphill to Bowell at Mile 15.1 with its 153 car siding, the climb up to Bowell is the controlling grade for eastward trains on the Brooks subdivision, with our light train it was no problem but for heavier freight trains it can be a real struggle, and if you stall you have to double your train over to the siding, this involves cutting off of your train and take it over to the siding, and return for your tail end portion pull it up and pick up your head end portion, a very time-consuming chore, that is avoided if possible, but let’s say one of your locomotives quits and can’t be restarted you would end up doubling. Leaving Bowell it was all downhill to Redcliff Mile 6.8 with its 153 car siding, Redcliff had industries including the Dominion Glass plant that manufactured bottles. Medicine Hat sat on top of an enormous natural gas field, when Rudyard Kipling visited the community around the turn of the 20th century he made the remark “Medicine Hat the city with Hell for a basement” this attracted lots of industries there were potteries one called Medalta (an abbreviation for Medicine Hat – Alberta) they made stoneware crocks that are very popular with collectors, another pottery was Rycroft I have a couple of their commemorative ashtrays in my collection. When I moved to Medicine Hat in the winter of 1973 it was a boom time as many construction jobs building fertilizer plants, and a methanol plant. There were no apartments free to rent, and I had to live in a hotel the Assiniboia.

Leaving Redcliff was the start of a steep descent with grades of 1.4% down into the river valley of the South Saskatchewan River where the city of Medicine Hat was located. We radioed the yardmaster at Medicine Hat for yard being instructions, he told us to bring our train down the main track to the station to change crews. Walter showed me some high-speed techniques on bringing a train down the hill to the railway bridge across the river into the yard at Medicine Hat. Leaving Redcliff at 55 mph Walter would set up the air brakes at the West Mileboard for Cousins that had a Wye to service the fertilizer, and methanol plants on the North side of the main track this was at Mile 4.5, if you had made the right application of air the speed of the train would be 45 miles an hour when you past the East leg of the Wye at Cousins. At the intermediate signal at Mile 1.4 your speed would be down to 25 miles an hour, and down to 20 miles an hour at Mile 1, from here you could see the home signal on the bridge, it displayed clear and we stopped at the station to change crews.

We arrived at Medicine Hat at 00:15 and were off-duty at 00:30 we had made our run in 3 hours and 30 minutes, a good run as the actual running time to Medicine Hat was 3 hours and 10 minutes. We checked the line up and it looked like we would get a hotshot at around 06:00, so we would get a few hours sleep, the locomotive engineers bunkhouse in Medicine Hat was an old two-story frame house that had bedrooms for the Passenger locomotive engineers and firemen on the main floor, and eight bedrooms on the top floor. There was not enough room for the Enginemen Trainees, so we had reserved rooms in the Cecil Hotel a block north of the CPR station, it was not the most comfortable room on the top floor of the hotel, but I considered myself lucky, as the trainees would cook in these top floor rooms in the summer with no air-conditioning.

I told the crew clerk at the Medicine Hat station that I only needed a one-hour call, at 05:55 I was called for train No. 965 for 06:55, it was a run through, as opposed to off of the shop track. The coffee shop on the main floor opened at 06:00 so I had enough time for coffee and some breakfast before I went over to the station.

Our conductor was Joe Yuhas our units were 5702 on the head end and 4576 a Montréal Locomotive Works Alco, it was classed by the builder as a MLW M-630, and it was outshopped to the CPR on February 20, 1970 and was classed as a DRF-30f (Diesel Road Freight 3000 hp, subclass f). We had 33 loads and 6 empties, a total of 39 cars weighing 2584 tons. With 6000 hp and 39 cars I had no problem ascending up out of the river valley to Redcliff, in the steam locomotive days this was a pusher district, and pusher engines were assigned to push trains up westward on the Brooks’s subdivision, and eastward on the Maple Creek subdivision. Now it was common practice to have an extra diesel locomotive to act as a pusher out of Medicine Hat to Suffield where it would be set off for an eastbound freight to pick up and take back to Medicine Hat.

I quickly climbed up to Bowell, then down the dip to Mile 22.5 then uphill to Suffield, we passed a couple of eastbound Extras in the sidings at Campbell and Cassils, then Walter took over for the rest of the trip to Alyth. Approaching Strangmuir the intermediate westbound signal that was 3 miles out from the home signal) displayed yellow (An Approach Signal) Meaning that we were taking the siding. Walter showed me what to do, it was downhill from east of the intermediate signal and he applied the automatic brake to slow us down to 20 miles an hour, approaching the mile board he released the brake as the track started to ascend up to the east switch at Strangmuir and you could control your speed of 15 miles an hour using a low throttle position. Walter also told me that the same track configuration was at the east end of Shepard. Leaving Shepard we called the Train Yard Coordinator at Alyth for yarding Instructions, he told us to yard in P-6 and secure our train on the east end of the track, we called the Pulldown tower for a route, and he told us and the operator at 12th Street E. tower to bring us in P-1. We yarded and cut off our power asking the operator at 12th Street E for a route to the diesel shops in N yard, he told us to take the crossovers under the Blackfoot Trail overpass to N yard lead, and he would line us back to N-14. As we backed towards the Alyth diesel shop Walter told me it was my turn to play bellboy, as the locomotive engineers booking in and out room was on the West end of the Alyth diesel shop, and where we spotted our units on the fuel rack was quite a distance to carry our grips. Walter slowed down enough for me to get off, and I walked across to the booking in room, and waited for Walter to walk up from the fuel racks. I got him to fill out my report, and we called it is a day.

We had January 17 off and were called on January 18 at 01:15 for No. 902 another second-class priority train, with two EMD units 5739 and 5522, our conductor was Kasper Houck, our train had 61 loads and 1 empty, and we had 2897 tons, we were out of the Alyth yard at 02:55. Walter ran the train to Cassils, and I took over and took my first train down the hill from Redcliff into Medicine Hat, I had learned from what Walter showed me last trip and had no problem running this train down into the river valley, of course I was lucky as it was a fairly light train. We had arrived at Medicine Hat at 06:15 and were off-duty at 06:30.

After a few hours rest we were called for No. 965 at 12:50 with units 5590 and 5620 with conductor Joe Greenstein, our train consisted of 57 loads and 6 empties with 3887 tons. Walter ran our train to Cassils and I took over from there to Alyth we were off-duty at 19:30, it was Walter’s turn to play bellboy and I spotted the units at the fuel racks east of the diesel shops.

I missed the next trip as I had an appointment with my dentist, so on January 20, I worked a yard shift on the 16:00 Hump with Yard Foreman Neil Cameron and Locomotive Engineer Pete Laing, we had the 8633 4460 8409 for power.

On January 22 we were called for No. 902 at 22:00, our conductor was G. Hogg and my locomotive engineer was Jimmy Miller who was working this trip of the locomotive engineer’s spare board as Walter had booked off. Jimmie E. Miller was born on August 22, 1923 and hired on the CPR as a wiper on September 18, 1947, and was promoted to locomotive fireman on December 5, 1947. We had 37 loads and 29 empties and our tonnage was 2946. For power we had MLW 4710 as our lead unit with 3020 as our trailing unit, the 4710 was classed by MLW as an M-636 and was outshoped to the CPR on December 18, 1969. The CPR classed this as a DRF-36 a (Diesel Road Freight 3600 hp class “a” the first in the series of these locomotives. At 3600 hp it was the most powerful locomotive in the CPR’s fleet. They were only run between Winnipeg and Alyth, as they were unreliable for the mountains as they were plagued with water leaks. It seemed like the Winnipeg shops dispatch these locomotives hoping they would break down and Alyth would have to fix them, Alyth did the same thing, so breakdowns on the road were quite frequent. The trailing unit 3020 was an EMD locomotive classed as a GP 38 it was outshoped to the CPR March 24, 1971 and was classed by the CPR as a DRS-20b (Diesel Road Switcher 2000 hp subclass b) the CPR ordered 20 of these locomotives 3000 to 3005 in 1970, and the balance of 15 locomotives in 1971. Jimmy let me run the train the whole trip, and it was quite an experience, these MLW diesel locomotives were notorious for their lateral movement. When I got the train up to 55 miles an hour the lateral movement got worse, it felt like the locomotive would rock right off the rails. They used to joke about them saying that you could read the numbers on the end of boxcars next to the unit as they swayed back and forth. I was glad to get off the train when we arrived at Medicine Hat; we were off-duty at 03:35.

On January 23 we had a long layover not being called until 19:15 for train No. 953 out of the yard. Jimmy ended up on held away which starts after 12 hours away from home, that started at 15:35 so he earned 3 hours and 40 minutes that works out to 45 miles pay. Being called out of the yard meant that we had to go to the Medicine Hat shop track to get our power; our train had been built in the yard. Our conductor was VG Moir we had 57 loads and 8 empties, and our tonnage was 6190, this was the heaviest train I had yet on the Brooks sub. We had two good SD 40 – 2 units 5726 and 5653 and we were able to make it out of Medicine Hat All right it was a long night and we were off-duty at 07:35.

On January 25 we were called for No. 952 at 19:15 with units 5572, 4505, and 5773. Our conductor was Elmer McCready, and we had 58 loads and 9 empties tonnage 4874. It was an uneventful trip, and we were off-duty at 00:30. After a good night’s rest we waited for our call, it was a dead head on the passenger train No. 1 for 13:10.

Whenever a crew was called to deadhead on the passenger train, the locomotive engineer would ride in the coaches, and as I was an enginemen trainee I was required to ride on the head end locomotive with the locomotive engineer and fireman. Our conductor was Stan Long and our locomotive engineer Reggie Avery, and the fireman was Garth Rosemond, we had locomotives 1400, 4475, and 8511, 1400 was built by GMD and classed as a FP7a, it was outshoped to the CPR April 30, 1953 CPR classed it as a DPA15a (Diesel Passenger A unit, 1500 hp and the first in subclass “a”) 4475 was built by GMD in class as a F9B (The “B” stands for Booster unit, it has no locomotive cab and can be only moved for hosteling and the operator has to look out one of the side portal windows.) It was outshoped to the CPR February 26, 1954 CPR class it as a DFB-17a (Diesel Freight B unit, 1700 hp and subclass a) it was changed 89 mph gearing at Alyth. 8511 was built by GMD and classed as a GP9R it was outshoped to the CPR on November 30, 1954 CPR classed it as a DRS-17a (Diesel Road Switcher 1700 Hp Subclass a) these units came equipped with 89 mph gearing for passenger service. They were dual service locomotives that could be used for freight and passenger service.

The train was heated with steam generators, and Garth would show me the duties required as a fireman. They were located at the back end of the CP 1400 A unit, on either end of the CP 4475 B unit, and inside the short front hatch dual service CP 8511 a Diesel Road Switcher.

The steam generators were made by Vapor Clarkson, in 1903 a Chicago businessman Egbert Gold introduced the “Vapor” car heating system which used low pressure saturated steam. When the railways of North America changed their motive power from steam to diesel electric locomotives an alternative for heating the passenger coaches became a problem as in the steam era there was enough steam from the locomotives to heat the passenger coaches. Gold’s company now known as the Vapor Car Heating Company came out with a compact water tube boiler that fitted in the rear portion of a diesel electric locomotive’s engine room. It used diesel fuel from the diesel locomotives fuel tank, and water from the locomotives cooling water tanks. The steam generator burned diesel fuel there are long spiral tubes, and coils nested in the center of the generator to form a single tube that is several hundreds of feet long water is pumped through, these were surrounded by flames and hot gases. The heat is provided by the combustion of diesel fuel is sprayed by compressed air through the atomizing nozzle, in the fuel spray head into the fire pot above the coils. Here the fine oil spray mixes with air supplied by the blower and is ignited by a continuous electric spark in the top of the unit. The fire and hot gases flow, first downward then outward through the nests of coils.

The supply of fuel is regulated to evaporate 90% to 95% of the water pumped through the coils. The excess water flushes scale and sludge and is carried over with the steam into the steam separator, where the water and the sludge are removed before the steam flows into the train line.

A motor drives the blower, water pump, and fuel pump at a constant speed. The water bypass regulator automatically controls the steam generator output by regulating the amount of water fed into the coils. Before entering the coils, the water passes through the servo-fuel control which admits spray to the fuel nozzle in direct proportion to the water entering the coils. The servo-fuel control also adjusts the damper to admit the proper amount of air for efficient combustion of the fuel.

The train line steam pressure is regulated by adjusting the handwheel on the on the water bypass regulator. The length of the train and the weather conditions determine the settings.


On the Okay 4625 Steam generators that the CPR used, the valves designated with odd numbers must be OPEN during normal operation of the steam generator. Valves designated with even numbers must be CLOSED during normal operation of the steam generator. The open valves are equipped with cross type handles; and the closed valves are equipped with round type handles. In addition the CPR had brass tags on the stems of the valve handles.

I.) The following valves must be OPEN during normal operation of the OK steam generator:
1 – Atomizing Air Shutoff Valve
3 – Coil Shutoff Valve
7 – Remote-Control Trainline Shutoff Valve
7a-Reset Lever
9 – Return Water Outlet Valve
11 – Steam Admission Valve to Trainline Pressure Gauge
13 – Steam Admission Valve to Water Bypass Regulator
15 – Stop and Check Valve (Closed during start or shutdown procedure)
17 – Three-Way Washout Valve
19 – Water Bypass Regulator Shutoff Valve
21 – Water Supply Stop Valve

2.) The following valves must be CLOSED during normal operation of the steam generator:
2 – Coil Blowdown Valve and Switch
4 – Fill Test Valve
6 – Layover Connection Shutoff Valve
8 – Manual Water Bypass Valve
10-Steam Admission Valve to Radiation (Open in cold weather)
12 – Steam Separator Blowdown Valve
14 – Washout Inlet Valve
16 – Washout Inlet Valve
18 – Water Pump Test Valve
20 – Water Suction Drain Valve
22 – Water Treatment Tank Drain Valve
56 – Return Line Valve (Standby)

It’s one thing learning about the OK Vapor Clarkson steam generators in the classroom, but the hands-on experience on the student trips were well worth the time, especially later on when you are on your own working as a locomotive firemen.

On January 28 we were called at 02:30 for a train of empty boxcars, and were run as 2nd 948 with locomotives 8622, 4461, and 8511. That trip we had Mars Wolfe as our conductor with 73 empties, and 2658 tons, a long night arriving at Medicine Hat at 11:35. After a good rest we were called that evening at 23:35 for 2nd 965 with locomotives 5627 and 5522. Going home we had conductor Charlie Patton with 44 loads 11 empties and 3018 tons this was a fast trip getting back to Alyth at 05:55.

On January 31 I was called to attend a class in the Train Dynamics Analyzer in the Alyth Back Shop with Road Foreman of Engines Steve Shapka, on the new Air Form Method for measuring brake pipe leakage when performing brake tests.

I had missed my turn so I worked an afternoon Yard Assignment the 15:30 S. Industrial with locomotive engineer Bill Dixon on the 6713 with yard foreman Scotty Taylor.

On February 4 Walter and I were called to deadhead at 20:45 on the Greyhound Bus to Medicine Hat, we booked outward at the Alyth Shops and we took a taxi to the Greyhound Depot downtown Calgary arriving at Medicine Hat at 01:30.

After a good night’s sleep we were called for No. 901 at 10:45 with units 5745, 5660, and 5528. Our conductor was Gary Ophiem our train consisted of 52 loads 2 empties and 2759 tons. It was an uneventful trip and we were back at Alyth and off-duty at 18:00. This was my last trip with Walter; I thanked him for taking me as a trainee, and was grateful for all I had learned from him. From now on I would not be playing bellboy every alternate trip.

