From Dog Sleds to Air Conditioned Trains

This children’s booklet tells the history of Canadian travel in general and Canadian Pacific in particular through sixteen six-line poems and accompanying sketches. A card is glued to the inside back cover that contains a “secret” message for “Mother, Father, or Grown-ups only.” I didn’t open the secret message as doing so would have damaged the item.

Click image to download a 7.1-MB PDF of this booklet. Click here to view a 2.8-MB version of the front and back cover shown above.

The cover shows CP 4-4-4 locomotive number 3000. This was a rare class of locomotive; four trailing wheels are only needed to support a large firebox, and such a large firebox isn’t normally needed to support four driving wheels. Three American railroads built a total of six of this class of locomotive and none were successful. Canadian Pacific, which called them Jubilees, purchased five with 80-inch drivers in 1936 and twenty more with 75-inch drivers in 1937. It considered them fairly successful; one pulled a four-car train at 112.5 mph, setting the all-time speed record for Canadian steam locomotives.

The back of the booklet has a faint outline of the face of steam locomotive 5902. This 2-10-4 locomotive–known as a Texan in the United States but as a Selkirk to the Canadian Pacific–was the largest steam locomotive ever built in Canada. The 5902 was one of 20 built in 1929. In 1939, ten more semi-streamlined versions of this locomotive were added to CP’s roster, with six more in 1949 that were almost identical to the 1939 version. All had 63-inch drivers. While American railroads used 2-10-4s to pull freight, Canadian Pacific was unusual in using them for passenger trains in the Rocky Mountains.

Semi-streamlined Selkirk 5927 pulls a passenger train, probably the Toronto section of the Dominion, up the grade by the Massive Range in the Canadian Rockies. Click image for a larger view of this official Canadian Pacific photo taken by Nicholas Morant.

The Selkirks were three times more powerful than the Jubilees, but they were built for different purposes. The high-drivered Jubilees were designed for speed and acceleration, hauling short passenger trains in local service in relatively flat territory east of Calgary. The Selkirks were designed to pull relatively transcontinental passenger trains and freight trains over the mountains west of Calgary.


From Dog Sleds to Air Conditioned Trains — 1 Comment

  1. Oh, c’mon, I want to know what the secret message was. :-0

    I don’t know if you noticed in the “official” CP publicity photo, but the boxcar next in line from the tender is a UP car. Not only surprising they’d use a foreign line boxcar in an official photo, but it’s not even an express box, just a standard 40 footer. It must have been near Christmas when the photo was taken, with two express cars, an RPO, and I suspect the UP car added from the available pool to carry more presents from Santa. 🙂


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