Changes to the fleet, 961

Electric freight locomotive 21 was built by the American Locomotive works in 1912 for the Oregon Electric Railway. In 1946 this loco, and two others #20 & #23, were purchased by the BCER and renumbered as 960, 961 and 962. Starting service on Aug 8th, 1946, 961 started to share the increasing freight loads on all the BCER lines.

961 and her sister loco’s were very busy with the BCER. In 1947 OER #24 was also purchased and brought up to the Kitilano shop to be used as a source for spare parts to keep the others running.

961 was often seen downtown as the freight moved where ever it was needed.

Freight service continued through the passenger era and beyond as 961 continued freight duty until 1980. In September the loco was repainted for Edmonton Transit and named 2001, to assist in the E.T. expansion tunneling under Jasper Avenue and westward. Later it transferred to the Edmonton Radial Railway society after many years of continued, then occasional, service.

The FVHRS brought 961 back to the BCER rails in 2014 from Edmonton. At that time we were happy to save this bit of BCER history from an uncertain fate, although it did not quite fit with our passenger focus.

Placed on the outside track, somewhat “behind” the speeders, 961 has been a static exhibit and helped to keep the rails from moving. During our third 5-year strategic planning sessions last year we quickly observed the the only discussion about 961 was that it was in the way. A decision was made to look for a group that would like to have her as a part of rail history and not for scrap or parts.

About this time the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society in Brooks Oregon, heard about our plans and became very interested as they remembered her as OER #21. After some negotiations and a very quick fund raising campaign it was decided that 961 (OER #21) was going home.

Now on Feb 27th, 2017, the same group that brought 2001 from Edmonton, picked up 961 to take #21 home in a developing snow storm.

Gwill cranes and PCC carriers arrived to pick up 961. Seen here preparing to lift the body.

When the crane arrived at 7am, it was overcast, but dry. The cold forecast left many parts of Metro Vancouver in sunshine this day, but we got dumped on with snow. Was this an Edmontonian message? A northern Good Bye to 961/2001?

As the snow increased 961 was lifted up to the sound of many tings and bangs. Ron Powers was heard to mutter “I did check that every thing was disconnected!”

Later the sounds were identified as a combination of the straps and spreaders settling to the heavy load (62,000 pounds) and the separation of the king pins on the trucks from the cold sleeves in the body.

There were a few watchers around and above (including Vince from OERHS)  who braved the snow. Grace Kennedy,  a new Cloverdale Reporter, was also present, look for some news at their web site.

It’s not just the body that goes back, the trucks, pilots and compressor also need to travel down south. A second flat-bed truck and trailer will carry all these to Oregon. This truck alone weighed in at 27,000 pounds.

Some time later it was evident the snow will continue. The top part of 961 left Cloverdale with pilot car on duty. The large yellow sign (Oversize load) also precludes any other objects being stowed on the truck deck according to at least one of the transportation regulators on the journey.

And so, one more left turn and then it’s off to her first home, again.

Good bye to BCER 961 / ET 2001 and best wished for a renewed life as OER #21 with the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society.

To see more about OERHS and their plans to restore #21 please see their website.