One Royal Hudson, No. 2860, was later used in excursion service. A class H1e Royal Hudson, it was built for the CPR by MLW in June 1940. It was the first locomotive of five to be built new as Royal Hudson and delivered with painted cast brass crowns affixed to their skirts. Between 1940 and 1956 it hauled transcontinental passenger trains between Revelstoke and Vancouver. It was damaged in a derailment outside of Vancouver in 1956, but by 1957 it had been refurbished and was transferred to Winnipeg for prairie service. It was withdrawn from service in May 1959 and sat on the scrap line for five years. It was sold to the Vancouver Railway Museum Association in 1964. However, the association was unable to find a place to display the locomotive and it remained in storage at the Drake Street shops in Vancouver. Once again the locomotive faced the risk of being scrapped, but she was sold to Joe W. Hussey in 1970.
In 1973 Hussey sold No. 2860 to the British Columbia government. The locomotive was restored by Robert E. Swanson’s Railway Appliance Research Ltd. team and the staff of the CPR Drake Street roundhouse shops beginning on 25 November 1973 and then operated by the British Columbia Department of Travel Industry with the cooperation of the British Columbia Railway. The BCR commenced a Royal Hudson excursion service between North Vancouver and Squamish on 20 June 1974. By the end of the 1974 tourist season, 47,295 passengers had been carried and the excursion was deemed successful. It was the only regularly scheduled steam excursion over mainline trackage in North America. The excursion operated between May and October, from Wednesday through Saturday. It also traveled North America in the late 1970s as a promotion for BC tourism. It quickly became one of British Columbia’s main tourist attractions and an icon of Canadian steam power.
Royal Hudson 4-6-4 No. 2860 at North Vancouver station before departure to Squamish BC in 1996
While the engine was being prepared for Christmas trains at the end of the 1999 tourist season, No. 2860 was found to have serious leaks from the superheater elements. The superheaters and the arch tubes were known to be life expired and some other fairly major boiler work was required. A variety of factors prevented BC Rail from carrying out the repairs immediately, including the fact that CPR Hudson #2816 was in the BCR shop being rebuilt under contract, and that all BC Rail passenger services were under threat in the lead up to the eventual privatization of BC Rail. After the election of the BC Liberal Government in 2001 all passenger services were gradually phased out starting with the Royal Hudson excursion. The Royal Hudson excursion used other locomotives during the 2000 and 2001 seasons such as back up locomotive 3716 (an ex-Canadian Pacific 2-8-0 which is also Provincially owned and currently operates on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland).
Currently No. 2860 is still owned by the British Columbia government, but is on permanent loan to the West Coast Railway Association (WCRA) and is housed at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, but has been seen on the CNR line from Squamish to North Vancouver since late April 2009.
On 9 December 2010, the ex-CP 2860 and the Royal Hudson trainset were scheduled to depart North Vancouver for Squamish at 12:30 pm on the last of its scheduled excursion trips in 2010. The ex-CP 2860’s certification expired in January 2011 and the cost of the necessary work is estimated at over $1 million CAD. The December 9 trip is likely to be her last for a long time.