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Canadian Railroads > BCR GF6Cs on coal loads. July, 1986.


Date: 06/05/23 15:22
BCR GF6Cs on coal loads. July, 1986.
Author: Guitartrain

British Columbia Railway GF6Cs-6003 & 6004, with Canadian National caboose 78197, are on the rear of a coal train departing from the Quintette load-out. One of the highlights of my trip to BC in 1986 was being invited to ride a round trip in the pushers. It was quite the experience. I'll always remember that the crew was so apologetic that I didn't see any bears. 7-9-86 in Quintette, BC.




Date: 06/05/23 18:45
Re: BCR GF6Cs on coal loads. July, 1986.
Author: krm152

Excellent photo and interesting narrative.
The experience had to be awesome.
Thanks for your posting.
ALLEN



Date: 06/06/23 02:04
Re: BCR GF6Cs on coal loads. July, 1986.
Author: refarkas

First-class photo made even better by also getting a cab ride on that trip.
Bob



Date: 06/07/23 00:22
Re: BCR GF6Cs on coal loads. July, 1986.
Author: railsmith

Guitartrain Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> British Columbia Railway GF6Cs-6003 & 6004, with
> Canadian National caboose 78197, are on the rear
> of a coal train departing from the Quintette
> load-out. One of the highlights of my trip to BC
> in 1986 was being invited to ride a round trip in
> the pushers. It was quite the experience. I'll
> always remember that the crew was so apologetic
> that I didn't see any bears.

I had a pusher ride in 1998 aboard BCOL 6004 and the crew shared that interest in bears.

Returning northward with the light engine move after the push had been completed, we were emerging from the Wolverine Tunnel at Mile 47.3 when the crew asked if I like to have a stop at the Mile 48 marker so I could photograph the huge ammonite there. We’d seen it from the cab on the outbound push.

Dating back to a time between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the giant nautiloid fossil had been uncovered during excavation of the right-of way in the early 1980s and the excavators took care not to damage it further, leaving it still partly embedded in the shale bank. I’d known of it from the book by John Garden titled British Columbia Railway (pages 402-403).

I thanked them for being so thoughtful but explained there’d be no need because I’d hiked in there a few days before. I’d driven up the rough access road to Wolverine siding and walked in about a mile to see the tunnel portal, knowing I’d see the ammonite along the way.

That sparked the following dialogue:

Crew:  “You walked in along here by yourself? What were you carrying?”

Me: “Just my camera bag and a bottle of water.”

Crew: “No, no – what were you carrying for protection?”

The penny then dropped and I had to admit I’d been defenceless against bears.

As we continued, they explained that the railway at that point bisected a five-mile wide grizzly bear migration path that stretched south across the border with Montana. During our run through that stretch they pointed to a spot immediately left of trackside, and recalled an incident where a bear had been struck and killed by an outbound loaded train. When that pusher crew returned light engine within an hour, they saw several bears finishing the job of burying the corpse, as a cache for future nourishment.

When I returned in 2000 a few months before the last electrics, I stopped off in Prince George to buy a bear banger. I told the proprietor of the hunting store where I was going and he agreed with the train crew’s assessment, urging me to buy a shotgun. But I stuck to my plan for a simple banger and he showed me how to use it, the trick being that the cartridge had to detonate between me and the bear. If it sailed past the bear and detonated behind him, he’d probably charge in my direction.

What better place to try it out than Wolverine siding?  I aimed across the tracks toward the shale bank and the cartridge took off in the strong wind, detonating well above the height of a train, let alone a bear. I didn’t feel so protected after that.

I did have a few bear encounters during my two visits to the electrified territory, including a mother black bear and two cubs getting between me and my car at Tacheeda, but nothing to curb my enthusiasm for railfanning there.

Photos of the ammonite below.
 






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