October 20 2005
A few new friends in Winter Valley
It may have started out to be just another day but something special was about to happen. We waited in the shade down at the old freight shed and talked excitedly about what our first sighting of 5006 would be like. The 7 th SD40-2 on the Winter Valley roster was a stranger in these parts, as were her sisters, being relegated to newer, heavier track on the southern end of the line. Today would be the first visit since last summer’s upgrade program.
A whistle sounded near the 1 st St. crossing and we so we quickly got our things together and headed out into the fields south of the station. The harvest was complete and the stubble was easy to get around in. Setting up a tripod and camera in the soft, black soil still presented a problem but we were ready just in time.
The big green and white –2 came to an easy stop just short of the station platform and the few commuters waiting for the Dayliner into the city. While it’s arrival caused little excitement amongst those day trippers there was considerable jostling between fans trying to find just the right spot for that perfect picture. No need to confine ourselves to the platform. We just moved out onto the track. Nice.
A great view from the top of the local machine shop showed clearly just how big these new things were. Two of these beasts used up the same space as any three of our familiar first generation friends. But in the tradition of CN, the WV SD40-2 number 5006 was dressed up with a low, short hood headlight and a horn and bell assembly hung over the front window between the classification lights and number boards. A yellow rerailer was hooked up on the walkway behind the cab and the snowplow was painted up with a large, white ‘V’ design.
Now the real fun would really begin……
Those foreign visitors arrived just after lunch. The usual, seasonal power shortage that heralded the arrival of the SD40-2 also meat the use of leased engines. These Canadian National SW1200rs, along with the unique GMD1’s, were the light rail workhorses of the Canadian west. Both of these road switchers were from the same order of 40 placed with EMD in 1960 and were part of the 170 that eventually wear the red, black and white.
The very best picture of the day came around mid afternoon when the old CN units posed next to the newest WV power. The press was on hand and photos similar to this appeared in just about all the local papers. Their signature spark arresters, filters and number boards really stood out for all to see. But these old timers weren’t in town to play.
They were here to work. After super the crew fired up the classic pair, left the station behind, and moved them off to the Winter Valley Co-op elevator with a string of empty hoppers and 40 foot box cars. Even the agent came out to watch the action. Most of the loading would come at night in order to have the grain in the city, and on the CN main line, before breakfast.
Late at night CNWV Extra 1390 tied up traffic Main Street for the last time. The crew backed their train down the main line into the station where they enjoyed a bit of a midnight snack before setting off.
And the day was long over for us as well. Fourteen hours of train watching was behind us, and in our cameras, and we were ready for some serious down time ourselves.
See you all at www.mylargescale.com