Motorcars, Speeders and Railcars

By Wayne Parsons

Southwest Railcar Ltd. - British Columbia 2005

Coordinator: Tom Phair  -  CN Rail Host: John Armstrong

Prince George, BC to Ft. St. James, BC to Lovell Cove Camp to Minaret, BC and return

August 12 - 16, 2005

Preparing to depart for Fort St. James, Lovel Cove Camp, and Minaret on Friday, Aug. 12th.

After traversing the Fraser River, we again cross the four way stop diamond.  CN is "discussing" the need for STOP signs with the government and at the moment has them covered in black plastic bags (center between cars).



With the bark beetle killing the mature Lodge Pole pine trees, the lumber companies are searching for another fast growing tree to feed pulp mills like this one just outside Prince George.

After going 30 miles northwest from Prince George the cars switch onto the Stuart and Takla Subdivisions at MP zero.  Here we are 72 miles from Ft. St. James, 196 miles from Lovel Cove Camp, and 273 miles from Minaret.



The rail on the Stuart Sub is 95# and has taken a beating from the heavy trains operating for the 5 years since the last speeder run here. 

Stopping on one of several bridges over clear mountain streams we photograph the salmon spawning below.  The fish have turned red as part of their natural cycle.



Lake views such as this are common all day Friday.  Traveling by rail is the only way to see this scenery.  We are very lucky and very, very grateful to be doing this event.

One of many cuts with forest views.



Arriving in Fort St. James, the speeders are fueled from a gas tank carried by John Armstrong in his Hy-Railer.

Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Fort St. James was originally built with square logs and completed in 1873.  Father Coccola remodeled it in 1905 adding to the first tower the higher spire seen here and siding to cover the log walls.



The taxi drivers soon had us convinced that "The Pub" was the best place in town.

Preparing to depart north to Lovell Cove Camp.  Prior to the CN/BCR merger a switching locomotive was usually posted to this stub outside Ft. St. James.  New operating procedures used by CN made this stub available for our use both north and south bound.


Fort St. James to Lovell Cove Camp - Saturday 8/13/05

The group arrives four at a time as the two taxis shuttle back and forth from the motel.

The green tunnel.  Nice shot, eh?



Lunch stop on Saturday 8/13 at MP 122 found some brave enough to swim in the cold lake water. 

This south bound view at MP 169 shows the direction of travel during an eight car derailment of log cars in July.  The curve has all new ties, ballast, and rails.  The damaged cars will be cut up for salvage as time permits.


Lovell Cove Camp

The derailment was caused by a worn side bearing on a car and track surfacing that was just at the tolerance level.

Sign at the edge of the Lovell Cove lumber camp log yard.



This crawler used to load log cars frames the motorcars as we tie-up in the lumber yard.

The walk to the camp is a nice way to work out the kinks after riding all day.  We arrived just after 5PM and dinner was waiting!



Note the hi-railer parked on the right.  The lumber company must use it to travel on the rails.

The kitchen is at the left of frame.  Behind this view is a recreation hall with pool tables and satellite TV.  The buildings on the right are barracks A thru F capable of housing 200 loggers and 15 staff.  Also on the grounds is a CN trailer for rail personnel plus a health clinic and various offices.



This 10 X 10 room had a writing table, medicine chest, closet, and coat rack.  Loggers must take off their boots at the entrance boot room and wear only "inside" shoes in the barracks halls.

The dining room is contracted out to Chief Cook Joe who started working in lumber camp kitchens at 16.   Today he owns the equipment here and at Minaret.  This season there will only be 30 loggers in the Lovell Cove camp.  The company will soon close the Minaret camp.


To Minaret and return to Lovel Cove Camp - Sunday 8/14/05

This shot shows the ecological disaster happening in the North American forests.  The bark beetle is killing the mature Lodge Pole pine trees.  The brown trees on the left are dead and must be harvested within 3 years or the timber will be lost.  Normally killed off by 25 degree below winter temperatures, mild winters the last eight or so years have permitted the beetle to advance.  Now the bug is so far south that the winters will never be cold enough to stop it. 

Minaret logging camp at MP 273.  When this camp closes the next big use for the rail we have traveled may be a connection with Alaska.  Other routes are also under consideration.



Using the Fairmont turntable to turn at Minaret.

The "station" at Minaret.



Crossing a high bridge on the way back to Lovell Cove Camp.  Note the dead trees along the river bank.

A fine evening view as we motor south.



Anne Parsons

John Phipps and Tom Ferrier


Lovell Cove Camp return to Fort St. James - Monday 8/15/05

The consist ready to run south after another lumber jack breakfast!



The green tunnel!  It's hard to believe that this scenery would be boring to the CN crews up here!

CN Supervisor Al spots this fallen tree and warns everyone by radio.  This happened just around a curve.  Each motorcar would stop short of the curve and flag.  When the next car arrived, they would stop and flag while the car in front advanced to the group.

With everyone safely stopped the rail was cleared by simply pulling the tree into the ditch.

Car #9 runs south on a grass carpet with steel rails.

Rest stop at MP 124.


Last day: Ft. St. James to Prince George - Tuesday 8/16/05

This taxi driver and his brother look alike and we can never tell them apart.

Wayne and Anne Parsons



Ethelyn McCracken and Anne Parsons

Wayne Parsons your photographer, writer, and speeder pilot.  Any day on the rail is better than any other day...unless it's another day on another railroad!



Car #9 and Car #8 round a curve approaching Prince George.  This last day was a delight for speeder operation.  The group had developed as an operational unit and when that happens it's always a great feeling to run for home on the last day.

This picture tells the story of the area: farms, timber, and a mill in the distance.



The group goes in the hole on a siding at the CANFOR pulp mill just outside Prince George.



Leaving the mill siding, we stop as two lumber trucks cross in front of us.

The last mile post on the main line before heading across the Fraser River bridge.



Car #9 crosses the diamond for the last time this trip.

We wait as the first of two trains leave the yard and cross Fraser River.  Thank you CN Rail, CN Rail Host John Armstrong, all the escort Supervisors, and SWRC Meet Coordinator Tom Phair for a wonder trip!

As mentioned on another of these pages reporting on this trip, there were no break downs, no one was towed, there were no accidents or safety issues of any kind the entire trip.  Congratulations to the whole group for a safely operated meet.

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