On Thursday, February 8 I was called for the Zone 3 Way freight with locomotive engineer Ed Anderson he was born on January 7, 1925 he hired on as a wiper when he was 22 years old on January 20, 1947 and was promoted as a fireman on May 3, 1947 we were called for 07:00 for power we had the 8833 and 8642, our conductor was Ernie Demers, tail end brakeman Bob Wright and head end brakeman Mel Derksen, we departed Alyth and ran to Shepard on the Brooks Subdivision where we picked up some tank cars from the second siding, we left the main track for the Strathmore Subdivision and ran 20 miles to Langdon, where we went northward on the Langdon subdivision, crossing over me automatic interlocking with the CNR and mileage 9.6 we went to Keoma where we spotted some grain empties at the Alberta Wheat Pool elevator, then on to Irricana, Beiseker, Acme spotting up the elevators and where we stop for lunch. After lunch we ran 2 miles North to Cosway the junction with the Acme subdivision, we then ran through Linden, Sunnyslope, Allingham, Torrington and Wimborne where we spotted up all the grain elevators, and then went on the Meers Spur 3 miles North to the Shell Oil gas plant where we switched out loads of sulfur tank cars, and spotted up empties. We were off-duty at 15:05, and started a new ticket and day and ran back to Cosway with our loads of sulfur and all the grain loads from the elevator tracks, these we took down to Acme and set them over to the second siding, we then ran back to Cosway and continued on down the Langdon subdivision where we spotted up the elevators at Carbon, Sharples, Hesketh, and Kirkpatrick we then got permission to enter the CNR’s Drumheller subdivision and registered our train, and got train orders from the operator to run down to Rosedale junction, where we went back onto the Langdon subdivision for a run to East Coulee, things changed since I had worked here in 1975, the wooden trestle truss bridge across the Red Deer River was no longer able to handle the weight of locomotives, and the Atlas Coal Mine had to run their loads of coal down to the bridge by gravity and pushed them onto the bridge with one of their front-end loader tractors where we could pick them up. We no longer stayed overnight in East Coulee but returned to Drumheller where we had rooms for the night in the local hotel. After a good night’s sleep we started back on the Langdon subdivision at 08:15 picking up the loads of grain along the way to Acme where we stopped for lunch, we then picked up our loads from the second siding and lifted the rest of the elevator tracks to Shepard and yarded at Alyth where we were off-duty at 19:45.

Ed was a practical joker; he would give me some basics about running the locomotives, like using a little bit of independent brake to slow us down. I had some experience running a locomotive when I was a brakeman working with Stan McPhedran. I remember after lunch at Acme Ed said that he was going to ride on the caboose for a while and left me and Mel on the head of the train, there were air gauges on the wall by the conductor’s desk that would show the air pressure on the brake pipe, Eddie would close the valve underneath and bleed the air pressure off and exclaim to Ernie who was a nervous guy to begin with that we had lost our air, Ernie would have a fit. Next Eddie would ride up in the cupola on the caboose where the radio was, and would shout up to me that I was killing them back there and to quit using the independent brake. I remember one trip back in 1974 when I was working the Zone 2 way freight as the head end brakeman, Eddie, who was a big man, got a trip with us of the locomotive engineers spare board, we ran the 72 miles East to Bassano, and Ed ate four sandwiches, then a can of salmon, and a bunch of candies. At Bassano we went over to the Chinese restaurant in the Imperial Hotel for lunch, Eddie would order a large entrée that he polished off; the waiter asked him if he would like any dessert, Ed replied no thanks I’m on a diet!

We had the weekend off and were called on Monday, February 12 at 09:15 with the 8545 and 8523 for power, Ernie Demers had booked off and Bob Wright was our conductor, this trip we went to Wimborne switched the Shell Oil gas plant and we were off-duty at 15:50, we doubled out and returned to Alyth and were off-duty at 00:10 on February 13.

I went back to training on the Brooks subdivision this time I went with
Fred Plotnikoff born March 4, 1926 he hired on as a wiper when he was 20 years old on December 9, 1946 and was promoted to fireman on February 3, 1947. Fred was working on a vacancy in the East pool I had worked with him many times in the yard at Alyth and we got along together good. We were called on Friday, February 16 at 08:30 for train No. 948 with three locomotives the 5903 an EMD SD-40-2, it was outshopped to the CPR on December 21, 1978 so it was only three months old. 4440 a DFB-15d another EMD outshopped to the CPR on February 29, 1952 and
DS-10e 7085 an Alco yard engine built by the Montréal Locomotive Works in 1949. We had conductor EJ Kline and a light train with 20 loads and 28 empties, tonnage 2490 we had a good trip and were off-duty at 16:50

We were called just after midnight on February 17 at 00:01 for train No. 965 with locomotives 3002, 3000, and 5525. Our conductor was AH (Al) Belangette and we had 40 loads, 30 empties, tonnage 3800 which we were able to go up the hill out of the Medicine Hat river valley with no problem; we were back at Alyth and off-duty at 07:25

We were off for a couple of days getting called February 19 at 20:45 for No. 952 the stock train, called this as it used to haul livestock cars eastward, it still carried refrigerator cars of processed meat for markets in Montréal. For power we had two SD 40 – 2’s 5707, 5757, and DFB-1500e 4468. Our conductor was Al Belangette again; we had 49 loads, 6 empties, tonnage 3700. We arrived at Medicine Hot and were off-duty at 03:00.

We doubled out at 03:00: for a hotshot train 2nd No. 901 with 2 SD-40-2’s 5769, 5680 plenty of horsepower for our train. Our conductor was George Mitchell we had 40 loads, 10 empties, tonnage 3224. We arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 09:30 that was a fast flip and we were okay duty for 12 hours and 45 minutes.

We were off for over 46 hours when we were called on February 22 at 07:45 for train No. 940 we had two EMD locomotives a SD-40-2 5740, and a SD-40 5553, with a DRS-17d 8686 outshopped to the CPR on August 20, 1957. Our conductor was Joe Yuhas we had 82 loads and 9 empties, tonnage 7049, a fairly heavy train with loads of lumber, cement, tank cars of liquid sulfur, so our big challenge was making it over the controlling grade of the Brooks Subdivision eastbound between Suffield and Bowell, our power worked well and we were able to make the grade arriving at Medicine Hat and off-duty at 15:10.

We had a chance to rest up and we were called for a hotshot train No. 901 after midnight at 01:05 we had good EMD power 5551, 5571, and 5642. Our conductor was Terry Van Clief and we had 60 loads and 10 empties, tonnage 3733. We arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 07:15.

We went back to work on February 24, being called again for No. 952 at 18:45 with EMD locomotives 5550, and 5642. Our conductor was Doug Van Riper and we had 40 loads, 7 empties, tonnage 3379. We arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 01:45

After a good night’s rest we were called at 11:30 with EMD 5661 and MLW 4730. Our conductor was Nick Romanuk we had 52 loads, 9 empties, tonnage 3965 we arrive at Alyth and were off-duty at 18:45.

We were off 48 hours and were called on February 27 once again for train No. 952 at 19:00 we had two MLW’s 4707, and 4770 with EMD 3016. Our conductor was Sid McClellan we had 47 loads, 15 empties, tonnage 4012. We arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 01:05.

After another good night in bed we were called at 08:00 for a work train with EMD 8689. Our conductor was HG Hamilton we had 15 loads, 2 empties, tonnage 716. Our train was loads of railway ties in old stock boxcars, and we had to spread them along the right-of-way between Medicine Hat and Redcliff this we did and we were finished and off-duty at 16:45. This left us first out and we took our call for 18:35 for train No. 965. This gave us time to have some dinner before going back to work. For power we had EMD SD-40-2’s 5600 and 5691. We had conductor HG Hamilton again 63 loads, 3 empties, tonnage 3857. We arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 00:20.

This was the last trip I worked with Fred as he got bumped off the vacancy he was working, I thanked Fred for taking the as his training, and I learned a lot more of different techniques for running trains. I took a few days off to look after some personal business.

I returned to work on March 6, getting called for train No. 954 at 02:15. I was now training with Doug Blacklaws he was born on November 24, 1925, he served in the Navy during World War II and he hired on as a wiper when he was 20 years old on July 9, 1946 and was promoted to fireman September 19, 1946. Doug was a quiet guy very soft-spoken, and that avid reader of books. For power this trip was 2 EMD SD-40-2’s 5711, and 5604. We had conductor CJ Aikins with 29 loads, 54 empties, and tonnage 4980.
It was a long night and we arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 10:15.

We had a bit of rest and were called that afternoon at 15:30 for an Extra West a grain train, for power we had 4 EMD SD-40-2’s 5751, 5621, 5651, and 5790. We had conductor Al Belangette and a real heavy train with 93 loads, 2 empties, tonnage 10320. It was quite a struggle up out of Medicine Hat to Redcliff, but these good EMD locomotives did the job okay. We arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 02:25.

We were off until March 8, and were called for another night trip at 21:45 for train No. 98 with a consist of empty grain cars. We had for power 3 EMD locomotives 5589, 5705, and 8614. We had conductor Eric Stephenson with no loads and 68 empties, tonnage 2538. We arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 04:55.

We had a good rest and were off-duty over 12 hours when we were called at 17:20 for train No. 965 with 2 EMD SD-40’s 5557, and 5549. We had conductor Terry Van Clief we had 51 loads, 29 empties, tonnage 4456. We arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 23:00

I worked a yard shift the 23:59 IYO Tramp on March 12, with Ivan Miller as my instructor we had the 8115 for power.

The next trip was on March 14 we were called for No. 952 at 19:00, we had lots power with four EMD’s 5606, 5549, 5649, and 5672.We had conductor Gary Opheim with 53 loads, 14 empties, tonnage 4874 another fast trip we arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 01:00.

We doubled out at 02:30 on train No. 901 with EMD’s 5790, and 5562 for power. We had EJ (Beans) Desharnais for our conductor with 41 loads, 43 empties, tonnage 5128 we arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 10:30

Doug took a trip off and I had a spare board locomotive engineer Ted ES Washbrook he was born on February 10, 1929 and hired on as a wiper in Lethbridge on December 5, 1947 and was promoted to locomotive fireman on March 29, 1948. Ted’s father was the locomotive engineer in Lethbridge. We were called for No. 940 Toronto Empties at 19:30 on March 17 we had lots of power with 3 EMD SD-40-2’s 5747, 5782, and 5659. We had conductor Beans Desharnais No loads, 66 empties, tonnage 2337 we arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 01:45

We laid over for 12 hours and were called at 13:45 for train No. 967 with EMD’s 5709, and 5562 for power. Our conductor was Art Ressler and we had 51 loads, 1 empty, tonnage 4017. We arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 19:35

We were called on March 20 for train No. 940 at 15:45 for power we had an EMD 5672 and a MLW 4703. Our conductor was Doug Campbell and we had 73 loads, 10 empties, tonnage 6589 we arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 23:45.

We had the night in bed and were called for train No. 925 at 07:55 with EMD 5569 and MLW 4718. Our conductor was Dave Wesner and we had 81 loads, 13 empties, tonnage 6393 we arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 15:45

On March 23 we were called for No. 954 at 21:45 with lots of power all EMD 5547, 3014, 3012, 8409, 8530, and 8639. Our conductor was Wayne Gray and we had 14 loads, and 65 empties, tonnage 3336. Out of Gleichen we were ran as Second No. 98 so we had to put up the green flags and turned on the green classification lights. Here are the rules that governed us running as sections, in our case there were three sections.

We had a Form F (4) Train order that read:

Engs 5844 5547 and 8837
Run as First Second and Third No. 98
Gleichen to Medicine Hat

The first and second named engines will display
signals and run as directed. The third named
engine will run as directed but will not display signals.

UCOR Rule 20. All sections except the last will display two green flags and two green lights by day and night in the places provided for that purpose on the front end of the engine.

Engine Whistle Signals Rule 14 (k) – 0 0 (One long and two short blasts of the whistle) To call attention of an engine and train crews of trains on the same class in the same direction, inferior trains and trains affected by the signals at train order meeting, waiting, or passing points, to signals displayed for a following section, and must hear the answer 14 (k-a) o o – (Answer to 14 k) or stop and notify trains of signals displayed.

We had a. Form G Train Order that read like this:

Eng 1413 run as passenger extra
leaving Medicine Hat on Saturday
March 24th as follows with right
over all trains
Leave Medicine Hat two o’clock 02:00 am
Cousins two naught six 02:06 am
Redcliff two twelve 02:12 am
Bowell two nineteen 02:19 am
Suffield two thirty 02:30 am
Alderson two thirty-nine 02:39 am
Kininvie two forty-six 02:46 am
Tilley two fifty-five 02:55 am
Campbell two fifty-eight 02:58 am
Bantry three naught two 03:02 am
And all the stations West to Gleichen

Note: Words and figures which are to be pronounced and spelled in transmitting and repeating by telephone will be underlined, but will not appear in train orders. They will appear in the Train Dispatcher’s book. In our Form G (3) order 1413, Saturday, 24th, two o’clock, two six, two twelve, two nineteen, two thirty, two thirty-one, two forty-six, two fifty-five, two fifty-eight, and three naught two, will all be pronounced and spelled in transmitting and repeating the order.

The reason there was a passenger extra was that No. 1 The Canadian was running too late to run on its regular schedule. On its normal schedule it was due out of Medicine Hat at 12:20 and the schedule was only good for 12 hours, so in this case No.1 of March 23 was 13 hours and 20 minutes late on its scheduled time.

Looking at the passenger extra’s times we figured that we could make it to Bantry in time to clear the westbound in the siding. I set the brake approaching the west mile board coming up to Bantry, I miscalculated and we overrun the siding switch by six car lengths, fortunately the passenger extra had not arrived. I quickly released the air brakes and backed up to the siding switch that was lined and we took the siding. The passenger extra arrived with locomotive engineer Adam Lee and enginemen trainee Les Kosar. I blew the whistle signal 14 (k) and they acknowledged by blowing whistle signal 14 (k-a)

We arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 07:30.

After some rest we were called at 18:30 for an Extra West of Vancouver grain. Our power was 2 EMD’s and 2 MLW’s 5521, 4731, 4500, and 5645. Our conductor was Eldon Kastning we had 109 loads, 1 empty (the caboose) tonnage 10695. We arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 06:10 with his heavy train it was a long slow trip just under 12 hours on duty.

On March 27 we were called at 07:15 to deadhead by Greyhound bus to Medicine Hat our taxi from the Alyth diesel shops to the Greyhound depot was held up in traffic and we missed the bus so we were canceled and went home.

That afternoon we were called at 13:10 to deadhead on No.2 The Canadian passenger train, it had 1425, 1406 for power and I made a student trip with the locomotive engineer Homer Edwards, and the fireman Dean Barysien we arrived at Medicine Hat at 17:30.

We arrived and were first out to take a call for Second No. 965 at 18:00 for power we had 2 EMD’s and 1 MLW 5764, 4562, and 5545. Our conductor was Kasper Houck we had 66 loads, 34 empties, tonnage 5574. We arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 23:35. This was the last trip I worked with Doug and I thanked him for taking me as a trainee, and for what I had learned from him.

I was called at 14:45 on March 30 for train No. 940 my locomotive engineer instructor was Dennis Garrett, I knew him from working in the yard at Alyth he had a lot of seniority and he worked the 8:00 Hump assignment. Dennis grew up and lived in the Inglewood district in SE Calgary near the Alyth roundhouse he was born on January 21, 1925 he hired on as a wiper on August 19, 1941 when he was 16 years old, and was promoted as a fireman a year later on August 20, 1942.

