Footlose in Vancouver
By Jerry W. Bird
The Mighty Yellowhead
THIS EDITION IS IN PROGRESS. MORE TO COME
Africa Travel Series
World Edition Previews
Editor's note: One of the highlights of our career in publishing was a visit to Railfair in Sacramento. It was held at the California State Railroad Museum and was certainly an event to remember. We hope Railfair continues.
The Railroad Technology Museum at the Southern Pacific Railroad Sacramento Shops
Momentum Builds with Completion of Reconstructed Transfer Table
California State Parks, with the support of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, continues to make progress toward placing the Railroad Museum's next phase in the historic Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops complex. Located adjacent to downtown Sacramento, the Shops are one of North America's most important industrial heritage sites. Proposed for the site is the Railroad Technology Museum (RTM), a major expansion of the California State Railroad Museum.
In late 1999, the Museum secured a lease from Union Pacific Railroad on the complex's two main structures, the Boiler Shop and Erecting Shop. These cavernous structures both date from the days when steam locomotives were built and repaired at the Sacramento Shops. Portions of the massive, brick Erecting Shop date from 1869 and SP predecessor Central Pacific Railroad (CP). As such, the Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops include the only surviving CP structures standing when America's first transcontinental railroad was completed.
In early 2000, the Museum completed moving its restoration facilities into the former Boiler Shop. In order to fully occupy the Erecting Shop with full-sized locomotives and cars, however, reconstruction of the Transfer Table&emdash;a bridge-like structure that allows access to the many "work bays" within the Erecting Shop&emdash;has been essential. Construction of the Transfer Table began during mid-2001, and it was completed in spring 2003. This $500,000 project has been funded through State Parks Deferred Maintenance allocations and a major fundraising campaign conducted by the CSRM Foundation in 2000-2001.
The completed Transfer Table now allows access to the Erecting Shop for the Museum's collection of historic railroad locomotives and cars. Stored outside for years, these historic items&emdash;many awaiting restoration&emdash;are considered a top priority for conservation by the Museum. Many of the locomotives and cars will become exhibits within the new Railroad Technology Museum, showcasing over a century of technological development and innovation in the railroad industry.
Restoration and maintenance activities for the Museum's collection of full-sized locomotives and cars have been conducted since 2000 in the complex's Boiler Shop. In December 2002, the latest project&emdash;refurbishment of a 1920s vintage coach with a Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad heritage for operation on the Museum's excursion railroad, the Sacramento Southern&emdash;was completed at the facility. Construction of the Transfer Table has also taken place in the complex's Boiler Shop, given its proximity to necessary tools and expertise.
Ongoing maintenance of the Museum's operating steam and diesel locomotives takes place in the Boiler Shop, along with maintenance of the Museum's coaches and converted freight cars which regularly carry school groups in spring and fall, and families during the summer. The necessary support systems for the Museum's operating railroad&emdash;track materials, specialized machinery, and wayside and at-grade crossing signals&emdash;are built and maintained here as well. Also under way is a railcar conservation project for another State Park, Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, attesting to the Shops' ability to provide skills and tooling for a variety of activities.
The Railroad Technology Museum (RTM) was envisioned in the very first planning documents created to guide development of the California State Railroad Museum. Planning for the RTM began in the mid-1980s, following completion of CSRM's flagship, the 100,000 square-foot Railroad History Museum in Old Sacramento. Intended to complement that facility, the RTM would convert a portion of the 44-acre historic Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops site into a dynamic cultural attraction.
The ambitious project would increase the drawing power of Sacramento as a cultural and tourism destination, and provide a unique focal point for surrounding Downtown Railyards and waterfront redevelopment efforts. Originally envisioned at a waterfront location south of Old Sacramento, the Railroad Technology Museum is much better suited for development in the former Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops. This adaptive yet historic re-use project would preserve the very structures that best commemorate and celebrate the history and technology of railroading in California.
It would benefit the Museum's commercial and residential neighbors&emdash;including Old Sacramento, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the City and County of Sacramento&emdash;and help spur redevelopment of the Railyards in a positive, historically appropriate manner. The spacious railroad shop buildings would house CSRM's collection of historic locomotives and railroad cars, plus formal museum exhibit galleries interpreting railroad engineering and technology.
