Tuesday 6 February 2024


Locomotives assigned to the Kettle Valley Railway/Division varied over the years and progressed in power as improvements to the line were made.  We present a few tables and photos here for modelers to peruse while deciding on what engines to model for their chosen era.

The tables are compiled from official CPR documents and photographic evidence. Except for the initial construction era, all locomotives were supplied to the Kettle Valley Railway by the parent company, Canadian Pacific Railway.

Most of the photos are drawn from a collection that was published on a Kettle Valley Facebook page by Ralph Fenton who was deep in his praise of the men who worked these beasts. We echo those sentiments based on personal acquaintance with a few of them and the very interesting stories they told. 

Here is a shot of engine 588 of the D-9c class which appears in the first table. The crew are identified as Ray Letts and Cyril Hawkins. Date unknown. Some information on this class of locomotive can be found here: http://kettlevalleymodelrailway.blogspot.com/2020/

Modeling note: This engine class would be found on Passenger trains of the wood coach era, models of which were produced in brass in 1965 by Pacific Fast Mail / Van Hobbies. https://www.brasstrains.com/Classic/Product/Detail/164314/HO-Brass-Model-VH-CPR-CP-Kettle-Valley-5-Car-Passenger-Set-Unpainted-Kumata

W. Gibson Kennedy originally published articles and drawings on the five coaches in Model Railroader in the 1950's.The only CPR Ten-wheeler models produced around this time, were the D-10's so that is what Gib used but the D-9 class were used on the prototype. Unfortunately, there is no commercial model of the D-9. But you could start with a Northern Pacific S-4 Ten-wheeler and bash one as noted in the link provided. Another possibility would be to power your KVR set with a N-2a model which might be more plausible than a D-10. Here is Engine No. 3613 on the Kettle Valley Express in August of 1936.  Note that No. 12 is a heavyweight train by this date. But to power the model train in brass one might be advised to use ball bearing wheel-sets under the coaches if there are serious grades to be encountered on the layout. Of course, pushers would also be appropriate. Author's collection.

This first table shows the engine assignments for 1937 based on information supplied to a fellow KVR fan in an interview with noted KVR historian, the late Joe Smuin. Various photos and anecdotes were the basis for his summaries and are partly confirmed from our own resources.  The list is probably incomplete but all engines mentioned here did appear in 1937 and in some cases their divisional assignment is known. Of note is the Pacific, engine 2519 which ran on the Merritt branch. Others of her class worked the Merritt branch according to several undated photos.

From J. Smuin Notes and Various Photo Sources showing engines in service on KVR
Osoyoos 444
Merritt 2519
Passenger 3613
Princeton Freight 3481
Copper Mountain 3506, 3512

D-4-g Ten-Wheeler 444
D-9-c Ten Wheeler 588
G-2-r Pacific 2519
M-4-a,g Consolidation 3401, 3481, 3487, 3506, 3512
N-2-a,b Consolidation 3613, 3635, 3640, 3643, 3648, 3659, 3663, 3677, 3688, 3698
P-1-e Mikado 5157
Total Engines 19

 Engine 3401 appears in both of the first two tables.  This is the engine that piloted the train that crashed at Jessica in 1926 in the worst wreck in KVR history. The fireman on that train was Ray Letts who was the only survivor and who coincidentally appears in the first photo.  By the time of this photograph in 1939, 3401 had long been restored to service.

The table for 1939 follows and again is derived from information supplied by Joe Smuin from his files in an interview some years ago. It is interesting to see the re-appearance of M-1 Consolidations which were very early and small engines.  One could speculate that the impending World War II may have been a factor. But more notable is the arrival in the spring of 1939 of class R-3 Decapods which operated out of Penticton. Nevertheless, the Consolidations continued to be the workhorses of the KVR stable.  The N-2's did power the passenger trains, but P-1d/e Mikados based out of Vancouver probably also powered Nos. 11 & 12.  These latter were certainly assigned by the mid-1940's.

J. Smuin Notes and Various Photo Sources showing engines in service on KVR
Osoyoos 3401, 3481
Carmi 3506, 3627
Passenger 3643, 3663
Princeton Freight 3635, 3636, 3640, 3656, 3687
Copper Mountain 3506, 3512
Penticton Yard 3406, 3458

M-1-c Consolidation 3216, 3226
M-4-a,b,c,g Consolidation 3401, 3406, 3458, 3481, 3491, 3506
N-2-a Consolidation 3627, 3628, 3635, 3636, 3640, 3643, 3648, 3455, 3652, 

3655, 3663, 3677, 3687
R-3-b,d Decapod
5760, 5761, 5783, 5788
Total Engines 24


Some years later we see Consolidation 3628, one of the class N-2a locomotives found in the tables above and below. She worked long and hard on the grades of the southern mainline, first appearing in 1939 and lasting to the end of KV steam in 1953. Note the smoke deflector and the tip of the coal load in the tender. This dates the photo to the fall of 1949 at the latest. The flat number board suggests a date post 1947. At some point she acquired a power reverse on the right side. She finished up her days of service in Vancouver. Authors collection.

The next table supplies more firm information as to assignments. The author of this blog acquired copies of official CPR documents from a friend of a friend who was most generous with his resources.  His name was Ted Hough - a most accomplished and published modeler in years gone by. What appears below in this third table are the engine assignments for 1947 for the Kettle Valley Division.  The format of the original is followed but in unstained, unwrinkled, non-faded legibility. A note on KV Passenger engines working out of the Vancouver Division is added.

Included in the document are assignments for the other divisions in the B. C. Region: Vancouver, Revelstoke, Kootenay and Esquimalt & Nanaimo . These could be published one day if they are of interest to readers.

Here we see that the 5100's are assigned to the passenger duties out of Penticton.  They are also taking over some freight and pusher assignments. Only one 5700 remains working out of Penticton but they will reappear in the years following.

Period Ending February 15th, 1947.
Carmi Sub. Freight 5126, 5172, 5182 
Princeton - Coquihalla Freight 3613, 3628, 3635, 3636, 3648, 3677, 3681, 3686

Assisting 5124, 5134
Copper Mountain Ore 3687
Osoyoos Sub. Freight 592
Merritt Sub. Mixed 569
Penticton Pusher 5757

Yard 3448

Engines: 20

569, 592, 3448, 3613, 3628, 3635, 3636, 3648, 3652, 3677, 3681, 3686, 
3687, 5124, 5126, 5134, 5169, 5172, 5182, 5757.        
[Vancouver based Passenger Engines: 3661, 5101, 5121.]   

In our next post we will provide the engine assignments for the KV in the 1950's.  As mentioned, depending on expressed interest, we could provide assignments for all of BC for the years 1947 and 1950 from the documents we have.

Finally, we have a shot of Consolidation 3687 on the point of a freight train near Romeo. This model was acquired by the aforementioned KVR friend. It was re-built for the late Lance Camp with further modifications by the author to upgrade the motor, mechanism, headlight and install a DCC decoder in which process the paint job was marred but it now runs very well and is pleasure to behold. Perhaps we can one day provide a shot of her on the point of his Kettle Valley Express.

Coquihalla Man



1 comment:

  1. What a great source of information. Might have to renumber some of my current locomotives. Looking forward to the next post.