Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chasing Trains Through Banff, Part 1 - CP 8646 West

I spent a morning chasing trains through Banff National Park (and a bit of Yoho National Park) earlier this month, and it was fun!

The consensus among experienced Alberta railfans was that the best way to railfan the area was to pick up an eastbound train in Field, BC, or a westbound near Exshaw, AB, and chase it through the Banff-Lake Louise area. I resolved to grab a westbound near Exshaw, chase it to Field, then chase an eastbound back toward Calgary. That's kinda what I did...

Come along for the ride...


But first, a little background. My wife attends an annual weekend conference in Calgary, and normally this conference is in the late fall. I go with her to keep her company when she's not conferencing, and I do a little railfanning on the side. The problem with railfanning in the late fall is that the days are short.

However, in 2016 her company decided to hold the conference in early June, when days are just about as long as they get. Great!!

No-Train Friday

We like to arrive early on Friday so we can go out to Banff, an area we love dearly. This year we arrived late in the morning, grabbed our rental vehicle and hit the road for Moraine Lake.

Moraine Lake, enshrouded in fog
Moraine Lake is near Lake Louise, a vastly more famous lake, but Moraine Lake has its own beauty to it. There isn't a famous hotel there but it has lovely green water and great views all around.

Unfortunately the weather was poor on Friday and it was quite overcast. You can see from the photo that the mountain tops were shrouded in fog / cloud, and it was raining off and on. We didn't let that stop us from going for a little walk and exploring the area, but it definitely put a literal damper on our enthusiasm for long walks.

While we were in the area, we visited Lake Louise too, and it was similarly enshrouded. There were a lot more tourists at Lake Louise but it was not as busy as it is when the sun is shining! We visited the shops at the chateau and took the back road to Banff. I stopped at Morant's Curve but there were no trains around. We visited the waterfall behind the Banff Springs hotel and threw a few rocks in the Bow River, as per tradition, then headed to the Grizzly House in Banff for our traditional fondue. Highly recommended for the good food, great service, and tacky 70s decor!

On our way back to Calgary, we talked about what I was going to do Saturday while my wife was at the conference. I wasn't keen on railfanning in the mountains if the weather was going to be the same as it was on Friday, so I decided to check the weather when I awoke Saturday morning and decide whether I was going to hang around the city or head into the Rockies.

Chasing the Westbound

It was a beautiful, sunny morning in Calgary when I awoke. I showered quickly, kissed my wife, and beat it out of town toward the mountains! I was full of enthusiasm for the great shots I would get, and hopeful that CP would actually send a few trains through while I was there. Past experience has shown that there can be periods of several hours where no trains run.

My plan was to follow the Trans-Canada until I neared Exshaw, then cut over to take highway 1A/Bow Valley Trail (which parallels the CP main line) into Banff and go from there. I took the exit to Seebe and found an overpass over the CP Laggan subdivision. I decided to sit and wait there for a little while and find a train. If it was a westbound, I would follow it through Banff and beyond. My intention was to go all the way to Field, BC and then chase an eastbound train back to Banff and call it a day.

I parked on the shoulder and spent some time walking around, looking for decent photo angles. I was really wishing for an eastbound train, since it was 7:15 AM and the sun was still low and in the east.

After about 20-25 minutes of waiting, I heard a distant horn to the east, indicating a westbound train. All right, show time! I decided to shoot it "going away" to the west to get the best light on the train.

CP 8646 West came rolling along with CP 9369 and a long Canpotex potash train.
CP 8646 and 9369 near Seebe
I do love the Rockies.

CP 8949 was a mid-train DPU. I shot that but the photo was nothing special.

However, I heard an end-train DPU roaring toward me, and that excited me because that would provide that "eastbound" train I wanted! I jogged up to the overpass to get a more overhead view of the loco going away. Here's CP 9834 shoving her heart out.
CP 9834 near Seebe
I was super happy with that photo! :)

I ran back to my car and headed back to the Trans-Canada to try to beat the train to Canmore. I didn't know any good spots to railfan in Canmore but I knew that I could get to the tracks quickly near the tourist information bureau, on the west side of the town. I did that thing and was there seconds before the train came through.

