Timothy J. Horton


This page will describe a typical operating session from start to finish, describing and illustrating the various train movements during the session. These train movements are patterned on the prototype as closely as possible.

Our operating session begin with the 0205 arrival of the Vancouver-Peace Freight (Train No. 23) in Chetwynd. This train is staged prior to the session.

The VP Freight commences its journey in North Vancouver daily and brings trailers and empty cars north for Chetwynd, Taylor, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, and Dawson Creek.

On my layout this train typically comprises two locomotives and 20-25 freight cars.

Soon after, the 0001 Chetwynd Yard shift goes to work disassembling the VP Freight, setting out northbound cars for the Septimus Turn and eastbound cars for the Dawson Creek Switcher.

In the foreground on East Siding 1 is a cut of cars destined for Dawson Creek; in the background Eng 632 is seen shoving cars for the Septimus Turn into the Passing Track. The trailers are considered priority movements and on both trains the trailers will be conveyed at the head end of the consists.

After building the consists for the Septimus Turn and Dawson Switcher, the Chetwynd Yard engine adds the cabooses to the rear of the trains.

These trains will convey trailers and empty cars to Septimus and Dawson Creek respectively.

After these trains have left, the Chetwynd Yard will be able to go to work switching the various industries in Chetwynd, including company facilities, the Canfor mill and the Imperial Oil spur.

The Dawson Creek Switcher is typically ordered for 0900 and departs from Chetwynd with trailers and empty cars. The train runs over the Dawson Creek Subdivision on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

This train typically comprises two locomotives and 10-15 freight cars including empty cars for the grain elevators and lumber mill at Dawson Creek.

The Dawson Creek Switcher is seen here crossing the Kiskatinaw River bridge.

Upon arrival at Dawson Creek, the first task of the Dawson Creek Switcher is to set out the trailers at the company's trailer ramp, where tractors are often waiting to convey the trailers to their local destinations.

In this photograph, Engs 607 and 613 are seen shoving trailer flatcars into the trailer ramp. The trailers typically carry food and beverage products, and LCL freight.

The crew will then pull the outbound trailers and set them out for inclusion in the westbound consist.

The next task of the Dawson Creek Switcher is to switch the various grain elevators in town. The four elevators (Alberta Wheat Pool, Western Agri-Service, Fosters Seed & Feed, and Cargill Ltd.) ship out barley, seed, and wheat in boxcars and covered hoppers. The forty foot boxcars were still prevalent in 1977.

Here we see Engs 607 and 613 picking up two cars from Fosters Seed and Feed. This facility shipped forage grass seed products to farmers in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

In 1977 the Northwest Wood Preservers mill in Dawson Creek was shipping lumber, wood chips, and preserved wood products. The Dawson Creek Switcher will typically lift 5-6 cars from this mill and set out empty cars.

After switching the various industries, the crew will assemble their train for the return trip to Chetwynd, conveying lumber, wood chips, grain and trailers.

The northbound Septimus Turn is typically ordered for 1000 and runs daily except Mondays. It typically comprises two locomotives and 10-11 freight cars, including trailers and empty cars.

After a short run from Chetwynd to Septimus, the train enters the vacant siding and sets out the northbound tonnage. The southbound tonnage has been pre-staged on the other siding, having been brought south by he Fort St. John Yard.

After setting out the northbound tonnage, the Septimus Turn removes the caboose from the train and runs around the southbound tonnage to add the caboose to the rear. Here we see Engs 584 and 581 performing the runaround with the caboose.

It was also common for engines coming south for servicing or returning north to be exchanged here, which can add operational interest.

After completing its runaround move, the Septimus Turn returns to Chetwynd with its southbound tonnage. This typically includes sulphur, lumber, wood chips, grain, and trailers. In this photograph Engs 584 and 581 are seen entering the yard at Chetwynd.

After returning to Chetwynd and setting out its motive power, the crew of the Septimus Turn is often reassigned to a work train to provide them with a full evening of work.

Work Trains were operated frequently during the late 1970s in an effort to upgrade the northern branch lines for heavier traffic. Some of the jobs could include bank widening, ballasting, grade stabilization, tie renewal, or rail relay.

In this photograph we see Work Extra 810 with machinery flats, diesel fuel, and ballast hoppers.

Work Trains are assigned to work within prescribed limits, and station names boards are provided for this purpose.

Work trains can create operational interest when other trains have to be cleared through the work limits.

Here we see Engs 613 and 607 with the westbound Dawson Creek Switcher passing through Work Extra 810's work limits at Tremblay after the work train has cleared the main track.

Meanwhile, the Chetwynd Yard has gone to work switching the various industries at Chetwynd. The largest customer is the Canfor mill which typically receives and sends out 8-10 cars per session.

Here Eng 632 pulls chip cars and boxcars from the mill. These cars will be added to the southbound P-V Freight. There is also the Imperial Oil spur and the company freight shed and ramps to switch.

The last task of the Chetwynd Yard is to assemble the consist for the southbound P-V Freight. The consist will include lumber, veneer, wood chips, grain, sulphur and trailers from Taylor, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, and Dawson Creek.

The P-V Freight will typically comprise two locomotives and 20-25 freight cars. The locomotives are usually the same ones which brought in the V-P Freight.

The operating session ends with the return to Chetwynd of the Dawson Creek Switcher, and the P-V Freight ready for departure south to Prince George.

In this photograph, M-630s Nos. 710 and 708 are seen standing on the mainline ready to depart with the southbound P-V Freight (Train No. 48).