Mo & Terry Smedley
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Whistler & 100 Mile House, British Columbia
The Last Days of BCRail's Cariboo Explorer
October 20-23, 2002

We made a last-minute quick getaway to British Columbia, mostly to follow the route of BCRail's Cariboo Explorer passenger service before that train disappears forever.   We've had the good fortune to travel over this remarkable route several times in the past few years. BCRail is discontinuing the service on October 31 of this year, and the magnificent Budd RDCs will be sold.  I tried to book one last trip on the Budd cars, but there was no space available - lots of other railfans are making their farewell journeys, too!  We decided to make the trip anyway, and got a chance to view the train in some spectacular fall scenery.

For more pictures of the Cariboo Prospector, you can  have a look at our 2001 BCRail charter excursion all the way to Fort Nelson, or check out this summer's Bella Coola trip.

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Mo in the cab of the Royal Hudson steam locomotive, now preserved at the West Coast Railway Association's Heritage Park, in Squamish, BC Hogger Mo hanging out of the Royal Hudson's cab (it was only after seeing these pictures that we noticed the "do not open windows" sign!) The park has a nice display of restored railroad equipment, including this Railway Post Office car Halloween decorations were being put up around the park
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Royal Hudson #2860 Mo shows off the Operation Lifesaver poster We found a plaque honoring Roy Crowston, the BCRail conductor we met on our charter trip to Fort Nelson.  Other Crowston family members are also noted. The Railway Wall of Fame is one of the park's exhibits
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Mo waits for a call on the Canadian National Telegraph set Sweet Apple Station, built on the park for the filming of a "Bye Bye Birdie" remake The Budd car silhouette is an unmistakable part of BCRail's history in the area We stopped at Brandywine Falls, which Mo had previously seen only from the train as it passes the back side
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The view up Blackcomb from our Whistler Village hotel Mo found a Teddy Bear store, or two, in the village Our deluxe room in the Whistler Delta Inn No instructions were provided.  I can only relate that while we were getting ready for dinner, I decided to experiment (fully clothed) and ended up with water all over my jacket.
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A 2.5km walk takes us to Nairn falls, between Whistler and Pemberton.  I calculated that we had plenty of time to take this walk and return to a highway view point to catch the Cariboo Prospector making its way into Lillooet.... As we returned to the parking lot at the falls we heard a  locomotive in the distance, which I assumed to be the Prospector.  Thinking we had missed it at the viewpoint, we raced into Pemberton to catch it....only to find it was this freight train hauling a load of empties. So we raced back down the road to a viewpoint above Nairn falls, and caught this nice view of the Prospector working its way along the canyon. Highway 99 from Pemberton to Lillooet is a beautiful fall trip.  Lightly traveled, with plenty of curves, and great scenery like this.
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Mo was pressed into service as our trip videographer. After a spectacular canyon descent, we pass this Seton Lake overlook just outside of Lillooet.  You can follow the route of the Prospector carved into the rock right on the edge of the lake.   We knew it was getting close to train time when the track inspection truck came down the lake.
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And right on time, here come four Budd cars.  Click here to see a view from the train taken at about this spot. Heading from Seton Lake into Lillooet.  While I was disappointed we weren't able to take one more ride on the Prospector, it was a lot of fun following and photographing it. The four RDCs arrive at Lillooet station, where the train will be split into two sections:  two cars will head to Prince George, and the other two will return to North Vancouver. The Prince George section heads out of Lillooet along the banks of the Fraser River.
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The Prospector crosses high above the Fraser River just outside of Lillooet.      

Click for more pictures from this trip to 100 Mile House