CP 8646 West in Canmore
I made sure to include the CANMORE station sign in the shot.

Here's the mid-train DPU locomotive, CP 8949.
CP 8949 in Canmore, Alberta
I was really liking the sun and weather!

I didn't hang around for the last unit, as I already had a good shot of it and I wanted to try for another spot before Banff.

Previously I had noted a few spots where you could see the track from the highway, and I thought I might try a shot there where you could get the train with sun on the side and the mountains in the background. At 100 km/hr it was easy to get ahead of the train again and I found a good spot to pull over and take a grab shot. Keep in mind the tracks are on the south side of the highway so I was shooting across four lanes... still, this was my favourite shot of the entire day.
Even Railpictures liked this one!
I was very happy with everything in that shot.

However, note something... the low cloud and deep shadows. Uh oh...

I got to the station in Banff before the train and set up to shoot CP 8646 passing the station. The angle of the sun is all wrong there but I made the best of it. Warning - some fairly heavy editing in the photo below.

CP 8646 in Banff
I ducked under the station awning to capture a few shots of the train zooming by. Stay back from the yellow line!
Canadian Pacific in Banff
Here's our old friend the mid-train DPU again.

At this point I decided to leave off the chase of CP 8646. I had bagged it at four different spots and I didn't think I would get anything new out of it. I made the decision to roll west on the Trans-Canada and come back to Morant's Curve from the Lake Louise exit, rather than try to chase 8646 along the slow 1A / Bow Valley Parkway.

In the next post, the weather sucks, but I get lucky at Morant's Curve, then head to Field to chase an eastbound back!

In the meantime, why not read about my visit to Banff in 2010 or my return in 2013?

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Prairie Railfanning Adventure (Guest Post) - Part 2/2

Local railfan Jack Hykaway shared this great railfan adventure. Follow Jack on YouTube! He included so much content and so many photos that I have broken it into two parts (Link to part 1)

VIA 2 Arrives

A backlit VIA 2 rolls into Melville six hours behind schedule
Melville is a crew change point for VIA and for most CN trains, and when a fresh VIA crew showed up at the station, I knew the train must be close. I asked the engineer what time the train would be due in the station, “It shouldn’t be long now, the train is very close” he replied.

The engineer waited on the platform with myself and the retired CN employee. He informed us that he would have the pedal to the metal for the trip to Winnipeg and that we would only be meeting three westbounds on the trip to Union Station.

Finally, at 6:30, the distinct sound of a VIA horn shattered the silence. The train crawled into Melville station, running six hours behind schedule. I was anxious to get on and relax for the ride to Winnipeg.

I was welcomed onboard by the Service Manager, and he showed me to a free seat. I didn’t spend a minute in my coach seat. Instead, I made a bee-line up to the dome car. It was completely empty, which gave me the opportunity to grab the best seat available.
VIA No. 2 departing Melville
At 6:40, the two F40PH-3 locomotives rumbled to life, and with a jolt, the train started rolling forward. The locomotives hustled the long train out of the yard and onto the mainline. The wind was behind the train and with 6,000 horses on the head-end, we were doing good track speed in no time flat.
Outside of Melville, we met an intermodal, led by a CN SD70M-2 and an IC Deathstar SD70
By the time we reached Cana, we were doing 80 MPH with nothing but clear signals stretching to the horizon. We maintained the aggressive pace through Waldron, Bangor, Atwater, and Zeneta, but we slowed for the sharp curves near Yarbo and Gerald.
Both F40s belch fumes as they spring along the mainline near Yarbo, SK at 80 MPH
The Mosaic K2 Potash Mine near Gerald, SK
Large potash mines dominate the landscape in this region. Mosaic has two huge mines near Yarbo, on the North and South sides of CN’s mainline. Since Melville, a few other passengers joined me in the dome, and they were admiring the impressive mines. A VIA crewmember was quick to inform the passengers over the PA system that what they were looking at was a potash mine.

VIA No. 2 about to cross the impressive trestle near Gerald, SK
After crossing the impressive trestle at Gerald, the engineer opened the taps on the F40s and we were making good time again by the time we reached Spy Hill, SK. As we crossed into Manitoba, the train began its descent into the Assiniboine River Valley, which meant we could no longer keep our fast pace.

