By Eric Berger
STETTLER, Alberta — A Canadian National locomotive that ranks among Canada’s biggest and best-known steamers is now being restored after eight years out-of-service. This week, boiler work began on CN 4-8-2 6060 at the Alberta Prairie Railway in Stettler. Repairs are expected to cost upwards of $650,000.
The Mountain-type locomotive was one of 20 built for CN by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1944 and was among the last steam engines built in Canada. The locomotives had a streamlined cone on the smokebox door, earning them the nickname “Bullet Nosed Betties.” The 4-8-2 locomotives hauled mainline passenger and freight trains on CN until being retired in 1960. Two years later 6060 was put on display in Jasper, Alb., thanks to the lobbying of engineer Harry Homes. Two others were preserved in Ontario.
In 1972, 6060 was recalled by CN for excursions service. After eight years on the road, the railroad donated the engine to Alberta for display in 1980. However, the second retirement was short as Homes led a successful effort in 1985 to restore 6060 for an appearance the following year at Expo 86 in Vancouver. Her third restoration came in 1998, pulling excursions on the Alberta Prairie Railway until boiler issues sidelined her in 2012.
The engine is owned by the non-profit Rocky Mountain Rail Society. The group has worked steadily to bring the locomotive back to operation, spending a reported $130,000 over the past seven years. The project has recently been boosted by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis funding, which reached $50,000 this spring, spurring RMRS members to kick off the next step, removing and replacing 70 stay bolts. Boiler specialists started that work in June. There is no timetable for completion and funding will ultimately determine when it runs again. Donations can be made online at www.6060.org.