March 30, we were called out of Alyth for No. 940 at 14:25 for power we had 5567 4753 5543. Our conductor was Ray Burns, we had a fairly heavy train with 63 loads and 13 empties, tonnage 6095, and we had a good trip arriving at Medicine Hat and off-duty at 22:45.

We had the night in bed and were called in the morning at 07:45 for an Extra Grain drag with units 5782, 5553, 8497, 5615, 8542 and dead yard engine 7085 our conductor was Jerry (Psycho) Metcalf and we had 97 loads, five empties, tonnage 10,725 the heaviest train I had to run since I started training on the road. I had two others weighing 10,695 10,320 training with Doug Blacklaws. We left Medicine Hat and got up the hill to Redcliff okay. We had a meet with an eastbound hotshot, and we had to take the siding at Kinninvie. I set the brake about 2 miles out, and we were close to the siding switch, when the amp meter went higher and the train went into emergency, I had put too much air into her, the head end brakeman walked back about 30 cars and said that I had got a knuckle (a knuckle is the hinged part of the coupling system that is on each end of railway rolling stock, and locomotives, it is connected to the drawbar assembly by a 2 inch round pin that it pivots on) the knuckle was like the weakest link in a chain and breaks in two, they are easily changed out by spare ones we carry on the locomotives and cabooses, we threw one off the lead locomotive and the brakeman closed the angle cock on the east end car and we were able to pump up the front portion with air and we pulled ahead 30 car lengths. Dennis got out and lined the siding switch, and the brakeman retrieved the 80 pound knuckle and brought me back to the joint where he replaced the broken knuckle and we put the train back together. The hotshot had arrived and was stopped at the east end of Kininvie. We cleared him in the siding and didn’t cause too much of a delay about 10 minutes, and we never heard about it. It was my first knuckle, and I was thankful that it was not a drawbar on the wrong end, or any end in this situation it would have created a longer delay. I have that East mile board from Kininvie in my collection to remind me of that trip.

The next trip was on April 2nd going down on No. 954 with units 5797, 5505 we were called at 11:45. Our conductor was Wilf Larson we had 30 loads and 35 empties tonnage 3321 we arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 19:45 a good trip.

We returned home on April 3d on train No. 967 with units 4705, and 4723. Our conductor was Bobby Holmes we had 77 loads and 8 empties, tonnage 6742.

The last trip I made with Dennis was on April 5th going East on the stock train No. 952 called for 19:00 with 5751, 5561, 5541 for power. Our conductor was Nick Romananuk we had 47 loads and 9 empties, tonnage 4784 another good trip we arrived at Medicine Hat and were off-duty at 01:00.

Once again we had a night in bed and called at 10:45 for an Extra West of potash with conductor Hamilton with 94 loads, 1 empty, tonnage 10,480, I did better this trip and we arrived at Alyth and were off-duty at 18:30.

This was my last trip on the Brooks subdivision, not counting yard engines I had made 24 trips on freight, way freight, work train, and passenger trains. I moved down to the Laggan subdivision making my first trip on April 10, 1979


1.) West end of Alyth Diesel Shops taken, by me in the spring of 1975, from the Blackfoot Trail overpass. The locomotives on the right side of the photo are on the fast track used to move power from the east end of the shops to the west eng. To the left are Pits1,2, and 3 with out going locomotives sitting outside Pit 1, and 3. There is a sidewalk along the powerhouse and a set of stairs beside the second locomotive in Pit 3 that takes you to the Locomotive Engineers Booking Outward office. Out of sight behind the powerhouse to the left arm Pits 6, 7,8, and 9. Incoming locomotives off the road are spotted on the east end of the shops where they are refueled, sanded, and filled with water for coolant if necessary. The locomotives enter the shops from the east end and are inspected, and repairs are made, brake shoes changed if necessary.

2.) A night-time photo of the west end showing an EMD Diesel Road Switcher outside of Pit 1.

3.) An example of a Outward Report: Enginemen and Firemen this one came from the Passenger Train Booking Outward in downtown Calgary, the first column on the left is for the Number of Engine, followed by the train ( in this case it is No. 1) then the direction ( West), Time Ordered For (12:05) The Date ( September 8) Actual Time on Duty (11:50) Time Watch Compared with Standard Clock (11:50) Variation From Standard Time: Seconds (4) Fast or Slow (fast) Enginemen’s Signature (Glenn Chugg) Next Fireman’s Actual Time On Duty Date (September 8) Actual Time On Duty (12:00) Time Watch Compared with Standard Clock (12:00) Variation From Standard Time Seconds (3) Fast or Slow (Slow) Fireman’s Signature (Ed Anderson)

4.) Alyth Diesel Shops Enginemen’s Standard Seth Thomas No. 17 Regulator Comparison Clock.

5.) Seth Thomas No. 17 Regulator Comparison Clock dial with Roman Numerals from1 to 12, and Arabic Numerals from 13 to 24. In 1969 the page to Canadian Pacific Railroad Time Service Department changed all the clock dials across the system to silkscreen aluminum ones with Arabic numerals. The one at Alyth escaped this change.

6.) Seth Thomas No. 17 Regulator Comparison Clock from my collection with newer silkscreened dial, and Comparison Card that shows the clock is 2 seconds Slow.

7.) CP Rail Pacific Region Timetable 83 Taking Effect at 01:00 Mountain Standard Time, Sunday, October 25, 1978. The CPR changed timetables every six months on the last Sunday in October and April.

8.) CP Rail Timetable 83 Brooks Subdivision schedules that I worked under during my training from January 15, to April 3, 1979.

9.) Approaching scoreboard type Hot Box Detector on Brooks Subdivision

10.) A Close-Up view of the Hot Box Detector, the sign in the foreground with the two black circles, warns snowplow operators to lift up the points of the snowplow, and to retract the wings in order to avoid tearing out the hot box detector’s sensors that sit between the tracks. The silver painted mast holds up the black scoreboard above the hot box detectors electronics bungalow.

11.) Medicine Hat train station built in 1906 and doubled in size in 1912. It is built out of red brick and sandstone with a cedar shingle roof. The three windows on the ground floor on the left-hand side was the passenger waiting room. To the right of the first turret our doors that lead to the operators office where we get our train orders, and there is a Seth Thomas No. 17 weight regulator Comparison Clock. There are bulletin books, a train register, and Enginemen’s Booking Outward, and Booking Inward registers, the crew dispatcher has his office here. There are other clerks with desks that are part of the Customer Service Center. To the right are locker rooms for all the trainmen and conductors working on the terminal. To the right of the second turret on the ground floor is the yard crew’s lunchroom. On the second floor our offices for the Assistant Superintendent, and Safety Officer, there are also classrooms for rules instruction.

12.) Locomotive Engineer’s Bunk House, this two-story wooden framed building facing North Railway Street, was originally a boarding house located on the South side of the yard. The CPR bought the structure and moved it to where it sits now. It has nine bedrooms on the second floor for the through freight locomotive engineers, and on the West side of the ground floor of four bedrooms for the passenger locomotive engineers and firemen. There is a front room with television and a large table for eating meals, and there is a kitchen on the East side of the ground floor.

13.) The Cecil Hotel at Medicine Hat built in 1912 it had seen better days; this is where enginemen trainees stayed as there was not enough room in the bunkhouse. It was a block away from the station, and had a coffee shop and restaurant on the ground floor left of the entrance doors.

14.) A photo I took from the third floor bedroom that I stayed in, you can see the CPR station, and to the right of the tree the Assiniboia Hotel that I stayed in during the winter of 1973. I was happy to stay in the Cecil during the winter, and felt sorry for the poor trainees that would have to say here in the summer, there was no air-conditioning, and Medicine Hat had very hot summers

15.) The East end of the Alyth Diesel Shops, where we would spot our locomotives on the fuel rack and walk up to the Booking Inward office for our trip started. In the foreground on the left where there is a railway track switch, you can see a pathway; the locomotive engineers fought for this improvement, and saved them from having to walk alongside the tracks where there was crater grease on the ground that would make a hell of a mess if you got some on your work boots. The Maintenance of Way employees made this path out of old railway ties with fine gravel to walk on right up to the concrete apron outside the diesel shops doors.

16.) Another photo looking to the East with other locomotives waiting to be serviced, the large tank on the right-hand side was full of diesel fuel for the locomotives.

17.) CPR Passenger Conductor Stan Long does the time honored tradition and compares his Railway Approved Pocket watch with Seth Thomas No. 17 Comparison Clock at Medicine Hat at the start of his tour of duty.

18.) Schematic diagrams of a Diesel Passenger A unit showing the location of the Vapor Clarkson steam generator.

19.) Steam Generators controls on the left-hand side of the Diesel Passenger A unit. The push button on left-hand side top is for blowing down the steam generators separator valve, looking backward while pushing the button you can see the steam and condensates boring outward at the rear of the locomotive. If it does not work properly, the fireman will have to go back into the engine room and blow the steam generator separator valve manually by stepping on a foot pedal. Below the blowdown button is an emergency shutdown switch shielded by a cover so it is not pressed inadvertently. To the right is a circuit breaker, then a steam gauge showing what the steam generators pressure is.

20.) A side view of a Vapor Clarkson steam generator showing the steam generators pressure gauge, and atomizer gauge on the left-hand side. On the right-hand side is the servo regulator (nicknamed the bow tie because of its shape) it automatically controls the steam generator output by regulating the amount of water fed into the coils. Before entering the coils the water passes through the servo-fuel control, which admits fuel to the spray nozzle in direct proportion to the amount of water entering the coils. The servo fuel control also adjusts the damper to admit the proper amount of air for efficient combustion of the fuel. Underneath that is the Return Water Flow Indicator Glass when operating normally the return water will flow 4 to 12 times a minute.

21.) Diagrams of Vapor Clarkson OK 4625 steam generators, showing the names of the components.

22.) A schematic diagram of the Vapor Clarkson steam generator color-coded to show feedwater in gray, return water in blue, steam in yellow, fuel oil in red, air in white, and washout in green.

23.) Vapor Clarkson Corp. builders plates showing Serial No. 7912. Stating to Use This Number When Reporting to ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission.) This would only apply in the United States.

24.) Owners plate from the Canadian Pacific Railway showing Serial No. SG 207, and MAWP Maximum Allowable Working Pressure of 300 pounds. And Date Built August 1956.

25.) Approaching East Coulee on the Langdon Subdivision in February 1979.

26.) Zone 3 Way freight caboose hop at East Coulee February 1970 with EMT Diesel Road Switchers 8642 and 8833.

27.) View of East Coulee’s yard tracks. The track to the right of the locomotive has a wooden platform made of bridge beams for unloading flat cars of farm machinery and other equipment loaded on flat cars.

28.) Old derelict service station in East Coulee, Alberta

29.) Abandon coal miner’s shacks at East Coulee.

30.) Some more coal miner’s cabins at East Coulee.

31.) A real estate sign for a property in the ghost town of East Coulee.

32.) An advertising brochure for the modern computerized andyard at Alyth from 1971, the photo on the top left corner shows Dennis Garrett at the controls of the 08:00 hump locomotives.

33.) A photo of the front coupler of a locomotive, you can see the knuckle in the closed position, and the steel pin that it pivots on. The steel rod to the left of the coupler is used to unlock it so the knuckle can be opened to couple on to other cars.

34.) The East Mile Board of Kininvie that was located at mile 43 of the Brooks Subdivision.

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(0) Comments   

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   
Posted on 31-12-2014
Filed Under (Calgary 1960s, CPR) by Broken Rail

While I was still working as a relief yardmaster, it gave me the opportunity to take photos in the Calgary depot, I had taken a darkroom course at the University of Calgary and learned how to develop and print black and white photographs.

One afternoon I went through the +15 walkway between the Glenbow Museum and Palliser Square, where the CPR’s headquarters were located at that time. I took one picture looking westward towards the Husky Tower and the Palliser Hotel, and have attached the same view looking west in 2013 lots of change. It was a short walk to the parking structure erected over the passenger depot tracks, that I helped build in the winter of 1968, when I worked as a plumber’s apprentice for Trotter and Morten Mechanical Co. from there I had a bird’s eye view of the activity going on when they were switching the East End power on No. 2 the eastbound Canadian.

1.) In this photo taken above Depot One you can see the CPR Stationmaster Al Leinweber on the right-hand side with his arm extended to show the incoming locomotive engineer were to stop the train at, on the right and left are CPR machinists and car department men in position to do their work when the train had stopped. The visible pavement between Depot One and Depot Two is caused by steam pipes running underneath, that also supply water for the passenger train, the other two tracks visible to the right are Depot Three and Depot Four, Depot Three was used to park CPR business cars that could be hooked up to the steam for heating, and the North passenger train it ran out of the east end of this track. Depot Four was used primarily for running freight trains through.

2.) No. 2 The Canadian arrives in Depot One, it has steam generated equipped A unit on the head end, and you can see the ventilating fans on the roof, and an ice breaker visible on the roof above the second man on the right-hand side of the picture. These icebreakers were used for breaking the icicles that formed in the Spiral Tunnels on the Laggan Subdivision and the Connaught Tunnel on the Mountain Subdivision west of Calgary. Without them, the Club and Park coaches on the train, with their glass observation roofs would be broken or cracked by striking the icicles

3.) The team of CPR machinists, and carmen spring into action to disconnect the air brake lines and steam generators Barco connected lines between the lead unit CP 1418 and trailing unit CP 8527, the icebreakers on the roof of CP 1418, are more visible in this photo, and you can see the steam from the generator at the back of CP 1418, and from the front hatch of CP 8527, on the roof of CP 8527 behind the cab are auxiliary air reservoir tanks (that were nicknamed “torpedoes”). They would usually be positioned underneath the frame of the locomotive, but the room was needed for a water tank for the steam generator. Here is a little background on these two diesel electric passenger locomotives:

CP 1418 a General Motors FP7A diesel locomotive was out shopped March 18, 1952. Its prior road number was 4060, and was acquired by CPR on January 7, 1955 and classed as a DPA-15b (Diesel Passenger A unit, 1500 hp and the “b” signifies the second run of these units the “a” was for locomotives CP 1400 to 1404.) The unit was sold to VIA Rail on September 28, 1978 seven months after this photo was taken.

CP 8527 a General Motors GP9R diesel locomotive was out shopped August 19, 1955 and it was acquired by the CPR on the same day. It was classed by the CPR as a DRS-17b (Diesel Road Switcher, 1700 hp “b” for the second run of these units.)

4.) The CP 1418 is now disconnected and is moving eastward from the passenger train.

5.) CPR Stationmaster Al Leinweber gives Locomotive Engineer Floyd Yeats, verbal instructions to run the CP 1418, down to the fuel rack to top up the locomotive with diesel fuel. And to then back the locomotive up into the east end of Depot Two and secure it.

6.) CP 1418 stopped at the east fuel rack to top up with diesel fuel, water can also be taken on here if needed, and on the east stub two coaches are visible. The older one close to CP 1418 is Rules Instruction No. 49, a portable classroom for instructing rules to running trades employees in the Alberta district. The modern stainless steel coach to the east of it is a spare passenger coach on standby, both are heated by steam. The round silver painted tank is for diesel fuel, there is also a set of fuel racks on the west end of Depot One. Visible in the foreground are the snow-covered tracks of Depot Three, and the clear tracks of Depot Four. That was probably used by a freight train yarding at Alyth or departing the yard westward.

7.) CP 1418, backed into the east end of Depot Three secured, and the engine crew of Floyd Yeats and his fireman will be off duty until tomorrow, when they will make their next trip east on No. 2 to Medicine Hat.