A wide shot of the interior of the dome in the skyline car
This is the most scenic part of the seven-hour journey. The tracks cling to the side of the valley wall as they descend towards St Lazare, MB. Three quarters of the way down, a spur branches off to the south of the mainline. This line swings back into Saskatchewan to connect the Potash Corp potash mine at Rocanville, SK with CN’s mainline. At St. Lazare, VIA 2 crossed the Assiniboine River on a through truss bridge, then the train tilted around a broad corner and followed the meandering course of the Assiniboine River on the valley floor.
The train flies through the through truss bridge near St Lazare, MB
Immediately after crossing the bridge, VIA No. 2 passes through St Lazare proper, and swings around a corner as it passes through town
A scenic highlight on the trip and a favourite railfanning spot among prairie railfans is the impressive trestle at Uno, MB. At approximately 1,500 feet long, it feels as if the train is floating in mid-air while crossing the impressive structure. Passengers sitting behind me in the dome scrambled to grab photos of the spectacular views down the valley at this location.
The power passes the station sign at Uno, MB.
In a few minutes the train will be high above the valley floor on the impressive Uno trestle.
As we left the Assiniboine River Valley behind, passengers filed out of the dome car, leaving only me and a few others to enjoy the views. At Arrow River, the sun’s position made for an interesting shot as the train swung around the broad curves.
The sun reflects off of the shiny roofs of VIA’s classic Budd equipment
as the train passes through Arrow River, MB
As the track straightened out for the run to Rivers, the engineer let the horses run on the two F40s once more.
VIA 2 exits the Assiniboine River Valley near Miniota, MB.
The train is passing under an old wooden bridge just outside of town
The train brakes were applied when we encountered a Diverging-to-Stop signal at the west end of Myra Siding. It was a perfect meet with a westbound freight – neither train had to stop.
VIA 2 met CN 2239 at Myra Siding as it headed west with a long string of manifest freight in tow.

VIA 2 got back onto the mainline and the train drifted into its station stop in Rivers, MB just as the sun was falling behind the horizon.
VIA 2 gets clearance, and proceeds out onto the mainline following a meet at Myra
Sunset in the Skyline
The train was only stopped in Rivers for a few minutes before we departed for Winnipeg in the fading light.
Departing Rivers, MB with darkness quickly falling
There was still enough light outside to make out the overpasses at Grants and at Moffat – both of which are popular railfanning locations, but there were no railfans waiting on us tonight.

Darkness fell by the time we reached Harte, and the train pierced through the night for the rest of its trip to Winnipeg.
Rounding the curve at Grants Cut. Note the Panorama Car a few cars back in the consist
We made good time to Portage La Prairie thanks to recent track work at Firdale. At PlaP, we stopped for ten minutes to let a handful of passengers disembark. From there, there was nothing but double track between us and Union Station, except for a few hundred yards of single track at Nattress, where the mainline crosses the Assiniboine River again. The engineer skillfully guided the train through the fog at a blistering 80 MPH along this double track superhighway. We cruised by two stopped intermodal trains waiting for us to clear the single track at Nattress, then we were the only train on the line until we reached Winnipeg.
LED signals light up the night as the train speeds towards Winnipeg
It wasn’t long before locations familiar to me, such as Calrin and Diamond, flashed by the windows in the darkened dome. We rounded the curve at Portage Junction at about 12:50 AM.

The train finally pulled through the train shed at Union Station in Winnipeg at 1:00 AM, only five and a half hours after leaving Melville.

Number 2 would be cleaned and serviced in Winnipeg in just half an hour. Re-boarding for the trip through Ontario would commence at 1:45, and departure would be somewhere around 2:00, putting the train a mere two hours behind schedule – not bad for a train that rolled into Melville six hours late!

Thank you, Jack, for this great guest post! Check out Jack's great videos on YouTube.

Back to part 1

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Prairie Railfanning Adventure (Guest Post) - Part 1/2

Local railfan Jack Hykaway shared this great railfan adventure. Follow Jack on YouTube! He included so much content and so many photos that I have broken it into two parts.

