Sunday, May 8, 2016

CPR 1984 Field, British Columbia

In June of 1984, we travelled to Lake Louise on The Canadian, set up our 'rough base camp' at the Chateau Lake Louise where our room overlooked the still-frozen lake, rented a car and spent a little time driving back and forth on the highway between Lake Louise and Field.

Below is a Government of Canada topographic map showing the area - I have skewed it to the north-east so the CPR main line looks more westbound or eastbound. Lake Louise is off the map to the right. The right margin is at the Great Divide - which is also the border between Alberta and British Columbia. To the east of this line, the water drains into Hudson Bay, to the west it drains into the Pacific. 

The photos come from a sequence taken of a freight with what looks to be a high priority consist. As it made its way around the various loops and up grades, there was ample time to get into position for photographs. We finally parted company as it passed under us on Highway 1, just east of the Alberta border - at the map's right edge.

I have included an employee timetable from the Laggan Sub from five years before our visit. 

With a fresh Field crew aboard, the power begins to pull in front of the Field station. I would guess the incoming tailend crew was driven out to the van at the west end of Field, and that they probably radioed through their own brake test once aboard.

In most cases elsewhere, the brake test was performed by the incoming headend crew and the outgoing tailend crew. Then, guided by the incoming tailend crew's portable radio, the train would slow in front of the depot where the outgoing tailend crew would swing off the van and the incoming tailend crew would swing aboard. The tailend would then radio something like 'All aboard, extra 6018 east, highball '. 

But ... eastbound at Field, most trains probably could not afford to give away any momentum they had gained to slow down enough to allow safe boarding of the tailend crew right at the depot.

(A reporter writing about standard railway procedures - which were being explained at the inquiry into the Mississauga disaster - quipped that this is why everyone wants to be a train crew member ... to be able to radio things like 'All aboard. Highball!')

From the same vantage point, the units have cleared the east switch at Field and have started their ascent. The track disappears behind the trees.

Seen from the Spiral Tunnel lookout beside the Trans-Canada Highway, the train crosses over itself at the lower Spiral Tunnel.

Its climb exaggerated by a zoom lens, the power is just turning to face roughly south at the location marked Yoho on the map.
The photo is taken near the overpass of the Trans-Canada between the lower and upper Spiral Tunnels.