Stopping A Train At Cisco BridgeThursday, June 24, 2010
I crossed on foot the CP Cisco Bridge with my friend Paul Leisz on Thursday. We were on the way to visit my daughter Ale in Lillooet when on an impulse I told Paul to stop. The Cisco Bridge is somewhere between Boston Bar and Lytton. At one time there would have been all kinds of warning signs posted by CP and CN warning that we were trespassing. There were no signs. I told Paul to be careful as I didn’t want him to hit his drive train on the rough unpaved road. Paul reminded me that his was a Toyota 4x4 and that there was no danger.
The significance of the CP Cisco Bridge is personal for me. It was sometime around 22 years ago that I stopped a very long train not once, but three times. I did it with a walkie-talkie. Before the era of cell phones this was the only way to communicate in the field.
Most know me as a magazine photographer but few know that I shot industrial photographs for CP Limited (and Air Canada) between 1980 and the mid 90s. I photographed trucks, locomotives (including the last caboose) and even photographed the Royal Hudson being repaired at the original roundhouse on the foot of Drake Street.
It was around 22 years ago that I received a call from CP Limited Public Affairs man Morrie Zeitlin. “I want you to go and walk between Boston Bar and Lytton and find a photogenic place to photograph cars on a train.” The request was unusual and brutal. Brutal because it was in August and as I found myself walking in the area I knew the temperature was around 40degrees.
I found the perfect spot at the Cisco Bridge. There are actually two Cisco Bridges (but originally there were three). The original, built in the late 1880s had the purpose of transferring the CP track from the Western side of the Fraser Canyon to the Eastern side. This bridge was replaced by a new one in the beginning of the 20th century. When CN built its tracks, its Eastern side of the tracks had to shift to the Western side so as not to impede the CP line. In those days CP had clout. So the Cisco Bridge is sometimes called the Cisco Bridge CP/CN interchange.
It was here that I found two bridges, a canyon, forests, water and sky. It was a perfect place to photograph Toyotas, Hondas and Datsuns (as Nissans were called then). My mission was to photograph the rail cars, one at a time on the bridge showing one of the brands, one at a time. The photographs were going to be sent as gifts to the higher ups of those car companies in Japan.
The day came and Morrie gave me the walkie-talkie and told me, “When you have the train where you want it tell him to stop. Give him some time as he cannot stop on a dime.” The train was going to pass through a tunnel that precedes the bridge. In my wide angle shot (taken with my Mamiya and a 65mm lens I could even see the red CN Bridge in the background.
The shoot was fun, I was amply compensated but the best part was my sense of power and authority to be able to stop that train.
It was that memory that led me to suggest to Paul that we might want to explore. Paul is an extremely enthusiastic photographer. I managed to take a few with my two Nikon FM-2s but the pictures you see here I took with my iPhone.
Before we left I knew that I wanted to pick up a couple of spikes as souvenirs for my granddaughters Lauren and Rebecca. Someday their parents will explain the significance and the importance of that track in the history of the country in which they were born, Canada.