8.) The coach engine CP 8102 who was sitting in position in the West end of F yard waiting for the CP 1418 to take on fuel, and move over to the east end of Depot Three. They will call the operator at 12th Street E for a line up and would then couple of the outgoing head end power for No. 2 that they had brought up from the Alyth diesel shop earlier in the day. With that move completed, they then couple on to CP 1418 to take it down to the Alyth diesel shops for servicing and will return to the shop track at the Industrial Yard Office, and standby until No. 2 departs the depot and their shift will be over until tomorrow. Here is some more information on the CP 8102;

CP 8102, a General Motors SW1200 diesel locomotive was out shopped June 23, 1958, and it was acquired by the CPR on the same day. It was classed by the CPR as a DRS-12a (Diesel Road Switcher, 1200 hp “a” for the first run of these units.) All these units were equipped with light weight flexicoil road switching trucks.

Looking around in my library. I found a photo of CP 8527 leading The Canadian No.1 westward out of Calgary in December 1966. 12 years previous to my photos, and two years before the Husky Tower and Palliser Square were built. It was in this publication:

Canadian Pacific Diesel Locomotives.
The History of a Motive Power Revolution.
By Murray W Dean and John B. Hanna
A Railrare Publication 1981

Photo caption;

Once in a while, a solid consist of dual serviced locomotives may be found on The Canadian at Calgary. Such was the case. OnDecember 13th 1966 when a trio of steam generator equipped GP9R units. 8527 8518 and 8511 was placed at the head end of Train No. 1 for the arduous haul over the mountain ranges of British Columbia. In the background is CP’s Palliser Hotel, a long dominant landmark of Calgary,
– Robert A. Loat, collection William R. Linley.

Plus-15 9th Ave SE looking westward winter 1978

Plus-15 9th Ave SE, looking westward 2014

CPR Stationmaster spots No. 2

No. 2 arrives in Depot 1

CP 1418 being uncouple from train

CP 1418 disconnected from train

CPR Stationmaster Al Leinweber Gives instructions to Locomotive Engineer Floyd Yeats

CP 1418 fuels up at east fuel rack

CP 1418 arrives in Depot 3

CP 8102 couples on to CP 1418 in Depot 3

CP 8527 leads The Canadian No.1. December 13, 1966

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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 18-08-2013
Filed Under (Calgary 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

1977 started out with me forced back onto the spare board, on January 1, I worked the 22:30 Pulldown with locomotives 8101, 8416 with locomotive engineer Mike Couchman, and yard foreman Vern Sinclair, on the 5th I worked the 09:30 Imperial Oil job with locomotive 6713 and locomotive engineer Norm Case, he grew up in Ogden and his brother Austin was my first rules instructor when I took my apprenticeship at the Ogden Locomotive Shop in 1965. Ralph Johnson was our yard foreman a great guy to work with at this time the old Imperial oil refinery was shut down, and the new terminal for loading tank cars with diesel fuel, and gasoline was built out towards Shepard on the Brooks subdivision at about mile 167. We would get our caboose from the yard, there was no assigned caboose so we used one of the road pool cabooses from down the Pulldown tower and would get our cars from the class yard once we had them marshalled and a brake test done we would contact the Pulldown tower and 12 Street tower and tell them we were ready to leave the yard to go to the Imperial oil terminal, when we would get the okay and routing we would depart Alyth and clear the main track. where there was a run around outside the gates of the terminal when backed into the clear, we would cut off our locomotive and park along the caboose for a coffee break, after that we would open the gates into the terminal, and switch out the loads to be pulled that day and re-spot the others, and would spot the empties we had brought from Alyth, we would then have our lunch break, and after lunch assemble our train and call the train dispatcher and get permission to come back into the yard at Alyth, when we received permission we would back our train out onto the mainline, and pull into Alyth and yard our train sometimes in one of the small tracks in little “N” yard if the cars were hot, we would pull the various right into the class yard and wait for permission from the TYC to escape the class yard so we could get to the shop track and call it a day. The spare board was turning good and I worked every day up until January 14. I had made my miles; they were short of men and called me out for 2 yard shifts on overtime. On January 17, I was the successful bidder for a helper’s position on the 22:30 Pulldown with Monday Tuesday off, the yard foreman was Bill Armstrong, he was a month younger than me, but already had gray hair. I was the senior helper so I held the long fieldman position I remember one night we were tying up some tracks in the middle of the class yard around C-23, Bill was helping me move over a drawbar on a auto carrier as they were hard to move into alignment at times we had finished and were standing along the track when a load of LPG went by us hissing it scared the hell out of us, thinking it was leaking propane, much to our relief we found out later that it was just of pressure relief valve, but the thought of it really leaking was pretty scary with all the other loaded cars around there wouldn’t be much left of the yard if one ever did blow up.. We had a good crew, and I worked this job until February 6 when I was bumped,

I went on a vacancy on the 07:00 Industrial (Coach Engine) working with locomotive engineer Charlie Neek, and yard foreman Dennis (Willkie) Wilkinson, this was a relaxing job we would start the shift doing some small chores around the IYO usually spotting some cars at CP Express, or Ex-4 a fast freight forwarding warehouse located alongside the caboose track on the remains of the old Exhibition lead that had one time ran down to the Calgary Stampede Grounds in Victoria Park to supply them with cars of her coal for their powerhouse steam boilers. The rest of the shift we would work on the daily passenger trains, bringing up power from the Alyth shops, this included RDC’s (Rail Diesel Cars.) for the North passenger trains, switching coaches and power on the Canadian on arrival, and taking power down to the shops for servicing, turning passenger coaches and RDC’s on the wye, and with all the work done just waiting till the passenger trains departed before we could go home. Willkie was a real character short and stout of stature, he wore blue jeans, a tan or plaid work shirt with his pants held up with large suspenders, he was constantly smoking a pipe, short cropped hair, wearing a hunting cap, and large red tartan overcoat. Very jovial always cracking jokes, and making facial expressions and gesturing with his hands, his favourite activity was hunting for empty pop, beer, wine, and whiskey bottles that he would collect and make extra money for the deposit the provincial government paid for these empties, there are many switchmen in the yard who did this type of activity and made some pretty good money doing it, there territories were like hunters trap lines and fiercely guarded from interlopers. Willkie had a trained eye always on the lookout for treasure, and would signal the engineer to stop suddenly in our travels around the yard tracks and depots of page 0 the terminal when he sighted a hidden gem in all the debris junk laying along the railway tracks. Nothing would stop Willkie from his quest; there are lots of derelicts and winos living around the industrial yard and depot tracks where the passenger trains ran into and out of Calgary’s station, on one occasion. Willkie spotted some winos drinking and hiding the half emptied bottles in a culvert under the railway tracks near 1st Street East, one Saturday afternoon probably planning on leaving it for Sunday while they went on their way, Willkie went over there, and drained the bottles and brought them up on the locomotive placed them in his cardboard box he used to stories treasures during the shift, I kind of felt sorry for the poor winos and how they must of felt when they returned on Sunday to find their stash had been raided. On one other occasion we were taking the North Passenger dayliner down from the passenger depot to the Alyth diesel shops for servicing and refuelling, we were East of 8th Street crossing running alongside the Inglewood District near the National hotel a popular area for the derelicts and hobos to congregate as there was in Alberta Liquor Control Board store across the street, they would buy their booze and socialize in an abandoned lot beside the railway right-of-way where they would drag old furniture and shipping crates to have parties in this out-of-the-way surroundings, us railway men used to call it the “lounge” Wilkie spotted something and told Charlie to stop the engine and he sneaked across the tracks alongside a sheet metal signal bungalow there was a drunk Indian with a bottle of wine sitting on a wooden crate leaned up against the structure he was out cold, and Willkie went creeping up slowly not to alert the slumbering native and tried to extricate the bottle from his hand, Charlie being alert to this would blow the engine whistle, and the native would wake up, Willkie would slouch down until the native passed out again, once again Willkie would try to get the bottle and Charlie would blow the whistle, after four or five attempts finally Willkie won his prize came back the engine and away we would go down to the Alyth diesel shop. On return the native was still there slumbering in peace unaware of his now lost forever beverage on the railway earth as trains keep running by on their journeys like the rivers running to the sea.

On February 23 I worked the 22:30 Hump for a couple of days, then went on a vacancy on the 23:45 Bleeder for a few days, in March I was working as a helper on the 22:30, 24:00, and No.2 Relief Hump assignments getting pulled to work as a yard foreman on four shifts. On April 6 I was the successful bidder as the yard foreman on the No.2 Relief that lasted a few days, at that time Tommy Arnott resigned his position as Relief Car Retarder Operator, so I started working the Friday 22:30 Retarder Operator position. On April 24 was the Change of Time Card, I didn’t move anywhere and stayed on the No.2 Relief

On May 16, 1975 I got the helper position on the No. 5 Relief Job No.177 by bid. The assignment worked all day shifts, which would be nice getting every night in bed, and had Tuesday Wednesday off, and worked the 08:00 Hump on Thursdays and Fridays, the 07:30 S. Industrial on Saturdays, and finishing Sunday and Monday’s on the 06:30 Hump assignment. The Yard Foreman was George Tongs, nicknamed “Tongo” a good-natured guy, but very quiet with sad morose eyes, and small in stature. The locomotive engineer was Hughie Pushie, was the complete opposite a large, loud, overbearing, boisterous, and rude man who was always complaining and griping about everything. He and his brother Glenn had transferred to Calgary from Medicine Hat, Alberta were their father was a locomotive engineer, Glenn and Hughie where the complete opposite and personalities were like black-and-white. I remember one time working the No. 8 Relief pusher assignment with Yard Foreman Donn Parker, it was on night shift and Hughie was a engineer on the 24:00 Hump assignment, we pulled a large train out of P-2 with about 120 cars of grain empties, when we got clear of the hump leads, we radioed Hughie to bring the movement to a stop, Donn was sitting in a wooden conductors chair that we always used on the assignment as it was more comfortable, and we had an extra seat this way so the helper from the hump would have a seat to ride on as we approached the hump. I remember that Hughie instead of gently coming to a stop, put on the locomotives independent brake so hard that the slack from the120 cars ran in so hard that it flipped the conductor chair right over and Donn was turned over topsy-turvy with chair sitting on top of him and his head on the floor of the cab, when Hughie heard this later he just laughed, and was lucky that Donn didn’t punch his lights out, but it was not worth getting pulled out of service over this ignorant jerk. On the Saturday, May 21, we worked the 07:30 South Industrial, as we were a two-man yard crew, a spareman would be called to fill out the assignment, this Saturday they called Mike Dartnell, and it was the first time I had worked with him, we had a common acquaintance a friend I went to high school with who lived in Ogden, and he and Mike had worked in the Car Department operating track mobiles to switch out cars in the yard, when the regular yard assignment, and yard master jobs were abolished in the early 1970s, when a brand-new steel car repair shop was built there. Mike wanting to advance himself, and make better money had hired on as a Yardman on the Calgary spareboard that spring. So that day we went to work with the CP 6717 as our power off of the shop track, and usually the workload on Saturday was fairly light, we switched out our caboose, and called 12 Street Tower to line us from the east end of F-yard to the east end of I-yard, we crossed over and kicked our caboose down the lead, and went into the east end of I-2 and switched out the cars we needed from our list towards the lead, with our cars assembled we waited for the carmen to give us a brake test, with that completed we called 12 Street Tower and requested a line-up from the east end of I-yard to Alyth. We waited till traffic cleared up and got a signal to cross over and a line-up down P-1. We proceeded down P-1 past the tower and the operator lined us for the Manchester industrial lead, we shoved over the crossing on 11th Street SE, and went for a coffee break in the Shamrock Grill just across the street, we then proceeded southward on the Manchester lead over 42nd Avenue and wentmove down slow up the hill to service the warehouses and industrial spurs on JA, JB, JC, and JD leads, we spotted all our cars, and pulled out all the empties finishing around 11:15, we pulled down towards 42nd Avenue, replacing all the derails, and backing our train of about eight or nine empties and caboose towards J lead, for a lunch break, on Saturdays. I never packed a lunch as there were many restaurants in the territory, westward of J lead on 42nd Avenue besides the Albatross Radiator repair shop was a strip mall with a coffee shop, Glenn and Hughie stayed on the engine, Mike and I went over to the restaurant for a bit of lunch, we enjoyed our lunch, and were having a second cup of coffee when we heard an engine whistling the crossing on 42nd Avenue, we looked up out the window and much to our surprise it was our little train leaving without us, we bolted out the door and ran down to the crossing just as the caboose was clearing, I frantically waved down Gordon, who was sitting on the fireman’s side and could see me on the curve, they came to a stop and I waved a backup sign which they did, and Mike and I jumped on the caboose and gave them a highball, and they pulled into Alyth. When we stopped on P-yard lead Gordon hopped on the caboose, and gave us kind of a sheepish grin one we asked him what the hell had happened. He said that Hughie got impatient, and started grumbling that no switchman were going to screw up his Saturday afternoon quit by lollygagging in the coffee shop.

This was the last week I worked as a yardman working the 06:30. Hump assignment, on May 23d finishing at 12:40, I went home and had some sleep resting up as I started working holiday vacancies as the relief Car Retarder Operator that evening on the midnight shift, although the shift did not start until actually 23:59. It was agreed between the retarder operators that relief would begin at 22:30. I showed up and relieved the afternoon shift retarder operator the 16:00 Hump were still humping, and had about 60 cars left, so I relieved Gordon he reported everything was running fine, and I took over the controls and let him go home, when the train was finished the Train Yard Coordinator Ed Woelk who I would be working with that evening contacted me on the intercom, a white light on my panel light up and I flipped the intercom switch and answered him by activating stepping on a foot pedal on the floor that activated the boom microphone above my desk at the control counsel, I told him there were no misroutes, so he said have the crew shove down track C- 33 then send them home out C-48 to the shop track, I contacted the hump crew in the hump shack that they would have to shove C-33 and then out C-48, I then proceeded to set up the yard for manual operation, as all signals were in the stop position, I flipped all the switches on the to master retarder’s, and the six group retarder’s blowing them down and isolating them, then I manually lined, all the switches setting the route into C-33, and pressed the “Trim” signal indicator on my panel and radio the hump foreman that they were all lined up for C-33, he then backed the hump. units down towards the West End of C-33 and pushed the cars in the track eastwards to make more room has some cars had hung up on the West End of the track, by doing this, there was more room for later, he then went westward above the dividing switch between group 5 and 6, when he was clear of the bond I lined him towards C-48, and gave him 2 toots on the whistle mounted on top of the signal mast to indicate to him that he was all lined up in, they proceeded down C-48, and lined themselves towards the shop track.Ed contacted me and said to take it easy for a while as there was only one hump assignment working tonight and they didn’t start until 23:59 so that it would be a fairly easy evening with only three trains to hump. So I went down to the Calling Bureau to shoot the breeze with the: crew clerks working night shift, had a coffee with them as there was always fresh coffee available there, wandered down to the yardman’s lunchroom to talk to the crews reporting for duty Bill (crazy horse) McClary was the Foreman on the 23:59 Hump that night, sat around and played some cards with some of the crews, there was always they card game going on, no gambling usually playing hearts, smear, or rap usually finishing off with a little friendly showdown for a quarter, I then returned to the retarder operators room and waited for the hump list to show up in the computer so I could print it out and get ready when the train came up to the hill, although when they built the new yard at Alyth in 1971 they used computer scanners with barcodes on all the rolling stock coming into the yard to check the car numbers but they have never achieved more. The 90% accuracy, so every train that yarded had to be manually checked by a yard clerk called a checker he would write down every car number and manually inserted it into the computer to get a complete list of the whole train before it could be humped so the proper destination tracks could be determined. Only when all the information was inputted correctly it would show up on the CRT screens at my counsel, I could then type out a list on the teleprinter, depending on the length of the train, the list could be from 3 to 6 pages long, we had a large clipboard on a piece of Formica about 18 inches long with the T-square to draw lines across and check each car to verify it was in correct order. The crews in the hump shack also did this to verify if the correct car was coming off the hill. I also had to fill out a Hump Shift Report that would include a recap of all the cars humped that shift along with the Hump Foreman and Weather Report that night I see that I reported at 02:45. The temperature was 40°F winds at 2 mi./h from the West and the sky was clear. We had a portable weather station about our CRT screen on the wall. With the list printed, the TYC would call me on the intercom and check if I was ready, I would set up my panel, and flip all the switches for the car retarders, and give a couple of toots on the whistle to acknowledge I was ready, he would reply with a couple of toots and set up the Hump board he would also contact the crew in the hump shack start humping and he would set the speed usually 1.75 mi./h unless we had special dangerous commodities like liquefied petroleum gas and the speed would then be 1 mile an hour, with the yard and full automatic mode cars would come off the hill and single order computerized radar would measure their speed and the too large master retarder’s would slow down their speed, they would also roll over a scale bed and be weighed for proper billing all this information was inputted into the computer in the room next to my control panel as the cars exited the master retarder’s they would hit a weigh rail and it would determine if each car was light, medium, heavy, or extra heavy in weight, and this information was used to determine what speed they should be slowed down to in the group retarder’s and this was determined by the amount of cars in each track weather conditions and other factors and the proper retarding force would be applied by the clamping mechanisms in the group retarder’s in order that they would proceed into the bowl tracks of their destination C-yard track at the correct speed to make a smooth coupling onto the cars already in the track, I have attached a copy of the data of the trains we humped that evening I

