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93-year-old steam train chugs into Winnipeg rail yard

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The CPKC Final Spike Steam Tour rolled through Winnipeg Saturday, wrapping up its three-country, cross-continental journey.

The tour kicked off in Calgary in April to celebrate the one-year anniversary following the ceremonial final spike – driven to symbolize the completion of North America’s only transnational rail network that links Canada, the United States and Mexico.

CPKC is a combination of Canadian Pacific (CP) and Kansas City Southern (KCS) – two historic railways that span across the continent.

As part of the tour, it restored steam locomotive 2816, better known as “The Empress.” The 93-year-old train travelled more than 14,000 kilometres from Calgary all the way to Mexico City, and is now making its way back again.

“We picked the route because it’s along the way of where we operate,” said CPKC spokesperson Terry Cunha. “So it’s an opportunity to give back to the communities in which we live and operate, see many of the same community members that we deal with on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s also a route that was selected because it allows us to go from Calgary down to Mexico and back in one single loop,” Cunha continued. “So it’s really the only cross-continental journey any train’s ever done, and we’re very proud of that.”

When The Empress pulled into the CPKC Winnipeg Yard Saturday afternoon, it delighted dozens of train enthusiasts.

Visitors also had a chance to travel back in time and explore pieces of railway history, including the final spike.

While The Empress won’t be making any more stops, it will pass through Brandon, Man.; Moose Jaw, Sask.; and Medicine Hat, Alta., before returning to its home station at the CPKC Canadian headquarters in Calgary.

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