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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Pretty High Up in the Mountains

As part of the deal that saw British Columbia join the Canadian Confederation, the Government of Canada promised to connect British Columbia by rail to eastern Canada. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was incorporated in 1881 to accomplish this promise. The last spike was driven at Craigellachie, B.C. on November 7, 1885.

Of course, the most dangerous part of building the railway was the section in the British Columbia mountains. Rivers, streams and creeks had to be crossed. To begin, wooden trestle bridges were built to span the chasms. Stoney Creek Bridge, at 325 feet, was the highest single-span bridge on the CPR line. It is 200 metres long (656 ft) of the truss arch bridge style. Built in 1893, it now carries the Canadian Pacific Railway single track 90 meters (295 ft) over the Stoney Creek, between Revelstoke and Golden. It was the Stoney Creek Bridge is a 200-metre-long (656 ft) truss arch bridge in British Columbia, Canada.

It was originally made of timber in 1893. A steel structure replaced
the wooden bridge in 1894. This quote from Flashback Canada (by J. Bradley Cruxton. Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, ©2000, p. 161) explains how daunting the feat of building the bridge affected the engineers who had to drive over it: "The Mountain Creek trestle looked so fragile that one engineer refused to drive his engine over it. Van Horne said that he would drive the engine across himself. The engineer said, 'If you ain't afraid of getting killed Mr. Van Horne, with all your money, I ain't afraid either.' Van Horne replied, 'We'll have a double funeral – at my expense of course.' The engine passed safely over the bridge."

A second set of arches was added in 1929 to handle heavier traffic.

These coordinates are where you can find the bridge today: 51°22'48.00" N -117°27'57.60" W and they are very close to where Byron Harmon was standing when he took the picture on the front of the post card.

Byron Harmon arrived in Alberta in 1903 as an itinerant photographer after leaving his portrait studio in Tacoma, Washington. By 1906 He had become a founding member and official photographer of the Alpine Club of Canada. He took over 6,400 photographs while exploring the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirks. In 1907 Harmon began turning many of these photographs into real photo postcards, which became his principal life’s work. In 1924 he
traveled into the Rockies with the photographer Lewis R. Freeman. Some of the real photo postcards produced under Harmon’s name from this trip may actually be the work of Freeman that he published for him. After this trip Harmon mostly produced scenes alongside railway lines. He also distributed printed color postcards made from his photos that were manufactured in the United States.

His granddaughter still has a shop in Banff, Alberta.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Crossing Canada by Railway

The image on the front of this postcard shows the Transcontinental Limited train on the Canadian National mainline at Lucerne, British Columbia.
Lucerne sits 1,158 meters (3,800 feet) above sea level in the Canadian Rockies. It is west of Jasper, Alberta near the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Robson.

I searched the internet to see what I could find about the Transcontinental Limited train, and all I could find was that it was replaced on April 24, 1955, by Canadian National's new transcontinental flagship Super Continental. It mentions that this was the same date that competitor Canadian Pacific Railway introduced its new streamlined transcontinental train The Canadian.

Gowen & Sutton, the name on the back of the post card, were publishers of
real photo and printed postcards of the Canadian West. Not only did they produce cards depicting large cities, they captured many hard to reach views within the Canadian Territories. Many of their cards were hand tinted in a simple manner striving for style rather than realism, which created cards in vastly differing quality. While the real photo cards were made in Canada their printed cards were made in England. They were in business from 1921 to 1960 in Vancouver.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Edmonton Streetcar #1, Past and Present

The great majority of my blog posts have been about steam locomotives. Today I am going to veer over to the electric railway; in fact, the electric railway that was (and is) right here in my own hometown of Edmonton.

Between 1893 (September 16: an Ordinance to Empower the Municipality of the Town of Edmonton to Construct and Operate a Tramway) and 1908 (November 9: regular streetcar service begins in Edmonton Monday through Saturday only. Fare is collected by conductor passing through the car with a hand-held fare box) there was a lot of city-level discussion and activity regarding the construction of a streetcar service. There is a great website that provides detailed history about this exciting venture by the City of Edmonton: That is the website from which the information in this blog post came.

