Saturday, July 14, 2018

Kingston-Toronto Return Trip, July 2018

The consist of VIA No 651 that took me to Toronto on July 6: 905F-3325-3369-3318-3352F-3460-911F (F=Future scheme, R = Renaissance scheme). Arriving from Queens south service track at 0510 (top photo), this view shows the consist waiting to board passengers at Kingston station, from the tail-end. Now that this consist, which stays in Kingston, is double-ended there is no need to use the wye at Queens and the entire consist spends the night in track KL29.
With no more than 10 passengers in Business Class, there was lots of elbow room. And knee room. And badminton room if you'd wanted. Breakfast was substantial Business Class coffee in a decent-sized cup, croissant, orange juice, kiwi/pineapple/grapefruit/grape/orange fruit tray and omelette main dish with cheese, baby tomatoes, onion, green pepper, mushrooms and sausage:
A few brave souls at Napanee station:
There were a couple of cars on the Parrish & Heimbecker elevator spur at Trenton Jct:
Another view of an ex-Grand Trunk station - this one at Port Hope. (Eleven commuter vehicles had rolled into parking lot at Cobourg in the 7 minutes between early arrival and on-time departure. Cutting it close and they know how to do it!)
Pacing a GO consist to the north of us which came down the Don Valley, approaching Union Station:
Now that the Amtrak Maple Leaf to New York departs later, at 0855, I don't have to hoof it quite as hard to reach the Skywalk to capture its departure. In fact, with a five-minute tardy toodle-oo, getting this video capture made it a quick dash to my meeting! It was worth it: Amtrak 100-and Amfleet cars 82534-xxxxx-43374-82762-82635 comprised this colonial consist.
There are quite a few GO Transit 2xxx-series bilevel cars in the Metrolinx scheme, but here are two newer 4xxx-series cars' broadside views:
4518 (above) and 4076 (below):
Second time seeing warhorse GO 563, which had powered the six-car paced consist from the Don Valley shown above. Here it heads west from Union, meeting inbound Lakeshore West GO 620:
The celebratory banners get bigger as the network shrinks. Vancouver Island, Gaspe and Churchill down, banners up. When the placename chisellers were working at ceiling-height, could they ever had imagined how their network would shrink and how many of those cities would no longer be served someday?
Returning home on VIA No 54: 914-3475-3336-3360F-3363-3348R. I've rarely seen GOraffiti but here is some on a consist in the GO Don storage yard (former CN Don yard) coincidentally the six-car consist shown twice above with GO 563 (now from the north side!):
GO 2xx-series cab cars have largely been relegated to coach status, but two functioning in their intended role were 255 and 256. Here we pace GO 255 on a Lakeshore East train near Guildwood. Appurtenances!
For dinner, I eschewed the usual fish dish for the pot roast. Beefy! And a Rickard's Red. More festive fortieth festoonery at the Dirty Shwa:
Faithful Trackside Treasure reader Malcolm Peakman and Mary were at Napanee station at dusk. As was a plethora of pickup trucks belonging to the CN workers from in a 41-machine tie/surfacing gang working west of Napanee.

Running extra...

Speaking of that big tie/surfacing gang, here is one of four ballast regulators, this one working at Collins Bay, Mi 180 Kingston Sub this week. This is one dusty job!
An army travels on its stomach, and a track gang travels with its support truck. And SUV's containing supervisors. Lots and lots of supervisors, in air-conditioned SUV cabs (not pictured). It appears this gang stays on their track all day, with perhaps two crews operating 'round the clock. 
Trackside Treasure's tenth is just around the corner. Traditional gift for the tenth is tin or aluminum. Due to recent tariffs, aluminum gifts are not cost-effective. I'll see what I can do. In the meantime, here is a glimmery view of VIA 905 at Kingston this past Friday:

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Thurlow Railway

The Thurlow Railway was about three miles in length, running south off CN's Kingston Subdivision, then crossing CP's Belleville Subdivision, heading south to the Bay of Quinte to reach the Canada Portland Cement Co. cement plant on the shores of the Bay of Quinte - on the north shore of Lake Ontario. After various owners operated the plant in the 19th century, the plant ended up in the fold of the Canada Cement Company, labelled as Plant 5. The company's plant numbering system: Plant 1 Montreal East; Plant 2 Havelock, NB; Plant 3 Hull; Plant 4 Woodstock, ON (1956+); Plant 5 Belleville; Plant 8 Port Colborne; Plant 12 Exshaw, AB; Plant 13 Fort Whyte, MB. Bayside 1910 postcard view of the plant:
Located in Thurlow Township, now part of the amalgamated City of Belleville, bagged cement was shipped by rail, boat and truck. The unused tackboard card (top photo) ended up in my collection. I imagine this would have been stapled to the boxcar tackboard, including car reporting marks, consignee and rail routing. A unique line due to its operation by CN and CP concurrently, this diagram shows the line's location, including its onsite quarry at bayside:
Interestingly, when CN's Belleville city branch trackage was severed, CN accessed downtown Belleville with trackage rights from its connection to the Thurlow Railway, then branching off onto the CP west to Belleville! There is still a mileboard for Thurlow on CP's Belleville Sub. CP's April, 1972 Eastern Region employees' timetable included the following footnotes regarding the joint operation to Point Anne:
CN's 1971 operating diagram for the Belleville South Spur showed the connection to the CN Kingston Sub, interchange with CPR/TRR, three spurs near the CP then the two sidings and three spurs into the plant itself, before the End CNR operation notation.
A worker community of housing, school, stores and churches sprung up on the site. On trips to Belleville along Highway 2, I remember driving over the single track. Of course, as with other abandoned operations, there is no sign of the crossing when driving along Highway 2 today. Though this post languished in draft form for months/years, the acquisition of a bound volume of company newsletters this past Canada Day at the Kingston (behind) City Hall antiques market renewed my interest. (Three bucks, though my wife said I should have bartered for $2! Haggle more!)
These 1952 plant expansion photos, from the company newsletter The Cement Bulletin, show the boom that the post-war era brought to the construction industry. New kilns were added and the plant's future seemed bright. Arrows indicate boxcars stored on the Thurlow Railway trackage. Middle arrow below shows a spur into the plant:

The plant operated into the 1970's, but is now rated as a ghost town of ruins and remains only. Current satellite photos of the connection to CN, just east of Belleville yard along the Airport Parkway, roughly paralleling the road to the former location of the Belleville airport, also shown in a recent video capture from a speeding VIA train:
Then continuing south, remnants of the Thurlow Railway-CPR connecting track (which CN had accessed to reach downtown Belleville at one time) can be seen (below) and the quarrying operation remains...cemented in time.

Lots o' links:
Prolific model railroader Bob Fallowfield kindly shared an under-construction photo of Canada Cement's Plant 4 at Woodstock, ON. Photo from the CCL Archives:
Running extra...

If you woke up this morning and said, "Gee, I haven't seen a top-down view of those ex-B&M covered hoppers in roofing-granule service in a while", then George and Peter are there to make this your lucky day!
Canada Day has come and gone. Our local MP's staff distributed cardboard fans for a civic ceremony at Kingston City Hall. People-watching in the A/C of the Speckled Hen pub, while enjoying a very un-Canadian Budweiser was ecumenically entertaining and quintessentially, comically Canadian. The term [maple] LEAF! was used to describe those celebrants not carrying off the red-and-white clothing theme in a tasteful or appropriate manner. Going all-out with cowboy hats, pinwheels, flag capes or other festoons was well-received, however.
Meanwhile, over at Rapido Trains Inc., the recent cacophonic company cattle call for at least four new products included the Tempo train. As predictable as a CPR D-10 (one of which is also near City Hall, its thirst eternally slaked) anyone with half-a-brakeline knew this would happen eventually. I must admit that the also-announced workaday RS-18 has me model-mulling in a mercurial MLW manner. I don't consider myself a shrill, shilling Shronian but even I think this one just might be worth supporting! CN 3732 was still earning its keep in Kingston in February, 1986:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Canada Day 2018

As part of our annual Canada Day devotion to the Dominion, I'm featuring selected excerpts from Canada  by Mike Myers. Roughly the same age, we share similar cultural references and I enjoyed reading his book, detailing his career and his world view. For previous years' Canada Day posts dating back to the first in 2009, click here. I've included photos from my Canadiana collection with the excerpts. Now look up, look way up...

The central conflict of much of our literature is man versus nature. That sort of conflict breeds co-operation more than it breeds rugged individualism. It breeds caution more than it breeds entrepreneneurialism. It's cold here. So cold it can make you cry. It's so cold you want your dad to come pick you up.
In the Canadian acccent, there is a tonal rise a the end of each sentence, until the last sentence, which returns to the Canadian monotone. The rise at the end of each sentence is an indication that the speaker intends to continue. The end of the final sentence has no rise, which tells the listener, "Now it's your turn to speak." Essentially, we Canadians have encoded "after you" into our speech patterns - it's subliminal etiquette.
Milk is sold in plastic bags that require a specially-made pitcher. One places the unopened bag inside the pitcher and then cuts one corner of the milk bag to allow pouring. If you cut the corner too much, you get a milk tsunami. Too little, and it's a dribble.
I love the old Hockey Night in Canada logo, the side-stick one. I always wanted to bet a powder blue HNIC blazer with the side-stick logo embroidered on the pocket. I love Danny Gallivan with his 'cannonading drives', 'scintillating saves' and 'Savardian spin-o-ramas'.
Another CBC show, Coming Up Rosie (1975) starred the great Canadians Dan Aykroyd and Catherine O'Hara, both of whom were not yet famous. [Ed. Note: I haven't found my Coming Up Rosie cast B&W 8x11 photo but when I do, it'll go here]
In 1971, the great Canadian historian Pierre Berton captured the fervour surrounding the Next Great Nation era with his smash hit book, The Last Spike. I used to love hearing him talk about the otherwise dry story of Canada in such an interesting way. He was...caring.
We were all taken to the gym to watch Game 8 of the '72 series on three Canadian-made Electrohome televisions that were on these tall, wheeled stands. The gym was packed.
The Friendly Giant had a one-panel set with a window where he could talk to Jerome the Giraffe, and a bag on the wall where he could talk to Rusty the Rooster. Rusty was a bit of a prick. He was argumentative and contrary, whereas Jerome was affable to a fault.
Canada may not have put a man on the moon, but it's been awfully nice to the man on Earth. And perhaps that will be Canada's greatest legacy.
- Wise sentiments all, from the chamber of sober second thought -
Happy Canada Day! 
- Eric
Running extra...

Nobody is more inspired by Dominion Day, er, Canada Day, than Portage modeller Randy O'Brien. Thanks to Randy for this celebratory Canada Day card linking our two great transportation systems. No, that's not just-in-time legalized cannabis on the left-hand flag, it's a bouquet of beautiful X2F couplers!
Randy is a valued contributor to my Trains & Grains two-volume book project, now entering its second print run. Manitoba's Matt Tolton sent this photo from June 2016 with his maple leaf-red ride and the riotously-red soon-to-slide-to-the-ground Pioneer elevator in Davidson, SK dated June, 2016. Compare and contrast with my more bountiful view of the same location's elevator row in 1986 (below):


Saturday, June 23, 2018

KFC, 6060 and Me

On September 29, 1979 we rode a Upper Canada Railway Society fantrip behind CNR 6060 Toronto-Gravenhurst, return. The fall colours were bright even though the day was mostly overcast. Little did I know what waited at the end of the trip....fried chicken. Read on! Walking up to the engine during a watering stop at Bradford at 0910:
Upon arrival at Gravenhurst, 6060 was uncoupled to run around the train and haul it on the sidetrip to Washago. Watch the firehose, follow the smoke, Dad!
More watering took place at Gravenhurst. No wonder the railways were so keen to convert to diesels!
During the sidetrip to Washago. I perched on a signal, to get 6060 backing up. It wyed itself and UCRS solarium car Cape Race. Looking very steam era-ish:
The marker lamps from the last VIA Dayniter coming from Gravenhurst were placed on the rear of UCRS Cape Race, which would be the last car when returning to Toronto:
Back at Gravehurst, as the consist was re-marshalled, (top photo) supper was spotted. See that white, peaked-roof building straight down the track in the centre of the photo, below?
Here's a close-up, showing a fatigued but otherwise happy 15 year-old future blogger bee-bopping along the ballast with two types of true trackside treasure - a bag of KFC and some discovered discarded railway documents in hand, better showing the KFC which appeared like a desert oasis. Not a dessert oasis, though. Chicken, man, there must be chicken there!!
I published a Trackside Treasure post (the fifth one ever!) on the trip and make a brief mention of supper during the layover from the just-down-the-track Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet. It was in a good location - visible to three hungry railfans!  To quote the caption accompanying my Dad's photos of me, "We were lucky to have time to walk down the track to buy a supply of Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken".  Now with cassette tape recorder in hand, 6060 is seen tacking Cape Race on the tail-end:        
For a long time, and based on many epicurean encounters, I've considered KFC up as the ultimate trainwatching (or train-riding!) fast food meal. Maybe it's no coincidence that KFC restaurants are usually located near train tracks. It's one transportation gustation inspiration for starting my Fast Food And Trains (FFAT!!) blog. Notice that signal bridge in the 1979 and 2016 photos...
We returned to Gravenhurst in September, 2016 (CN trackage - above). 'Pilgrimage' is perhaps too poetic a word to describe our drive-by. "You can't go home again" is more apt. Where was the tall KFC bucket on a pole? Slightly upscale, a caricatured Colonel Sanders loomed out from the store's squared-off roofline. There was no panting steam locomotive nearby. No happy throng of tired 'daisy-pickers' weary and ready to return to Toronto after a day in Muskoka. TrainSim enthusiasts have included this KFC location, albeit in an earlier design iteration, in their virtual version of the line, with assistance from GoogleEarth.
Posted to an online photo auction site...two Gravenhurst KFC photos by Bram Bailey. In 1978, it's the ONR Northlander beneath the bucket.
Earlier, on July 25, 1976 it was CN 5047. The red and white pole stripes were a little less faded and check out that fenceline! Both photos just edge out the nearby natural gas installation. Did somebody say gas? Well, it is a fried chicken place. 

Running extra...

Book contributor and fellow blogger Steve Boyko kindly posted the first review of Trains & Grains. Thanks for your support, Steve! Also for posing your paged progeny in front of La Salle, Manitoba's Paterson elevator (above). I'm happy to add that the books are now entering a second print run. And between filling orders, I finally had time for a 'family portrait':
The front patio layout is in process. Had a few incidents and accidents. It's good to get outside in the fresh air. Early stages...