TRACK NUMBER N-11 V-3/P-11 P-3.
TRAIN NUMBER 23:59 23:59 23:59
HUMP LIST 1 2 3.
LIST RECEIVED 0:40 02:45 03:55
STARTED HUMPING 01:10 03:10 04:15
FINISHED HUMPING 02:10 03:35 05:00
TOTAL CARS 97 48 114

As you can see it took us exactly 1 hour to hump the 97 cars to hump the first train from N-11 while it only took this 45 min. to hump the 114 cars from P-3 there could be a number of reasons for the difference in time. There are a lot of LPG that that come into the yard from the Red Deer subdivision this could reduce the hump speed to 1 mi./h on a lot of these cars, while the train from P3 might all contain grain cars that would roll over the hill fast at 1.75 miles an hour, other explanations might cause delays if there was an extra car in the train. It might take a few minutes to determine its destination, other delays could occur from cars with applied hand brakes that have to be stopped on the helm and removed by the crew before starting again, cars of explosives that had to be set off the train into a stub track, cars was sticking brakes that do not roll properly off the hill and stall in the bowl of the yard, and this case the hump will have to come to a stop and push the whole train over, the hill and physically pushed the car into the destination track, although on some occasions we can help to a degree by manually releasing the group retarder and hitting the car physically with another car headed into that direction. Kind of like playing shuffleboard on a bigger scale this takes skill and judgment, though.

On May 24 it was a little busier as both assignments the 22:30 and 23:59 Humps were on, so we handled twice as many cars as the previous night. Here’s a breakdown of that shift we had the same TYC (Fast.) Eddie Wolke and Roger (the dodger) Gelinas was the yard foreman on the 22:30 Hump assignment.

Weather Report@5:30 Temperature 44°F . Winds from W 10 mph Clear sky.

TRACK No V-1 C-9 V-5 N-6;11 P-9 P-10 P-1
TRAIN # 22:30 22:30 23:59 22:30 23:59 22:30 23:59
LIST No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
LIST RECD 23:16 0:00 0:30 1:35 2:55 4:15 5:10
STARTED 23:20 0:05 0:50 1:45 3:00 4:25 5:15.
FINISHED 23:45 0:10 1:20 2:30 3:45 5:05 5:55.
TOTAL CARS 59 16 61 104 93 88 100.
SHIFT TOTAL 521 cars.

A good night’s work when you look at the numbers, the actual time humping the seven lists; 25 minutes – 5 minutes – 30 minutes – 45 minutes – 45 minutes – 40 minutes – 40 minutes a total of 3 hours and 50 minutes to get 521 cars over the hill was a pretty good average. Let’s take a look at the figures for May 25, we have the same hump crews, and TYC.

Weather Report@2:30 Temperature 44° F Winds from SE 2 Mph Clear conditions.

TRACK NO. P-11V-1 V-2 P-10 V-1 N-8 P-5
HUMP 22:30 24:00 22:30 24:00 22:30 24:00
LIST NO. 1 2 3 4 5 6
LIST RECD. 23:30 0:50 1:30 2:30 3:45 5:00
STARTED 23:40 0:50 1:45 2:40 3:45 5:15.
FINISHED 0:15 1:15 2:25 3:20 4:30 6:00
TOTAL 87 40 95 83 74 105

Actual time humping 35 minutes – 25 minutes 40 minutes – 40 minutes – 45 minutes – 45 minutes, a total of 3 hours and 50 minutes this to get 472 cars humped, so we took the same time as the previous night for a count 49 car’s less.

I worked this assignment with Thursday Friday until June 12, then went on the afternoon .relief assignment working 16:00 to 23:59 for two weeks until June 27
Pay scale. In 1977 for Car Retarder Operators was $65.90 per shift or $8.23 per hour.
Dayshift weeks August 22, 29, September 5, 12, 19, 26.
Afternoon shift June 13, 20. August 1, 8, 15,
Midnight shift May 23, 30, June 6, December 26.
Swing shift June 13, 20, July 4, 11,
List of Illustrations:

1:) Photo of CP 8113 working 07:00 Industrial assignment (coach engine.) Circa 1978

2.) Photo of JA to JD lead.

3.) Photo of J lead looking southeastward towards McDonald’s consolidated warehouses J 40

4.) Photo of Eddie Woelk TYC (Train Yard Coordinator) 1968West were

5.) Photo of Car Retarder Operator’s desk and counsel in front of the chair is switch panel for the 48 pneumatic track switches in the bowl of the Classification yard, to the left of that your in front of the window is the control console for the master retarders, and the six group retarders, plus controls for dial a speed when humping in manual mode, the computer CRT monitor is in front of the pillar and the weather station is above it. To the right is the boom microphone controlled by foot switch, and the switches in front of the papers in the foreground are for communicating around the terminal No.1. Is the open yard radio channel, No. 3. It is a direct enter, with the Train Yard Coordinator (TYC) No.6 is Radio 4, the open Road Channel. No. 19 direct intercom into Hump shack on crest of the hill. No. 20 & 21 outdoor squawk boxes outside on both sides of the crest of the hill. No. 22. Group Retarders 1 & 2 in bowl of classification yard, No. 23. Group Retarder 3, No. 24. Group Retarder 4, No. 25. Group Retarder 5, No. 26. Group Retarder 6, No. 27. Outside Telephone line. No. 28 was the retarder operator room No. 29. Car Department Planner on Fifth Floor of Control Tower. No. 30. Deputy General Yard Master on Fourth Floor of Control Tower. No. 31. Pulldown Supervisor in tower at East end of the classification yard. No. 36. Lever to pull down to speak instead of using foot pedal.

6.) Photo of master retarder controls on left with the levers flipped in the downward position the retarders are turned off, above the two levers are for indicator lights for the weigh rail that display “light”, “medium”, “heavy”, and “extra heavy” next to it is the pneumatic divider switch (or bull switch.) between C-1-24 and C-25-48 the switch is lined manually towards C-1-24 as the orange indicator light shows, the next two switches to the right are divider switches the one on the bottom devides group 1 on the bottom C-1-8 and group 2 & 3 above it, the top divider switch divides group 6 on the top C-41-48 and group 5 & 4, the next set of switches devides groups 2 and 3 on the bottom and groups 4 and 5 on the top. Next are white pushbuttons for weights that were deactivated, besides them are the lever switches for the six group retarders, they are all in the down position and are turned off. Next is them are rotary dials called “dial a speed” numbered from 1 to 10, they are only used when humping in hard manual mode. Looking at the position of the switches in this photo, and the indicator lights show that it is a manual lineup from the bull switch towards group 2 C-9-16.

7.) Photo of 42 pneumatic control switchs from bowl of classification yard tracks C-1-48, the eight push buttons on the left-hand side of the panel are indicator lights that show what mode the hump is in such as; “Hump”, “Automatic”, “Manual”, “Trim.”, “Escape”, “Stop”, “Master Clear” there was also a whistle button that was connected to a old steam whistle mounted on top of the double aspect signal mast located above the bull switch, and below the master retarders it was used to communicate between the the TYC, and the Retarder Operator, and to alert hump crews that humping is about to begin, after I had received my lists. I would set up my control panel, turn on all the master and group retarders and give two whistles to get the Automatic Hump Board from the TYC. The other row of eight buttons are used to used to alert the retarder operator of condition that need attending to such as “Hump Stop 18″ in this case master retarders are to be set in the extra heavy position, and the signal maintainer advised, operations must not proceed until okay is received from him. “Low Air” that would occur when humping lots of heavyweight cars such as grain and potash. that used lots of air to slow the cars down, in this situation, one could just stop and wait until sufficient air had pumped up to start operations again, on night shift I used to go outside into the large metal building that housed the compressors, there were control consoles and the compressors could be changed from Automatic mode to Manual and the air would be pumped up enough to operate by the time I got back to my office. There were teletype machines constantly printing out the status of the operation, and any Hump Stop alarms would be displayed on the teletype along with the time that it occurred. At the end of humping operations the teletype would give you a Alarm 204 indicating that there were no cars misrouted.

8.) Photo of Hump control signal mast to the right of the telephone pole, and below the master retarders, it has double aspect lights that would display green when the Hump was operating, and red when stoped. Hopper cars of grain are coming off the hump.

9.) Photo taken from retarder operator’s room looking down and northward at the master retarders beside the telephone pole, above the master retarders is a weigh scale mounted into the track structure where all cars going over the hump are automatically weighed and the data entered into the computer at the crest of the hill visible to the left is the sheet-metal hump shack, besides it a pusher locomotive waits for instructions from the TYC on where to go next, either out of the class yard through C-1 or C- 48 and on to the next train to be humped, or a trimming chore in the class yard of shoving down some tracks that haven’t rolled down far enough to make room for other cars, or to dig out a couple of cars that may have been misrouted to the wrong tracks. In the case of misroutes the TYC will advise me of the destination track for the misroutes, let’s say there is one car behind four, the pusher engine will couple on to and tie up the five cars, the helper will ride out on the side ladder of the fourth car where he has access to the uncoupling lever, the pusher engine will pull the string of cars up into the master retarder on the hill, I will route the switches for the proper track, and blow the whistle. This will alert the helper to pull the operating lever and uncouple the car gravity will take it into the proper track, when the car is clear. I will whistle again and the other four cars are uncouple in drift back into their track, I can use the dial a speed feature on the group retarders to control the speed so the cars make a safe coupling and their respective tracks.

10.) Photo showing groups four, five, and six retarders, to the left the single locomotive is sitting on the Gen. Yard Office shop track, this is the location were yard assignments starting at the GYO go to work, they will ask the TYC for permission to go eastward and foul C-48 for them to escape the class yard going westward over a set of crossover switches that will take them into N-yard, or the tunnel lead that runs underneath the hump and towards the caboose tracks, one spot car repair shops, V-yard, and P-yard. To the left is a three locomotive hump consist sitting on the hump shop track, the metal building in the foreground is the compressor room, with auxiliary air storage tanks located outside, they provide all the compressed air to operate the eight retarders, and all the class yard pneumatic controlled switches.

11.) Another view showing the GYO shop track empty, and a hump locomotive conscious shoving in towards C-48 to head to the hump shop track after finishing humping their train.

12.) This view shows groups one, two, and three retarders, a hump consist is going westward out of C-10 after trimming a track (making room for other cars by shoving the track down which is necessary when cars stall at the top end.) Or he might be pulling the whole track for reclassification, there is always one track designated as a sluff track were cars are routed when their destination is unknown, when the correct information is found the track will be pulled back and humped again,

13.) A panoramic view taken with a fisheye camera lens that shows all six groups in the bowl of the classification yard.

14.) Process control system technician Dave changes out computer reel on Alyth’s main computer on the third floor of the General Yard Office the reader to the right of him is Online .

15.) Senior process system control analyst Cyril Andrews looking at data on his monitor, while technician Jon makes adjustment on master retarder panel.

16.) Technician Dave makes adjustment in control cabinet, while Jon monitors the readings on the master retarder panel, the panel to his left our for groups one to six. There were a team six analysts and technicians who were CPR employees who monitored the computerized humping process and provided on-site software and hardware maintenance.

CPR 8113 coach engine 1978 photo CPR8113coachenginecirca1978_zps1b90f0b7.jpg
















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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   
Posted on 30-09-2012
Filed Under (Calgary 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

Starting back at Alyth after being gone for a year and a half made quite a difference from when I worked the spare board in 1973, I now had enough seniority to hold a job in my own right, I went to the Calling Bureau at Alyth, to pick a job and I went on a day vacancy the first shift I worked back in Alyth yard was the 07:00 “A” Tramp with the CPR 8113 the Yardforman was Harold “dingdong” Bell on May 5, 1975 on May 7, 1975 I got bumped after one day and was up to pick a job, I decided to set my goals a little lower and go on a job that I could hold for a while, but the Calling Bureau made up my mind for me.

I was advised by the Calling Bureau that I had been placed as the yardman (helper) on the No. 6 Relief assignment. Along with the regular 60 yard assignments at Alyth that covered the day, afternoon, and night jobs, there were 13 of these relief assignments that covered the other 60 regular assignments, some of these jobs covered straight days, afternoons, or nights, some worked a mixture of different shifts some working days, and afternoons, and some worked all three different shifts. This job had Tuesday, Wednesday off and worked the following afternoon shift jobs on their days of rest Thursdays, and Fridays the, 17:00 “A” Tramp out of Alyth shops, Saturdays the, 15:30 Industrial out of the Industrial Yard Office, and Sundays, Mondays the, 15:00 Pulldown at the Pulldown Tower.

The, 17:00 “A”Tramp was an assignment that started late in the afternoon compared to other shifts that started at 14:30 its duties involved mainly switching out intermodal piggyback trailers from the ramps and spotting empties there, we also looked after intermodal container traffic that was spotted in LA1 a track that ran long the south side of the North mainline, although container traffic was minimal at this time compared to the piggybacks, and we also spotted automobile carriers into two designated ramps, that were adjacent to the piggyback tracks, these were for offloading the bi and tri level cars that were loaded with automobiles, trucks, and vans for the local car dealerships. All of these tracks were located west of the Alyth Diesel Shops, there was a track that ran alongside the shops that was called the Fast Track, next to that was N-14 that ran from the Bull switch out the west end of N-yard to the east end of the yard, there was also a crossover to the Fast Track to facilitate running around piggybacks to spot them. West of the Bull switch was N-yard running lead that ran adjacent to the hump leads up to 8th Street SE, and there was also the Wye switch that ran to the North mainline, Cushing lead, and brewery lead, Most of this traffic was flat switched, but there were occasions where piggybacks carrying government mail had to be switched so they would be first out on the ramp to be unloaded by the tractor-trailer, occasionally cars would be pointed in the wrong direction, so they would have to be turned on the North wye located by the Calgary brewery this evolved usually coupling on the west end of the car and with permission from 12th Street Tower pull it around the east leg of the North wye using signal indication and pull the car past the crossover, wait for a signal and shove the car westward on the North mainline up to the 11th Street traffic underpass where 12th Street tower would cross us over, and give us an eastward signal down N-yard running lead back towards N-14 and the ramps. The trailer would be turned, but I locomotive would now be facing the wrong direction which we would rectify later by going back up N-yard running lead around the North wye on the Cushing lead where we would spot our engine, East of the 9th Ave.S.E. roadway underpass, and walk down the LA-10 lead that serviced a Western Grocers warehouse and down to the old Royalite spur where there was a 24 hour truck stop coffee shop, called Edna’s who made the best flapper pie in the city, this is where we had our coffee breaks . There was a lot of traffic in this area with units leaving the diesel shops to go to their outgoing trains, and trains arriving and departing N-yard from the North and the West so one always had to be wary of all the movement taking place. The loaded piggybacks had to be switched out for their destinations and taken to the East End of the yard and put it on outgoing trains, or tracks designated by the Pulldown supervisor. We also switched out bad orders on trains from the west end of the yard, sometimes gathering up incoming cabooses to take for servicing, and placing serviced cabooses on to outgoing trains, and any other tramp work assigned from the west end yardmaster.

