As many railfans know, the Canadian Pacific Railway painted five of their refurbished SD70ACu locomotives to honour the armed services of Canada and the US. Each are painted differently to represent different branches of the militaries and/or time periods. The five are CP 6644 “D-Day”, CP 7020 “NATO green”, CP 7021 “Sand”, CP 7022 “Navy”, and CP 7023 “Air Force”. Until November 14 I had photographed three of the five.
I heard that CP military unit CP 7023 was coming into Winnipeg, leading hot train #100. The word was that it should arrive from the west mid to late morning on November 14. I had secured track time until noon, so I headed out before sunrise to get in position and hopefully catch a few CP trains. I hoped that #100 would come along before I had to head home for other commitments.
But First, CN
On my way north to the CP main line, squinting through the darkness, I spotted a bright headlight on the CN main line a few kilometres west of the Perimeter Highway. I pulled off to grab this eastbound CN train.
I shot CN 2977 at Hall Road on the Rivers sub, and got some funky light effects to boot. I’m not sure what caused those – maybe some fogging of the lens?
CN is rebuilding the crossing at Hall Road. It was listed as one of the most dangerous crossings in Canada, because the sight lines are not great, especially not to the east. I’m hoping that they will be putting lights and crossing gates in. Right now it is just crossbucks, not nearly good enough for a fairly busy crossing.
After I shot the head end of that train, I headed back to the highway and carried on north to the CP main line.
On to CP
There was a string of cars sitting on the main line east of the Perimeter Highway with no locomotive attached to them. Past experience has told me that this isn’t normal and I should look for the locomotives.
I spotted them in the distance, pulling a string of cars into the nearby Paterson grain elevator loop.
By the look of some of these cars, I think they were potash / fertilizer cars for the big NutraGro fertilizer terminal in the same area. Here the locomotives are in front of the big fertilizer shed.
Once they finished pulling forward, they pushed the cars back into the large track loop. They then cut off from the cars and came back toward their train, waiting on the main line. I jogged over to get a decent angle on the locomotives with the grain elevator in the background.
The crew was very friendly and the conductor gave me a wave and a smile when he got out to line the switch back for the main line. He even showed their STAY SAFE sign.
Once they were back on their train, I headed west to get ready to record them. I thought I might go on the west side of Rosser, far enough away from the airport that I could fly my drone. As I approached Rosser, I saw the headlight of an oncoming train. Whoops!
A quick U turn, and I was back to record the meet.
The westbound train was starting to move, with the two old “beater” locomotives smoking it up as they struggled to get the train in motion.
The eastbound train was on the south track so I got a good view of it as it passed by. Candy apple red CP 7029 was leading the eastbound. The paint is quite a bit brighter than what the battered old 85xx locomotives are wearing!
These “new” 7000s series look great but they do need washing now and then…
I took video of the meet.. here.
Afterward, I chased the westbound to Marquette. I fumbled a bit there, trying to get my drone in the air to record them, and anyway, it was a big mess. Trying to do too much at once.
I ended up ignoring all that other gear and panning the train as it went by. The pan worked out quite well, I think.
After the train passed, I decided to head south to Elie to get a bagel and get rid of the Diet Pepsi I drank earlier. I figured I still had at least an hour, if not more, before CP 100 could possibly be near.
While I was there, I decided to go to East Elie to fly my drone to take a few photos. I am gathering material for a future “Mile by Mile” of the CN Rivers subdivision, and East Elie is hard to see because there are no roads nearby. Fortunately the drone can give me that “eye in the sky” look.
The funny thing about East Elie is that it is west of the actual town of Elie.
As I stepped out of my car, drone in hand, I heard a train horn to the west. Train time!
A Blue Surprise
Here’s a ground shot of East Elie, facing west from the road crossing near the grain elevator. For safety’s sake, that train was over a minute away from my location when I took the photo, and of course I looked both ways before stepping into the crossing. The track is dead straight in both directions… except for that peculiar “wow” in the tracks that you see. I’m told there used to be a siding in the centre between the two tracks. Now there is a crossover instead.
