Article by Jason Paul Sailer.
The gem of the collection of the Galt Historic Railway Park is our 1890 International Train Station that was originally located half in Canada and half in the United States (Coutts, Northwest Territories and Sweetgrass, Montana). As per previous web blog posts, we described how it came to be and how Canadian Pacific Railway was tired of sharing the station and decided to ‘split’ their portion from Great Northern Railway in the fall of 1916 and moved their portion back into Canada. It then served CPR well up to the late 1980s and was then closed until being rescued in the early 2000s by the Great Canadian Plains Railway Society. But we are also proud of our rolling stock collection! Let’s take a look at them now…
Just a bit to the east of our Train Station is a wooden stock car and wooden caboose. Both were at one time were on display in the Town of High River adjacent to the Museum of the Highwood. The wooden sheep & pig stock car #277324 is a 1943 vintage, built in June of that year for CPR. It was used up until 1989 when it was donated to the Museum of the Highwood. It was then donated to the Galt Historic Railway Park in the spring of 2011. It had the luxury of travelling across the High Level Bridge on its own wheels on its way to the Railway Park, and according to CPR it has been a long time since a stock car travelled across the High Level Bridge! Beside it is a wooden caboose #436986, built in October 1941 in the CPR company shops. It was used up until 1988, when it too was donated to the Museum of the Highwood. It was donated to the Railway Park in October 2011, but it was trucked onto the property, courtesy of LA Towing of Lethbridge. We are lucky to get these two items from High River, as we know they wouldn’t have survived the terrible flooding of 2013 that wrecked portions of the town, including the area around the Museum of the Highwood.
To the west of the Train Station adjacent to the station platform is the pride and joy of the Galt Historic Railway Park; four Canadian Pacific Railway cars ranging in years from 1918 to 1953! Closest to the track is Baggage-Express #411692 – was built by Canadian Car and Foundry (aka Can Car) in Montreal, Quebec in November 1952 and was originally numbered #4725. Canadian Car and Foundry is still in operation, although it is now the Bombardier Transportation Canada Inc., and is now located in Thunder Bay, Ontario. #4725 served on the ‘Dominion’ and ‘Expo Limited’ routes until being removed from passenger service in December 1967. CPR modified it to be used on Maintenance of Way (MOW) service as a mechanical sleeper (a place where work crews slept) from that point forward until it was ‘retired’ in the early 1990s. It then sat in storage at Ogden yards in Calgary where it suffered from vandalism and a fire that severely torched the interior of the car and the portion of the exterior by the one entrance. It was donated to the Railway Park in the spring of 2011 and was brought down from Calgary on a hospital train along with the other three donated cars and the wooden stock car. Future plans for this car is to convert it into a Railway School Car exhibit with interactive telephone display area in the back. Beside it is Baggage-Express #411734 – it too was built by Canadian Car and Foundry in Montreal in August 1953, and was originally numbered #4754. It also served on the ‘Dominion’ and ‘Expo Limited’ routes until being removed from passenger service in November 1971. CPR modified it to be used on MOW service in the Thunder Bay, Ontario area from that point forward as a diner service (a place where work crews ate their meals) until it was ‘retired’ in the early 1990s. It then sat in storage at Ogden yards in Calgary until being donated to the Railway Park in the spring of 2011. As it still has most of the MOW food service equipment inside, the Society plans on converting the car to be a kitchen facility for a future food services facility to serve the Railway Park.
Beside the 1953 Baggage-Express we find Tourist Sleeper #411369 – another product of the Canadian Car and Foundry in Montreal, Quebec in July 1926 and was originally called ‘Parry Sound’. It would be renumbered and upgraded in March 1938 to #6325. In March 1952 it was upgraded again, and renamed ‘Farron’. It would be taken out of passenger service in December 1962 and used by CPR as a MOW diner for their work crews around Revelstoke, British Columbia for many years. It was ‘retired’ in the mid-1980s and then transferred to storage at Ogden Yards in Calgary. It was donated to the Railway Park in the spring of 2011 and brought down from Calgary on the Hospital train. On a side note, one of the sleeping berths from the ‘Farron’ car is actually on display at the Cranbrook Railway Museum in Cranbrook, British Columbia. The Society hopes to restore the car back to its original glory and use it as a dining facility for tourists visiting the Railway Park. Directly west of that car is a unique specimen – a Burnett designed Railway Post Office car. This particular example, #3774, was designed by CPR Master Carbuilder R.W. Burnett, and was one of the first-all steel body cars used by the Railway. It was built in July 1918 in their company shops in Montreal. It was used by CPR as a railway post office car until June 1959 when railway post office operations ended across Canada. It was transferred to the MOW service in the Revelstoke area for many years until being ‘retired’ in the early 1980s. It was proposed to be donated to Heritage Park in Calgary, who was planning on restoring it back to its original appearance and usage as a railway post office car. However, after evaluating the car, Heritage Park decided it would cost too much to restore, so the car was transferred to the Calgary Ogden yards where it sat in storage. It was then donated to the Railway Park in the spring of 2011, and was brought on a flat car down from Calgary on the Hospital train. Its own wheels and trucks were removed at some point in the 1980s to go onto a different Burnett car. There are only 3 other examples of Burnett cars known in Canada – a similar example, #3770 was located in Cranbrook, BC for a while. The Society hopes to restore this car back to its original shape and have it as an exhibit / display on how railway post offices operated.
As with any Railway Parks, speeders are included as well. Some of the speeders at the Railway Park include a 1950s Kalamazoo motor car 56W, a 1950s Fairmont A6 ‘ Gang’ motor car, a 1960s Fairmont A4-D ‘Gang’ motor car, and two 1960s Fairmont MT19 ‘Light Section’ motor cars; one with a cab and one without. The Kalamazoo is an interesting example as there is only one other like it in the province of Alberta! It was used in the Airdirie area for several years by CPR – unfortunately it doesn’t have the original Wisconsin 4-cycle engine, but is equipped with an Onan ‘P’ series engine. The A4-D ‘Gang’ motor car is the main workhorse at the moment, providing power on our speeder train which includes the other ‘Gang’ car and as well as the MT19 motor car with a cab. The other MT19 motor car is currently for sale.
Future planned rolling stock acquisitions for the Railway Park include a flat car, a water carrying tank car, and a grain box car!
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