Friday, January 18, 2008

100th Posting! 4th of July, 1961. Part 2.

Pacific Great Eastern, North Vancouver, BC, July 4, 1961. My train-chasing buddy El Purington and I have made a two-day 4th of July trek north out of Seattle to do some serious train sound recording and photography in Vancouver, BC.

Vancouver offered, in those days, the Canadian National Railways, Canadian Pacific Railway, Great Northern, the Pacific Great Eastern, plus the likes of
Pacific Coast Terminals.

The “Prince George Eventually” ran what has to have been one of the most scenic runs in North America, from North Vancouver, BC to Prince George BC, some 462.5 miles. Beginning at tidewater, running the length of Howe Sound, thence up and over the Coast Range Mountains into the Caribou Country, a diversity of wild scenery.



The “Cariboo Dayliner” was made up of a 600hp diesel-hydraulic RDC-3 on the head end, with a 15 foot Rail Post Office compartment, a 17 foot baggage/freight compartment, and a coach section with seating for 49 passengers. This unit was mated with two RDC-1’s with seating for 90 passengers each.

Here we see the “Cariboo Dayliner #1” awaiting her 7AM departure (daily) at the North Vancouver depot. Elwin and I appealed (read that, pleaded as "railfans from Seattle") to the train crew to make sure they leaned on those wonderful air horns as they approached us near the Capilino River.


No soap. Both North Vancouver and West Vancouver had noise restrictions, which allowed them to blow the horns ONLY in the event of a potential accident.

Phooey!

Well, as we drove back through the PGE departure yard to the Lion’s Gate Bridge where we had set up our recording equipment, we stopped at the head end of a freighter, which would follow the Dayliner up Howe Sound.

The crews jaws dropped when we entered the cab (boy – could you get away with this today?) We explained to them we were from Seattle, doing some sound recording, yadda-yadda.

No soap. The Cities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver had noise restrictions, so-on and so-forth.

So we hurried back to our location, in between the Lions Gate Bridge and the Capilino River, getting set up none too soon. I was standing up on the roadbed, whilst Elwin and his stereo microphones were back to the west about 150 feet, to get good "separation."

The “Cariboo Dayliner” whistled off at exactly 7AM, and blew crossing signals all the way up to us, and over the Capilino River into West Vancouver, with an extra double tap as they past us! Wow, what a recording!

A few minutes later, the freighter whistled off, and as the Montreal Locomotive Works coffee grinders approached us, the fireman leaned out the window, and you can clearly hear him say “We’ll just get past you so it won’t be so loud!”

Then the hogger cracked the throttles open, and let loose on the air horn out across the Capilino River Bridge and into West Vancouver!

We got a double whammy! And it’s a sound I can still hear all these years later! The chortling 4-cycles clearing their throats, and those magnificiant PGE air horns! As we enjoyed breakfast at Denny’s later in the morning, we started to laugh about the phones that would be lighting up at City Hall!

From what I understand, the name “Cariboo Dayliner” was changed to “Cariboo Prospector” in 1972 when Pacific Great Eastern became BC Rail. And that service was discontinued on October 31, 2002, ending nearly a half-century of passenger service through some pretty – and lonely – territory!

It is sad to see so much railroad history slip into oblivion. That's why I do these postings, trying to preserve as much history as I can.

Railroad Stuff: PGE, BC-30, Budd RDC-3, built 9/56, sn: 6508, 2 x 300hp Detroit Diesels, became BC Rail #30 in 1972. Sold to Milford Bennington Railroad, New Hampshire, 2002, operating on the Wilton Scenic. The railroad's founder, Stuart Draper of Wilton, died of a heart attack on January 31, 2006. In October 2006, the railroad's two cars were sold to the

Newport Dinner Train in Rhode Island.

They started a new service in 2007, and at last report, running under the banner of the Islander Touring Train, our 50+ year old lady is still running strong!

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