The train had CN 5795 leading and blue IC 2457 trailing, and it was a solid train of loaded lumber cars.
I was so surprised to see the blue unit that I never really got a good photo of it. I’m pretty happy with the drone capture, though.
Back to CP
On my way back north to the CP main line, I decided to head west to “Reaburn” as it was recommended to me a while ago. Apparently there is an “S” curve in the track which could make things interesting for photos.
I ended up taking a left where I should have taken a right, and found myself looking at the east end of the Poplar Point siding instead.
I looked at the mile marker on that signal (37.3) then looked at my CP Carberry subdivision page. Poplar Point is listed as mile 39.0 and the siding is 16,790′ long. The siding mileage listing should be the middle of the siding, where the sign is. Do the math: 39.0 – (16790 / (5280*2)) = 37.41, and I guess it’s about 0.11 miles from the end of the siding to the signal. Anyway, it was clear to me that I wasn’t actually at Reaburn, mile 31.1.
I messaged my friends to ask if anyone knew where CP 100 was, and someone replied “Poplar Point”. I looked up and there was a headlight…
I launched my drone, started the ground video camera rolling, and shot a few stills as the train approached. This time I managed to not screw any of those up.
I had to be careful with the drone, as it was fairly windy and there were a lot of wires around. It wouldn’t do to hit a wire…
I really like how the drone shot turned out.
One of my friends knew who the engineer of this train was, and he shared the above photo with the engineer. Apparently the crew had no idea that I had a drone up. This isn’t really surprising to me, as my drone is pretty small (and black) and the crew isn’t looking for things up in the air. I’ve always been concerned that my drone could be a distraction to crews, but it sure seems like it isn’t noticeable at all.
I packed my gear up and “chased” the train east toward Winnipeg. I didn’t really expect to catch it, given that they had a head start and a more direct route than I did, but I held a faint hope that they would have a meet and have to slow down or even stop.
As they approached Marquette, I was still trailing by a bit but I still had the train in sight. I pulled off the road to take a quick shot.
That was the last time I saw the train until just outside Winnipeg!
The track between Marquette and Winnipeg is dead straight and CP’s speed limit is 60 MPH between Marquette and Makwa. It’s hard to gain any ground on a train when the parallel highway is 100 km/hr and the highway doesn’t follow the track the whole way.
As I approached the Viterra grain elevator at the Makwa siding, just outside Winnipeg, I saw the end of the train again and I also saw a few cars pulled over and people getting out of their cars. I slowed down and I recognized a few railfan friends.
I parked and joined the group to chat… from a social distance… and only in a group of 5 as per current Manitoba COVID regulations. I also wore my mask.
The rest of the group carried on – in their own separate vehicles – to railfan downtown and maybe catch the train leaving to the east. I was out of time, so I headed home.
CP had five military themed locomotives painted. Here’s the ones I’ve seen:
- CP 7020 “NATO green” – NO
- CP 7021 “sand” – YES
- CP 7022 “navy” – YES and YES
- CP 7023 “air force” – YES!
- CP 6644 “D-day camo” – YES
Come on, CP 7020… come closer…
Just One More Thing
CN has its own heritage units now.
They have a number of new locomotives painted to honour its predecessor railways, including:
- BC Rail (3115) (Stephen Host photo)
- Grand Trunk (8952)
- Illinois Central (3008)
- Wisconsin Central (3069)
- EJ&E (3023)
- CN 8898
I believe there are 18 in total. It was a railfan rumour that there were 18. These six are the “predecessor” locomotives, plus a classic CNR green/yellow switcher/slug set CN 7600/600, and I’ve seen photos of a black Illinois Central slug, IC 601 that will likely have a mate CN 7601.
CN also painted two in camouflage colours for November 11, 2020. One was CN 3015 but I don’t know the other unit number.
I don’t think any of these locomotives are brand new – I’ve certainly seen 3115, 8952 and 3015 before, for instance – but it’s great that CN has chosen to honour its heritage and to honour veterans. It’s going to make being trackside by CN a lot more interesting, just as CP’s heritage units have made railfanning CP more interesting!