The 15:30 Industrial worked under the IYO yardmaster, and we usually did transfer work bringing up transfers from the Classification yard, and little “N” yard to the IYO flat switching them out and putting them away to their designated tracks in the Industrial yard, on occasions we were listed to go out to the industrial areas in the Calgary terminal to switch customers spurs this could be on the North around the Calgary brewery, and flour mills, Meridian industrial park, or out the North mainline. Sometimes we would go South to the Manchester industrial park, or down on the Government lead off of the mainline P-1 at Alyth to service industries located there, including Alberta Distillers, IKO an asphalt shingle plant that had a spur for unloading hopper cars of different types of sand they used in making shingles. And the Canadian Government Grain Elevators that loaded and offloaded boxcars and hoppers of grain. Other areas we looked after were “A” and “B” alleys west of the Calgary depot accessed from 4th Street SW. This was Calgary’s original warehouse district, there was not much left on “A” alley after they tore down the Robin Hood Flour Mills around 1969, but there are still was an Eaton’s department store warehouse located north of Bow Trail where the Greyhound terminal stands today.”B” alley still had many warehouses including a spur for The Albertan a Calgary newspaper that was located at 8th Street and 10th Avenue SW, where the Mountain Equipment Coop is now located, there was a fast forwarding freight warehouse at 14th Street SW called Howell’s at B-14 that received many boxcars of freight, B-15 West of 14th Street service Consolidated Concrete’s plant, and underneath, Crowchild Trail there was spurs that serviced a drywall warehouse, and a BAPCo paint warehouse. There was another fast-forward warehouse located on Ex lead (The Exhibition lead used to run down to the Calgary Stampede grounds.) This was located across from the IYO there was also “E” lead that ran to the Canadian Pacific Express Co.’s warehouses were many boxcars were spotted for loading onto trucks,

The 15:00 Pulldown assignment, worked the East End of the classification yard, doing much same tying up 3 to 4 tracks in the classification yard working as the long fieldman we would tie on today track like C-15 and stretch it out I would start walking westward making couplings, and checking my list to see we had the proper cars, if I’m extra one showed up I would contact the Pulldown supervisor and ask for instructions, sometimes he’d say the car was okay to go, or if it was a mis-route he would give us an alternative to set it off to, when all the cars were together the engine follower would uncouple the engine and go to the next track C-24 I would cut across on the west end and walk the track eastward, while the engine follower would work westward making couplings until we met, he would return to the engine and go over to the next track C-33 and we would do the same when all the tracks were coupled together we would ask the Pulldown supervisor for a route to use to take the tracks over to let’s say P-6 on this example, he would instruct us to line ourselves for the Old Ogden lead in this instance which the engine follower would do, I would them couple C-33 to C-24, pull out and couple to C-15, then pull out onto the Bonnybrook bridge, and stop the movement, in the meantime the engine follower, and yard Foreman would have lined us up for P-6, which was a straight track that you could see all the way to the west end all the tracks in P,V, and N yards were equipped with shove lights on the east left-hand side of the track facing eastward, they were like a dwarf interlocking signal light but were equipped with a clear white light they were connected to a track circuit on the west end of their respective tracks and if the track on the west end was unoccupied they would be illuminated, when cars were shoved into an empty track the long fieldman would stay by the light and watch it, the yard Foreman and engine follower would jump onto the cars about 12 and 6 car lengths from the locomotives, as they went by, and would start securing the train with handbrakes, when the west end of the movement of cars contacted the rails about eight car lengths from the west end of the track the track circuit would be activated in the shove light will go out, you would then tell the engineer to stop the movement, he would then pull eastward until the light came back on he would then stop. In situations where they were cars already in the track, up toward the west end, I would have to ride the point and make a coupling. While the shove lights were helpful in the straight tracks in P and V yard, they were very important in N yard where there was curvature, and you had better make sure you were watching the right shove light, one incident happened when the long fieldman was watching the wrong light in N yard and the movement came out onto the west end of N yard lead, fortunately there were no opposing movements, and the operator at 12th Street tower noticed it, and got a hold of the Pulldown supervisor and the movement was stopped. With our list another train was made up and ready for departure, we would have a coffee break, do another list and a lunch break and do one more list before going home. There were three assignments on each shift staggered on afternoons the first job, started at 14:30, then 15:00, and finally 16:00.

I liked working afternoons for a change, never being much of a morning person, it gave one a chance to sleep in the morning, have your afternoon to yourself and as we were usually finished an hour or two early, depending on how much work there was to do you were always home at a decent time in the evening. The Yard Foreman was Colin Gilbert, who had hired on in 1970 and had just got his promotion to Yard Foreman the other Yardman Mike Showers junior to me on the seniority list, so I worked the long fieldmen’s position, and Mike was the engine follower, we were a fairly young crew that all got along good which made it a good job to work. On June 20 Colin got bumped by a senior Yard Foreman named Art Faulks he was older than us, and we can see from the start that he was like an accident waiting to happen, really careless and it made the job stressful to work, Mike and I after a week of working with him decided to bail off the job at the first opportunity. It was in July when many vacancies came open as it was prime time for the senior men to take their holidays. I jumped on the straight day job the 09:00 Tramp at Alyth with Saturdays and Sundays off, the Foreman was John Marchinko (nicknamed Marcy). It worked around the yard in the morning, and in the afternoon we went over and switched the Gulf Oil Refinery in Inglewood, that was accessed by going out on to the CNR Grand Trunk industrial lead going through the interchange alongside the Pulldown Tower we would be listed tank cars to take over from the class yard, to their two loading racks, there was also a South storage spur outside their property were other cars were stored waiting disposition so we would go over with our cars from the class yard, and switch out any cars we needed from the storage spur, and get them in line for spotting at the racks, with our spot all set up, we would go in to the refinery and pull the racks and switch out any cars that need to be respoted, we would then cut in the respots in their proper position with the other cars we had brought in, place every car on spot, and take all the traffic out of the plant back to the yard at Alyth and put it away in the track designated by the yardmaster, and head for the shop track at the General Yard Office. At times a train of bulk crude oil would come in from the Bassano subdivision at Princess, these would be taken over 20 at a time for unloading there. The Gulf Oil Refinery was located in the east end of the Inglewood district at the end of 9th Avenue Southeast and the Bow River ran alongside it and the yard at Alyth, ironically the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary was also located there, I remember there was a large oil filled ditch outside of the refinery gates, with some wires and colored flags attached to keep the birds out of it, how successful this was is anyone’s guess, you also have to be very careful where you walked when spotting the racks at the refinery is there were many pools of crude oil on the ground. Also at this location was a Domtar (Dominion Tar & Chemical Co.) Plant that manufactured gypsum into drywall sheets, they were located East of the refinery between the GTP Industrial Lead, and the Alyth yard at the East end of the shop track where the yard assignment started, and could be serviced by both railways, not used much anymore as most of their product was trucked out it was usually clear, I remember there was a night assignment that used to go over there and finish their shift switching the refinery, then going home, the crew were pretty cagey and one evening sensed that something was up, the yard master wanted to give them another list of work to do and had sent it to the pulldown supervisor where he would catch them coming out on the CNR interchange tracks, but the crew outfoxed them by going to the shop track through the Domtar spur through the cover of night.

I got bumped and went on a few other dayshift vacancies working the 06:30 Tramp at the IYO with yard Foreman Bob Armstrong, this assignment worked straight South servicing spurs, along the south mainline, these were all H-lead industries including warehouses along the west leg of the south wye, the Western Gypsum plant south of the Shamrock Hotel, Smith Manufacturing, The City of Calgary, Davidson Enman lumber yard, a chemical plant that received tank cars for making pesticides, Irving Wire Products off of Glenmore Trail, a lead that ran up across Fairmont Drive that service La Grande oil wells supplies, and a team track with platform for customers to unload boxcars of freight, and machinery.

I was bumped again and went on a vacancy on the 09:00 Government with yard Foreman Gordon Engen, helper Cecil Head, and locomotive engineer Barney Martin this assignment started at the IYO, where we received our lists for the days switching, we then would come off shop track and go into track F-1 and switch out usually about a dozen cleaned empty boxcars for loading flour, and malt, we would then call 12th Street tower and get a signal down P-1 the mainline, we would proceed down there pass 12th Street E. tower go underneath the Alyth Blackfoot Trail overpass to the Government lead, here we would make her running switch and drop the empty boxcars down the mainline, after lining the engine towards the Government lead, taking of the derails before we made this move, I might add here that this job with two helpers used hand signals, were all the other industrial jobs were equipped with portable radios. After finishing this we would then spot our locomotive beside the wash rack, that at one time had been used for steam cleaning stock cars, and refrigerator cars for the Burns and Canada packing plants that were located off of the east leg of the South wye.when I hired on in 1973 it was used for storing old yard cabooses waiting disposition for scrapping, or selling to the public, what I worked the bleeder assignment they were a good place to take refuge from the rain, or chill of winter, it was now used for storage. We then cut across to the Alyth shopping center to the Rodeo coffee shop, ran by a Chinaman a real character who was called “Rodeo Danny” we with than have our coffee break and discuss our plan of attack for switching out the Canada Malting Plant, and the Pillsbury Canada Limited flour mill, where I had worked between 1968 and 1973, I knew all of my crewmembers from one the used to come and switch the flour mill. After coffee we would go down to the Government lead, and tie on to our empty boxcars, by then the Pulldown would have shoved up a string of cars from the classification yard that were for our customers, this would include hopper cars for the Canada malting plant, empty tank cars for loading alcohol at the Alberta Distillers Ltd. that was located further down the government lead, and hopper cars loaded with sand for the IKO asphalt shingle plant, and cars of wheat for the Canadian Government Elevators that was located at the end of the government lead, and the reason the job was called the 09:00 Government. We would switch out all the cars, placing cars for in the Government Elevators on the east end, with the IKO hoppers next, and the tank car for the distilleries on top of that these we would leave further down the government lead, we would then leave our cars for the malting plant on the lead, and shove our empties and any other cars for the customers on the east end of P-1

All the switch numbers on the government lead were numbered in “Q’s” along the east end of P-1 was a storage track called Q-8 it had switches on both ends with derails, and was used to store surplus grain hoppers, pressure unloading bulk flour hoppers and boxcars for the Pillsbury flour mill, West of the Q-8 about 15 cars was the lead switch that went into the flour mill, at this location was the station name board for Alyth yard, this was an electric lock switch, the same as the one on the government lead, there were also speaker intercoms we called “squawk boxes”, they stood on the metal pole and had a speaker on each end with a pushbutton, by pushing the button you could get in touch with the operator at 12th Street Tower, this was a necessity on this job as No.1 The Canadian was due by 12th Street E. at 13:19 it’s eastbound counterpart No.2 was due by 12th Street E. at 15:14 so it was necessary to clear the mainline at these two locations if the Passenger trains were due, by having contact with 12 Street Tower he could always update the crew after train was running late that day and we could continue doing our switching. Just inside this lead switch was a spur for a lumberyard that got the occasional flatcar of lumber, there was also a spur for Indalex an aluminum extrusion company, they did not get any cars that I can remember, further down the lead was Q-9 that led into a track were there was a metal shed were boxcars and hoppers loaded with grain were unloaded for the elevator at the West End of the flour mill, this track would hold about 30 loads, adjacent to this track was Q-9a a metal covered loading dock on the backside of the flour mill, this is where they loaded export flour into boxcars, and on the east end they would occasionally load one of the pressure unloading bulk flour hoppers, Gordon would go into the shipping office and talk to Peter Luft, my old boss when I worked at Pillsbury and get the daily switch list for this would tell us how many empties they required for loading on the export dock, and what cars needed to be re-spotted, we would then pull Q-9a after the loaders had taken out there chutes, we would pull out to the mainline, and couple on to the empties, which we with them kick in towards Q-9a the helper Cecil would ride them in and stop them with a handbrake, just east of the mill, we would then switch out the response and set the loads out to the mainline, we would then couple on and go back towards the loading dock were Cecil would make a coupling onto the other empties and we would respot the partial load of export flour at the chute where the loaders wanted it usually on the west end of the loading dock, we with them go over to the front of the mill where we would switch out Q-9b the loading dock at the front of the mill, here they loaded boxcars of domestic flour, along with feed cars, adjacent to it was Q-9c that was used mostly for bulk loading boxcars of feed bran and shorts, here once again we had to make sure that all the dock plates, and loading pipes were disconnected before we can pull the tracks for switching. With this work done we would go back onto the mainline and pull our loads up towards the Canada Malting Plant were we would stop for lunch, usually sitting in the lunchroom at the malting plant, that had lunch benches, a pop cooler, and washroom facilities.

After lunch we would start switching the malt, they had to loading tracks at the back of their elevators, and plant they were numbered Q-4 Old on the west end alongside the mainline, and Q-4 New on the east end of the plant, adjacent to the elevators and building were Q-4a Old, and Q-4a New the reason for the Old and the New was that the plant had done a lot of expansion in the early 1970s, adding to the size of the operation all of new construction took place east of the older infrastructure were the newer track was extended. Well switching the Pillsbury mill was fairly straightforward, and the track along the loading docks was straight, Canada Malting’s loading spurs were a labyrinth with lots of twists and turns, and restricted clearances, it was fairly complicated to switch out and set up for re-spotting and you always had to be in position to relay signals between the engineer and the helpers in the field, while most of their product was bulk, they did load some boxcars with bagged malt. After all the switching had been done it was usually time to call it a day, we left the other work on the government lead for one of the afternoon jobs, Gordon would call the Train Yard Coordinator and tell him how many loads, we had for him, and ask for a track to put them into, we would then pull up our drag past 12 Street Tower and get him line up into the West End of Alyth yard, the long fieldman would cut across and start lining us up for the designated track, Gordon would ride high on top of the boxcar on the point and relay signals to me standing on the ground untill the engine got close to me, I would then climb high on a ladder on the car next to the engine where I could really signals from garden on the point when all lined and Gordon would trade places with Cecil who would ride the cars into the track to make a coupling, or if it was a clear track would ride it into the end of the track and secure it with handbrakes, he would then make it back to the locomotive, and we would call 12 Street Tower for a line-up back into the east end of F-yard and head for the shop track.

