Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Portage la Prairie, November 1980

Recently, my email inbox was graced by the arrival of a fine series of photos by the late Bill Grandin, kindly shared by James Parker and included in this post with his permission. Bill took these photos on Nov 26, 1980, according to their captions. I believe Bill was a Winnipeg resident, but this was the first time I recall him photographing Portage, roughly 55 miles to the west. I'd been there twice that year - in June  and in October. While I don't often share other photographers' photos on Trackside Treasure these are too good not to post, knowing that there are many others who railfan or model Portage that will enjoy them as much as I did!
One operation that I wish I'd checked out more was McCallister Pea & Seed Cleaners. McCallister was just north of the CP yard but far enough from the mainlines that I never wanted to miss the action there. Not so for Bill. His morning photos from the west (top photo) and east (above) show the various buildings that made up this agribusiness agglomeration. Note that the transport truck on the drive shed ramp, blocks the spur while a CP Rail multimark boxcar (being loaded?) is just past it. So it must have been retractable.

Moving farther west, Bill photographed the northeast (above) and southeast (below) sides of the United Grain Growers elevator, as it overshadows the off-hand Sherritt Fertilizers elevator. In the second photo, a CP grain train is passing by and CN in foreground.
Moving east along Fisher Avenue, Bill photographed the Elephant Fertilizers and Portage Pool A elevators:
Portage Pool A and its annex, served by CP, with CN mainlines in the foreground:
Approaching the Skyline bridge, we see the Portage Pool B and UGG (formerly Victoria) elevators and CN (VIA) station at right:
Portage Pool B was served by CP on the north side and CN spur on the south side. Wooden grain doors can be seen stacked at the east end of the drive shed.Nice leafless view of the Pool B annexes:
What was likely VIA No 90 arrives behind VIA 6502, wearing its 60-degree slanted yellow nose paint scheme applied in April, 1978, pulls in to Portage at Eighth Street:
Apparently this is a last run for one of the head-end crew, based on the banner tied to 6502's nose:
Stopped at the CN station, with CP station at right:
A westbound CN freight is switching and/or departing the yard westbound. Note the CN boxcars on CP rails on the Northan American Can of Canada Ltd. spur.

Then, in Winnipeg it's VIA Sceneramic Fraser still in CN paint in CN's East Yard, ignominiously coupled to a CN boxcar:

Running extra...

Fellow ARK member Paul Hunter presented on CN's peripatetic, provincial Turbo at our February club meeting. I tagged on some rare-mileage coverage of that famous 25 mph collision with the meat truck at Kingston. Don't you hate it when you show up somewhere and someone is wearing the same thing as you - an original red-and-white 'Turbo' button. Paul and I experienced that!

Blockades have sprung up like mushrooms in manure and CN has staged freights across the system, many east and west of here on the now-rusty rails of its Kingston Sub. Rail-based commerce has ground to a halt, and VIA passengers are caught up in the logistics logjam.

When trains were running...check out combination-door CN 598140 in a rare, small-CN 'website' scheme - a video capture from the Platforum Episode 5 with the irrascibly inimitable Jason Shron. Watch it here, if you dare!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

My Railfan Five, Take Two

Five years ago, a thing called My Railfan Five Challenge was briefly A Thing. Illustrating my railfan journey in five photos, it was shared with several other unsuspecting but magnanimous blog partners. The photos did not have to be the best, the most stunning, the most unusual, in fact they could be very mundane and concurrently very meaningful. And they were to me. And, we're baaaaack with Take Two - five more photos showing the railfan journey over the past five years. Posted on Five/Two, no less, just three days after Palindrome Day!

Anticipation! Nearly a year ago, on my first official day of retired life, I headed over to Kingston's VIA station to watch the printing of our tickets to travel to Western Canada, then take them home to put under our pillows and dream of our upcoming VIAyage (top photo).

Additional Anticipation! What could be better than walking one mile west then east on Kingston's Railfan Walking Trail then hearing, approaching in the western distance, an eastbound freight?! Well, park it right here, rest your Timmies on the provided handrail and enjoy the passing show!
Monochromaticity. Nearly the class car of this Parrish & Heimbecker series posed patiently while I made its portrait of its grey sides on an equally greasy, grey morning at the Trenton elevator. As a rolling stock guy, I loved seeing these heraldic hoppers plying the Kingston Sub singly, and the chance to see one at my leisure and up close was a good one!
Not Wanted on the Voyage. What must this lead-sled be thinking as it's barred entry to one of the enclosed auto racks passing it by. Likely getting some TLC at our local Midas brake shop, chain-link chastity keeps it from going very far with its winsome whitewalls and fins that any fish would be proud of!
GOing Somewhere? To see a photographer on the platforms of Toronto Union Station's GO concourse is as rare as seeing some GO single-level cars there. Catching two adjacent GO trains without the harried hordes of huddled commuters - synchronicity in the City.
It's always an engaging exercise to review our retrospective photos to see where we have come from. Check the right sidebar for additional My Railfan Five, Take Two posts by blog partners or click on these five (Three, sir!) er, three links:

Celebrating Railfan Five/Two day with the first train of the next five years! CN No 518 with CNNA map-scheme 9427-9461 backing to Kingston's Invista plant on the Cataraqui Spur at 1100 this morning:

Running extra...

