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CN 7049, an EMD GP9RM built in 1957, is headed east and approaching Hope with Caboose 79873 at Cheam View, on CN's Yale Sub. Not sure of exactly when but, Caboose 79873 was put out to pasture at the Woodlands and Meadows Perennial Nursery & Gardens in Princeport, Nova Scotia. GPS is approximate.
Copyright Notice: This image ©Joe Harrison all rights reserved.

Caption: CN 7049, an EMD GP9RM built in 1957, is headed east and approaching Hope with Caboose 79873 at Cheam View, on CN's Yale Sub. Not sure of exactly when but, Caboose 79873 was put out to pasture at the Woodlands and Meadows Perennial Nursery & Gardens in Princeport, Nova Scotia. GPS is approximate.

Joe Harrison [168] (more) (contact)
Date: 04/29/1995 (search)
Railway: Canadian National (search)
Reporting Marks: CN 7049 (search)
Train Symbol: Not Provided
Subdivision/SNS: SNS Cheam View - CN Yale Sub (search)
City/Town: Hope (search)
Province: British Columbia (search)
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Photo ID: 38241

Map courtesy of Open Street Map

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  1. A long nose cab hop, just like it was meant to be on CN. Nice catch Joe. :-)

  2. Thanks David – I love trains and being able to photograph them, but since I didn’t work in the industry, have no clue as to the technical end of things so, having said that, what is a long nose cab hop? Glad you like it – Joe

  3. Oops. An abbreviated and bad assumption on my part, I’m sorry for that. By long nose I am referring to having the long hood forward, as in the early GP9 days (vs CP’s short hood forward). Cabhop was when the crew headed out with no train, as in your photo, to either pickup a train at some location and return home. Or, it was not unusual for a grain trains to head out with empties, spot them all and head home cabhop. Or the reverse, head out cabhop, pickup loads and return with train.

  4. No need for an “Oops” Sir. Your background and knowledge are well received and much appreciated. Best regards.

  5. Such a lovely ‘lonely’ looking shot. Also note that the GP9RM’s were rebuilt in the late 80′s/early 90′s from the aforemention 1957 GP9′s hence having the front end nose chopped amongst other modifications. Very nice.

  6. Thanks Brad – Yes, the 7049 was formerly the 4566. Also of interest, the Trackside Guide lists the caboose, CN 79873, as “nee CN 472000 – series Box Car.” Was it common to turn box cars into cabooses? Or am I reading this wrong? Thanks again.

  7. Good question Joe. Why are the ‘vans’ (Canadian term or Cabooses) built like they are, consistent between CN and CP and different than the standard American caboose? Maybe someone can enlighten us? Funny as you say boxcars..that’s the way we used to model them using a boxcar as a starting point when painted models were American replicas and indeed not accurate and long before todays accurate models were released. Discussion for a modeling site of course. ;)

  8. Very nice Joe.

  9. Long hood forward was great when the Geep’s were built, but after rebuilds into the 7200/7000 class they were awful to operate!

  10. @ Brad and Joe.. CN’s Pointe Saint Charles “vans” were built from old boxcars. They were extensively rebuilt though as those vans were awesome to ride in and were very smooth on the track. They had cushion underframes as well so that helped with the “slack action”

  11. Why is the roof of CN 79873 white?

  12. Thanks for all of your comments, and the very interesting, firsthand input. It’s very much appreciated.

  13. Good question Stuart. To me, it looks like a dusting of something dry rather than a liquid spill or an intentional paint job. What’s your opinion?

  14. I agree Joe, I don’t think the roof is painted white, looks like some of it is “running” of on the sides. The locomotive also looks like it has a bit of “stuff” on the roof. Perhaps the van is in some sort of service in a mining operation?
    FYI “van hops” were always fun to operate!

  15. I was thinking that the van may have been possibly backed under a loading shoot at some local facility but the stack looks very clean…unless it’s a replacement. There are no mine operations in that area and I think the 7049 and this van had been together for quite some time. Not sure where they originated but they were in Chilliwack on a regular basis to pick up cars. I had never seen them this far east but was pleased when they showed up.

