Today (May 17, 2009), we celebrated the 122nd anniversary of CPR 374 pulling the first transcontinental into Vancouver, British Columbia in 1887. For this, we pulled the engine out of the museum and connected it to a steam generator so that we could operate the steam whistle on it. Also, we had a band play in the afternoon, a mini rail train running and free cake in the afternoon. All in all it was a very successful day! 374 was the star of the show in all her glory.
A little history on the 374. 374 is a wood burning 4-4-0 built in 1886 in the Montreal Locomotive works and was one of 8 sisters all designed for passenger service. In 1887, it pulled the first passenger transcontinental train into newly built city of Vancouver. For the early part of its career, she pulled passenger trains from Vancouver to North Bend and back. Around 1902 she was converted to coal burning and at some point between then and 1914 she was rebuilt as a mixed traffic engine with slightly smaller driving wheels and some other cosmetic changes. Retired in 1945, 374 was donated to the City of Vancouver and put on display at Kitsilano Beach where it spent the next 35. In the early 1980s, the engine was in bad shape from years of neglect and the city was considering scrapping the engine. A small group of volunteers decided to cosmetically restore it and when Expo 86 rolled into town, she was restored and put on display at the old Drake Street Roundhouse on the turntable. After Expo 86 she spent a few more years on the turntable until moving into the old shed (now a community centre) and put into storage. In the mid 1990s, an addition to the old roundhouse was made just for displaying 374 and she still sits in her building with glass walls around her for everyone to see.