Updated: Saturday, Nov. 14, 6:15 p.m. EST
By Justin Franz
CALGARY — Canadian Pacific fired up 4-6-4 2816 for the first time in eight years on Friday.
The steam-powered ambassador last ran nearly a decade ago, at about the same time the late E. Hunter Harrison, an executive known for his distaste of extravagant expenses, took over as CEO. Since then it has sat on display inside the CP campus at Ogden Yard near Calgary.
On Friday, photos and videos emerged online of the locomotive fired up and moving around the Calgary yard. Rumors quickly began to fly online that CP was restarting its long-dormant steam program, but on Saturday morning, company officials told Railfan & Railroad to not read too much into the steam up.
“CP has steamed up 2816 and is assessing its mechanical position,” spokesperson Andy Cummings wrote. “We have no plans to operate the engine on main lines.”
Sources close to the railroad said that the locomotive will most likely partake in CP’s “Holiday Train at Home” virtual concert scheduled for Dec. 13. Serena Ryder and The Trews will headline the event will raise money and awareness and help local food banks collect much-needed donations. The virtual concert is replacing CP’s annual Holiday Train this year, which was canceled due to COVID-19.
CP 2816 was built in 1930 for heavy passenger service across Canada and is a sister engine to the railroad’s more famous “Royal Hudson” locomotives. The 2816 is notable in that it is only surviving non-streamlined H1 Hudson. The engine was retired in 1960 and later sold to Steamtown U.S.A. in Vermont. The locomotive eventually migrated to Scranton, Pa., and was part of the Steamtown National Historic Site collection until being picked by CP for its new steam program in the late 1990s. The locomotive returned to service in 2001 and ran across Canada and parts of the U.S. for a decade before being sidelined again.