History of CN 6514 (VIA 6514 / AC 1753) & 6614 (VIA 6614 /AC 1762)
by Jim Brock
These two diesel-electric locomotives are part of the "F" series locomotives built by General Motors from 1939 to 1960. In that period, a total of over seven thousand "F" series locomotives were produced at GM's locomotive plants in La Grange, Illinois and London, Ontario. The vast majority produced were for use in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, however, some were built for overseas buyers as well, including railways in Argentina, Australia, and Saudi Arabia....
...The 81 F9 series locomotives built for CN remained owned by CN until VIA Rail took over CN's passenger service on April 1, 1978. At that time, the remaining 72 (38 FP9A and 34 F9B) locomotives in this series were transferred to VIA Rail ownership.
6514 and 6614 continued in passenger service with VIA Rail until the early 1990's, when they were stored and put up for sale due to the VIA cuts at that time. In February 1995, a division of the Wisconsin Central (WC) Railroad bought a total of six FP9A's and four F9B's from VIA Rail, including both the 6514 and 6614. The locomotives were purchased specifically to handle excursion passenger service on the Algoma Central (AC) Railway, which had been acquired by the WC on January 31, 1995.
At the time of their assignment to the AC, both locomotives were renumbered, with 6514 becoming AC 1753 and 6614 becoming AC 1762.
The locomotives remained on the AC until after the purchase of the WC by CN on October 9, 2001. At this time, the units were again in storage....
The "F" class of units on CN had a long and productive life, and many are still in everyday service for subsequent owners across North America....
... We are indeed fortunate to have received this important donation from CN, which will be a cornerstone in our eventual plans to display a complete "Super-Continental" train from the late 1950's.
10648 Express Refrigerator
A high speed refrigerator car, developed to operate on the head end of passenger trains and demonstrating the evolution from ice to mechanical refrigeration. Cars such as this carried fresh fish, meat, and other perishables from place to place in Canada. This car will be painted in green, black and yellow - the heritage passenger car colors.
Converted from a box car, fitted with high speed trucks, and sometimes referred to as a Box Baggage, these cars were used on passenger trains to carry baggage, express parcels and other time sensitive materials across Canada.
During World War 2, these cars sometimes carried as many as 1,000 bags of mail for overseas.
7815 Mail Express
Mail Express 7815 was built in December of 1937 and was last used on the Ocean Limited between Montreal and Halifax. Most of the fittings are still in place. The tags in the postal section identify towns and cities along that line.
Acquired by the National Museum of Science and Technology in 1972, the car was donated to the Alberta Railway Museum in June, 1995. The postal section has been restored.
The Express section contains a display interpreting the components and operation of steam engines.
This car was used on mainline CNR passenger services to the Maritime provinces. The rounded metal brackets on the outside of the mail doors held the now-removed catch bar that was swung down to catch the bag of mail that the station agent would have hung up on a catch-post. A catch-post is mounted on the west end of the St. Albert station platform. Mail for the town was tossed off the train onto the station platform by a mail clerk.
After the mail had been removed from the catch bar, it was dumped on the table in the center of the car. On this table the clerks sorted the mail and deposited it in the appropriate canvas mail bags hung on the rows of hooks on the inside walls of the car. Other mail was put in the appropriate mail slot on the middle wall of the car.
Mail Express 7815 was owned and maintained by the railway, but the mail clerks were employed by the Canadian Postal Service. Between 4 and 10 mail clerks worked this car in shifts. At the end of their shift they got off at various stations and were replaced with other clerks, so that mail could be sorted around the clock as the train moved across the country. The C.N.R. could guarantee letters from Montreal to Vancouver in four days.
There is a small doorway between the mail section and the express section. It was kept locked, and only opened when parcels or mail had to be passed from one side to the other.
The express section had between one and five expressmen working in it. Valuables and company payrolls were shipped by train, so the car doors on the express section were kept locked and only opened at the larger city stations, where armed guards were used to protect the car's contents. Sometimes, armed guards even traveled inside the car.
There is also a mail slot near the middle of the car. If this car was stopped in a station, you could drop your mail into the slot to be sorted en route.
Mail in Canada went by train until 1970, when Canada Post began sending mail by plane and truck.
Baggage 8730 was built in 1939 and was used on passenger trains between Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver.
During the Second World War baggage cars such as this one carried wing and tail assemblies for aircraft from manufacturing plants in Ontario to Halifax for overseas shipment.
