Today we finally visited the railway museum. Wherever you live in Revelstoke, you can’t avoid hearing the regular rattle and occasional screechings of the freight trains that often take more than three minutes to cross the bridge. They continue on through the night, but they don’t disturb my sleep. They stop at the station sometimes, perhaps to switch crews and carry out maintenance, but the passenger trains don’t let the passengers off when they stop in Revelstoke. This may change when the town’s reputation as a year round resort becomes more widely known – but Revelstoke will have to pay top dollar for the privilege of being a tourist stop along the Canadian Pacific route.
The locomotive they have on show in the Museum’s magnificent building was overwhelming in its vastness and complicated machinery, so I felt it wasn’t worth starting a drawing that might take me a day and a half to do the engine justice. I was impressed with the snow ploughs in the outside yard, but they too were a little challenging given the little time I had before the museum closed. So I chose to draw the simplest piece of machinery on display: the velocipede, used in the very early days of railway building, which enabled workers to move along the tracks at their own speed, by pushing and pulling the wooden handle. I liked the combination of heavy steel wheels and the light weight wooden super structure. The velocipede has to be light so that it can be easily lifted off the track when it is not needed. I drew it in pen in 35 minutes before we were thrown out of the Museum, then added colour afterwards.
Another thing that I wanted to draw but didn’t have time to do was the caboose, the crew’s ‘cabin’, where they withdrew to sleep, eat and relax. As I was looking around, two young boys appeared from the upstairs bunk area and climbed down simultaneously. I was so taken with the brightness of their clothing, the quality of light and the balletic way they clambered down the steps, I decided to do a sketch from memory, using a photo I’d taken of the interior of the caboose.
I spent some time analysing the perspective so that the image would look convincing, then after adding the penwork I erased all the working lines. The colour in both sketches is water soluble pencils.
The Museum has two amazing models of two bridges that were built to cross creeks in Rogers Pass, Surprise Creek and Stoney Creek. The models appear to be made of giant matchsticks and you’d think they weren’t being accurate, but when you look at the photos of the time you realise that those bridges were indeed built on towers made of wood. This link shows a reconstruction of what the original Mountain Creek bridge looked like.