The Road to Calgary

On April 19, 2024 two friends and I drove from Winnipeg to Calgary, all in one day, to attend the SuperTrain train show. Crazy? Maybe. Fun? Yes!

Brian Schuff and his wife Deanne picked me up at the godawful early hour of 2 AM. Brian often works nights so he’s a night owl. I quickly fell asleep in the back seat and napped off and on until we reached Brandon. I remember seeing one or two trains in the pitch dark but we were going for distance and didn’t stop.

After a quick refuel and pit stop in Brandon, we carried on to Regina, arriving shortly after daybreak. I was in the “shotgun” seat at this point and spent the rest of the drive there, navigating via my phone.

We stopped to visit CP 3101 in the north end of the city. It’s “on display” near Evraz Park, just off highway 6 (here). I put that in quotes because it’s not very visible at all.

There are rumours that it may be purchased and/or moved. I don’t know who has the deep pockets to do that but it would be great to see it better protected, and more visible.

Once we finished paying our respects, we had breakfast at McDonald’s – well, they did, I can’t eat much there but I did have a hash brown – and then we continued on westward.

The highway west of Regina had areas where the wind had blown enough snow across the road that it left sheets of ice. I helped spot these icy areas and we made it through without incident.

We came across one vehicle near Pense, SK that had just left the road, and the above truck near Moose Jaw had a spectacular accident. I hope the driver was OK.

West of Moose Jaw, we overtook a westbound train and I asked that we stop in Chaplin, SK to photograph it. My wife’s grandparents, aunt and uncle used to live in Chaplin and I spent a bit of time there over the years. Chaplin is also notable for having a grain elevator on the north side of the tracks, which is pretty rare.

We photographed CP 8880 West passing the former Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator at 10:15 AM. The elevator is still in use for seed storage and processing.

Here’s Brian photographing CP 7008, mid train.

Chasing CP 8060 West

Continuing west, we overtook another westbound train, led by CP 8060. As we passed Gull Lake, SK, I photographed the train from the passenger seat at 12:20.

Gull Lake has a few oddball grain elevators, including a “topless” former UGG elevator.

We caught up with the train again after we paused in Swift Current.

Shortly afterward, we decided to stop and record them. Deane pulled off the highway and Brian and I jumped out to capture the train passing by.

The video is here.

Into Alberta

Back on the road, we passed into Alberta and kept eating up the kilometres toward Calgary. From my vantage point in the passenger seat, I captured CP 8794 East near Irvine Alberta as they came around a bend.

Later, I photographed the scene at Dunmore, Alberta just outside Medicine Hat. In my experience there is always something going on here. In the blurry shot below you can see three different trains.

As we rolled past Dunmore, I captured CSX 870 and KCS 4587 on one of the trains. The Kansas City Southern units were plentiful west of Moose Jaw.

The catch of the day was just west of Dunmore, and almost into Medicine Hat.

Catch of the Day

We drove over a train that had turned off the main line and was heading south toward Lethbridge. I popped off a series of photos from the passenger seat as we drove past, and only after I looked at the images did I realize that the lead unit was a former “red barn”, CP 9017.

This was one of the last SD40-2 locomotives manufactured by General Motors Diesel. These 25 locomotives numbered CP 9000-9024 had a full body width hood (“cowl”), which led to them being labeled “red barns” by railfans. Ten of these units went to the Central Maine & Quebec railway, which painted them all into the CMQ silver and light blue scheme, except for this one, 9017, which received this “heritage” scheme.

The Bangor & Aroostook Railway (BAR) operated in Aroostook County in northern Maine from the late 1890s until 1995, when it was acquired by Iron Road Railways. It went bankrupt in 2002 and became part of the infamous Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA). After the 2013 Megantic disaster and MMA’s bankruptcy, the line was purchased by Fortress Investment and became the Central Maine and Quebec. The CMQ was purchased by CP in 2019 and these barns came back under CP ownership.

I photographed a couple of the “blue barns” in Winnipeg in 2020, but I hadn’t seen the “BAR” unit before.

We paused in Medicine Hat to see a pair of ex CP FP7s on display. Like CP 3101 above, they have seen better days, but at least they weren’t turned into razor blades.

While we were leaving Medicine Hat, I spotted NS 9964 on a train. KCS, CSX, NS, CP and CN… only UP was missing from the list of “class 1” railways.

I mentioned that the KCS units were plentiful. It seemed like most CP trains had a KCS unit trailing. Here’s one example, KCS 4072 near Suffield, Alberta.

The trip to Calgary was fun – great company! – and we had a great time at SuperTrain – read all about it!

3 thoughts on “The Road to Calgary”

  1. Sounds like a wonderful road trip with good friends punctuated with some neat reasons to pause and leading into a train show I keep thinking I should attempt to attend some year.


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