Thinking back, I remember the tank cars of pure alcohol that were shipped from the Alberta Distillers Ltd., switch crews being the resourceful type of people that they are where I was looking for the opportunity for a freebie, and many customers and shippers looked after the crews, in different ways, some of the grocery warehouses would make sure the crews received a shopping bag full of vegetables every week just insurance for good service, I remember one lumberyard that got a few extra moves re-spotting lumbar cars, the Forman was rewarded over the years with enough lumbar to build himself a garage, anyways these tank cars that carried thousands of gallons of this pure alcohol would come back empty, and would sit on the government lead sometimes for a few days before they were needed to be spotted at the distillery for loading, so the crews got an idea of getting a empty 5 gallon plastic pail and putting it underneath the bottom valve of the tank car, and opening it, letting the residual alcohol that and clung to the walls of the tanker after it was unloaded, drip into the pail, they would leave it there for the day and at the end of the shift would have themselves anywhere from 3 to 4 gallons of pure grain alcohol that they would distribute between themselves, this went on for many years until the distillery clued in, and had the cars sealed after loading and unloading so the jig was up, but many are free glass was passed around and shared while the party lasted.

Worked a week on the 15:00 Industrial with Colin Gilbert, then in August I went on the 07:30 Ogden assignment with Yard Foreman Andy Golia for a week, this assignment started him off of the shop track at Alyth, we would receive our lists at the GYO, and would switch out the cars we needed from the class yard. Then we would go out the New Ogden lead behind the Pulldown tower, and follow it around behind the back of the Ogden shops complex, and go up a lead that crossed the CPR irrigation ditch and come out at Barlow Trail SE where the CNR Sarcee was located on the east side. We would then follow down a lead that ran parallel to the CPR irrigation ditch all the way across Glenmore Trail SE to the Prudential Steel Co. plant, we serviced many warehouses, and industries that were located along the stretch of track, including the Inland Cement Co. plant, Loves Feed mill, Associated Grocers, and many other lumber yards, plastics plants, and freight warehouses. I then worked with him on the No. 7 Relief assignment that worked the 06:30 Pulldown on Thursday and Friday, the 09:00 Government on Saturday, and the 07:00 “A” Tramp on Sunday and Monday. The 06:30 Pulldown was the first assignment on day shift, and was good as we had first pick of the locomotives for the three assignments, the 08:00 Pulldown had to take what was left for power a lot of times there would be tWo jeeps (CPR road switcher units) that had very poor visibility for the locomotive engineer working in this very busy, and congested, part of the yard While working this assignment on Friday, August 29, 1975 we had a yard collision while spotting cars in the one spot car repair shop. While working the 06:30 Pulldown assignment, due to a radio failure I had to make out a statement for this and received 10 demerits which I have added to the and of this narrative. Working the 09:00 Government assignment on Saturday was usually a very easy day, when it would more or less just clean up some of the switching chores that were left over from the previous week, we would usually confine ourselves working the Government lead, without having to do anything at Pillsbury, Canada’s mill, or the Canada Malting Co. plant. So we would sometimes do a switch at Alberta Distillers Ltd, or give the IKO Industries shingle plant a switch of their hopper cars of sand. We would then go down to the Canadian Government Elevators and give them a switch, usually setting empty unloaded grain box cars over, and re-spotting loads in front of the unloading doors of the elevator, you had to be careful here and in the air when handling loads of grain, as the grade towards the elevator door was quite steep, and there were many occasions where cars that got away on crews and ended up going through the corrugated steel doors of the elevator. They also loaded grain here and you had to have a good locomotive to pull loads out of the complex, otherwise you ended up doubling over and taking the cars out in cuts. With the work done we would usually take our lunch break in the elevator employees lunch room, play some cards, and heading back to the shop track at the IYO at 13:00, which gave us most of the afternoon of, and not returning to work until 07:00 on Sunday morning to work the “A” Tramp assignment, that did the usual west end of the yard work, switching piggybacks, cabooses, pulling repaired cars out of the west end of the one spot car repair shop, and setting off bad orders from trains.

On September 4, I was placed back onto the spare board I worked for shifts, and on September 8 I was placed on the Emergency Board, this is where you went when you couldn’t hold the spare board, and would only be called if the spare board was exhausted after a week I went on my annual vacation until the end of September, during this time I was unemployed I went back to Pillsbury and worked in the warehouse, as they were always short of men, and that came in handy when things got slow on the railway, on October 10 I was placed back onto the spare board things are pretty slow as I didn’t get out until October 17, I worked the spare board until December 19 when I was placed on the 22:30 Pulldown with Yard Foreman Bill Armstrong where I remained through the new year.

Appendix: Statement taken by Gen. Yard Master pertaining to yard collision August 29, 1979.

STATEMENT OF: Larry Buchan – Yardman
IN CONNECTION WITH: Failing to stop movement of cars in X-03, in the one spot repair before contacting cars in X-03, which resulted in three cars moving westward inside the doors of the one spot contacting cars inside the building.
TAKEN BY: H.E. McAfee TITLE: G.Y.M. AT: Alyth yard.
PARTICULARS: I entered the service of the Canadian Pacific Railway June 18th, 1973 as a yardman and I am presently working in this position. I have written my “B” examination papers and I am familiar with the Company’s rules: CS-44, UCOR, and the code of safety rules and safe practices. I have worked several assignments in and around Calgary and I am familiar with the physical characteristics of the terminal.
On August 29, 1975 I was working my regular assignment The 06:30 Pulldown No.7 Relief assignment. We were assigned units 8101 8411 headed east Engineman R. (Ron) Cheknita, no fireman. My Foreman was Andy Golia and the other helper was Dewynter. We started work in the usual manner and worked without incident until approximately 09:30. We were instructed to spot bad order cars out of Victor-12 into the one spot. We had a hold of 24 cars west of our units and shoved up to the electric lock at the east end switch at the entrance to the one spot tracks. I walked ahead of the movement in lined the route for X-03 my foreman gave a ten car command by radio to the Engineman to move westward ten car lengths. I then positioned myself on the point end of the movement and when we had traveled approximately five car lengths. I gave a five car command then a four car and a three. When we were to car lengths away from coupling on to the three cars standing stationary outside the one spot repair I gave a command to stop because of movement was not slowing down. I received no response to my command so I called to foreman Golia to stop the movement. He instructed Engineman Cheknita to stop, which he did just as our cut of cars contacted the three stationary cars. The three cars moved westward contacting the cars inside the building moving them westward one car length. No damage was done and no one was injured.
QUESTION: Where were you and your crew position?
ANSWER: I was on the point of the movement, my foreman was near the east end of X-03 on the fireman’s side side of the track and Dewynter was near the east end of our of cars.
QUESTION: When you gave the commands of 5,4,3 cars to go. Did you get a reply from your engineman?
QUESTION: Does your engineman always reply or acknowledge command of distance to go?
QUESTION: What action did you take to bring the movement to a safe stop?
ANSWER: When I received no reply from the three attempts to stop the movement by radio I detrained, and attempted to stop the movement by hand signal.
QUESTION: When you received no reply to your five cars to go command. Why did you not call to your yard foreman to stop the movement?
ANSWER: I did try to contact my Yard Foreman, A Golia, but I did not receive any response from him.
QUESTION: Are you conversant with Section 3 Item 6.3 of the CS-44 pertaining to radio communication?
QUESTION: Do you agree that when you received no response from your engineman when you gave the five car to go command that this should have been knowledge that you had lost radio contact?
QUESTION: Do you agree that had action been taken at this time to stop the movement by calling to your foreman to stop the movement that this accident could have been avoided?
QUESTION: What can be expected of you in the future to present a similar occurrence?
ANSWER: You have my assurance that I will abide by the Section 3. Items 6.0, 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 of the CS-44 and if the same thing happens. I will take immediate action to stop the movement when I get no reply to my last command by radio.

SIGNED: my signature

List of Illustrations:

1 . I took these photos from the Blackfoot Trail overpass at Alyth yard, in April 1975, this shot looks looks westward, to the left you can see the hump pulling a train westward up the hump lead, the next tracks to the right are N-12, N-13, and N-14 that is always left clear for traffic, and locomotives moving from the west end to the east end of the yard, alongside the lead locomotive of the hump is the bull switch, that divides N-yard with N-13,-14 to the right, and N-12-N-8 and W-1,2,3 to the left, west of the bull switch is the Wye switch that goes north to the right, and straight west on N-yard running lead on the left. The tracks and switches in the foreground on the right-hand side of the picture are the piggyback ramps numbered R-1 to R-9, there are also two tracks for unloading automobiles, that you can see stored in the lot between N-14 and R-1. The large industrial plant in the background is the Burns Parking Plant.

2. This view looks eastward toward the west end of the Alyth Diesel Shops to the left you can see a dayliner on the lead coming out of the other part of the shop located behind the powerhouse, beside the powerhouse are tank cars, these are coupled up to steam to liquefy the contents for local customers such as Standard Brands that receives shipments of molasses. The diesel locomotives, west of the shop are outgoing power on Pits 3,2,1, they have been serviced and are waiting for crews to take them to their trains, alongside the building is a string of locomotives on the fast-track, besides. It is N-14, and the tank cars and boxcars are in N-13. When power comes off shop track the brakeman will back up the movement westwards towards the piggyback ramps underneath the overpass where I took this picture from, from there it will crossover to N-14 and work its way to the east end of the yard, for westbound trains they will pull out and crossover to N-14 and ask the operator at 12th Street E., tower for a routing to their train. He will then line them up for either N-yard or run them up N-running lead and cross them over to either P-yard or V-yard.

3. This view looks westward towards the Burns Packing Plant, 12 Street tower is just visible to the west, the pens from the Calgary Stockyards are on the left side, and next to it is P-1 the mainline, and P-2 a train of auto carriers with trucks that has just arrived, a steel caboose is visible in P-3

4 . This view shows a box train heading north out of N-12 with a train load of empty grain boxcars to be spotted at elevator tracks along the north mainline between Balzac and Red Deer. In the foreground to the right of the roadway are tracks N-10 and N-11, to the left of the roadway is hump lead 2 &1 then P-yard were a southbound train is heading out.

5. This is a good view of hump leads 2 &1 with a crossover from hump lead 2 to hump 1 in the foreground. The caboose of the southbound is to the right on P-yard running lead and will soon be going by 12th Street E. tower on its way out of town towards Lethbridge, Alberta. To the right of that are the automobile carriers in P-2. The tracks P-2 and P-3 are the longest tracks in Alyth yard, the remainder of the P-yard tracks starting at P-4 to P-11 are all east of the Alyth overpass.

6. This view looks eastward from Alyth overpass visible departing P-4 is the train heading southward that the caboose was seen in the last photo to the right side is a train in P-3, and the Canada Malting Co. plant besides it. To the left you can see the remainder of P-yard tracks, and the start of V-yard. To the left of the roadway in the center are the hump leads 1 & 2 with the hump shoving back off of hump lead 2 towards me hump and control tower in the center of the picture, to the left of the hump leads are the three W-yard tracks W-1,2, and 3.

7. Here is a good view showing our box train heading out of P-4 and more of the auto carriers in P-2. It also shows P-1 the mainline, and Q-1 the wash rack with storage cars at one time it was filled with old yard cabooses waiting disposition when I started back in 1973. Just East of it is the Government lead that runs along the elevators at the Canada Malting Co. plant, and about 60 cars eastward is the lead that goes to Pillsbury Canada Ltd. the flour mill I used to work for.

8. This is a good aerial view showing the westbound passenger train No.1 The Canadian heading for the depot in downtown Calgary, besides it is Q-8 a storage track, to the left side of the Pillsbury, Canada Ltd. elevator silos are Q-9 the grain unloading track for the mill, and Q-9a the export flour loading track that runs along the loading dock at the back of the middle, visible on the right-hand side are Q-9b and Q-9c the front flour and feed dock, and auxiliary feed loading track.

9. This is a front view of Pillsbury, Canada Ltd. that I took in 1974, you can see smokestack for the powerhouse, a metal shed over the front of the building for loading trucks, and boxcars for loading feed on Q-9c, and flour on Q-9b

9a. This photo taken in 1947 shows in the Renown Flour Mills and the front loading dock on Q-9b, before Q-9c was added. The Pillsbury Co. of Minneapolis, Minnesota bought the mill in 1954.

9b. Another aerial view of Renown Flour Mills showing Q-9b in the front of the mill, and Q-9a the export flour loading track behind the elevator silos, and the metal shed covering Q-9 were all the grain for the elevators were unloaded.

10. A picture of a CPR “squawk box” as they were called with the two bullhorn loudspeakers on each and, and the bulge on the middle of the pipe mast were a pushbutton could be pulled to contact the operator at 12th Street E. tower to find out the status of the passenger trains in order to make sure the mainline was cleared before they were due.

11. Canadian Pacific Railway Form 104, from August 29, 1975, giving me 10 demerits for improper radiocommunication a violation of the Rulebook CS44 resulting in a collision with stationary rolling stock at the one spot car repair shop at Alyth.

12. The Canadian Government built four inland grade elevators in the early 20th century, there were four.One was located in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan built in 1912, one in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan built the same year, one in Calgary built in 1914, and one in Lethbridge, Alberta built in 1930. The Calgary “inland terminal” elevators was one of the largest structures in the city, they were sold by the Canadian Government and became Alberta Terminal Elevators in the 1980s, and finally bought by Cargill Grain Co., they found them two old and obsolete to be of any use so the elevator silos were demolished in September 2011, and on October 16, 2011 explosives were used to level the main structure of the building. I took this black-and-white picture in the spring of 1976 looking south you can see a string of unloaded grain boxcars sitting on the one track, and the unloading doors to the left side of the main elevator building, with the 56 grain silos to the right.

13. This view looks northward towards the elevators, you can see the three doors for running the cars for unloading, and loading, and the runoff track in the foreground.


(1) Comment   
Posted on 10-08-2012
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

In January 1975 I was working the Zone over the New Year’s holiday until Wednesday, January 8, when I was bumped off the assignment by a senior brakeman. Rather than go back to Medicine Hat, the calling bureau, told me that it would be a couple of vacancies coming up the following week, so I stayed in Calgary as I already had an apartment there, as I was working vacancies off of the Medicine Hat spare board I was entitled to a 100 mile deadhead in each direction. After my tour of duty, so on Thursday January 16 I was called for a trip on the Zone 2 Wayfreight as the head end brakeman we had the CP 8483 for power, the tail end brakeman was Don Borne, and the conductor was Ron Gauvreau who had just transferred to Medicine Hat from Edmonton. We made the usual trip from Alyth to Brooks and on Friday from Brooks to Standard, spotting the elevators at Makepeace, Hussar, Chancellor, and standard then back to Brooks, going home on Saturday from Brooks to Alyth. Then on Monday, January 20 I got a week’s vacancy on the Zone 3 wayfreight working as the head end brakeman on the CP 8835, Jim McKinnon was the conductor, and Bev Rogers was the tail end brakeman, with that tour of duty completed on January 25, I then got another trip on the Zone 2 wayfreight on Monday, January 27 with the same crew I had earlier getting off January 29, I then was called for Monday February 3 as the head end brakeman we had an Alco (MLW) CP 4223 for power on the Zone 3 wayfreight with Fred Foulston as the conductor, and Jim McKinnon as the tail end brakeman, I made one trip going to Wimborne and returning to Alyth the next day, I then took a trip off going back to work on Monday, February 10 as the head end brakeman with the CP 8831, & PNC 112 as power, this week we had Ron Gauvreau as Conductor, the following three weeks on February 17 I worked the head end again with the CP 3014 as our lead unit, with Conductor Fred Foulston on February 24 I worked the head end with the CP 4229, and an March 3 we had the CP 8823 I worked the one trip and was bumped again, and I didn’t work again until March 20, which didn’t bother me as I took the time to go out and buy a brand-new motorcycle with all the money I had saved working these wayfreight assignments over the winter of 1973-74. I bought an English motorcycle a Norton 850 Commando painted in metallic blue, it was a lot bigger than my Honda 90, the last motorbike, I owned back in 1965. Black on the Zone 3 I was called as the head end brakeman with the CP 8539 with Conductor Fred Foulston, I got another trip on March 31 on the head end with CP 8653 for power, and on April 7 I worked the head end with CP 8645 as our power.

