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Posted: March 1, 2015

Memories of the restored 4090

By Dan Schellenberg

The recently repainted CP FA-2 4090 diesel locomotive sits in its stately fashion on the tracks located at King and Van Horne in Cranbrook.

Peter (centre), his son Lloyd and his granddaughter.
Peter (centre), his son Lloyd and his granddaughter.

The restoration project carried out by the Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club is truly a testament to the fruition of the efforts of volunteerism in our community.

The gleaming locomotive, built in Montreal, arrived in Cranbrook in 1954 and the first man to drive the big diesel unit in Cranbrook, Peter Twarowsk, now resides at Joseph Creek Village.

Peter, then a fireman for Canadian Pacific Railway, clearly recounts the first day the engine came to Cranbrook. The CP yardmaster, Charlie asked me: “Would you turn this unit around. I said, Charlie, I’ve never been in one before. Charlie said to me, neither have I. So, I got in with my five-year old son Lloyd and turned it around.” Peter has a photo that shows Lloyd and him proudly standing in front of the newly arrived addition to the railroad in Cranbrook.

The only other time Peter rode the rails on the 4090 was when he was a passenger, along with his daughter Karen. He travelled from the Sparwood area to Nelson. The new diesel locomotive made regular runs to the Kelowna area, Waterton and Lethbridge. It was a big change for passengers who were accustomed to riding a train pulled by a steam engine along with its shrill whistle. In so far as the whistle goes, Peter says he prefers that of a steam engine to the diesel’s horn as the high-pitched sound has a way of getting one’s attention.

Peter, who just celebrated his 94th birthday, has many memories of the advent of the 4090 diesel locomotive in Cranbrook. He well remembers what a big event it was for Cranbrook and the many people that came out to view the new and innovative style unit. Peter also recalls how some people were concerned about how the use of the diesel locomotive would result in a reduction of staff, since less workers were needed to run the 4090 than were required to operate the coal fired steam engine. All in all things worked out.

The Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club is planning to hold a celebration in the spring of this year in order to commemorate the restoration of the 4090 and look forward to Peter and his son Lloyd attending this special occasion some 60 years after the locomotive’s arrival in Cranbrook.

Lead image: Peter and son Lloyd, taken in 1954 when the unit first arrived. Photos submitted

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