A Prairie Railfanning Adventure

My family and I headed west through the prairies this past weekend to visit family in Saskatchewan. Our bags were packed and we were out of the house by 8:00 on Friday morning, a little earlier than we would've normally left for this trans-prairie trip. We left with time to spare because somehow I had managed to convince my parents and sister to stop at a well-known railfanning location for a picnic lunch. We made terrible time through rush-hour traffic in the city, then on the highway, construction along the TCH slowed us even more. Construction was constant - huge stretches of highway were being redone, so the normal four-lane 110 KM/H speed limit was reduced to 80, and in some places to as low as 60, and traffic marched westward in a single-file line.

It was almost 11:30 AM by the time we finally reached Brandon, which is normally only a two hour drive from Winnipeg. CN's main line from Winnipeg to PlaP was bustling with activity, but as we sped under the main line at Brandon North, all was quiet. About an hour later, we arrived at my picnic spot, near Arrow River, MB, just as an eastbound was passing through. That construction along the TCH had cost me a train! We lugged our cooler up the hill anyways, and my parents and sister sat down for some lunch while I set up my tripod and hoped to catch another train at this scenic spot.

I was halfway through my chicken sandwich when my dad pointed at the horizon. “Is that a train?” I jumped up and turned my attention to the eastern horizon – sure enough, a flickering light was cresting the hill in the distance. I got ready to capture the train coming past the grain elevator at Quadra, a mile or two away from where I was set up.
CN 347 glides past the Grain Elevator near Arrow River, MB.
The train turned out to be CN 347, with two SD70M-2s easing a solid block of empty centerbeam flatcars through the sweeping curves at Arrow River. This was the only train I saw during my short time trackside.

(Ed: you might remember I was in Quadra recently, but I didn't see any trains)

We were running tight for time, as we still had many hours of driving ahead of us. After packing up and picking off several wood ticks, we continued west to our destination, Wynyard, SK.


Saturday morning, I joined my family on an adventure to downtown Wynyard to visit Home Hardware. They don't have any Home Hardware stores in Winnipeg and mom wanted to check out their cool spinning mops and other handy gadgets. Dad was interested in the comfy Adirondack chairs they had in stock, and my sister and I were passing the time trying on some very stylish sunglasses.

We walked along the tracks on the way to the store, so I snapped a few photos of the small CP yard and station in Wynyard.
CP’s yard in Wynyard, SK. A third GP20C-ECO is hiding behind the two others on a farther track
The old CP station in Wynyard sits boarded up
The yard looks healthy, contrary to what we're seeing here in Winnipeg. A few dozen tanks and hoppers sit in the yard while a trio of GP20C-ECO units sit just beyond the cars. CP also built a new yard office in town, and it seems crews have been busy along the Sutherland Sub just west of town. A new crossing, a pair of crossovers and two ribbon-rail mainlines stretch to the horizon out of the west end of town.

Later on that afternoon I had some free time, so I went back down to the tracks to see what I could see. A CP truck was waiting by the station so I figured a train must be close, as most trains stop to change crews here. I was right - in a few moments a light crested the hill and CP 298 rolled into town.
CEFX 1046 leads CP train 298 out of the yard at Wynyard, SK
CEFX 1046 was in charge of train 298 this day. The train did some switching out of the east end of the yard before it continued east. Jack posted a video:

As the train completed its switching and started to depart, my dad and I drove out of town a few miles and searched for a photogenic spot. We checked out a spot in the hamlet of Mozart, but the light wasn't quite right there, and it wasn’t the shot I was after, so we headed back to the highway and we continued east. The pit-stop at Mozart almost cost me the train, as when we arrived at my chosen spot, the train was only a mile or so behind us and it was doing good track speed. We drove down a sandy grid road for a quarter-mile, and I sprung out of the car to set up. The wind was really howling in this part of the prairie, so I used the car as a wind-block to capture a stable shot of the train streaking through the green farmland.
CEFX 1046 has the short manifest train rolling through the prairies at track speed
A CP toaster brought up the rear of CP 298, and if you look closely directly above the hopper car in front of the DPU, you can barely make out the large grain elevator in Wadena, SK, about 13 miles to the north.
A CP Toaster is shoving hard on the rear end of CP 298
Dad and I were back in Wynyard in time for dinner, and I went to bed satisfied with the shots I had taken.