Children would have the opportunity to explore fundamental physics and engineering principles through hands-on, interactive exhibits. Through the use of sectioned locomotives, scale models, interactive displays, oral histories, and other interpretive techniques, the Museum and its staff would educate the public about steam and diesel locomotion, track structure design and wheel interface, the importance of the Shops and its labor force in the development of Sacramento, and the relevance of railroads in helping meet the transportation challenges of the future for California and the United States.
Another significant aspect of the Railroad Technology Museum is the opportunity for the public to regularly view ongoing restoration work. Previously, this important aspect of the California State Railroad Museum's work has been conducted offsite, not accessible to the public. The ability to watch artisans working "real time" on steam and diesel locomotives, wooden and steel railroad cars, and other types of projects has significant informational and educational value. The facility could easily support curriculum-based educational programs for teenagers and young adults. Vocational educational programs could be established in conjunction with ongoing renovation work, offering new skills training and development.
To this end, the Sacramento City Council in late 1999 voted unanimously in support of the concept of locating the Railroad Technology Museum in the former Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops. The Railroad Technology Museum portion of the project is estimated to cost approximately $25 million. Development of other existing structures within the historic Shops complex are being discussed with the Union Pacific Railroad and railyard developers, as well as other cultural organizations potentially interested in the site.
Benefiting the Community
The Railroad Technology Museum represents a unique opportunity to secure public stewardship of the oldest (and for a time, largest) industrial complex west of the Mississippi River, which for 80 years was also the Central Valley's largest employer. It would create an urban museum complex contiguous with the Old Sacramento Historic District, itself internationally known, and its location and appeal would help foster surrounding transit-oriented development.
The Railroad Technology Museum would benefit the community in numerous ways. As the region's largest employer for decades, the Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops fundamentally influenced the development, concentration, and growth of many ethnic groups in Sacramento and the Central Valley. Ethnic diversity and community pride will be demonstrated through ongoing study and exhibition focused on the thousands of workers once employed in the Shops.
The California State Railroad Museum is uniquely equipped to foster the preservation and appreciation of California's rich railroading heritage. The Museum's primary mission is to preserve key railroad heritage resources, and make them available to the widest possible audience. Assisting the Museum (a unit of California State Parks) in its mission is the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, a non-profit organization chartered to raise and manage funds on behalf of the Museum and to provide a variety of additional support services.
Operated by California State Parks with assistance from the non-profit CSRM Foundation, the California State Railroad Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Widely regarded as North America's finest and most-visited railroad museum, the complex of facilities includes the 100,000-square foot Museum of Railroad History plus the reconstructed Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station and Freight Depot, 1849 Eagle Theatre, and Big Four and Dingley Spice Mill buildings in Old Sacramento State Historic Park.
Come out O Little Mocassins and frolic on the snow
Come out O tiny beaded feet and twinkle in the light
I'll play the old Red River reel, you used to love it so,
Awake, O Little Mocassins and dance for me tonight.
Robert W. Service
I am the Mighty Yellowhead ...
by Jerry W. Bird
My vast domain spans half of Canada, the world's second largest country, with ports facing three great oceans. I follow the trails of natives and voyageurs westward from Lake Winnipeg and the forks of three historic rivers to the misty *Haida Gwa'ii, where British Columbia meets the North Pacific. Near majestic Mount Robson, Canada's highest peak, my second branch meanders south via Kamloops to Hope, gateway to the Fraser Valley. Crossing me is a journey into history, with Indian encampments older than Egypt's great pyramids, pristine national and provincial parks, ancient shrines and battle sites. Ethnic dances and pageants salute every facet of Canada's heritage, and if you love the magic of serendipity, a new surprise awaits around each bend. If you find some parts of the country a little "behind the times " ... a popular Saskatchewan Tourism poster says, "Count yourself lucky. You've discovered the true Canada."
