The two old locomotives discussed in this report, Canadian Pacific Railway #1418 and #1424, once pulled crack passenger trains but today are retired and on display at a riverside park in Medicine Hat Alberta. Their paint is faded and rust is bubbling up here and there, but these fine old engines still impress. They keep a nearby World War Two era tank company and sit close to the CPR’s busy east/west mainline, a section of track that they once operated along.
Both these locomotives were built, in 1952, at the General Motors Diesel plant in London Ontario and are both model FP7s. They were designed for passenger service, although they could be called upon to pull freights as needed. They both seemed to roam far and wide and pictures found on the Internet show them pulling trains all over the country. Many shots show one or the other in consists pulling the CPR’s premier transcontinental run, the Canadian.
In the past, for a time, they also carried the road numbers #4060 and #4068 respectively.
When the CPR gave up on passenger service in the late 1970s, the locomotives, along with a good number of others, were transferred to Canada’s national passenger carrier, Via Rail (the two keeping their road numbers #1418 and #1424). It’s very likely at some point in the past the two engines operated together as a pair or with a third or fourth locomotive, in either CPR or Via service; or at the very least they crossed paths many times over the years. Today, they’re partners though.
Retired in by 1983, both were donated to Medicine Hat a couple years later. It’s not known if major mechanical parts like engines, generators and traction motors were stripped out before coming here. I suspect that’s probably likely however. Some internals can be quite valuable as salvage and they wouldn’t be missed anyway. As long the locomotives looks good on the outside, does it matter if they’re only shells?
When put on display the pair were done up in the CPR’s old gray, yellow and Tuscan red scheme, a very pleasing livery. Time and weather has faded the colours a bit and so the two could use a repainting. Otherwise, they seem in fine shape.
The GM plant we spoke of that made the locomotives was founded in 1950 and closed only recently. The CPR and competitor Canadian National Railways were both big customers at one time or another. Now both seem to prefer engines from General Electric instead.
The FP7 (P for passenger) was an offshoot of the popular F7 freight locomotive. These were built in the years 1950 to late 1953 (1949-53 at the US GM locomotive factory). The similar FP9 model, close in appearance and successor to the FP7, was also purchased by the CPR (and CNR too).
The locomotives are located at Riverside Veterans’ Memorial Park right near downtown. It’s a nice treed area, pleasant and serene, a perfect place to reflect or enjoy nature. It’s not a good train watching spot however – too bad – as dense brush for the most part prevents passing trains from being clearly seen. Even so, I took some time brave the tangle of limbs to catch CPR GE AC4400CW #9827 (built 2004) and GMD SD60 #6238 (built late 1980s – from US subsidiary Soo Line) switching some cars.
Just a stones throw from the locomotives is a tank display. The machines is a WW2 era Sherman model or one of its many variants – I ‘m no expert here. Not far from it are a number of displays and memorials to Medicine Hat area combatants that have served and perished in various conflicts over the years. Rest in peace soldiers, you’re dismissed.
Near the park, if you’re into bridges, is the one carrying the CPR mainline and not far away a vintage road bridge, both spanning the South Saskatchewan River. Next time I’m in town, I’d like to study them more and of course report on it here.
To see some other train themed posts on BIGDoer.com, go here…
A day with the Battle River Railway.
Locomotives of the Great Sandhills Railway.
CPR’s Big Hill revisited.
(Notice the dull skies in all these posts – it happens a lot to us when shooting trains).
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: May, 2014.
Location: Medicine Hat, AB.