  16. Regarding the use of the word “van”…..it seems to be a regional thing. I grew up in the west and had relatives who worked for the railways and I never once heard a caboose called a “van”. I’m not sure why it has come to be thought of as a Canadian term.
    Nice shot though Joe!

  17. I agree. Caboose is all I’ve ever known. It has an interesting history as well.

  18. I’m with Robin. For the time that I worked there, plus the friends that I knew that worked for CN, until retirement, in Kamloops & Vancouver, Cab or Caboose was the term used. Run over to the Cab track and stick one on track 65, a typical call from the West Tower yardmaster. We are Canadian, pretty sure there are acceptable differences across the country. :-)

  19. If I may,


    “Railroaders affectionately called their cabooses by many nicknames, including cabin, crummy, buggy, doghouse, waycar, shack, and hack. On the Pennsylvania Railroad, the caboose was a cabin or “cabin car.” The Burlington, C&NW, and other roads used the term waycar. Canadian cabooses were called “vans,” a word similar to “brake van,” used in England to describe railroad cars that performed a similar function to a caboose.”



    “Canadians call their cabooses vans. Or so I’m told. John Riddell states that CP preferred the word caboose, but even the 1985 CP Rail Equipment roster used the word ‘van.’ But we’re going to use Van just to confuse those not from the Great White North”

    I’m not sure if any Canadian publication (Branchline?) (UCRS Newsletter?) (CHRA?) has ever done an article on van/caboose nomenclature. Anyone know?

  20. There’s a neat article in the 1991 January Branchline: “On the Origins of Cabooses in Canada” by Omer Lavallee starting on page 16 of this:


    google search: van caboose site:bytownrailwaysociety.ca

    Page 17 has a good paragraph on the continued use of the word “van” especially by CP Rail crew.

  21. Thanks for your input Steve. Good stuff! Just to add … I also found that the word caboose is derived from the Dutch word “Kombuis” which translates to “ships galley”. Food / shelter and a great place to hang out when off duty and away from home.

  22. Very nice thread from your photo @Joe Harrison. Some good knowledge here. @ngineered4u interesting about the old boxcar use..Wonder why the States didn’t ‘couple’ on to the build?

    I didn’t know GP9RM’s were intentionally run long nose first? Sounds like a Norfolk Southern practice. And in that case, why did they chop the noses in first place?

  23. I believe the noses were chopped to improve visibility.

  24. Love the input from this thread guys!
    Sounds like “van” is a east term. I am not sure how far east? From the day i hired on in 1981 until they disappeared, we always used the word van. Mac Yrd had a two track “van” siding where the caboose’s were serviced. Oh Canada!!

  25. @Brad and Joe. When most railroads started to replace steam and order diesels they had F type units at first. When the “road switcher” type units were ordered they were pretty much all ordered with the long hood as forward. The reasoning I was told was because of added safety for train crews in the event of an accident. Steam engines had that long boiler ahead of the crews in the cab to give them some added metal in front of them. This type of protection was mostly for grade crossing incidents as there were far more level and unprotected crossings back in the 50′s. I am sure head on collisions did not afford much protection for steam or diesels, but the practice when ordering new road switcher engines was long hood forward. Some companies like NW, and Southern RR had units with dual controls for the engineer and this practice continued right into the second generation units like SD45 and C30-7. CN/VIA RS18′s were also equipped with dual controls.
    When it came down to rebuilds on CN, they chopped the nose for better visibility on the 4000/4100 class units. The 7200/7000 class got chopped as well, but at the time they were assigned to yard service where visibility was not essential so they were set up to run as long hood as the front of the unit.
    Take it from a guy that has sometimes run GP9′s, RS18′s C40-8/M’s SD70/75′s and right up to EVOS’s with the long hood leading.
    Short hood forward is way more comfortable and for me, it feels safer.

  26. I never would have thought that such a short train could generate so much interest, and information. Thanks to you all.

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