Get a copy of my official Road Map, or a reasonable facsimile? Stretch it out on the table or across the hood or your vehicle. Glancing from east to west, you'll see that my eastern terminus is Winnipeg, Manitoba at the foot of two large lakes. Tracing my path westward, I parallel the North Saskatchewan River to Edmonton, and follow the Athabaska River into Jasper National Park, Canada's Rocky Mountain playground. Further west near Mount Robson, I give motorists the option of heading directly west via Prince George, or south via Kamloops to the town of Hope at the entrance to the Fraser Valley and port of Vancouver. On these segments I follow the North Thompson, the Mighty Fraser and Skeena Rivers.
Canada's Historic Route. To begin your journey down my pathway to pleasure, imagine your auto or RV is a time-capsule, as you cruise along this broad ribbon of Canadiana, in the wake of nomadic hunters, voyageurs, missionaries, traders, sodbusters, fortune-seekers and railroad builders. Before we dim the lights and start the movie, you're curious to know how the name Yellowhead was derived -- right? In the 1870s, a roving Iroquois Metis guide, dubbed Tete Jaune for his golden locks, gave title to a mountain pass near Jasper House, and gained instant immortality. Fly-Drive Holidays are all the rage, in an age when time has become more valuable than money. You can fly the "Air Highways" to dozens of gateway airports from east to west, then take your pick of ground transport, be it an automobile, van or RV rental or Via Rail Canada's Yellowhead- Skeena Route to Prince Rupert.
A Taste of Canada. I appeal to nature lovers and adventurous souls with a taste for the finer things. So, get out the fishing rod, thermos jug and picnic basket! This great drive might easily be called a Great Canadian Taste Tour. Why? -- the Yellowhead crosses and parallels famous rivers and nameless streams, skirts many lakes great and small, visits orchards, ranches, farmers markets and unique dining spots. You can feast on Winnipeg Goldeye, rainbow trout, Pacific salmon, Alaska king crab, oysters, mussels and clams, prairie chicken, moose steak, buffalo burgers, award-winning Alberta beef and Okanagan wines. Add the world's finest cereal grains and 1001 varieties of ethnic fare -- how near to heaven can you get? And if you like to sing on long car trips, there's always a cinemascopic backdrop to enhance the performance; prairie skies, tumbleweed, moose pastures, rippling waterfalls and pristine mountain lakes. Can't you hear Rose Marie's "Indian Love Call" echoing in the distance?
An Expanding Panorama. To those who cherish folklore and love to collect anecdotes of Canadian history, a trip along my ribbon of asphalt is a veritable feast. Each native or ethnic village, national park and historic site along my path tells its own story, of an event, place or special person who left his or her mark. All contributed to the fabric of Canada, Often it is the foreigners who see the treasure most clearly. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes compared Canada to an expanding flower; "Wherever you look you see some fresh petal unfolding." Sir Winston Churchill spoke of Canadians, "There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada, with its virile, aspiring, cultured and generous-hearted people."
A Picture Perfect Tour
My territory embracing the best of four great provinces is a Bonanza for photo lovers, be they shutterbugs or professionals. On discovering so many amazing photo ops - birds and wildlife, cultural treasures, glories of nature - big city activities - small town events -one could easily add a day or two to their travel agenda. Lucky you!.
What People Say About Yellowhead
"The way of yesterday's fur traders has become the way of today's smart travellers; no other route offers so many national and provincial parks ."
"The prairie is high veldt, plus hope, activity and reward. Winnipeg is the door to it ... a great city in a great plain."
I am the Yellowhead.
Great cities have grown up along my treasured path, and the first among them to gain international stature was Winnipeg. Like a beautiful woman, she's had famous admirers -- and not all were bankers, real estate millionaires or railway barons. Author Rudyard Kipling was so enthralled by her charms, he wrote, "The prairie is high veldt, plus hope, activity and reward. Winnipeg is the door to it ... a great city in a great plain." Author Agnes De Mille, speaking of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's rise to fame, commented, "The citizens of Winnipeg support the company because it is fine and because the citizens are neither surfeited nor corrupted. They take joy in beautiful things." Generations of children the world over relate to Winnipeg thanks to A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, immortalized in books and on the silver screen by Walt Disney. Harking back to grade school days, many Canadians will recall how the poem "Winnipeg at Christmas," captures the charm of a frosty wonderland. Yes, the citizens here really do like the title "Winterpeg."
