December 24, 2021
In Loving Memory ~
Bradwell Henry Cunningham passed away peacefully on Dec. 24, 2021. Born in 1942 in Fort Kent, Alberta, Brad spent nearly 40 years on the rails as a proud engineer with BC Rail. In railway parlance he was a “hogger,” and as one former colleague said, “Going down that Lillooet mountain with Brad and a heavy train, you knew everything was under control.”
Brad lived life entirely on his own terms – brilliant, resourceful, stubborn, legendary stubborn, and just plain legendary.
In addition to running diesel locomotives for freight and passenger trains, including the Budd Cars, he was one of the few engineers qualified to run the famous Royal Hudson steam locomotive (built in 1937), an almost extinct skill set today.
He was honoured in the documentary film Twilight on the Rails: The End of an Era in North America, which covers the end of passenger train service in B.C. His story was also the inspiration behind the popular folk song, Let em’ Ride, written by Jeremy Pahl.
A video tribute to Brad can be found on YouTube via this link: Let ’em Ride: The Ballad of Bradwell Cunningham.
In 2002, Brad retired from BC Rail and moved to Burns Lake where he enjoyed his family and made many friends.
Brad loved to read the news, argue politics, buy antiques, and collect First Nations art from the very people whose communities he passed every day on the rails. Brad leaves behind his two daughters, Tania and Kara, son-in-laws Johnnie and Kent, and his much beloved granddaughter, Thea. He was greatly loved and will be deeply missed.
As another former colleague commented upon learning of Brad’s passing, “No doubt he is driving an engine of gold upon silver tracks bound for Heaven. He was a hogger’s hogger, and he is in good company switching thunder on the fly, just above the Milky Way! So long million-miler. May you always hold the main and your train all black and on the track.” Obituary
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