CPKC Announces Schedule For 2816 ‘Final Spike’ Tour

Canadian Pacific 2816 will kick off its tri-nation tour in Calgary on April 24 and arrive in Mexico City on June 4. Photo by Justin Franz. 

CPKC Announces Schedule For 2816 ‘Final Spike’ Tour

By Justin Franz 

CPKC Railway announced Wednesday that Canadian Pacific H1b 4-6-4 2816 would kick off its tri-nation tour in Calgary, Alberta, on April 24, and arrive in Mexico City on June 4. 

Last year, the H1b was restored to service after a decade of being in storage to celebrate the merger of CP and Kansas City Southern. The celebratory tour, dubbed the “Final Spike Anniversary Steam Tour,” will take the 1930-built locomotive to parts of the continent that haven’t seen steam in decades. It will also likely go down as one of the longest steam excursions in North American history to feature a single locomotive, with the entire trip likely covering more than 8,000 miles. 

“Our combination on April 14, 2023, brought together two railroads with long and proud histories that together created the first and only railroad network connecting North America,” said Keith Creel, CPKC President and CEO. “This special cross-continental journey of the 2816 steam locomotive serves as a reminder of our past and a celebration of our future. We are excited to share this extraordinary experience with communities across our network as we mark the one-year anniversary of our CPKC journey. The Final Spike Anniversary Steam Tour will be the first ever steam-powered passenger train in North America to traverse Canada, the U.S. and Mexico in a single trip.”

The Empress 2816, a 4-6-4 Hudson-type steam locomotive built in 1930, will make 11 stops between Calgary and Mexico City:

  • Calgary, Alta. | April 24 
  • Moose Jaw, Sask. | April 28 
  • Minot, N.D. | April 30
  • St. Paul, Minn. | May 3 
  • Franklin Park, Ill. | May 8
  • Davenport, Iowa | May 10 
  • Kansas City, Mo. | May 18
  • Shreveport, La.| May 24 
  • Laredo, Texas | May 28
  • Monterrey, Mexico | May 31 
  • Mexico City, Mexico | June 4

Steam tour events will be held in Moose Jaw, Minot, St. Paul, Franklin Park, Davenport, Kansas City, Shreveport, and Laredo. At these stops, the public will have the opportunity to see the 2816 up close, learn more about the locomotive and CPKC’s history and enjoy the Puffer Belly Express mini-train, a quarter-scale steam locomotive model. In Mexico City, the 2816 will be spotted for public display. The return schedule for the trip has not been publicly announced. 

Built in 1930, the 2816 was one of 65 H-1 Hudsons built by Montreal Locomotive Works, primarily for passenger service. In 1939, semi-streamlined Hudson 2850 led the royal train carrying King George VI and Queen Elizabeth across Canada. The King was so impressed with the locomotive’s performance that he allowed the CP to designate the later-built 4-6-4s as “Royal Hudsons,” the only locomotives outside the United Kingdom ever given such status. The CP’s Hudsons were, as railroad historian and author Omer Lavallée once wrote, “destined to be a superior breed of locomotive.”

At the end of the steam era, five CP Hudsons were preserved but 2816 was the only non-streamlined specimen saved. The locomotive was purchased by preservationist F. Nelson Blount and put on display at Steamtown U.S.A. Eventually, the locomotive was moved to Scranton, Pa., and became the property of the National Park Service. In 1998, CP reacquired the locomotive and sent it west to North Vancouver, B.C., for restoration. It returned to the main line in 2001 and ran for CP for a decade before being put into storage. In 2021, Creel announced that if the U.S. Surface Transportation Board approved his merger with KCS he would put the locomotive back in service to celebrate. 

In the summer of 2023, locomotive 2816 returned to service and did a series of test runs around its home base of Alberta. The final test run, a two-day trip to Medicine Hat, Alberta in October, found the locomotive going 60 miles per hour for the first time since being put back in service. 

This article was posted on: January 31, 2024