Call her Chicago North, Canada's Crossroads, or simply "The Peg," Manitoba's capital is home to over fifty ethnic groups, all of which take part in the annual Winnipeg Folk Festival or "Folklorama," a Manitoba Mardis Gras. Read the street signs, phone book and place names and you'll soon discover that Winnipeg is the largest center of French culture outside Quebec Province. The city's annual "Festival du Voyageurs" is akin to the Quebec Winter Carnival, saluting the hardy pioneers that opened the west by canoe and muscle power.
The Forks. Check the city map; see how Winnipeg's streets and avenues converge like the spokes of a giant bicycle wheel. Three historic rivers, the Red, Assiniboine and Seine, merge here at a place called "The Forks." Not long ago, trains shunted back and forth, and river craft dumped their cargo at this busy downtown site. Today it's the "in place" -- an oasis of greenery, scenery and people-watching, with shops, sidewalk cafes, and a delightful riverfront promenade. To many first nations people, The Forks is where their ancestors hunted, fished and camped for centuries. The Forks National Historic Site preserves that 6,000-year legacy with interpretive programs, displays, sculptures, festivals and special events.
Footloose in Winnipeg. With so many heritage sites located in concentrated areas, walking tours have become a very popular way to 'do' the town. Besides the Forks, Winnipeg has numerous attractions to round out a visitor's agenda; Assiniboine Park, Manitoba's Parliament Buildings, Royal Canadian Mint, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, Dalnavert Museum, Manitoba Children's Museum, Red River Exhibition Park, Little Italy, Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Polo Park, Western Canadian Aviation Museum, Osborne Village, the Exchange District National Historic Site, Portage Avenue and Portage Place Shopping Centre. Each is a precious jewel in the city's crown. We're sure you will discover even more treasures on your own.
Red River Cart, York Boats and Buffalo Hunts. At Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, North America's oldest stone fur trading post stands as a lone sentinel on the Red River shore. Launch-point for York Boat brigades heading to Hudson's Bay, the Mackenzie River or Athabaska Country -- or Red River carts bound for Minnesota, Lower Fort Garry was a bastion of Empire. Plan to stay awhile -- fresh bread's baking in the stone oven at Governor Simpson's Big House. Dinner's in the oven, and a magic lantern show is about to tell the fort's unique story. How more than1,200 Red River carts took off from here onto the southwestern plains during the great buffalo hunt of 1840. Some say this wild melee gave birth to today's Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway.
R.M. of St. Francois Xavier
Home of the famous White Horse. Steeped in history and folklore of the Assiniboine, Cree and Sioux, plus tales of voyageurs, mounties, missionaries and homesteaders, the R.M. of St. Francois Xavier occupies the NW corner of the rich central plains. Derived from a native legend, the region, by the Assiniboine River's scenic banks, is known locally as "White Horse Plain. The principal centre is the St.Francois Xavier community. Established in 1880, the rural municipality is a true example of Canadiana, and its history is certainly worth exploring.
The Delta Marsh. It's a short, smooth and pleasant drive from Winnipeg to Portage La Prairie, and a key point of interest along the way is Delta Marsh, a large grassland area at the south end of Lake Manitoba. The marsh is famous as a staging point for waterfowl.
Portage la Prairie
In days of yore, muscles of steel were needed by 'les voyageurs' to tote their canoes overland, hence the romantic name Portage la Prairie marked the spot. It honours one of French Canada's most famous explorers, Pierre de la Vérendrye, who stopped here in the 1730s. The city's Island Park - Crescent Lake complex is a year round attraction, featuring "Splash Island," a new outdoor leisure waterpark with two giant waterslides. On site are an 18-hole golf course, baseball diamonds and an oval for horse racing, playground, picnic and barbecues facilities. The area attracts one of North America's largest flocks of Canada Geese Of special note are the Fort la Reine Museum and Pioneer Village, the William Glesby Performing Arts Centre and the Portage Arts Centre and Gallery. On the city's southern outskirts is Portage Spillway Wayside Park, a popular recreation spot. Being a major food processing center, Portage la Prairie is square in the middle of Canada's richest, most productive farmland. The annual Portagex, Western Canada's oldest running fair salutes this agriculture heritage.