VIA’s cookie-cutter station building
sits beside the impressive CN station,
currently being restored
We headed back toward Winnipeg on Sunday morning, but the railfanning was far from over. My parents agreed to drop me off in Melville so I could catch VIA 2 and take the train back to the city.

I was on the platform at 12:30 PM, which is the train's regular arrival time for Melville.

Unsurprisingly, it was running late. A quick call to VIA's 1-800 number revealed that No. 2 was running a couple hours behind schedule and was estimated in the station at 4:00 PM. A three-and-a-half-hour wait wasn't so bad - CN kept me entertained with train after train through town.

A dash of blue is trailing three CN units
on a westbound Intermodal train.
This train is slowing for a crew
change at the west end of the yard
It was bittersweet seeing those trains, as it was likely that most would end up delaying VIA 2 even further. One train pulled into town from the east and sat on the track nearest to the station for over two hours. A retired CN employee was waiting to catch the VIA with me at the station, and we were discussing different theories as to why the train had been sitting in town for so long. As it was nearing 4:00 PM, the freight train was still blocking the track closest to the station. This is the only track VIA can use to pick up/drop off passengers in Melville – passengers aren’t allowed to cross the tracks here to board the train due to safety concerns.
CN 2500, a C44-9WL is accelerating out of Melville Yard with a long intermodal train in tow
The freight train refused to move, and other trains were going around it on the siding. I called the VIA hotline again, and found out my train had been delayed until 5:30 due to the freight traffic. I conveyed the bad news to my fellow passenger, and I decided to grab some supper at the CO-OP nearby and go for a stroll to see the sights in downtown Melville.
A pair of AC units led a manifest freight into Melville on the mainline. This train was sitting on the mainline for two hours before continuing west.
When I returned to the station with some supper and a few snacks for the train ride, the hiss of air brakes releasing was a welcomed sound. The AC units on the head end of the massive freight train pulled the slack from between the cars, and with a bang, the train was on the move again.

It was nearing 5:30, and even with the track cleared, there was still no sign of VIA. At a quarter to six, I called one last time, and they claimed that VIA No. 2 was still scheduled to arrive at 5:30 in Melville – that shows just how much the folks working at VIA’s call centres know.

Will VIA 2 finally arrive? Was Jack stranded in Melville for days? Find out next time in the exciting conclusion to Jack's Prairie railfanning adventure!

Read part 2!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Return to the Island

View of the Confederation Bridge
I was back on Prince Edward Island earlier this month for work. I decided to combine that with a quick visit to see my mom in New Brunswick. My plan was to land in Moncton (YQM), drive to Oromocto to stay overnight with her, then drive on Sunday to Charlottetown for my work.

I messaged my friends Taylor Main and Chris Mears to let them know I was coming back to the Island, and they invited me to a model railway operations session on Sunday evening in Summerside. Great!


Vroom, vroom!
After landing in Moncton, I obtained my rental car and hit the road. One of my other missions on the trip was to do a little model train car exchange with another friend, Caleb Wentzell (see his 10 Questions interview here). He had left some cars with a mutual friend in Salisbury so I drove down there to make the switch.

I pulled off the Trans-Canada Highway by the Irving Big Stop and drove into Salisbury. I wasn't quite sure where to go so I stopped by the tracks of the CN Sussex subdivision to plug the address into my phone. After doing that, I decided to check the RailsNB Facebook group to see if there was any news about CN movements on the line. Apparently there was a potash train into Saint John and five locos were running light out of Saint John that morning, but they were at least an hour away from me and I couldn't wait that long.

Suddenly the crossing bells started ringing.

CN 406!

I thought quickly. My camera was still in its bag, in the trunk - no time to get that. I grabbed my phone and jumped out of the car, frantically opening the Camera app and setting it to video. I started it just in time to catch the train blasting through the crossing.

A nice wave from the conductor and toot from the engineer!

