Thursday 19 July 2018

Railfanning in The Canadian Don Janes

The first train I encountered, a westbound loaded potash train rolling through Canmore, Alberta. It also had mid-train and rear DPU units.

Railroads in the Rockies

     On June 20, my wife and I and another couple set out on a two week Alaska cruise and Alaska interior expedition.   We all decided that it would be a good chance to travel through the Canadian Rockies so we flew to Calgary, AB, rented a car and traveled to Vancouver making overnight stops in Canmore, AB (just outside Banff), Jasper AB and Penticton, BC in the Okanagan Valley.  Since I was the only railfan in the group I knew I wouldn't get too much railfanning in but we all travel very well together and if there is something someone wants to see the rest are very agreeable to take in those attractions.  I was fortunate that the CPR mainline ran right through Canmore and Banff and the CNR through Jasper so it was only a matter of taking a short drive or walk to stake out  raifan spots when time permitted. At our first stop in Canmore I was lucky to catch a westbound loaded potash train and an eastbound empty potash train within an hour of arrival.
     The weather turned a bit the next day but I was able to catch an intermodal train passing the Banff station in the early evening.  Earlier in the day we set out to find the famous Morant's Curve west of Banff along the Bow River.  It is a spot where thousands of photos have been taken of the CPR in the Rockies.  Unfortunately the road was closed for repairs and there was no access to that location but we did find a very nice spot just east of there and got a few shots.
This eastbound empty potash train was really moving through Canmore and there was a UP DPU bringing up the rear
This CP intermodal train was wasting no time passing the famous Banff depot. Unfortunately, the mountain in the background that I really wanted in the photo was covered in mist.
The CPR snakes along the Bow River for miles. Just east of Morant's Curve we caught a freshly painted CP engine on the point of a westbound intermodal train. It had a mid train DPU. see below
      After two days in this area we headed to Jasper, a main terminal on the CNR line to Vancouver.  It was a short walk to the station and yard from our hotel so when I had some free time I took a stroll to see what action might be happening.  CN operates a lot of trains through Jasper in a 24 hour period but we were out sightseeing most of the day but I had some free time in the evening to check out the train situation. The first night was somewhat overcast but I was able to see a few freight trains.
It was starting to rain and getting dark when this westbound was making a lift and getting ready to leave town. Leading is an ex ATSF GE unit 2186.
As soon as the 2186 departed this eastbound led by the 5703 pulled into town with an ex CSX unit trailing
To close out the day the 3071 pulled through the yard with an eastbound mixed freight.
CNR 6015 is on display near the station.  She is in beautiful shape.CNR  6060 once held this spot before being restored for excursion service.
    The next day was much brighter and after another day of sightseeing I headed down to the depot to find the eastbound VIA Canadian ready to depart. Only trouble was that they had pulled a freight train into the yard and it was blocking the Canadian's departure from the station.  The Canadian ended up being over an hour late but that was great for me as I got a lot of pictures of the engines and various cars on the train and got to see it depart.
     Later that evening my wife and I went for another walk and I found train 5, formerly the Skeena, parked east of the station ready for an early morning departure for Prince Rupert. It is now unofficially called the Rupert Rocket.  The Rocky Mountaineer had also arrived but the engines and equipment were buried in the yard.
The Canadian departing for Toronto.  It had 3 units and 25 cars this day.
This interesting car was mid train.  It must afford some great views of the Rockies. I am not sure of its origin.
The "Kootenay Park" brought up the rear of the Canadian.
VIA 6415 is the leader on train 5 for Prince Rupert due out the next morning.
"Banff Park" was the rear car on the "Rupert Rocket". The rainbow was an added bonus to the photo.
I was lucky enough to catch a shot of the Rocky Mountaineer several hours west of Jasper as we were headed to our next stop near Penticton, BC.  The train is meeting a CN eastbound freight at this location.


  1. Wow! What a great trip George!

  2. You were in one of my favourite areas of Canada! Nice Banff and Jasper catches. That location just east of Morant's Curve is Storm Mountain and is a great location for trains.

    The unusual car you saw on the Canadian is one of three ex BC Rail cars manufactured by Colorado Railcar. Two are used on the Canadian (one each direction) and one on one of the two "Rupert Rocket" sets. They are numbered 1720-1722.