CN finds the steam engine dies hard

Steam Locomotive

STEAM ENGINE 6060 IS UNDERGOING COMPLETE OVERHAUL IN MONTREAL ... locomotive is to return to duty next year

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Box 460, Olds, Alberta, Canada

The following article was sent to us by Walter Spreeman, Box 460, Olds, Alberta, Canada. We thank Bill Drever, Managing Editor of The Calgary Herald, for permission to reprint this article which appeared in above mentioned newspaper on September 21, 1972.

MONTREAL (CP) When Canadian National last year retired No. 6218, a popular excursion locomotive, the railway figured it was finally finished operating steam locomotives 11 years after they were officially eliminated.

But public demand to have No. 6218 put back into service prompted company officials to decide to put another one into operation.

In August, Mountain class 6060, on display at Jasper, Alta., since 1962, arrived back in Montreal for a complete overhaul and return to service next summer.

J. Norman Lowe, CN's historical projects officer, said in an interview that 'we really intended to retire from operating steam excursions with 6218 with no apologies because, with the possible exception of the Southern Railroad in the United States, no railway in North America has done as much to keep steam alive.'

Public popularity for No. 6218 was surprisingly strong, he said, as demonstrated by the 'bags of letters asking for her return' that were received by Prime Minister Trudeau, Jack Pickersgill, recently retired Canadian transport commission chairman, and railway officials.

Repairs Cheaper, No. 6060 was chosen from 20 steam locomotives still owned by CN, and on display across Canada, because of cheaper repair costs and the chance to offer Canadians a new locomotive.

Mr. Lowe, whose office is dotted with pictures of No. 6218 in action, says estimated repair costs for her ranged between $150,000 and $200,000.

The cost to restore No. 6060, an oil-fired engine, for company-operated excursion runs decked out in traditional CN passenger green, will be about $100,000.

It will be the sixth locomotive the railway has operated for excursions since regular steam operations ended on CN lines in April, 1960.

More than 105,000 people have traveled on excursion runs hauled by the five other locomotives the railway operated two Pacific class and three Northern class engines.

Built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1944, No. 6060 'should run for many years and gain the same following as 6218 had,' Mr. Lowe said.

Before No. 6060 left Jasper it was replaced by No. 6015, an earlier Mountain class locomotive which had been on display at the Canadian Railway Museum at St. Constant, Que., since 1960.

Goes to Museum, The museum, operated by the Canadian Railway Historical Association, will eventually receive No. 6218, currently at the Pointe St. Charles shops in Montreal in case No. 6060 needs any spare parts.

Mr. Lowe said CN's passenger sales department is going to organize and promote weekend excursion runs for No. 6060 all over the country. Previously, trips are chartered by various groups with the railway's assistance.

The company also hopes to get permission from the American government to run No. 6060 on U.S. lines.

If enough money is made on excursion runs, CN is hoping to be able to rebuild name passenger coaches so that an excursion train can be built up.

One of the cars Mr. Lowe has in mind is the Pacific, an observation coach that was used on all Royal trains and in election campaigns. It was last used during the 1957 general election by former prime minister John Diefenbaker.

Although the age of steam passed 12 years ago, Mr. Lowe said there are still many engineers with the railway who remember how to operate a steam locomotive.

'They might be a little rusty but many of our engineers were firemen on steam engines and with a little retraining, they'll be right at home.'