After that excitement, I headed out of town to make the switch. Unfortunately our mutual friend was not home, so I left my cars in the mailbox and headed to Oromocto to see my mom.

Since I can remember, we almost always had cats and/or dogs in our house. My mom currently has two dogs and a cat, and she often fosters animals from the local SPCA until they are ready for adoption. When I visited, she was fostering a momma cat and six kittens. SO cute.

I fixed a few things around the house for my mom, and we went for supper.


In the morning, we visited the market in Oromocto and had a delicious waffle breakfast. Then it was time for me to hit the road for Prince Edward Island. It was nice to see my mom in person again.

I drove past Moncton with only a quick glance toward the CN rail lines - no traffic - and continued on toward the Confederation Bridge to the island.

Checking the time, I saw I had some free time before I was to meet Chris and Taylor for supper before going to Summerside. I decided to stop in Cape Tormentine, former terminus of the ferry to PEI prior to the construction of the Confederation Bridge. I had never been there as a railfan and I wanted to see the station, roundhouse and water tower there.

I did this and you may already have seen my post about it. If not, here's my post on Cape Tormentine.
Cape Tormentine train station
I crossed the Confederation Bridge. They must have a problem with people stopping to take photos from the bridge, as there are large signs warning of zero tolerance and big fines for mobile device use on the bridge.

Chris and I arrived at my hotel at the same time, and Taylor was there shortly afterward. We piled into Chris' car and headed for supper at The Old Triangle and then went to Summerside to operate on Scott Jay's Bayside and Tidewater layout. I wrote about that on Confessions of a Model Train Geek. Good times!

CN 1762, Kensington
Before we went to Scott's, we stopped in Kensington to pay our respects to the train station and to CN 1762, the only locomotive on PEI. She's looking well, although the red seems to be fading to orange... which I guess is what happened to many CN locomotives.

(psst... want to hear more about diesel locomotives that once roamed Prince Edward Island? I wrote an eBook about the diesels on PEI)

I didn't realize that another former Kensington train station still exists in the town. It is currently a private residence and is not very far away from the stone train station everyone sees.


Another day I stopped by the former Charlottetown train station, which was close to my hotel. The station is now being used for the island's Worker's Compensation Board and is in good condition.
The former Charlottetown train station
The station opened in 1907 and served the city for many years. After the cessation of passenger service, it held the main offices for CN on the island until the end of the railway in December 1989.


Tank car on PEI
I visited another remnant of the railway on Wednesday. There are two former CN tank cars that are located next to the Confederation Trail and Island Construction, a local construction firm. The two cars used to store waste oil from the ferries, and they were apparently acquired by a construction company to be cut up and reused. This never happened and they remain there on the rails beside the trail.

They appear to be quite old, judging by the riveted construction and where the handbrake is. The paint is still pretty good on one of them!
Tank cars on PEI


I flew out Thursday evening, for a quick turnaround to head to Calgary on Friday with my wife... but that's the subject for another set of blog posts.

Until then, I'll leave you with a photo of the Cape Jourimain lighthouse I visited on my way out of PEI.
Cape Jourimain lighthouse
Further reading:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cape Tormentine

Railway facilities at Cape Tormentine
The village of Cape Tormentine was once a very important location, being one terminus of the ferry between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The Cape hosted the ferries that carried people, vehicles and rail cars between the mainland and Borden, PEI.

The opening of the nearby Confederation Bridge on May 31, 1997 rendered the ferry service obsolete.

Recent Railway History

Cape Tormentine was the end of the CN Tormentine subdivision that ran to Sackville, NB to connect with the rest of the CN railway network.

This track diagram, from the August 1988 CN Car Control manual, shows the layout of the track in Cape Tormentine at the time.
Some of the tracks shown:
  • R059 - turntable and roundhouse.
  • R061 to R064 - storage tracks
  • R065 - locomotive storage and fueling
  • R069TT - team track and storage track
  • R070 - new main line
  • R071 - old main line
  • R081 - ferry ramp track 1
  • R082 - ferry ramp track 2
  • R083 - ferry dock storage track
  • R085 - reacher car storage

Cape Tormentine station
Reacher cars (usually flatcars) were used to "extend the reach" of the diesel locomotive to allow it to move cars on and off the ferry without the diesel locomotive putting its weight on the ramp or the ferry.