Lights Fantastic! Portage la Prairie won the coveted Winterlights Celebration from Communities in Bloom , a glowing example beingsthe "Manitoba Hydro Power Smart Island of Lights," presented by A Channel. A kaleidoscope of blazing colour, this 2-time national award winning light show has over 475 animated and static light displays, using over 135,000 bulbs.
Plane Facts. Nearby Lake Manitoba's warm, shallow waters bring fond memories for those who spent months of training with the Royal Canadian Air force. Today, the former Southport base is still thriving as an educational, flight training and technical , with a promising future in aerospace and related industries. Leaving the city of Portage La Prairie in your rear view mirror, the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway continues, with Lake Manitoba to the north and Sprucewoods Provincial Park to the south.
Have you heard the expression - "in the middle of everywhere?" That's how one might describe Gladstone, which claims to be at or near North America's geographic centre. Settled in 1872, agricultural and food processing are its claim to fame, with names like McCain's and Maple Leaf Foods. Would you believe Gladstone was originally called Palestine? It was changed to honour a popular British Prime Minister. Now becoming a prime retirement community, Gladstone has the right ingredients; friendly folk, a lush golf course and city operated park for starters. At the Town Museum, one can trace the area's past -- and check the porcelain curios at Manitoba's largest gift shop.
A nameplate on the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway nearby reads, "This cairn marks third crossing of the Whitemud River on the Pioneer Trail from Fort Garry to Edmonton."
Don't you just love the name Neepawa, with its lilting, musical sound? Say it softly, with a smile and give thanks, because in the Cree language, Neepawa means "abundance" or "place of plenty." Blessed with such a name, this delightful Manitoba community can't help but prosper. If you arrive in summer, stay a while and enjoy Neepawa's Lily Festival, where the whole community blossoms with pride. Neepawa's homegrown celebrity, Margaret Laurence, author of "The Stone Angels" grew up in Neepawa, and local settings were used in several of her best sellers
As portrayed in so many John Wayne western movie scripts, the action started the day the railway came to town. The real estate boom it sparked left a prized collection of vintage buildings in its wake, each lovingly preserved for the new millennium. After a day on the road, Neepawa's "Walking Tours" combine a glimpse of local history with fresh air and much needed exercise. To many, the name Neepawa brings back memories as a World War II air force base and NATO training centre.
Speaking of meaningful, musical place names, "Minnedosa" combines the Sioux word for water (minne) and rapid water (duza). Its river is a tributary of the Assiniboine, which connects to the Forks at Winnipeg. Known as Manitoba's Valley Paradise, Minnedosa was recently voted the Province's most beautiful town, so take time to look around, smell the flowers and stretch your imagination. Steeped in early Canadian history, this bustling community was a stopping place in the 1880s for Red River carts heading west along on the Edmonton Trail. Choose your level or type of activity - be it sports fishing, horseback riding or hiking -- there is something here for visitors of all ages. As a tribute to the First Nations and Manitoba's provincial symbol, the main recreation area is Bison Park. Many travelers use Minnedosa on the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway, as home base for day trips or overnight excursions to Riding Mountain, one of Western Canada's most outstanding playground areas.
Riding Mountain National Park. The Park is an "island of the prairies," where buffalo roam and 500 species of wildlife thrive. You can enjoy lectures, even take wolf-howling lessons here, but the Plains Indians' relationship with the buffalo is the top item on the agenda. Bathers will enjoy Clear Lake's sandy beach, while those afoot and on horseback, can rove the meadows, aspen groves and evergreen forests using the park's network of wilderness trails.