This post card is from between 1908 and 1915 (see note below). It shows street car #1 on Jasper Avenue, the main street of Edmonton.
Interesting fact: Streetcar #1 was not the first streetcar to be delivered to the Edmonton Radial Railway. It arrived a week after Streetcar #2 arrived.

Streetcars operated as the main public transportation until buses were introduced in the 1930s and slowly took over the dominance of the public transportation system. The last streetcar to run on Edmonton streets pulled into the car barn early in the morning of September 2, 1951.

Upon abandonment, streetcars were stripped of their metal parts (trucks) and electrical equipment. Many bodies were sold for further use as cottages, pig or chicken barns, sheds and even roadside diners. Streetcar #1 escaped this fate and became the only survivor. Held for future restoration, the car was stored outside the Cromdale car barn for years and suffered the effects of weather and vandalism.

It was not until 1964 that first efforts were made towards restoration to showcase the artifact in the 1967 Centennial Parade. Much more restoration was however required to make #1 operational again under its own power. In 1979 trips across the High Level Bridge (with the help of a diesel generator) were organized to celebrate Edmonton's 75th anniversary during the Thanksgiving Weekend. As a result of this successful operation, the Edmonton Radial Railway Society (ERRS) was formed and incorporated as an Alberta Society in early 1980.

The development of Fort Edmonton Park called for a streetcar line in the Park and an agreement between the Fort Edmonton Foundation, the ERRS and the City of Edmonton was reached. In 1981 streetcar #1 operated briefly over the railway tracks using a diesel generator to provide the power. Over the next three years the current track system and overhead lines were constructed.
On June 10, 1984 members of the ERRS started regular streetcar service at Fort Edmonton Park. Since these early days a number of displaced streetcar bodies were found and brought back to be restored. This post card is a picture of Edmonton Streetcar #1 after it was restored to run in Fort Edmonton.
Note Below:
I know that this postcard is from between 1908 and 1915 because it was published by Stedman Bros. Ltd., Brantford, Canada. They were only in business between those two years.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The One that Started It All

Although I did not know it at the time, this post card was to become the first card in my Train Post Card collection. I was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on June 5, 1982.
One of the guys in the class one year before me knew my passion for trains. He gave this to me as an "ordination card" on that occasion. It measures five and half inches tall and eight and three quarters inches wide. I kept the post card because a) I do love trains, and b) Patrick and I were good friends. I did not know at the time, that it would be the first card in my train post card collection - which today numbers 3,014 cards from around the world. I seriously committed to collecting post cards the year that England was the feature country at Klondike Days here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was in the 1990s. I wanted to collect something related to trains that would not take up much room. They had a huge selection of train post cards at their exhibit for sale. I committed and bought one of each!!

This post card features a partial history of the development of what is know today as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company. [Of course, at this time (1982) the Santa Fe part was still its own railroad company.] the train on the far left was built in 1892; the next one is from 1923; that is followed by a 1934 model of the "Zephyr". The second from the right is a 1955 diesel engine (an E-9 unit) as is the one on the far right, which is a GP-30 from 1962.
They all got together to celebrate "A Century of Locomotives".
The picture was taken by the Burlington Northern Railroad, as the company was known back in the 1970s. The post card itself was published by Lyman E. Cox from Sacramento, California - the home of the California State Railroad Museum.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Today in Railroad and Post Office History

This post card is a very modern one from my collection. However, it is a
reproduction of a post card that was originally published in 1934 for the Chicago Worlds Fair. It celebrates the first time ever that United States Post Office mail was sorted on a moving train.
The picture in the upper right-hand corner is a photo of the original "mail car" on which this historic event happened.
Sorting mail on the train lasted from July 28, 1862 to June 30, 1977... almost 115 years.
This back of the post card shows that it was published by the Whippany Railway Museum. The Whippany Railway Museum is a railway museum and excursion train ride located in the Whippany section of Hanover Township in Morris County, New Jersey, United States. The Whippany Railway Museum began when the Morris County Central Railroad (MCC) first opened to the public on May 9, 1965 at Whippany, NJ.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