The nearby Hill Yard, less than a mile away from Cape Tormentine, had two storage tracks of 2515 feet each.

The last train left the Island on December 28, 1989 aboard the M.V. John Hamilton Gray, with CN 1786 and 1750, six flatcars, two tank cars, two gondolas, two snow plows and two cabooses.

There's a lovely A.W. Mooney photo on showing CN 3632 in front of the station. An RS-18 was stationed in Cape Tormentine to switch the ferry.

My Visit

On a recent trip to PEI, I decided to stop to visit Cape Tormentine. I had never been there before, and a recent series of photos posted by Taylor Main inspired me to visit while the railway infrastructure was still present.
The former train station at Cape Tormentine, NB
Cape Tormentine features several railway buildings - the train station, roundhouse, turntable and water tower.

The provincial Department of Natural Resources acquired the station and property from CN. The station was leased by the local Cape Tormentine Community Development Corporation until 2005 and used as a tourist information centre.
Former tourist information sign at the Cape Tormentine station
The tourist information function is now performed by the new buildings at Cape Jourimain where the mainland end of the Confederation Bridge touches the land.

The station's roof is definitely deteriorating, and I understand the floor has at least partially collapsed inside.

Two stall roundhouse at Cape Tormentine
The roundhouse is a two stall roundhouse, clearly in some disrepair. I did not go in any of the buildings so I do not know what it is like inside, but I can't imagine it is in good shape.

The turntable pit is filled in but the walls of the pit are still evident in places. You can see a portion of the wall in the foreground of the photo above.

Speaking of the turntable, that is nearby, very overgrown and rusted by this time.
Turntable at Cape Tormentine
I'm told the turntable was air-powered and it was connected to the locomotive on the turntable to provide the compressed air to move the turntable.
Closeup of turntable at Cape Tormentine

The railway water tower also stands.
Water tower and roundhouse at Cape Tormentine, NB
I don't know the function of this other building but I have to assume that it was related to the railway.

There is no trace of the railway between the station and the wharf as far as I could see. You can drive out to the pier but you can't drive very far along it as most is now fenced off. There is a great view of the Confederation Bridge from here, though!
Confederation Bridge from Cape Tormentine
That was my visit to Cape Tormentine. If you are driving to Prince Edward Island, I encourage you to drop by and have a look at these relics of the ferry operation while they are still there. There have been calls to have them demolished.

Ownership and Future

I reached out to the provincial government and Jean-François Pelletier from the Communications Department responded very quickly to provide some background on who owns the station and area. It is owned by the provincial Energy and Resource Development (ERD) department, formerly the Department of Natural Resources. He provided some details on its recent history, included above, and said that in 2015 an engineering firm "was retained to assess the condition of the buildings". The firm recommended that the buildings should be removed.

This month, an engineering firm was engaged to survey the site for hazardous materials. Railway sites are often contaminated with various substances, such as spilled coal and diesel fuel and various lubricating oils.

In his email, Mr. Pelletier concluded, "Once the results of the Hazardous Material Survey are received, ERD will be in a position to make recommendations regarding the future of the site."

The rear lighthouse at Cape Tormentine, NB

The PEI Ferries

There were four ferries operating on the Cape Tormentine-Borden route when the Confederation Bridge was being completed: MV John Hamilton Gray, MV Abegweit, MV Holiday Island and MV Vacationland.

The first MV Abegweit is in Chicago and the second MV Abegweit has been scrapped. MV John Hamilton Gray was sold and eventually scrapped.

MV Holiday Island, 2003
MV Holiday Island continues to serve PEI on the Wood Islands - Caribou route between PEI and Nova Scotia, working that route with MV Confederation. The accompanying photograph was taken from on board Confederation, en route to PEI.

MV Vacationland was acquired by the province of New Brunswick for Grand Manan service but never put into use. At last report she was in Quebec for refit for freight service.

The wharf itself is privately owned. The lighthouse at the end is owned by the Canadian Coast Guard and is off limits. The rear lighthouse, pictured above, is deteriorating.

See also: