What Lies Beneath
A tamper rolls through downtown Davenport on submerged tracks as part of the track raise on April 3. During the track raise, tampers lift the track, one tie at a time, and push ballast underneath, holding the track to the new, higher elevation.
A CP worker in waders observes ballast pouring operations at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, Iowa. Modern Woodmen Park is home to the Quad Cities River Bandits baseball team, a Class A ball team affiliated with the Houston Astros.
Bonding Over Ballast
Clad in waders, two contractors discuss ballast-pouring operations in downtown Davenport on April 3.
A tamper negotiates flooded tracks in downtown Davenport on April 3, as part of track-raising operations.
Out of Left Field
A CP Brandt Road Railer facilitating track-raise operations passes Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, Iowa, on April 3.
Slow Speed Ahead
A CP freight train passes over newly raised tracks in downtown Davenport, Iowa, on April 3, 2019. CP has elevated signal bungalows in downtown Davenport to keep wiring and circuitry dry during flood events.
We Will Rock You
Ballast trains were a constant presence in downtown Davenport during the 2019 floods, as crushed rock is a key ingredient in raising track.
Big Wheels Keep on Turning
Wheels of a CP train churn the floodwater in downtown Davenport as freight makes its way toward destination. CP maintained train operations through water levels that in previous years would have led trains to detour.
A worker operates the bottom gates of a ballast car, pouring rock onto the tracks in downtown Davenport. Following the ballast train, a tamper will lift the track and push the ballast beneath the ties, creating a new, higher track elevation.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Before and after photos reveal the success CP achieved on March 27, with the reopening of the Turkey River Bridge near Guttenberg, Iowa. Twelve days earlier, rising floodwaters had toppled five spans of the bridge totaling approximately 400 feet into the river.
Sky's the Limit
110-tonne cranes lift the first pile cap into place to support new bridge spans on March 21. Planned bridge replacements of the scale of the Turkey River Bridge replacement would typically take a year of planning and a full season of construction work.
Rock and Roll
An excavator places rock as part of construction of a causeway into the Turkey River that will serve as a platform for cranes to install spans on March 19.
Bridging the Gap
Workers install the first track panels on the new spans of the Turkey River bridge on March 23.
Workers ready track panels on the newly constructed grade at Turkey River on March 23.
Residents along the Mississippi River in southeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois talk about the Mississippi River’s high-water marks based on bitter memories of past years’ floods. There was ’93, where the Rock Island, Ill., river gauge measured 22.63 feet. More senior residents remember ’65, at 22.48 feet, the prior record.
On May 3, the gauge reached yet another record: 22.7 feet. With it come new memories: the failure of a levee in Davenport, Iowa, that left much of downtown inundated. There’s also the more mundane but still painful damage: vehicles abandoned to the floodwater, soggy basements, family photo albums that didn’t get moved in time. Then there are the acts of kindness, the small victories and eventually, the return to normalcy. All of these will be woven into the memories of the floods of ’19 for those who lived through them.
Our network shadows the Mississippi for 360 miles from St. Paul, Minn., to Muscatine, Iowa. CP employees live in towns and cities along the river’s banks, fish in its waters and admire its beauty from locomotive cabs and hi-rail trucks. The flat plain that unfolds from the river’s west bank provides a low-grade route for operating trains, but it also imposes curves, bridges over tributary streams and on occasion, floods.
Engineering, signals and communications and operations employees in this territory laboured this spring in challenging conditions and for long hours, day after day, to keep CP’s routes in operation. They replaced a major bridge in an astonishingly short timeframe, lifted and tamped track that was already under water and poured riprap to protect the right-of-way from punishing waves. They also warned the owner of a restaurant in Davenport that a levee had failed and that water would soon rise, then gave him a pallet of sandbags to help protect his business.
The effort took innovation, pride and extraordinarily hard work. The accomplishment: a rail corridor that remained open on days when, in the past, it would have closed. When closure could not be avoided, trains rerouted, sometimes on CP rails, sometimes over other railroads.
As lives and train operations resume their normal course, Canadian Pacific Magazine shares these images to commemorate the achievements that took place this spring. We hope they serve as inspiration and a source of pride to the entire CP family. In the face of such adversity, it was an achievement for the ages.