Curzon
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The Curzon Story (8 of 13)
Finding wheels and an underframe for the Curzon

As Curzon had no wheels or underframe to support its 70-ton weight, its move by truck to flatcar was accomplished by two large steel beams placed along side the car at its lakeside site. Cross-beams were then run along under the car sideways at intervals and bolted to the underside of the lengthwise beam; these produced a safe "cradle". The car was then lifted, dollies installed under the back with the cradle resting on the truck, and then moved to Fond du Lac. There, the cradle placed across a short spur track with wooden blocking to bring it up to a flatcar height. A flatcar was moved underneath, and the Curzon and its cradle were then set down on the flatcar. The cradle was then dismantled, and the Curzon secured to the flatcar. The absence of underframing and wheels under the Curzon was a potential serious problem when the car arrived in Cranbrook.

However, by the most amazing coincidence, a similar, almost "sister" car to the Curzon was found, and also at Fond du Lac. It still had original wheels and a supporting structure. This old Soo-Line work car, # X1413, had been noted during the first visit in 1988, although locals thought the car was the "Fernie". An inspection showed the car had the exact dimensions as Curzon. It was, in fact the car "Winnipeg", built along with its companion car "Twin Cities" in 1909 for joint Soo-CPR use between Minneapolis and Winnipeg. These two cars were constructed identically to the Curzon-class cars, except for a slight interior alteration, (hence the difference in some windows). In 1921, the wooden cars had been completely steel underframed with a unique rivetted design paralleling the original support structure, including the king and queen support posts. This unusual undercar design was not followed in later full steel underframing. This was probably due to its early outfitting, which tried to match the original support points. The car was also fully steel sheathed, and the gothic (stained glass) sash was entirely removed. The interior of the car in the 1920's was substantially modernized as well. In 1941, x1413 was converted to work car status, and over the years the interior was completely gutted . It remained like this, deteriorating each year, until discovered by the museum in 1988.

x1413 was held by the Wisconsin Central Railway for the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel until arrangements could be made for the Curzon. It was purchased once the Curzon deal had been finalized, for a scrap metal price. The car was lifted off its wheels, and the body put onto a flatcar like Curzon (both cars, at 80' long, needed a special long 90' flatcar). The wheel sets were loaded separately into a gondola car. The wheels, in fact, were the originals (composite wood, cast iron and steel 1907-1909 vintage. All then began their trip to Canada and Cranbrook! It looked more like a scrap train — not a serious museum move. It also probably fooled anyone who saw it. No one could imagine, the value inherent to the artifact behind the boards and peeling rusty steel.

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