International Crossing

Built in 1887 by the Dominion Bridge Company out of Montreal, Quebec and designed and engineered by Strauss Bascule Bridge Company (Strauss Engineering Company) of Chicago, Illinois

The Structure Type is described as A Metal 8 Panel Pin-Connected Camelback Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 12 Panel Rivet-Connected Pennsylvania Through Truss, Movable: Double Leaf Bascule (Heel Trunnion)

The main span is 368 feet long (there are 9 spans); the entire bridge length is 5,580 feet long (over a mile); and the roadbed over which the train travels is 21 feet wide.

It was renovated in 1913.

The International Railroad Bridge is a magnificent landmark bridge whose significant size comes from a large number of smaller spans, rather than a single large bridge. Indeed, the bridge is unparalleled in its variety of span types. It is one of the few bridges in North America to have more than one type of movable span. It is one of the few bridges in North America to have more than one type of movable span. Indeed, within this bridge each of the three most common movable bridge types is represented. When all these sections are combined, the result is a bridge that is unrivaled in variety, size, beauty, and history. These separate and different structures that carry the railroad over the St. Mary's River and its canal systems are collectively referred to as the International Railroad Bridge. The bridge was designed for and continues to carry a single set of tracks. In addition to the variety of span types, the bridge's existing spans were also constructed at different times. Two dates are most significant in the bridge's history. First, is 1887, which is what the oldest spans on this bridge date to, including the fixed camelback spans and the swing bridge. The second most significant date is 1913 when the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company designed the largest (and one of the most unusual) bascule span in the world for this bridge. Because of the variety of span types and span ages, photo galleries for this bridge as well as the narratives have all been organized into separate sections by bridge span type. The bridge crosses the river and canals of St. Marys River by making use of islands, some of which are artificial islands created by the locks. As such, from a technical definition, this bridge could be thought of as several bridges, since there are a few short sections that has track running along the ground. However, the structure is generally referred to in discussion as a single bridge, and therefore this bridge is being presented here on in that format.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mabel is going to the top of Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak rises to 14,115 feet above sea level in the state of Colorado.
Mountains with elevations this high have a very slow melting rate of the snow that it accumulates over the winter. Here, in this picture on this post card we see how that affects the ride up the mountain on the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad.

At the beginning of Spring it was announced that Pikes Peak would not open this year... and maybe never again. It was too old and needed too much money to rehabilitate it.

Recently there was a second announcement that this may not be the case. A new company has either purchased the railroad or will pitch in to rehabilitate it. Keep watching the news!!!

Pikes Peak is named for Zebulon Montgomery Pike, an early explorer of the Southwestern United States. Lieutenant Pike (later General Pike), first sighted what he termed "The Great Peak" in mid-November of 1806. A few days later, he attempted to climb the mountain with a small band of men, however, heavy snows around the 10,000-foot level turned his party back. In 1820, Edwin James, a botanist who climbed many peaks in Colorado, made it to the top. The first woman, Julia Holmes, climbed the peak in 1858.

In 1873, the U.S. Signal Service (an early Weather Bureau) built a telegraph station on the summit to monitor the weather. The station was lived in by Sergeant John O'Keefe and his wife.

On the afternoon of June 30th, 1891, the first passenger train, carrying a church choir from Denver, made it to the summit of Pikes Peak by train. Mabel, the author of today's post card, decided that she would rather drive up to the top of the mountain in the middle of July, 1939.

She is letting her good friend Mrs. James Baker know this little tid-bit of information. The post card is being sent to Sipesville, Pennsylvania. It is a town just about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and 30 miles south of where the Johnstown Flood of 1889 happened.
We have seen the little mascot in the top center of the post card before. This is the emblem (plus the arrow pointing up at it) used by the H.H. Tammen Company on their post cards.