CN finds the steam engine dies hard

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

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.’

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment