Railroads & Locomotives History CPKC’s Final Spike Anniversary Steam Tour enters the US

CPKC’s Final Spike Anniversary Steam Tour enters the US

By Kevin Gilliam | April 30, 2024

| Last updated on May 3, 2024

"The Empress" enters the stage

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CPKC’s Final Spike Anniversary Steam Tour

train surrounded by people
Canadian Pacific No. 2816 rests on display at the kickoff celebration for the Final Spike Anniversary Steam Tour at CPKC’s Ogden Shops in Calgary, Alberta, on April 24, 2024. Kevin Gilliam

On April 29, 2024, Canadian Pacific steam locomotive No. 2816 crossed into the United States at Portal, N.D., for the first time in over a decade. The engine is powering a tour covering three countries to celebrate the anniversary of the Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern becoming the new CPKC corporation.

Behind it

steam train in distance
With the Calgary skyline in the background, Canadian Pacific 2816 departs for the Final Spike Anniversary Steam Tour on April 26, 2024. Rick Moyer

Canadian Pacific H-1b 4-6-4 No. 2816 was built by the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1930. The engine ended service on Montreal area commuter trains in 1960, and was subsequently acquired by F. Nelson Blount for his Steamtown collection. In 1998, Canadian Pacific under CEO Robert Ritchie, reacquired the engine from Steamtown NHS and sent the engine to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a restoration to operational service. The engine returned to steam in 2001. Dubbed “The Empress,” the 2816 initiated the new Canadian Pacific steam program. The engine toured the CP system including a few visits to the United States for ten years until a change in Canadian Pacific leadership brought CEO E. Hunter Harrison on board, and the 2816 was retired and stored in Calgary’s Ogden Shops.

A change in fortunes for the 2816 occurred in 2020 with the appointment of new CEO Keith Creel. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the country, the company decided to host a virtual Holiday Train, and the 2816 was fired up and operated around the Odgen shops area for filming purposes.

Shortly thereafter, plans were set in motion for the eventual Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern merger to form the CPKC system.  The 2816 was put in the shops for a full rebuild to bring the engine up to current FRA specifications. With this, additional work converted the engine from grease lubrication to an oil-fed lubrication system based on Southern Pacific practices, and PTC was added. No. 2816 returned to operational service in 2023, and several test runs ironed out the expected teething issues.

With the merger approved, CPKC announced a Final Spike tour would operate with the 2816 leading a passenger train from Calgary, Alberta across Canada, into the United States, and down to Mexico City, scheduled for three months between April and June 2024. Subsequently, CPKC posted a list of display stops and a tour schedule with a live tracker on a special webpage for the tour at Final Spike 2816 Steam Train.

side view of steam train in field
Canadian Pacific 2816 climbs the ruling grade between Medicine Hat and an overnight layover at Dunmore, Alberta, on April 26, 2024. The Hydrogen fuel-cell diesel will be dropped from the consist this evening. Rick Moyer

Train of the hour

On April 24, the railroad opened the Odgen Shops in Calgary to the public with the 2816 under steam, along with various tents for the railroad along with Operation Lifesaver.

Two days later, the No. 2816 departed Calgary with FP9s Nos. 1401 and 4107, along with new hydrogen fuel-cell diesel No. 1001, two water tanks, a boxcar, and 14 passenger cars. The 1001 was dropped at the first day’s destination of Medicine Hat, Alberta, and the 2816 and F-units continued on the following morning for the run to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. After a display date in Moose Jaw, the Final Spike tour turned south and crossed into the United States at Portal, N.D. to end the day in Minot on April 29. April 30 found the 2816 on display in Minot, and the engine will depart on May 1 headed for Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City and points south.

Continue to follow Trains Magazine and Trains.com for continuing coverage of the Final Spike tour with livestream events from display sites. We are also filming  a DVD covering the history of the Canadian Pacific, Kansas City Southern, the new CPKC System, and the No. 2816 to be released for the holidays.

steam train in prairie
Now, with just the F9s assisting, Canadian Pacific 2816 speeds west near Irvine, Alberta, near border on April 27, 2024 bound for Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Rick Moyer

Steam locomotive by grain elevator
After a display date in Moose Jaw, Canadian Pacific 2816 rolls south by the grain elevator in Milestone, Saskatchewan, heading for the U.S. border on April 29, 2024. Rick Moyer

steam train in distance by pond
After crossing into the U.S. at Portal, N.D., Canadian Pacific 2816 rolls along Lower Des Lacs Lake near Kenmare, N.D., bound for an overnight stop in Minot on April 29, 2024. Rick Moyer
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