Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson couldn’t be more thrilled about the two historic Fairbanks-Morse diesel locomotives coming to Railtown, but there are community members who’ve got him beat in the enthusiasm department.
“There’s a real buzz in the train fanatic world,” Thomson told the Star, describing how he walked into his office one day to find a former engineer of one of the trains pacing in his office.
“There are people who are constantly keeping track of where these trains are going, where they’re moving to, and they are so happy this display is coming to Nelson.”
According to Thomson, the trains travelled the Kootenay mountains and routinely came into town for servicing.
The two trains, CP 4104 and CP 7009, boast design elements that will impress onlookers.
“Both locomotives are painted in the popular Canadian Pacific Tuscan and grey paint scheme, which in their day matched the standard colour of the passenger trains travelling through Banff in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s,” reads a historical profile provided by the Chamber.
“The deep wine red colour is still used today.”
Local artist Thomas Loh collaborated with the City of Nelson and the Chamber on creating a landscaping plan outside the revitalized CPR station building in Railtown, and work has already begun to lay tracks for their arrival.
“These units are privately owned by a gentleman in Vancouver, but the Chamber will become their stewards and people will be able to enjoy them right in front of the building. We’re looking at doing a little restoration and painting work, and we may even build a viewing platform.”
The static display is part of a plan that involves more signage, bike racks and landscaping that will lead up to a grand opening in the near future.
The Chamber is also working on final tenancy agreements for the bottom floor of the CPR building, aiming for them to move in sometime in 2017.
The trains should be installed within the next month. They’re currently being stored nearby in the train yards on the other side of the tracks. To transport them they will build temporary rails.
“This really was a massive project and sometimes you would wonder if it would ever get finished. But we’re very pleased with how the project is progressing,” said Thomson.
“We’re chugging along.”