High priority shipments and Less than Carload Lots (LCL) were often sent in baggage cars on Through Passenger Trains. The cars could also be fitted with collapsible stalls to carry horses.
Baggage 8730 was acquired by the Model Railroad Club at Canadian Forces Base, Cold Lake, Alberta in April 1973. It was donated to the Alberta Railway Museum by the Commanding Officer in September 1994.
Silk Trains Baggage cars such as 8730 were used on the silk trains of the '20s and '30s. Between 1925 and 1932 C.N. operated over 100 special silk trains across Canada. These trains had priority over all rail traffic, including passenger service.
In July 1925, the first silk train special left the Port of Vancouver containing eight sealed baggage cars lined with a special paper to protect the shipment from dampness and dust. It was guarded by two armed C.N. Police. The cargo was worth approximately two million dollars.
In October 1927, the biggest C.N. silk train left the Port of Vancouver enroute to the National Silk Exchange in New York. The train consisted of some 21 express cars in two sections and contained 7,200 bales of silk worth seven million dollars. It took an estimated two billion worms to make that much silk. Raw silk was not subject to duty fees by the U.S. so the trains could cross the border without delay.
An intriguing story circulated that in each bale of silk were living silk worms, spinning their hearts out as the silk train sped across Canada on the way to New York. The story was false, of course; there was nothing in the bales but raw silk. The secret of making silk lies in knowing exactly when to kill the caterpillar while it is still in the worm (chrysalis) stage. If left too late, the emerging moth or butterfly could ruin the cocoon; if done too soon, the silk would not be ready for market.
The "Silker", as it was known, was not operated by any special crew, but by the crew that happened to be "next up" on the board. The locomotives used were fast locomotives that had been designed for high speeds in passenger service. Despite speeds of up to 90 miles an hour, there were few recorded accidents.
Silk trains in the west left Vancouver, and locomotives were changed at Boston Bar, British Columbia (BC); Kamloops, BC; Jasper, Alberta; and then Edmonton. This procedure was repeated at each terminal on the Canadian National system until the train reached its destination. It took approximately four to seven minutes to service these trains and put on another locomotive at each divisional point.
Built in 1923 by Canada Car & Foundry, "REGINA" was part of a new order to replace the aging wooden equipment inherited by the newly formed Canadian National Railways. Originally #1579, a 12-1 sleeper, it was then converted into an 8-1-2 in 1949 and renumbered 1801. "REGINA" was finally transferred to work service in 1979 as wreck dozer accommodation car #54957. It was donated to the Museum in April 2001 by CN. "REGINA" now serves as on-site accommodation for volunteers and is not available for viewing.
The car was built in 1927 as #1654 "JOHNSON", a 12-1 sleeper, then modified to 8-4 sleeper and named "PELEE ISLAND". It was put into work service in 1981 on the Prince George Auxiliary as a Carmen Bunk Car, then in the mid-90's was transferred to the Edmonton Auxiliary. This significant car was donated to the Museum by CN in October 1999. It has been repainted into the classic Super Continental color scheme. This car has historic significance as one of the named cars on Canadian National Railways Confederation Train of 1927. Locomotive 6015 - presently on display at Jasper - was one of the locomotives that pulled the train which was part of a special celebration for the 60th anniversary of Confederation. The cars were named after the individuals who signed the Articles of Canadian Confederation.
About John Mercer Johnson
John Mercer Johnson (via Wikipedia)
Johnson was born in Liverpool, England. In 1818 he was brought to New Brunswick by his father, where he became a lawyer and, in 1850, a member of the Legislative Assembly. He served successively as solicitor-general, postmaster-general, speaker and attorney-general. He was a delegate to the Quebec conference in 1864 and the London Conference in 1866. Following Confederation in 1867, Johnson was elected to the new federal House of Commons.
Built in 1924 by CC&F as a 4-1, Buffet Observation, FORT BRABANT (pronounced "bra-BAW": the name is French, the last syllable rhymes with the French word "bon") was a luxury car, purchased as part of an order for equipment needed to upgrade the newly-formed Canadian National Railways passenger equipment. "FORT BRABANT" and its sister cars replaced aging wooden equipment. "FORT BRABANT" was transferred to work service as CN59714 in 1982. It was severely modified - windows were changed, end windows were sealed and the sleeping accommodation was removed. A full kitchen was installed, dining seating put in and a lounge area constructed (see the picture below). "FORT BRABANT" was donated to the Museum by Canadian National in May, 2000.