The ‘Paint the Train’ project was officially dedicated on Tuesday night by members of the Sunrise Rotary Club, the Cranbrook History Centre and Mayor Lee Pratt.
The project, first identified in 2008, was recently completed after work began in 2010, according to Frank Vanden Broek, a member of the committee that oversaw the project.
The two engines—4090 and 4469—were restored and painted after being acquired by the (formerly) Canadian Museum of Rail Travel from the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1992.
“We’ve had a lot of different businesses within the community donating goods and services and all of the contractors that worked on the project gave us huge discounts or some of them did it for free,” Vanden Broek said, adding that the total budget was approximately $248,000.
Both are considered ‘steam-killers’ as they were one of the first diesel electric locomotives to enter service.
The 4090 engine was one of 10 1,600 horsepower FA-2 diesel locomotives that entered service in 1953 by Canadian Pacific Railway to serve the Kootenay-Kettle Valley region.
It had an eventful service, picking up a few bumps and scratches, and even took a dip in Kootenay Lake after derailing from a snow slide in 1956.
Neither the 4090 or the 4469 lasted long out west, as the terrain and conditions, along with the engineers dissatisfaction with the engine culminated in a transfer out east to Ontario.
“These were the first ones that pushed the steam locomotives out.
This unit, although it was in use here in the East Kootenay for a couple of years…CP and CN both used them, but CP decided that maybe it was better off not in the mountain passes and it spent a lot of it’s life out east,” said Vanden Broek.
The 4090 was intended for freight services and not equipped with a boiler to supply train heating, however, it was equipped with steam lines and pulled passenger trains on occasion.
The trains were retired in 1977, before being acquired by the museum and relocated to Cranbrook.
Vanden Broek notes that there were many contractors and volunteers who supported the project, with funding coming primarily from the Downtown Business Association, Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, Columbia Basin Trust, City of Cranbrook, Cranbrook Arches Committee and the Sunrise Rotary Club.