I think, deep down, my dad is like me in that he likes the big machines. That is why I wasn't surprised when my brother emailed me this photo he found in the family archives recently. I had never seen this photo before. In fact, I didn't even know it existed until my brother sent it to me. Initially, my only solid conclusion about this photo was that my dad took it. I was glad to add this image to my collection, but it made me wonder where this was taken and when.
This is what I initially managed to figure out about this photo.
1. This is an Algoma Central Railway train, since CN took over the railway in 2001 as part of the Wisconsin Central purchase. That would mean this photo was taken post-2001.
2. The units leading this train, including CN 5714, are SD75Is, judging by other photos I found of 5714. However, the 2011 shot I found shows 5714 has been repainted at some point since this photo was taken.
3. The dome car following the locomotives is ex-Western Pacific 813, Silver Palace. This was one of the Budd-built streamliners of a similar vintage to Via's silver and blue cars. The car was purchased in 1999 by ACR's parent company. This site suggests the car, now called Spirit of Superior, retained its California Zephyr paint scheme until at least 2004, which clouds the timeframe a bit. Looking at the information available online, this car doesn't seem to have a number, as it is usually referred to by its former number.
4. Given that these units are pulling a dome car, it's a safe guess to say this train is the Agawa Canyon Tour train. I figured it was taken at the end of the line, at the canyon.
5. You can see two passengers reading a tourist sign in front of the engines, which would suggest it was taken in the canyon.
Earlier this week, I was able to solve the mystery behind this photo when my Dad confirmed to me that he did indeed ride the Agawa Canyon tourist train in the early 2000s, although he wasn't able to pinpoint exactly when.
Also, later on in the week, my sister sent along some photos she took when her family rode the same train on Aug. 15 this summer. Note the similarities between the two photos.
The only question that remains is when was the first photo taken. I place the timeline between 2001-2005. It depends on when the old Zephyr cars were repainted in ACR colours. Anyone out there know the answer?