The Canadian National Railway (CN) refurbished the rail line from Ladysmith to Barron in the fall of 2012. To celebrate that event, plus promote rail safety, the CN sponsored a 'Santa Train' on Tuesday, December 18th. Friends Brian Sykes of Atlanta, GA, George Forero of Chicago, Rod Peters of Emerald, WI, and I journeyed to Ladysmith in the early morning to follow the train west.
It was stationed overnight next to the Ladysmith Rail Display which
includes Soo Line F7 #500A, which was the first passenger locomotive on
the Soo Line Railroad.
How rare is this shot?? An F7 posed next to an E9 on the Barron sub???
The train was led by units #100 and #101. Illinois Central #100 was
built in 1949 as an E8, numbered CB&Q 9938A. IC 101 was built
in 1953, also as an E8 numbered CBQ 9977. Both were renumbered by BN after a merger and
rebuilt by MK as E9s. BN sold these units to the IC.
The train crosses Highway 8 between Ladysmith and
Bruce. These pictures don't show the large number of railfans that
journeyed to Barron and Rusk Counties to watch this Santa Train.
The general public, including school age students, was invited to
board the train, view the Christmas scenes, get a bag of gifts from the
CN, and meet Santa Claus!!
The train chugs uphill near Strickland.
Where Soo Line F-units once did the honors, now an Illinois Central
E9 inches past the Weyerhauser depot. At this time last year, no one
had any idea that this type of event would happen--and it's all because of frac
The train crosses the very scenic Rice Creek bridge, just east of Cameron.
And it passes the Barron depot, which is in the process of being refurbished into a coffee shop and artistic bakery.
Here is video of the Santa Train, taken by Chris Ausman:
A BIG Thank You to the Canadian National Railroad for sponsoring this event, enjoyed by adults and kids alike!!