Over fifty years separate the two pictures yet not a whole lot has changed between them. The tracks are still there, the warehouse building is still there and even the lettering shown in the first image is still there. Check the third picture to see the latter. Nelson BC is an amazing place where time seems to stand still. Now if only a train had come by the shot would have been perfect.
The only feature that is noticeably changed from one picture to the other is the road crossing in front of the locomotive. It’s was pulled up at some unknown time and is no longer there.
The train seen in the then picture would be the Kootenay Express which traversed CPR’s southern lines, taking a rather meandering and circuitous route from Vancouver BC to Medicine Hat Alberta. Calling it an express is sort of misleading as basically these trains were a long distance locals stopping at nearly every town and village along the route. The westbound counterpart was know as the Kettle Valley Express. These locomotive hailed trains were replaced in the mid 1950s by self propelled “Rail Diesel Cars” (know as RDCs from the Budd Company.) before being discontinued in the mid 1960s.
The locomotive seen appears to be CPR 2371. This engine was built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston Ontario and was one of twelve of this class constructed in 1940. Refereed to as a Pacific model, these were built to the 4-6-2 wheel arrangement (Whyte notation). This locomotive was retired in 1957. The Canadian Locomotive Company (CLC) would later supply diesels to the CPR which were often seen in the Nelson area as well.
The rail lines in and around Southern BC were referred to as the Kettle Valley Lines (or Kettle Valley Railway). This was a predecessor to the CPR in the area and comprised an extensive network of main and secondary lines. Not much of the “KVR” remains today and only the track seen here if left, a line coming in from Cranbrook heading west to Nelson, Castlegar and Trail. Formerly it went all the way through to the west coast and had numerous feeder lines connecting to it. This tracks sees perhaps a couple to a few trains per day. In the 1950s when the first picture was taken, the line was much busier.
It’s not clear the purpose the building seen here has, although what ever it is, the original lettering has remained. In Nelson, it’s not odd to see old building repurposed, but retaining many of its original features.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: August, 2012.
Location: Nelson, BC.