In late May, as the guest of David Spritke, the Prez, and Monica rode the Business Car Alaska south to Kelowna British Columbia. Kelowna is located in the lower/middle portion of the Okanagan Valley, on the very scenic Okanagan Lake. Having traveled by the way of Prince Rupert and East on the CN, they arrived at the historic CNR Kelowna station. David who is a relative new comer to Kelowna had visited the CSWRR and the Prez in Palmer and had agreed to escort him on the trip. Unfortunately, other than the Landings at Penticton, Okanagan Landing and Kelowna there is no direct rail service to other points on the Lake. Thus steamboats and rail barges must be used and are operated by both the CN and CP to access these communities and produce packing plants. As the Prez and the Alaska travel together, it meant that the Alaska was loaded on a barge along with produce railcars for his slow but scenic cruise to various points around the lake. It wasn’t until our very first stop that David became aware of the Prez’s previous knowledge that the region was rapidly changing over to grape growing. Grape growing for wine… one of the Prez’s thirsts. This meant that the Prez was going to check out each stop thoroughly, with possibility of getting in early on the lucrative new product to be sold… or as became apparent in this particular case, to be consumed.
First stop in the region however was in the small town of Spanish Fork on D&RGW rails. Arrival was by CNR 2-6-0, Number 6018. But, suddenly they were stopped in their tracks, no pun intended.
The Grande’s Division Manager insisted the Alaska be escorted with Rio Grande power and engineer at the controls. Turns out it really was the Division manager who insisted he accompany the Prez, and sampling his private stock of bourbon as the Prez toured the area. A relatively new RS-3 was handy and pressed into service for the run into the station before returning to assigned duties.
In Late May, 2018, the Business Car Alaska and Prez arrived in Kelowna British Columbia as the guest of
Mr. David Spritke.
The Prez was expressed interest in seeing most of the local trackage and the Utah Ry 2003, still running off some horsepower hours was pressed into service for much of the day.
Here we caught the Prez on the most distant track… down at the old stock pen. Surprisingly it was in use on this rare day. The Prez, engaged in lively conversation, suddenly got a whif of something that didn’t compliment the bourbon in his hand and soon he was clamoring to be moved pronto. Oh oh… stuck there for nearly an hour as he insisted on being pushed away and kept cussing and belting away the bourbon. Notice that the cows in the pen on the right have “Spotted Cow Disease”.
Shortly the Prez and Monica learned that the local Belmont Candy Factory was rail served and they both were anxious to make a short visit. The stop was short at the plant loading dock to have a couple cases of Bourbon Chocolates, made with real Kentucky Bourbon and a specialty of the Belmont brand, for the both of them, loaded aboard.
A brief visit to the West end found a small loading elevator for the local fertilizer dealer. Surprising to the Prez, here the potash based fertilizer was delivered by hopper cars that were dumped into a pit with auger and fed to a simple grain elevator type lift for storage in bins. The granulated fertilizer was then dropped into small individual growers farm wagons & trucks, weighed before being taken to local ranches and produce fields.
Before departing Spanish Fork, the Prez insisted on seeing more on the back side of town so his car was pushed up onto Jakes Coal unloading ramp. All he got for his trouble was some coal dust in his lungs, but since he’d paid for a days switching, he intended on making the most of it.
The next day, they placed the car on a barge headed to Peachland just to see the Walters Packing house and it's tiny rail operation, served only by rail/barge and a winch system to off load emptys and to ease freshly loaded cars with various packed fruits on to the barge for transport to a connecting rail line.
The photo was captured via an RCMP Search and Rescue plane that was searching for the Prez, finally locating him safely aboard the Alaska with Monica, on a Walter’s Packing House spur. We eventually heard the Prez was off checking out local wines and talked a vineyard owners young daughter to accompany him to somewhere unknown. Missing for 24 hrs, the RCMP was enlisted to help and searched for the young lady until the Alaska was spotted here and the pic grabbed. Plane’s radio didn’t function to summon Police and when finally dispatched to question the Prez, it was too late. The Alaska loaded with wine and fresh fruits and produce was put aboard the barge and sailed into the night.