Back in the rough and ready days of redcoat justice, native treaties and the fur trade, Shoal Lake's tiny settlement stood on the far western boundary of Manitoba, then a new member of the Dominion. With the Royal Northwest Mounted Police post being located on the neck of Shoal Lake (its narrowest point) local Mounties could observe traffic en route to the territories. As more settlers made their way west, the main community took root several miles away. As a result, Shoal Lake now boasts two authentic RCMP posts. With such a colorful history, Shoal Lake and the RM of Shoal Lake have created a Cultural Heritage Village Museum, to include Elliott House, an original school house from 1907 and an extensive collection of wagons and horse drawn vehicles and farm equipment.
The RM of Harrison
Sandy Lake and Newdale are the main population centres to visit in the Rural Municipality of Harrison. Conditions here are ideal for livestock and growing rye, wheat, oats, barley, canola and alfalfa. Many come to retire here in one of the friendliest, laid back areas on the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway.
Silver rails and azure skies. The Strathclair district includes the Little Saskatchewan River, the Assiniboine River, Lake Aud, Clear Lake and Riding Mountain National Park. the southeast is a fertile valley with forested areas. A Hudson's Bay Company fur trading post was built upstream near Elphinstone. The first major activity in the area started with the Strathclair Railway Station &endash; its name being a combination of the Scottish word "strath" for valley and "clair" for the surveyor Sinclair. As a salute to its railway days, the district museum is housd in a former Canadian Pacific Station, standing proudly beside an old country church, a blacksmith shop and various relics of farm machinery. By the way, there's no shortage of fun activities in the area, with all of the usual water sports at Thomas and Salt Lakes.
R.M. of Russell
Surrounding the Town of Russell and Village of Binscarth, the agriculturally based R. M. of Russell extends west to the Saskatchewan border. Spear Lake is popular for trout fishing; other options for recreation and relaxation abound, including scenic tours of the beautiful Assiniboine Valley.
What's happening in River City? With a capital P, it stands for pool. That's right - Binscarth has an outdoor swimming pool that's the largest on the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway -- so bring your rubber fins. Here in Silver Creek Valley, there's miniature golf, beach volleyball, barbecues and hiking trails. Binscarthians are proud of their past, which comes alive at the Gordon Orr Memorial Museum, where rare relics of buffalo hunting days and native heritage blend with early farm life and remnants of a bustling turn-of-the century town. Being typically Canadian the museum has a vintage Massey Harris tractor, binder and seed drill. And don't let anyone tell you that the buffalo aren't coming back A tour of Silver Creek's Buffalo Ranch is proof positive.
General Lord Alexander George Russell, in whose honour the town was named, commanded Canada's fledgling armed forces in the late 1800s. A replica of the period is Boulton Manor, now a prime tourist attraction. This stately, well-preserved mansion once belonged to the family of Major Charles Boulton, who led Canadian troops to the battleground at Batoche during Northwest Rebellion. Should you wish to stay overnight, Boulton Manor has become a cozy bed and breakfast residence, offering tea service followed by a walking tour of the community. For the record, it was Major Boulton who founded the town of Russell in his friend's name.
Located near the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway, the Town of Birtle is the main community of the RM of Birtle, which has a population of 1,000. The town provides a variety of services for highway travellers.
A number of trails are remembered in Canada's history books. The greatest of them all, the old Northwest Trail extending from Fort Garry to Edmonton Trail, and the Hudson's Bay Trail.
When the great buffalo hunt OF 1840 was organized, no less than 1,210 Red River carts took the trail west from Fort Garry onto the southwest plains. It was truly the beginning of the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway as we know it today.
Beginning at the Forks, this trail was, for more than fifty years, the main artery of all the trails into the West. Historically speaking, the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway is the way of the pioneers. One of the World's Greatest Drives.
It provides access to five National Parks, three National Historic Sites, and more than ninety Provincial Parks. No wonder the Trans Canada Yellowhead is known as the "Park to Park Highway"
The Trans Canada Yellowhead boasts excellent year-round road conditions, hundreds of kilometers of four-lane highway with wide shoulders and gentle mountain grades and contours. So it's easy to enjoy the drive, especially since the Yellowhead is the only highway the travels between the mountains instead of over them. That means lower fuel bills, less vehicle wear and tear, and spectacular scenery
Of the five passes through the Rockies, the Yellowhead Pass is by far the most gentle.