On Thursday April 10th 1975 I was called for our regular time of 08:15 on the Zone 3 Way freight, this was my last trip to Tudor on this assignment with the regular crew Conductor Fred Foulston, Tail end Brakeman Jim McKinnon, and Locomotive Engineer Stan McPhedran.

Of all the locomotive engineers I had worked with on the assignment, Stan McPhedran was my favorite, he was always good-natured, and great to work on the head end with, he had grown up in the Ogden district where I lived, and we had a lot of common acquaintances, including his brother Jim was a machinist at the Ogden shops, he told me many stories of growing up in the district in the 1930s, he had served his country during World War II enlisting in the Seaforth Highlanders and had landed in Italy in that theater of the war. We had lots of adventures together one incident I already referred to was on the snowplow from Shepard to Irricana with the conductor running the plow. I remember another occasion when we had left Alyth for Shepard on a bitterly cold winters day, the later model General Motors GP locomotives from the 8600 to the 8800 series were equipped with cab heaters on each side of the locomotive cab, the brakeman’s was behind his seat, and the locomotive engineers was directly in front of him, and provided defrosting for the front window, they were motor driven with a three position switch, and had a radiator core that was connected to the engines cooling system by pipes, this was a far better system than the first-generation 8400-8500 series that had motors mounted on the bulkhead wall between the cab and the engine hatch, these heaters blew warm air in from the engine compartment, and didn’t work very well. I remember we were going about 55 miles an hour after we had left Ogden on the way over to take the siding at Shepard to do our work, when the cab heater in front of him sprung a leak filling the cab with hot water and mist from the condensation, it was so bad you couldn’t see out the windows, so Stan had to open his window to see our way over to Shepard, we got into the siding and got a hold of the diesel shops, their advice was to bring the power back to Alyth, we had a trailing locomotive pointed in the right direction westward, so we were able to shut off the supply of water to the cab heater, and we left our train at Shepard, backed out of the East end of the siding and went westward back to Alyth to get a new locomotive, this caused us about a three-hour delay, but at least we had heat. One other winter trip I remember we were called out of Alyth, they were real short of power on morning and they gave us a single unit that had just come out of Ogden after a total rebuild, they were reluctant to give us this power as it was needed in Winnipeg, so away we went on this nice freshly painted locomotive on its first trip, we went along doing all our normal work assignments, and were switching the elevator track at Torrington 7 miles short of our objective terminal at Wimborne, when the alarm bells started ringing on the locomotive, Stan checked the diesel engine, and found there was no water in the sight glass on the expansion tank in the engine compartment, further examination revealed that the locomotive had no cooling water left, there was a drain valve under the deck of the locomotive that had a wire seal on it to keep it closed, but for some reason it was not closed all the way to keep the water from draining Stan surmised was a plug of ice in the pipe that had stopped it from flowing, but as we worked the engine it had managed to thaw out and slowly drain out all the coolant, so there we were stuck at Torrington, we had to make room for Stan to spend the night in the caboose, and we waited there until diesel shops were able to send a truck up in the morning to fill up the locomotive with water so we can continue our work. On another occasion I remember was coming back from Tudor at nighttime, we had a single locomotive and were running with the long hood forward, I was walking down the running board on the engineer side to get the junction switch off of the South leg of the wye when looking at the horizon I saw a meteor that was blazing across the sky, a huge orange fireball that looked to me as big as the sun, in a moment, it was gone., I walked up and lined the track switch, gave Stan a backup signal and jumped on board as he passed by, when I got into the cab. The first thing I said was did you see when I saw, he confirmed that he did and it was the biggest meteorite he had ever seen.

One day we were making our regular trip later that night from Cosway Junction to Wimborne on the Acme subdivision, and had been a long day, and there was not much work to do, Stan asked me if I would like to run the locomotive, we had our usual consist of two Jeeps, so I said sure, why not, and I came over to the left-hand side of the cab, Stan stood up holding his foot on the dead man’s pedal, to allow me to position myself into the engineer seat, I then put my foot on the dead man’s pedal on the floor of the cab, he gave me some basic instructions on the controls, and the speed to maintain, and went over to my seat on the other side of the cab to put his feet up and relax a bit, coaching me on the characteristics of the road ahead, and where to set the brakes, or increase throttle, this was a great experience for me, and he let me run it quite a few other times, on the condition that if there were switching to do in elevator tracks we would change positions. with the exception of one time on the Brooks sub were the locomotive engineer asked me to set in the engineer seat for a few moments while he went back to fix some alarm on our trailing unit, this was the first time I got to run an engine, and I liked the experience.

I had been working this assignment since February 1974 the first six months as tail end Brakeman, and the rest of the time on the head end working with the Locomotive Engineer. My duties as head end Brakeman required me to report To the General Yard Office at Alyth pickup my portable radio and go to the Alyth Diesel shop to take our power (locomotive’s) to the head end of our train in Victor yard tie on to the train release the hand brakes and work my way back to the caboose CP 434169, where I poured a cup of coffee, and visited with the tail end brakeman Jim McKinnon. I would work my way back to the head end of our train and wait for the Conductor to bring us our train orders and work lists. Fred was there with our orders and lists which I read out, we were cleared as the Work Extra 8627 from Shepard to Wimborne, Wimborne to East Coulee, East Coulee to Shepard, and with orders for a side trip from Irricana to Tudor. I went into the front nose of the locomotive and found two white flags among our other supplies these I put up in the flag holders on the front of the locomotive. These along with the white classification lights showed that we were running as a work extra, the kerosene markers, displaying red to the rear, on the caboose would indicate we were a train. After completing our brake test we left Alyth and proceeded eastward on the CPR’s Brooks subdivision to Shepard, where we lifted some empty tank cars for Wimborne, and spotted some grain empties the Alberta Wheat Pool elevators, we left the main track at the junction switch for the Strathmore subdivision from here on we literally owned the railway as no other trains were authorized on the tracks we were about to travel on. A way freight is an assignment that does all the work along the road it travels it stops at all stations and does the necessary switching as required. In the old days not that long ago in 1967 there was a scheduled Mixed Train that traveled over these subdivisions that did this work, carried passengers, and also carried mail for these small communities. The subdivisions we were about to travel on to the Strathmore, Langdon, Irricana, and Acme were prairie branch lines and their main source of revenue was from grain , along with sulfur from Wimborne and coal from East Coulee. Our train consisted of empty grain boxcars, tank cars for sulfur loading, and hoppers for coal loading. My job on the head end was to get off at each station and cut off the number of empties that were required for each grain elevator in the back track and spot them on the spouts for loading. There were also spots for unloading fertilizer, oil, platforms for farm machinery etc. On top of all this every old siding and yard track were filled with storage cars that were waiting disposition of their fate whether to be repaired or scrapped at East Coulee there was at least 400 cars sitting there in the yard. The towns we stopped at along the way included Shepard, Bennett, Langdon, on the Strathmore Subdivision we then proceeded northward on the Langdon Subdivision going through Dalroy that had an abandoned elevator, over the Interlocking at grade with the CNR at Inverlake and stopping at Keoma and Irricana, where we stopped for lunch, going into town to the local restaurant. We then left most of our train at Irricana and took the grain empties required for Tudor, we passed through Nightingale that was now just a storage track.

On April 17 I was called as the head end brakeman on the Zone 2 wayfreight, with Conductor John Mandzies we had another Alco (MLW) 4209 on the head end, lease locomotives built by the Montréal Locomotive Works were really rough riding on the mainline when you are traveling at speeds of 60 miles an hour, they had lots of lateral movement and would really rock you, at times you think they were going to roll over, there was a joke about them that you could read the numbers on the ends of the boxcars on your train because they rock back and forth so much.

On April 21, I was called for my last trips on the Zone 3 wayfreight with Conductor Jim McKinnon we had the CP 8500 for our head end power. We went to Wimborne, and returned to Alyth the next day, on April 23 we were called for a Sharples turn with the CP 8506 for power, this was my last tour of duty on the Zone 3 wayfreight, on April 27 was the spring change of timetable, and seeing I couldn’t hold these wayfreight as a job anymore, and not feeling like moving back to Medicine Hat, I decided to stay in Calgary and bid in the yard for the summer.

1.) On this side trip to Tudor you can see in the picture way ran into quite a few snow drifts along the way. Stan took this picture when we arrived at Tudor we had to get out of back door of the locomotive cab so I could shovel away the snow from the front in order to have access. Many things have changed since this photograph was taken Fred has passed away, the rest of us are retired, the branch lines have all been torn up, and the locomotive has been rebuilt into a yard engine, which I hear now have been sent to the scrap pile, and replaced by more fuel-efficient locomotives.

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Posted on 10-07-2012
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

Throughout the 1920s Canadian National and Canadian Pacific added to their prairie branch line network, the federal government approved extensions for both railways, and as suggested by Sir Henry Thornton CNR president the CPR did negotiate running rights over sections of one another’s lines. With the construction of the joint track between Rosedale on the CNR and Trefoil both railways gained access to the coal reserves East of Drumheller. The Trefoil-Rosemary section of this line was built by the CPR and serviced land in the CPR’s central and east irrigation districts. The CNR never worked East of East Coulee

The Rosemary Subdivision ran from Rosemary Mile 0, where there was a junction with the Bassano Subdivision, to East Coulee Mile 53.6 going through Matzwin, Mile 4.8, where there was a wye to service the Gem spur that ran 4.94 miles to service the community and its grain elevators, Verger, Mile 11.7, a siding Control Mile 20.0 that had a mail drop of when the mixed trains used to carry the mail for the community of Hutton, there was also a gravel pit that was used for track ballast, and there was a bridge that crossed the Red Deer River, Bullpound Mile 25.1, had a water tank to service steam engines, Finnegan Mile 30.5, Trefoil Mile 36.7, Dorothy Mile 45.6. My CPR timetable from 1974 shows that the speed limit was 15 mph, with a 5 mph permanent slow orders between Mileages 47.0-48.0 and 17.6-17.9, this due unstable banks and chances of mudslides, and that Trains must not operate between mileage, 17.9 and mileage 29.8, so at that time service on the Rosemary sub was limited to servicing the Gem spur from Rosemary, and Finnegan from East Coulee. Eastward trains out of East Coulee were restricted to daylight operation, and to one unit operation between mileage 29.8 and 53.3. During the 1930s up till the 1950s when coal was replaced by more convenient natural gas for domestic heating, there were many coal mines in the Drumheller Valley, at East Coulee the CPR had built a large yard with the capacity to hold 400 cars, there were eight tracks directionally South of the mainline, and the scale track was adjacent to the mainline on the North side, along with seven storage tracks, The scale track gave the yard, the ability to service weigh, and ship the coal from the mines in the area, coal traffic ran in both directions southbound on the Langdon subdivision through Drumheller down through Langdon and West on the Strathmore subdivision through to Calgary. East traffic ran on the Rosemary subdivision to the junction with the Bassano subdivision, then East to the Empress subdivision, and down to the mainline to Swift Current and eastward through Moose Jaw. Retired conductor Jim McKinnon told me that when he hired on in 1945 he worked out of Empress, Alberta and one of his first trips was from Empress to East Coulee to drop off coal empties for loading at the mines, and to pick up a train load of coal of about 40 cars to take back to Empress, there was usually a train each day running eastward, and before winter set in it was not uncommon to see two trains daily, a lot of the elevator tracks along the subdivision had coal sheds, and agents to distribute the coal for domestic heating in these communities.

I made six trips on the CPR Rosemary Subdivision during 1974, we were called to make Finnegan turns to service the Alberta Wheat Pool elevators at Dorothy, and Finnegan, all these trips were short flips going 23.1 miles in each direction, looking at my CPR trip ticket books for 1974-75 shows the following trips:
May 24 Unit 8411 from 15:00 to 20:40 131 miles five hours and 40 min. total time on duty. Conductor Jim McKinnon, Locomotive Engineer Grant Cunningham
May 31 Unit PNC 123 from 15:00 to 21:20 136 miles, six hours and 20 min. total time on duty. Conductor Jim McKinnon, Locomotive Engineer Grant Cunningham
October 29 Unit 8815 from 14:30 to 21:10 124 miles, six hours and 40 min. total time on duty. Conductor Fred Foulston, Locomotive Engineer Stan McPhedran
November 5 Unit 8822 from 14:50 to 20:35 113 miles, five hours and 45 min. total time on duty. Conductor Fred Foulston Locomotive Engineer Stan McPhedran
And 1975:
Januaray 24 Unit 8833 from 14:00 to 22:20 145 miles, eight hours and 20 min. total time on duty. Conductor Jim McKinnon
February 14 8776 from 14:25 to 21:30 131 miles seven hours and 5 min. total time on duty. Conductor Ron Gauvrau.

I remember stopping at Dorothy after we had finished switching out the elevators, and going over to the general store there, it was very old, with two gas pumps with glass cylinders that the gas was pumped into for filling cars, they were sitting there derelict, the store was run by two old brothers, and who knows what they had stored away in the back rooms. At Finnegan were we turned there was of ferry service that ran across the Red Deer River.


1.) CPR operating timetable 1973-74 Rosemary Subdivision.
2.) Map of Western Railway lines showing East Coulee to Rosemary circa 1973
3.) East Coulee yard looking geographically West from a hill above the station, I took this picture in the summer of 1975, the yard was full of storage cars waiting disposition for repairs, or scrapping. The mainline runs down the middle, there is a back lead running alongside the little section house for servicing the Atlas mine across the Red Deer river, next to it the ladder track for the eight tracks on the South side of the yard, to the left-hand side of the main track was the scale track, and seven other storage tracks,
4.) East Coulee looking East at Red Deer river, and the countryside where the Rosemary sub ran through
5.) East Coulee station, and yard, mainline in front of station with silver diamond shaped whistle post sign, and silver marker showing the beginning of the Rosemary subdivision. the East Coulee station at the time was all boarded up, and no staff were working there. The CPR had put it up for sale, and a section Foreman from Nacmine Willy Hermann had put a bid of $10 for it, he planned on salvaging all the lumber on this well-built structure. Fortunately, his bid was rescinded, and a local rancher moved the building West of the town, and restored it into a nice ranch house.
6.) Turntable behind East Coulee station, we used this when we had one unit operation, as there was no wye at East Coulee, we would center our locomotive on the turntable deck, until it was perfectly balanced, then we would hook up locomotives train line to an air hose that operated the turntable by a set of geared wheels that traveled on top of a rail the circled the inside rim of the turntable pit, the gears were driven by a modified air pump from a scrapped steam locomotive. in the winter, when the turntable pit filled with snow, the sectionmen would have to be called out to shovel out the snow. Also visible is the bridge tenders shanty on the wooden trestle that crossed the Red Deer River to the Atlas Coal Mine.
7.) Trip to Finnegan May 31, 1974 looking South at cattle, and trees along the Red Deer river.
8.) Alberta Wheat Pool Elevators at Dorothy, Alberta
9.) Alberta Wheat Pool Elevators at Finnegan, Alberta
10.) Return trip going West on Rosemary subdivision.
11.) Rosemary subdivision going West between mile 47 and 48, were there was a permanent 5 mile an hour slower due to slides coming off the embankments on the North side of the track, stray cattle wandering along the right away.
12.) Rosemary subdivision running along Red Deer river approaching East Coulee.
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