The next day, the Alaska was spotted surprisingly close to the close encounter in Peachland. Here the car was temporarily spotted at the old Lower Summerland Sawmill. Before anyone could react and get the appropriate authorities contacted and on the road to question the Prez about his alleged nefarious activities in Peachland, the Alaska was yet moved again.
Here the Alaska is seen being eased onto a CNR barge for yet another lake journey. The Prez seemed to enjoy the slow barge transits where he could take in all the sights of the surrounding mountains that were too rugged to permit construction of rail connections to but a few larger communities on the Lake. Somewhere along the way he heard about Ogopogo, the Okanagan Lake fish Monster that bears a striking, according to witness reports, likeness to the fabled that Loch Ness Monster. Like Nessy, Ogopogo has had his photograph taken, but always from afar and too indistinct to make much out at all. No one can claim to have seen him close up unfortunately. But during this short journey, the Prez was sure he was going to be spotted. Alas, no matter how much Bourbon and wine was consumed while at sea, the Prez had no such visual luck.
During an intermediate stop for a day, his journey continued after being loaded onto a CPR barge for the remainder of his Lake voyage which ended in Penticton where we caught the Alaska being eased off onto dry land. The barges are distinguished from the others by the several vertical steel supports for the steel rods and cable stays which form a truss rod type affair that is vital to keep the barges from folding in the middle. But importantly, during the layover when the Prez had crews busy loading cases of various wines and provisions, he learned the news. He did have a have a stroke of luck on his side once again. The search for him was called off since the young maiden was found. Or more to the point, she emerged one day to rejoin her family and her daily duties at the winery. She seemed to have a bit of a glow about her, and despite being questioned at length, she had nothing to say. “Just out for a walk about” she’d only say…
The Prez beamed when he heard the news that the search over as his car was eased off the CPR barge into Penticton. He was so pleased with the outcome of his amorous adventures in Peachland, without thinking, he decided to host a town picnic with free food and drinks for all who showed up.
As the Alaska was pulled past the station, many of the towns people showed up to see who it was that was funding this sudden surprise picnic gift. The Prez was happy to see them, only to be later surprised himself when learned how large the town is, not to mention the magnitude of his bill.
Before leaving town, the Prez spotted an old turntable and engine house… and an ancient switcher loco a local club had recently purchased and cleaned up for their fledgling tourist RR. As his luck would have it, the loco was under steam and puttering around the yard. For some reason he insisted on taking a spin on the turntable and since he was paying in cash and booze in advance, it was easy to convince all that he be spun around a few times before leaving town. The switcher and the Alaska both fit the Turntable and the rest is history.
Now it was time for a run on the CPR’s Kettle Valley RR. The Prez had arranged to run a portion of the old line, and to be able to stop where he chose and all while being pulled by CPR power. So, finally the Alaska was leaving Penticton with the Prez in his normal pose and Monica beside him as always. It must have cost a pretty penny to arrange for that kind of tour.
While passing thru the town of Nelson, the Prez spotted an old elevated grade crossing tower, still manned on this day. Quite a surprise to see one of the few such manned towers remaining anywhere in North America in this day and age.
It’s fitting that we end this journey into the past with this photo illustrating the brazenness of the Prez after belting a few during the morning hours. Fortunately no serious mishaps occurred, but an interesting run-away from near the top of a grade did. Somehow, the Alaska became uncoupled yet the Prez didn’t seem the least bit concerned. Once rolling, he decided to just let 'er go down grade a couple miles and was found in the middle of White Horse Canyon Trestle. The Conductor and Engineer weren’t happy, alleging the Prez uncoupled the car just to drift backwards and enjoy a mile or two of trestles once again. The Alaska was retrieved, but only after the crew collected cases of wine and whiskey from the Prez that the Prez himself was forced to load aboard their locomotive. He called it highway robbery, but they said to think of it more akin to a non-disclosure fee!
And that’s how the Alaska, the Prez and Monica bid the Okanagan and the CP’s Kettle Valley RR a good bye.