Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Perfect Fall Day for a Model Railroad Open House (and Bonus Virginia Central Steam Locomotive Info and Photos)

A perfect fall day at the Prairie Dog Central, new home of WinNTrak.

Where would be the best place for a model railroad clubhouse?

Close to the tracks, is my answer. That’s where the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club has its layout, at the downtown VIA station as part of the Winnipeg Railway Museum.

Now another Winnipeg model railroad club is trackside: WinNTrak, Winnipeg's N scale modular group. 

On a perfect Oct. 3 fall afternoon, they held an open house to show off their new clubhouse at the home of the Prairie Dog Central Railway.

The Prairie Dog Central is owned by the Vintage Locomotive Society. It runs regular passenger excursions that are often led by #3, a 4-4-0  steam locomotive built in 1882. It might be the oldest operating steam locomotive in North America.

Other times, the trains are pulled by #4138, built in 1958 for the Grand Trunk Western, or #1685, built in 1957 for the Midland Railway Company of Manitoba (later absorbed by BNSF).

In addition to seeing WinNTrak’s layout, it was a great day to check out the two former Virginia Central steam locomotives that are temporarily parked on the Prairie Dog Central property. (Even if the sun was in the wrong place for good photography.)

The two former CPR 4-6-2s, numbered 1238 (built in 1946) and 1286 (built in 1948), spent over 40 years in Virginia before coming back home to Canada.

They were part of Jack Showalter’s Virginia Central tourist Railroad in Covington, Va., from the 1970s to 1990s. 

After Showalter’s death last year, the locomotives were purchased by an anonymous buyer from Alberta. They made their way to Winnipeg on the CPR's Emerson Sub., as the photo below shows. 

According to a report, the units were purchased to be used in steam excursion operations, although it is not known where. They will be stored in Winnipeg until those plans are settled.

In addition to the two unique steamers, there were other units and rolling stock to see that day.

If you ever get to Winnipeg, make sure to check it out!

Thanks to Train Geek (Steve Boyko) for the photo by Jeff Keddy. See more of Jeff's photos of the steam locomotives in transit on Steve's blog.

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