A Rail Fans' Look at 6167

Lloyd Thackery

(The following is an unpublished article about CN 6167 written around 1967 when it was moved to Guelph. The article is in the posession of the GHRA and was transcribed to HTML by the GHRA)

Canadian National steam locomotive 6167 has found its final resting place in Guelph. This locomotive has been described by some as a relic of the past and an antique steam engine. To the railway hobbiest [sic] or "rail fan" as he is commonly called, this locomotive is not an antique or relic of the past but instead represents one of the finest examples of modern steam power used on the Canadian National Railways. With four pilot wheels, eight drivers and a four wheel trailing truck, these locomotives were the first of the modern locomotives and were ideally suited to the problems of the newly amalgamated Canadian National System. The 4-8-4 wheel arrangement permitted a high horsepower machine adoptable [sic] to either freight or passenger service without exceeding weight limitations due to old bridges found on the system. This class of locomotive were originially called Confederation type, but this name was dropped in favour of Northern type due to the fact that the first 4-8-4 locomotive was built for the Northern Pacific Railroad and called Northern type by that railroad. The C.N. Northerns gave excellent service and became the main work horses on the system. C.N. became the owner of the largest fleet of Northerns in North America operating 203 of them altogether.

When dieselization became complete in 1959, Northern type locomotive 6167 was less than 20 years old and still in the prime of life. 6167 first saw the light of day on March 29, 1940 when she emerged from the erecting shops of the Montreal Locomotive Works. She and her sisters were wartime babies, born to a life of hard work and little glamour. These locomotives gave dependable, continuous service during the crucial period of the second world war.

6167 spent most of her active life in the maritimes hauling freight and passenger trains in the Moncton, New Brunswick area. She gained several reprieves from the wreckers' cutting torch over the years. One of these reprieves occured on July 6, 1943 when she was in a head-on collision with her sister engine 6166. In this million dollar wreck, 6167 suffered damage to the extent of $40,000 and had it not been for a critical shortage of locomotives during the war years, it is likely that she would have been scrapped at that time.

When the diesel horn sounded the death knell for steam locomotives most of her sisters were scrapped, but 6167 escaped again and was stored serviceable after travelling over 1 million and a quarter miles in regular service. Due largely to efforts of the executive of the Upper Canada Railway Society and a few members of C.N. management 6167 was returned to service on July 10, 1960 for a fan trip to Niagara Falls. During service on some 50 subsequent trips, she travelled over 12,000 miles, haulted almost 40,000 passengers and became the most photographed locomotive in North America.

Rail fans from all over North America followed this locomotive on its trips and were thrilled to watch her perform. They felt her agony of trying to lift too heavy a train on a stiff grade. They heard her crisp exhaust echo across the landscape on cold winter days. They heard the piercing blast of her whistle at grade crossings.

In 1964, this locomotive required new boiler tubes in order to keep oeprating. It was decided to refurbish a slightly younger locomotive instead, however, and as a consequence 6167 was retired from service after a final run on September 27.

Since that day, 6167 had been stored in the round house west of Toronto Union Station. Now this fine locomotive has been given its final reprieve from the cutting torch. Guelph, the Royal city, is a fitting home for a locomotive considerd by many to be a Queen of the rails.


Builder: Montreal Locomotive Company
Date completed: March 29, 1940
Builders Number: 69262
Railway class: U2e
Type: Northern
Wheel arrangement: 4-8-4
Driver diameter: 73"
Grate area: 84.4 square feet
Boiler pressure: 250 lbs.
Engine weight: 402,700 lbs.
Weight on drivers: 240,800 lbs.
Tender weight: 280,250 lbs.
Total weight of engine & tender: 682,950 lbs.
Tractive effort: 56785 lbs.
Tender capacity:
	coal  18 tons
	water 11,600 imp gallons
Total length of engine & tender: 94' 3 7/8"
Extreme height: 15' 7 1/4"
Extreme width: 10' 9 5/8"
Total mileage in regular service: 1,266,930
Approximate mileage on fan trips:    12,000

© Guelph Historical Railway Association Inc. 1991-2017