Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Chasing Trains Through Banff, Part 2 - Morant's Curve to Field

I was in the Banff area in early June chasing trains. Part 1 is here.

After photographing the potash train CP 8646 West at Banff, I drove on the Trans-Canada Highway to Lake Louise, then took highway 1A back a few kilometres to famous Morant's Curve.

It was fairly overcast there, alas. One thing I noted immediately is how overgrown it is getting, especially on the western side of the curve.

I had my scanner with me so I strung the antenna up and sat back in the car to read my magazines and listen to the scanner. I could hear an end-of-train squawk* quite clearly, which was a good indication that a train was nearby.

Soon an eastbound train came rolling along, with CP 8741 at the head of an empty sulphur train. Check out how overgrown these shots are!

Unfortunate tree placement...

Careful timing here to actually see the nose of the locomotive...

Compare that to this photo from 2010:

It's amazing how much it has grown in 6 years.

Anyway, back to CP 8741. Almost the whole loco...

Here it is, finally...
CP 8741 at Morant's Curve
It's very disappointing, really. I understand a few railfans have complained to Parks Canada. I think it is a jurisdictional problem between Parks Canada and CP. Something should be done, or this famous spot will become like the Spiral Tunnels - overgrown and pointless.

At least the east view is still relatively unobscured.
Sultran sulphur cars at Morant's Curve
I wasn't sure if CP 8741 was the sole power on this empty Sultran train, but the approaching roar of another locomotive put that to rest. Familiar ex-Olympic unit CP 8876 was pushing on the rear.
Ex Olympic locomotive CP 8876 at Morant's Curve
I've seen that unit three times now. Once it was leading a grain train in Banff back in 2010 and I saw it in Winnipeg this January as a mid-train DPU.

CP 8876 receded into the distance, and I returned to my magazines. I heard some chatter on the scanner about trains at Eldon and Massive, the two sidings to the east of Morant's Curve on the CP Laggan subdivision. It sounded to me like there was a westbound coming.

By this time, a few tourists had stopped and were waiting for trains too. There was a family that I think was from the Netherlands, a pair of British gentlemen and a few Japanese tourists. I chatted with the British gents, the only ones who appeared to be able to speak English, and waited for the next train. They told me that they were hoping for a train soon as their wives were getting impatient to get on with the touristing. Sounds familiar!

A group of canoeists came padding along the Bow River and I amused myself by photographing them. I was helped by a rare moment of sunshine.
Canoeists on the Bow River
A couple of the canoe photos actually made decent stock photos.

By this time the British gents were packing it in. Just as they walked toward their cars, headlights appeared to the east. I ran over and told them, so they came back to see... our old friend CP 8646 West, the potash train from my last post.

CP 8646 at Morant's Curve
The "amateur" railfans were quite pleased with this and took lots of photos. The British gents were quite impressed by the length of the train. I haven't railfanned in England but I know their trains are a lot shorter than our multi-mile trains.
Railfans at Morant's Curve
I took a couple of shots to the east, trying to catch the train between the encroaching foliage. I managed to catch the rear DPU in a gap:

You can see the fog was really rolling in by this time.

I decided to carry on with my original plan and head to Field, BC to try to catch an eastbound train to follow. I drove past Lake Louise and soon discovered this very cool mountain (Cathedral Mountain) across Wapta Lake, with the track running along the lake. I paused here for 15-20 minutes, hoping for a train, but nothing came along, so I continued on past the Spiral Tunnels to Field, BC.

I arrived in Field and stopped at The Siding Café to grab some lunch. I ordered a ham deli sandwich, and while that was being made, CP 8775 East was getting ready to leave Field.
CP 8775 at Field
I know this isn't the classic photo of Field with the station in the photo, but I was in a hurry and I don't know Field very well! :)

In the next installment, you'll see a quick grab shot of another train at Field, then we'll chase CP 8775 east through the Spiral Tunnels through Banff to Canmore!

Read part 3

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