Saturday, February 03, 2018

The Revelstoke Railway Museum

CP 5468 in the Revelstoke Railway Museum
My wife and I visited the Revelstoke Railway Museum last September... on my birthday, in fact. It had been on my "bucket list" and a visit here was a key piece of my big birthday trip.

We visited the inside of the museum first - featuring steam locomotive CP 5468 and CPR business car #4 - and then toured the outdoor rolling stock before returning to the inside and the gift shop.

CP 5468

Overhead view of CP 5468
The star of the show is CP 5468, a 2-8-2 Mikado steam locomotive. The museum's main building is practically built around this locomotive, with lots of room around it for viewing plus a second level "balcony" so you can see it from any angle.

CP 5468 was built in 1948 by the Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW). The locomotive weighs 124 tons (without tender). This beast is 89' long and is 15' 6" high at the smokestack.

This locomotive was displayed at the Canadian Railway Museum (Exporail) in Delson, Quebec from 1963 to 1992. It came to Revelstoke in 1993 and is, I believe, still owned by Exporail.

I guess, technically, it is owned by the Canadian Railroad Historical Association (CRHA), which owns and operates Exporail.

Speaking of the CRHA, the Revelstoke Railway Museum was founded by the Selkirk Division of the CRHA. The Division was formed in 1986 and looked at Revelstoke as a home for a museum because of its rich railway history and proximity to Craigellachie, where the "last spike" was driven on the CPR.

With the support of the city, who donated the land, and local businesses, who donated material and time, the volunteers of the CRHA worked to build the museum.

Two volunteers, Ernie Ottewell and Fred Olsson, went to Delson to prepare CP 5468 for travel to Revelstoke. It left on September 29, 1991 but developed an issue with a rear wheel that forced the locomotive to stay in Ontario over the winter.

Construction started on the main building in 1992 and opened to the public in 1993. CP 5468 arrived and was cleaned and polished up for display as the centerpiece of the collection.

But there's plenty more to see beyond the steam engine!

Business Car #4

Business car #4
CPR business car #4 is on display beside the steam engine. This car is partially restored inside with a nice set of table settings.

This car was built in 1931, I believe, and went through several name changes and makeovers. It spent 10 years as the "River Humber" before being refitted as "Cape Humber" in 1941, then "Cape Ray" in 1946, and Official Business Car #4 in 1963 before being retired in October 1992.

Railways sure like to squeeze the last bit of use out of everything!

I'm not sure what this car is being restored back to... it started as a buffet-solarium lounge car, which is quite different than what it is now.

Up Top

Upper level of the Revelstoke Railway Museum
The upper level of the museum is a mezzanine floor, basically a balcony that goes around the building. It gives a lot of great views of the top of the steam locomotive, and there are displays along the walls and in the aisle. You can see several station signs and many photos on the wall in my photo above.

One end of the second level features a model train layout operated by the Revelstoke Model Railway Club.
Part of the Revelstoke Model Railway layout
This railway depicts portions of the CP Revelstoke subdivision, with an emphasis on the portion from Revelstoke east to Rogers Pass.

The Outside Collection

Outside the Revelstoke Railway Museum
There is a large collection of rolling stock on the south side of the museum. These cars are either maintenance-of-way (MOW) or freight cars, plus one diesel locomotive - CP 5500.

Snow plow CP 401027 in Revelstoke, BC

Track 1

One track has caboose CP 437477, flat car CP 421237, service car CP 404116, flanger CP 400573, Jordan spreader CP 402811, and plow CP 401027. You can go inside CP 401027, which is nice if a bit spartan.
Inside snow plow CP 401027

Track 2

Outside braced box car CP 184254
The second track is short and only has 3 cars - an unnumbered steel box car, beautifully restored outside braced wooden boxcar CP 184254, and a newly painted but unnumbered baggage car.
Baggage car in Revelstoke

Track 3

Freight cars at the Revelstoke Railway Museum
The third (back) track has a collection of freight cars, with a double track snow plow on one end and a diesel locomotive at the other. Multimarks abound!

