Wednesday, July 24, 2019

New Home for Former Virginia Central (ex-CPR) 4-6-2 Locomotives: Winnipeg!

In 2015 I reported that two former CPR G5 4-6-2s, belonging to the defunct Virginia Central, had made their way to Winnipeg.

At the time, the future of the units was uncertain. Now I can report that they have been purchased by Manitoba’s Vintage Locomotive Society, which runs the popular Prairie Dog Central steam excursion train.

The two units, numbered 1238 (built in 1946) and 1286 (built in 1948), spent over 40 years in Virginia before coming back home to Canada.

On their way to Winnipeg. Jeff Keddy photo.

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

After Showalter’s death in 2014, the locomotives were purchased by an anonymous buyer from Alberta.

They made their way to Winnipeg on the CPR's Emerson Sub. for storage at the Prairie Dog Central.

Being unloaded in Winnipeg. Morgan Turney photo.

And there they sat for the longest time, with no news about their disposition.

But now I’ve learned the Vintage Locomotive Society bought the units back in 2017.

According to Paul Newsome, General Manager of the Vintage Locomotive Society, there are no firm plans for the units at this time.

The reason for that, he says, is “because as a practical matter it is not yet possible to work on them the way we had to for seven years when we rebuilt No. 3.” (The Society’s vintage 4-4-0 unit.)

Also, he says, “there are a few other matters that we need to deal with before we make any firm decisions.”

I asked Paul what would need to be done to bring the two locomotives back up to running condition.

“The engines were put away running and were well maintained in storage,” he says.

“However, there would still be a fair bit of work to fully inspect them and renew whatever parts need renewing. Most definitely they would be completely re-tubed. Beyond that, though, a thorough inspection would reveal what work would need to be done.”

In other words, stay tuned! Maybe one day you can come to Winnipeg and ride behind a restored CPR 4-6-2.

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