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Chasing E&N Railfreight from Nanaimo to Port Alberni

by Elizabeth Guenzler

E&N Railfreight was an internal Canadian Pacific Railway shortline created in 1996 which served a few industries from Nanaimo south to Victoria and from Parksville west to Port Alberni, site of a pulp mill, the main industry in that city.

On October 18th, 1997, my friend Richard Isles invited me to a day's chase of E&N 3005 which was to lead a freight train from Nanaimo to Port Alberni. It was to be my first chase and I eagerly agreed to this adventure. I drove to Richard's house in Central Saanich and he drove us up to Nanaimo in the early morning.

ENR GP38-2 3005 leads Canadian Pacific GP38-2 3090 and GP38 3008 out of Stockett-Harmac Pulp Mill and the chase was on!

Our first stop was the Esquimalt and Nanaimo station on Selby Street.

ENR GP38-2 3005 just past the Nanaimo station.

We then drove north to Parksville and set up near the Esquimalt and Nanaimo station here. Originally called McBride Junction, the main line goes north to Courtenay and the spur to Port Alberni.

The train crosses Highway 1 just after Parksville station.

The road and track follow Highway 4 west to Port Alberni. At Coombs, the train reached the Qualicum Beach shortcut which was closed soon after our trip due to new highway construction.

The crew stopped for lunch at Coombs and Richard and I walked down the road to catch Milwaukee Road boxcar 50788 in the consist.

The train crossing the road into Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.

The freight train crosses the lower and higher wooden trestle bridges at Cameron Lake on a beautiful autumn afternoon at MP 14.6 of the Port Alberni Subdivision.

Approaching one of the Cameron Lake feeder streams and the low trestle bridge.

ENR 3005, CPR 3090 and CPR 3008 crossing the trestle at the west end of Cameron Lake.

Richard and I got ahead of the train and caught it coming into the MacMillan Bloedel (MacBlo) mill in Port Alberni.

Our train ready to switch on the wye at the MacBlo Mill.

The train near the museum area (just up from the mill yard) to enable engines to switch on the wye.

Former Canadian National caboose 76695 in Esquimalt and Nanaimo Division, Canadian Railroad Historical Association, paint scheme, along with an unmarked and unidentified passenger car of the Alberni Pacific Railway. The caboose would later be moved to the Canadian Pacific Railway roundhouse in Victoria.

Its work complete, the train, now led by Canadian Pacific GP38 3008, leaves Port Alberni en route back to Wellcox Yard in Nanaimo.

Crossing Gertrude Street in Port Alberni. This was where the chase ended and Richard and I started the drive back to Victoria and Central Saanich. It had been a fantastic chase, the weather was perfect and the autumn colours were spectacular.