Storm Mountain Lookout

Most Canadian railfans have heard about Morant’s Curve. This iconic location was the scene of many Canadian Pacific Railway promotional photos, drawings and paintings and is named after Nicholas Morant, the CPR’s most famous photographer.

Today the Curve is fairly overgrown, and much of the open sweeping vista that Morant captured so well is blocked by trees and brush. Many railfans who know the area prefer the Storm Mountain lookout a few miles east of Morant’s Curve.

On the morning of July 8th, I went there to try to capture a few CP trains. The weather was half decent but there was a lot of fog / low cloud and the mountains weren’t visible at first.

I arrived at about 7:45 and set up my tripod and “video camera” (old iPhone SE)… then waited.

Ready for action
Ready for action

That photo is rather pink! The white balance is a little off…

I had a scanner with me, and soon I heard some muffled chatter. I find it hard to understand what they say sometimes, but I did hear “8947 WEST” so that told me the direction the train as coming from.

CP 8947 West

CP 8947 passing the Bow River
CP 8947 passing the Bow River

I photographed the train and the Bow River but didn’t try to include the mountains. They were behind the fog / cloud so why bother?

The going away shot
The going away shot

It’s such a scenic location.

This long grain train had two CP GE locomotives on the head end, with a nice surprise of a Union Pacific locomotive mid-train.

UP 5356, mid-train
UP 5356, mid-train

Eventually the tail end came and went, and I photographed it at 8:17 heading west toward Lake Louise and beyond.

The tail end
The tail end

I settled in for a bit of waiting.

And more waiting.

The Waiting

I amused myself by photographing the water droplets on nearby pine trees.

Water droplets
Water droplets

I love how these little droplets acted like fisheye lenses, showing the scene around them. Here’s the big drop from the photo above, expanded and inverted to show the “real world view”.

I love stuff like this.

Eventually I noticed a deer down by the tracks. It was nibbling on grass here and there, keeping an eye out for predators. It was quite far from me so I had to use my long lens to photograph it. I have no doubt that it was aware of my presence but it wasn’t looking at me.

Closer to me, a little chipmunk came out to explore. It was very definitely aware of me and so I moved slowly and non-threateningly.

Cute little chipmunk
Cute little chipmunk

I was patient and waited quite a while for another train.

After a total of 2 hours of waiting, the scanner crackled to life and I started hearing about 8875 EAST.

By this time, the clouds were burning off and I could see glimpses of mountain tops. I was hoping that it would clear enough to show the mountains when the train came by.

The sun was coming and going as clouds rolled past, and I had my fingers crossed that I would get the sun on the tracks.

CP 8875 East

Luck was with me, as a band of sunshine rolled across the tracks as 8875 came around the bend.

I banged away with my camera as they rounded the curve in front of me, lit by the late morning sun.

The shot of the day
The shot of the day

Yeah, that’s the shot I wanted.

This turned out to be CP train 120. I understand it’s a fairly new dedicated auto rack train.

It had a mid-train locomotive, CP 8570.

CP 8570 mid-train
CP 8570 mid-train

I was at “bingo time” so as soon as the train finished rolling by, I packed up and headed back to Banff.

Mindful of the previous day’s attempt to get an eastbound train again in Banff, I decided to skip the Norquay Road exit and take the next one into Banff’s “industrial park”. This is a less busy exit, and the railway crossing is closer to the highway, so I had a better chance of getting to the crossing before the train.

I made it through the crossing well before the lights came on, so I had time to pull over onto the shoulder and get out with my camera to record the train’s passage.

CP 8875 approaching Banff East
CP 8875 approaching Banff East

I liked this view, but the next one was better – in my opinion.

CP 8875 East at Banff East
CP 8875 East at Banff East

Love those mountains.

Here's the tail end
Here’s the tail end

Banff East is a great location for train photography… although there are many good locations in the Banff area.

I didn’t photograph any more trains that day, but we did see some bighorn sheep!

There was a group of four of them climbing the hill along Norquay Road toward the ski hill, and we got a good look at them as they walked right past our car.

There’s one more Banff post to come, with a train at Morant’s Curve and some Calgary C-Train action.

6 thoughts on “Storm Mountain Lookout”

  1. I especially like the shot of the 8875 at Banff East. The contrast of the locomotive against the mountain against the sky makes the photo. The going away perspective also adds to the picture.

    The picture of the 8875 along the Bow River is a good one too.

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