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Canadian Pacific 2816

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Canadian Pacific 2816

Canadian Pacific 2816
The Canadian Pacific 2816 Empress on an excursion in 2008.
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Montreal Locomotive Works
Serial number 68535
Build date December 1930
Configuration 4-6-4
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Driver diameter 75 in (1.9 m)
Length 91 ft 1 in (27.76 m)
Weight on drivers 194,000 lb (88 t)
Locomotive weight 360,000 lb (160 t)
Locomotive and tender
combined weight
658,000 lb (298 t)
Fuel type Coal (Converted to burn oil during restoration)
Fuel capacity 17 short tons (15 t)
Water capacity 12,000 imp gal (55,000 l; 14,000 US gal)
Boiler pressure 275 psi (1.90 MPa)
Cylinders Two
Cylinder size 22 in × 30 in (559 mm × 762 mm)
Performance figures
Power output 4,700 hp (3,500 kW)
Tractive effort 45,300 lbf (202 kN)
Operator(s) Canadian Pacific Railway
Class H1b
Number(s) 2816
Official name Empress
Last run May 26, 1960
Restored 2001
Disposition Stored Serviceable

Canadian Pacific 2816, named the Empress, is a 4-6-4 H1b Hudson type steam locomotive built by the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1930 for the Canadian Pacific Railway. After being used for heavy passenger service, the locomotive was retired in 1960 and donated to Steamtown, USA in Bellows Falls, Vermont. After an extensive restoration, the locomotive returned to service in 2001 and has been used by the Canadian Pacific Railway in occasional excursion service. The 2816 is the only non-streamlined H1 Hudson to have survived into preservation.

First career

Locomotive 2816 was one of ten H1b-class (the "H" meant the 4-6-4 wheel configuration, the "1" was the design number and the "b" meant it was the second production run) 4-6-4 Hudson built by the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1930. It was first assigned to the line between Winnipeg and Fort William, Ontario. Later, it was transferred to service between Windsor, Ontario, and Quebec City, and finally it ran a commuter train between Montreal and Rigaud, Quebec. It made its last run on May 26, 1960, after more than 2 million miles (3.2×10^6 km) in active service.[1][2] In 1963, the locomotive was sold to Monadnock, Steamtown & Northern Amusements Corp. Inc. (AKA: Steamtown, USA), which evolved into the Steamtown National Historic Site in 1986.


CP 2816 on static display at Steamtown, USA Bellows Falls, Vermont, C. 1978

When Steamtown USA moved from Bellows Falls, Vermont, to Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1980s, the 2816 was relocated to the new site with the rest of the collection. When the National Park Service took over from the Steamtown Foundation, 2816 also passed to the NPS, now Steamtown National Historic Site, and the NPS decided to divest itself of foreign locomotives. In 1998 Canadian Pacific purchased 2816 after hearing of its availability from the crews who were running the Royal Hudson 2860, who had been looking for parts for 2860 and were offered the entire locomotive.

The locomotive was transported from Scranton to Montreal via Binghamton and Albany, New York, before being shipped cross country to the BC Rail steam shops in Vancouver for restoration. The locomotive was completely stripped down and rebuilt, "the most thorough rebuild undertaken on a steam locomotive in North America since the end of their era" according to CPR News.[3] The restoration team was able to use over 800 technical drawings of CPR Hlb class locomotives from the Canada Science and Technology Museum to completely restore 2816 to its 1950s appearance and to its original specifications.[4] During restoration, the locomotive was converted to burn oil and equipped with modern amenities such as a radio and a diesel control unit. The restoration took over two years and cost over $2,000,000, making it one of the most costly locomotive restorations in Canada. CPR was confident in the restoration enough to announce on April 19, 2000, that 2816 would become an ambassador for the railway in the railway's new heritage steam program.[2]

Excursion Career

In September 2001 the locomotive made its first trial run from the BC Rail steam shops to its new home of Calgary. It then rejoined the Canadian Pacific fleet as a special excursion locomotive and for public relations. Among other uses, 2816 is used to raise money for school lunch programs and the Children's Wish Foundation.[5]

Since its restoration, 2816 has travelled across Canada and the United States. The 2816 is one of the most well-known locomotives in North America, along with Milwaukee Road 261, Southern Pacific 4449, Union Pacific 844, Union Pacific 3985, Santa Fe 3751, Pere Marquette 1225, Nickel Plate 765, and Royal Hudson 2860.

At the end of the 2008 season, Canadian Pacific put the steam program on hold (with exception of previously promised engagements) due to financial issues caused by the poor economy. 2816 did not operate at all in 2009, although the steam program was able to take advantage of this down time to do some extensive maintenance work on 2816 and its passenger car fleet. 2816 returned to operation on June 6, 2010. It was used in Rocky Mountain Express, a 2011 IMAX film which follows the locomotive on a journey from Vancouver to Montreal while telling the CPR's history.

E. Hunter Harrison's appointment as CEO of Canadian Pacific in 2012 has left the 2816's future in limbo, though the company still maintains its webpage for the locomotive.[6]

Picture gallery

Preservation and other remaining H1 Hudson's

Of the five surviving Canadian Pacific Hudson's out of the original 65 built between 1929 and 1940, The 2816 is the only survivor of the non-streamlined H1a & H1b classes built in 1929 and 1930 numbered 2800–2819. The other four remaining sister engines to 2816 are the famed, semi-streamlined Royal Hudsons numbered 2820–2864. The remaining Royal Hudsons are numbers 2839 (H1c), 2850 and 2858 (both H1d) and the well-known 2860 (H1e). Currently, 2816 and 2860 are the only operating 4-6-4 Hudsons in North America.


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External links

  • Leaving the Chicago railyards in 2004
  • websiteRocky Mountain Express
  • Official Canadian Pacific webpage
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