It would seem that our clan has become a train family. Almost three years ago, Ellie got a Thomas the Tank Engine train set for Christmas, which quickly became a favourite toy, and has remained so since then. Enter Ethan stage left, and we have returned to the golden age of trains! A typical day for me now starts with helping Ethan create a new train track before anyone else is up in the house. The girls get up after awhile and join in the engineering and suddenly there are three kids on their hands and knees toot-tooting around the living room floor. Often when I come home from work, the train set is still there, but morphed a few times and they are still playing with it.
Ethan is the biggest rail fan of the family, and also seems to have the keenest hearing. We live within earshot of the train tracks, and several times a day the trains roll by, blowing their horns. Ethan stops whatever he is doing, points to the window and says enthusiastically, “Toot toot!”
(Note: this next video is provided just for Grandmothers and Aunts to get their kid fix)
I myself have a HO scale train set that I inherited from my father that is a work in progress in the basement, so I guess I too have the train bug.
So when we heard about Railfan Day on the August long weekend in Stettler on the Alberta Prairie Railway, how could we resist?
It costs a pretty penny to ride the steam trains, so Naomi decided she would drive from Stettler to Big Valley and meet us there for lunch before our train ride back. Along the way she intercepted the train a few times to get pictures or video of the train going by.
Us on the train.
Naomi getting a picture of us going by.
That day they had Engine No. 6060, an old Canadian National 4-8-2 steam locomotive pulling the train. No. 6060 is a 1944 Mountain Class 4-8-2 steam locomotive and is the largest operating steam engine in Canada. It is a huge train that is more powerful than many of the modern diesels seen on the main lines. It is so big and heavy (93 feet long and 637,540 pounds) that it can’t go very fast on the light-gauge railway we were on. We took two hours for the short distance (including the train robbery), going about 20-28 km/h, but the 6060 is capable of going about 120 km/h on a main line! See www.6060.org for more info.
The drive wheels on this engine are 6 feet tall!
Since it was Railfan Day, there were a few special events. They did a slow photo pass of the Big Valley station with some old diesel engines and the 6060, plus, we could get into the cab of any of the engines there!
On the train there was a singer providing entertainment, a train robbery, a meal in Big Valley, then the ride back. Watch and listen for Ellie, Adelaine and I in the video Naomi got of us of us on the train at around 6:45 in the video.
We had a really great day as a family, one I am sure the kids are going to remember for a long time.