June 21, 1974: O-Ps, Alcos, high water and Rule 221

There's nothing like the smell of opposed-piston exhaust in the morning. And that's just how the longest day of the year started out as the sun burned off the morning mist at Crowsnest, B.C. The hostler was busy marshalling H16-44s 8554 and 8724 for the Michel switcher, separating them from the leased PNC GP9 that accompanied them into town on an overnight extra. 

The day started out normally enough, but the raging waters of local rivers, burdened with the combination of spring run-off and heavy rains, would bring unforeseen adventure.

Nothing like the smell of opposed-piston exhaust in the morning; CP 8554 on the shop track at Crowsnest, B.C. June 21, 1974

CP 8554 Crowsnest, B.C.

CLCs and coal: Michel Switcher, with H16-44s 8724 and 8554, switches the coal tipple at Michel, B.C.

Gritty old-school railroading: the Michel switcher shunts triple-hoppers and vintage high-side 348-series gons at the coal tipple at Michel, B.C. 

The operator at Fernie is out with 19Y orders for Extra 4565 West. Fernie's two-position order board displays stop, as it lacks the yellow indication for 19Ys, which do not require the train to stop. In accordance with UCOR Rule 221  "... the operator will, on the approach of the train, in addition to the stop signal, display a yellow flag by day or a yellow light by night."

Rule 221 fulfilled, Extra 4565 West picks up orders on the fly. Highball Fernie.

Extra 4565 West rolls through Caithness in a cloud of coal dust. Less than ten miles later, the train will go into the "big hole," as the robot car controlling mid-train remotes 5667 and 5625 initiates an undesired emergency brake application at Jaffray. But for good fortune, the train could have quite literally gone in the big hole near the start of the trip. During the stop at Jaffray, the crew is informed that section crews have investigated the "soft spot" they reported near Sparwood. The section boys arrived to find the right-of-way completely washed away and track suspended in mid air. 

Extra 4565 West in the big hole at Jaffray, crew inspects the suspected culprit: Robot-11, converted from CFB16-4 4450. Things could have been worse.

Traffic jam. Ballast train led by H16-44 8723 and Coleman coal empties in the charge of CP 5827 and a GP9 in the script hold at Fort Steele due to the washout near Sparwood.

Well past flood stage, the Kootenay River encroaches on the Windermere Sub as Extra 8728 North rolls toward Wasa. The train is a Crowsnest-bound freight detouring via the Windermere Sub account the washout near Sparwood.

Extra 8728 North tip-toes through high water approaching Wasa. The Windermere Sub is perilously close to being shut down by the high water. The highway bridge at Wasa has already been washed out.

CP 8728 casts its reflection in the floodwaters as the hogger keeps a close eye on track conditions.

Wading through Wasa, wandering RS18 8760 trails two CLCs on Extra 8728 North.

Extra 8728 North holds the main at Wasa, waiting on a meet with No. 84 handling a hot train of rip-rap rock for the Sparwood washout.

Carrying kerosene markers "saddleback" van 439883 clears the main as No. 84 takes the siding to meet Extra 8728 North. No. 84 is handling a solid train of air-dumps loaded with rock diverted from a Windermere Sub work program to the washout at Sparwood.

At the end of the longest day of the year, CPA16-4 4065 and H16-44s 8710 and 8721 idle on the shop track at Cranbrook, called for a 0200 Extra West.