The double track plow, CP 400823, is quite interesting. These are pretty rare in comparison to the more common wedge plow.
Double track plow CP 400823 in Revelstoke
These plows were designed to deposit all plowed snow only on one side. This allowed them to plow double track (two parallel tracks) and sidings, without dumping half the snow on the adjacent rails.

I don't know how well they really worked. If you were plowing double track with only one plow, you'd have to plow one track, dumping the snow onto the other track; then back up and do the other track. Like most plows, this has an extendable "wing" to help direct the snow farther away from the plowed track, so maybe they could avoid putting too much snow on the adjacent track.

Behind the plow is a graffiti covered boxcar with a very small door - not sure why - with CP script under the graffit. Next is CP tank car 400126, followed by steel boxcar CP 401607 proudly bearing a multimark, then coal car CP 353119 and this car, a former steam generator car converted to a robot car.

Steam generator / robot car in Revelstoke
I've never seen a CP steam generator car. These cars contained steam boilers (with water tanks) to provide steam for heating passenger cars.

With the advent of electric heat on board trains, they became obsolete and were retired or repurposed. This one was indeed repurposed into a "robot car".

Robot cars held the radio equipment that allowed the engineer in the lead locomotive to remotely control other locomotives farther back in the train. No special equipment was required in the other locomotives - they were connected to the adjacent robot car, which looked like another locomotive to them and was able to control them with the "MU" (multiple-unit) cabling standard on almost all locomotives.

Today the radio equipment is built into most locomotives and robot cars aren't required.

CP 5500

CP 5500
Locomotive CP 5500 is an important piece of the collection, in my opinion. This locomotive is an SD40, built by General Motors' Diesel Division (GMD) in London, Ontario. This unit was the first SD40 built by GMD, in 1966.

The SD40, and later model SD40-2, was the most common diesel locomotive on Canadian Pacific for many years. In the past ten or fifteen years, they have been displaced by more modern power and many of these locomotives have been retired or rebuilt into "ECO" units. There are only a few SD40-2 units still operating on CP today.

DRF-30A2 = Diesel Road Freight - 3000 horsepower
CP 5500 was rebuilt to SD40-2 specifications during its lifetime. It was retired in 2001 and donated by CP to the museum on August 17, 2007. The museum intends to repaint it to its original paint scheme, maroon and grey with "script" lettering.

Good old Dofasco trucks
There are lots of SD40-2 units working industrial jobs at grain elevators and other locations, but they will dwindle in number over the years. I'm glad the museum has this unit.

I liked this high-rail truck!
CP Rail System - high-rail truck

Interpretive Displays

Interpretive displays
I've been a total railfan and focused on the rolling stock first. There are a lot of interpretive displays in the museum, and they are very professional and well done. The displays are focused on the area around Revelstoke, as they should be.

I really liked this "drumhead" display, showing some of the signs displayed at the ends of CP passenger trains.

Diesel Simulator

Diesel simulator
Another of the many highlights of the museum is the diesel simulator. For a toonie ($2), you can drive a locomotive through the Rockies using a real locomotive control stand.

This was a lot of fun. The screens show the "view" and you can apply brakes or throttle as indicated to take your train out on the main line, and take a short drive before bringing it to a safe stop.
Keep your eyes on the road, man!
Well worth two bucks.

Gift Shop

The museum has a well-stocked gift shop. I bought a few BRMNA books.

I really enjoyed our visit to the Revelstoke Railway Museum. This is a first class facility and well worth a few hours.
Outside the Revelstoke Railway Museum
I visited this museum during my 50th birthday tour... read on!

See Also


Eric said...

That is a museum I hope to visit someday. CP 400823 was at Sudbury in 1985:

and I believe the CP script boxcar with the small door was an insulated car that was stuck on a spur somewhere in southern BC for a long time before being rescued and sent to the museum.

CPR 5468 was in that neat 1992 hospital train and wintered in White River. My uncle caught it with all those Angus vans as it continued west:


Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Eric, I missed that post of yours about CP 5468! I'm glad several people managed to document its travels.

Blair Ivey said...

Thanks for sharing! Now I have another place to visit. Looks like you had great weather.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Blair, we did have some great weather... lucked out! :)