Chasing the Royal Canadian Pacific by Rob Gale, Jr.
Posted by Valerie Gale on
Hello everyone! My name is Rob Gale, Jr. and I run a YouTube channel called Ghost Pine Film Productions. The channel is geared toward railroading in Canada, and the history behind it in the form of small documentary videos ranging from 15-30 minutes long on average.
I’ve always liked trains, and love sharing the shots I capture and knowledge I learn with others.
In late August of 2020, it was announced on Facebook that the Royal Canadian Pacific would be making a trip to the mountains. As soon as I heard this info, I began planning a route to catch the train as many times as possible, in some of the world's finest scenery.
We began the chase in Calgary AB, and moved west from there.
The train was carrying company officials of Canadian Pacific, including the company CEO Keith Creel.
(This photo taken by a friend of mine shows me taking pictures and videos of the RCP at Castle mountain, which is just out of frame.)
Chasing the Royal Canadian Pacific can be tricky, unless you know the subdivision timetables and what to listen for on the scanner. While I don’t railfan the CP Laggan or Mountain subdivisions too often, I do know what to listen for. Thanks to some railfan friends of mine, I also know some excellent spots to photograph trains.
The train passed some well known spots on the Laggan sub heading for Field BC. I managed to catch it in Banff, Lake Louise, and the lower Spiral Tunnel. All of which you can see in the video I posted on my channel.
(This is one of my favorite spots on the CP Laggan sub to catch trains. This place is called “Stephan” on the official CP Laggan time table, but the crossing itself is called “Lake O’Hara Road Crossing". It affords an excellent view of trains in either direction!)
It didn’t take long for the train to arrive in Field BC, where it paused to perform a crew change as most trains do on this line. Field is where the CP Laggan sub ends, and the Mountain sub begins.
After Field, the train passes through another favorite photo location known as “Ottertail” to both railroaders and railfans alike. Ottertail is a big swooping curve that has a bridge, a river, plenty of trees, and mountains all in the same shot. To many people, Ottertail is what comes to mind when someone says “Trains in British Columbia”. Perhaps the worst part about Ottertail, is to get this shot one has to stand on the top of a steep hill, almost a cliff edge, right beside the Trans Canada Highway.
(The beauty of Ottertail is well worth the risk in my opinion. Here is the RCP coming and going through Ottertail, as six other railfans and myself capture various shots of the train as it passes by. 20 minutes of waiting for a 1 minute scene.)
The RCP tied down in Golden at the end of day one, so we grabbed a hotel room and got ready to continue the chase the next day.
The next morning, the RCP ran southbound along the CP Windermere subdivision which passes through places such as Invermere, Canal Flats, Skookumchuck, and Fort Steele. In Fort Steele BC, the Windermere ends, and the train continued on the Cranbrook sub to Fernie where it tied down for the second night.
(The Royal Canadian Pacific races through a crossing on the Windermere subdivision. A large mountain range barley hindered by the smoke from the forest fires in Penticton BC can be seen in the background.)
(The RCP backs into the small yard in Fernie BC, where it will stay the night.)
Because of time, we couldn’t chase the train all the way back to Calgary, so we broke off the chase after the second day. The third day the RCP ran to Lethbridge, then later that day, back to Calgary where it was put away until it’s next assignment.
Thanks for joining me on this virtual tour of the RCP through BC and AB and I invite you to watch my video (click on the title below to be brought to the video).