Friday, November 23, 2007

Jack "William's" Lake, B.C.

Williams Lake, B.C., November 1959. A sudden sense of urgency overtakes me, as it suddenly dawns on me that I won’t be back this way again – if ever. Our family is in transit back to Seattle after three years living in Prince Rupert. My Dad was very tolerant of me, as he’d stop the family bus every time we saw a locomotive, as we headed south.

Located on the east bank of the Fraser River, midway between 100 Mile House and Quesnel. The village was apparently named after Jack Williams, a Cornish settler, some say "squatter." Incorporated as Williams Lake Village Municipality in 1929; re-incorporated as a Town Municipality in 1965, and re-incorporated as a City in November 1981.

American Locomotive Works had a mirror partner in Canada, the Montreal Locomotive Works, where these two handsome units were built in 1951. I always admired the “skylight windows” of the cab. PGE 561 and 565 have stopped their north bound run to Prince George long enough to set out a string of cars. Soon they will be reconnected, and whistle off – the asynchronous burble of two 4-cycle engines, which slip in and out of sync with each other was quite distinct!

PGE 565 was rebuilt as a slug – power unit only with no cab – in 1986 after PGE became BC Rail. And PGE 561 after a remarkable 35 year run, found a new life at the West Coast Railway Association in Squamish, north of Vancouver, BC.

Take a few minutes to explore their Web Site! I’m motivated and determined to save my pennies and take a trip up there. They’ve taken over the former PGE/BC Rail round house, so they are in good shape for maintaining their collection.

Railroad Stuff: PGE 561, built 5/51, sn 76014, retired 4/72, to West Coast Railway Association 1986. PGE 565, built 6/51, sn 76016, rebuilt as a slug S409 in 1986. Apparently still in service when CN took over operation 0001 hours, July 15, 2004

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