If it was the Railfan Six Challenge, this next photo would have made the cut. Model Railroad Planning 2020 is now out and it should make excellent trackside reading!

Product Review underway - Model Railroad Planning 2020:

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Company Photographer visits Toronto

He's been at it again! The Trackside Treasure company photographer, camera in hand. This time, taking his show on the road, with this photo archive of Toronto providing the inspiration. Enjoy these just-captioned photos taken in the Queen City, T Dot, The Big Smoke, the 'T' in the GTA. All aboard!

Need to see more from the Company Photographer? Just type those two words into the search box at top left of this blog. I've not kept track, pun intended, of how many times this talented photo quasi-wizard has displayed his work here, maybe a half-dozen, but each time there are wry smiles and warm grins all around.

Running extra...

Coming soon: My Railfan Five, Take Two. (And don't call me in the morning.)
The televised impeachment proceedings have been engrossing this last little while. Not too many broadcasts can bump The Young and the Restless off the airwaves, but this stuff can. A highlight of the day is the Chaplain's Daily Prayer for the Senate. He's been in the Navy and knows a thing or two about Calming the Storm. And members of both parties are showing us that they're all in the same boat. Will any be brave enough to step out and walk on their own? The Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave, what so Proudly we Hailed, Long may she Wave.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

CN Kingston Sub Freights, Oct. to Dec. 1980

I have this question I'm trying to answer for a friend. This friend is modelling CN's Kingston Subdivision east of Toronto in December, 1980. Problem is, this friend thinks freight trains are pesky things that just get in the way of the very important VIA trains. So, to help this friend, I took a trip to the dusty archives to see just what were the freights trains that were running on the CN Kingston Sub at that time. (I didn't actually photograph any trains between September 1980 and February 1981, though I did record a CP consist in October, 1980.) I remember thinking at the time that no-one would ever want to model this precise timeframe and the days were all cloudy anyway, so saved my cheap 110-format film for other things.) On the Princess Street overpass on Feb. 15, 1981 (top photo) this eastbound freight passed in front of my camera. It looks like a CN No 318 with those dimensionals on the head-end! Original caption:
So, just in case an occasional freight train or two might venture out on the very VIA-laden Kingston Sub mainline, or for anyone else modelling the final months of 1980, here are my prototype observations. For each train, you'll see:

Date and Direction
Motive Power
Car Types/Numbers noted
If any of these are missing, it's because it wasn't recorded in my original notes.

For car types, I use the same abbreviations I've always used:
BO=boxcar, HO=covered hopper car, RE=refrigerator car, GO=gondola car, TA=tankcar, AU=autorack, FL=flatcar, CON=container

The freights I'd observed fell into a few specific types:
-container (intermodal) trains
-through freights with bridge traffic to/from the U.S. Midwest/New England
-Montreal-Toronto freights
-maid-of-all-work freights like CN Nos 317/318 with lots of chemical and misc. traffic
-short local wayfreights

Now let's go trackside in that autumn of nearly 40 years ago!

Oct 5/80 E
BO: Canadian Liquid Air CP
HO: Chessie/B&O PC CR CN
TA: Canadian Liquid Air
CON: Dart

Oct 5/80 1453 E
FL: DODX 38661 grey

Oct 18/80 1128 W

Oct 23/80 1725 W
BO: CV 600208 blue, Railbox 50632, SP MP GT CR CN SF
HO: Ex-ROCK GTW 138631, NW, Chessie, B&O, C&O
Depressed-Centre FL: CN 674200

Nov 4/80 1520 W
BO: Railbox 33357, Erie 84436, CN grain 428374, CP Chessie C&O
Hi-Cube BO: B&O
TA: CGBX 6606 CGTX Procor GATX
FL: SOO 5977

Nov 6/80 2139 E
BO: Railbox 34744, SSW 10034, DW&P CV
Hi-Cube BO: CP SR GT
HO: NW, GTW, MP Procor
RE: PFE 453617
TA: Ethyl/EBAX 6263, SLAX 5022, Domtar

Nov 9/80 1632 W
HO: Engelhard FMC

Nov 9/80
BO: CV blue 600112, HCRC 9044, GM&O 56773, Lamoille Valley, CLC 3394, NHIR 2020, WSOR/ex-NStL 151287, BN UP SR BAR B&O C&NW MEC CB&Q
HO: Ann Arbor 630 NW TSBY MP

Nov 18/80 2043 W
BO: L&N 46878, LV 8329, Chessie/C&O, Railbox 31622, MP, MEC
HO: CGGX 148?, Chessie/B&O, TPW, GTW
TA: RTMX 3635, ACPX 32034, Procor CGTX NATX
FL: CN reel

Nov 30/80 1459 E
FL: BN 614202
Depressed-centre FL: CGE 20001
79473, 79692

Dec 5/80 1628 W
BO: D&H 24421, LVRC 3543 and 3547, VTR, SSW, SP, SSI
HI-cube BO: CN (ex-GT) 798306
HO: TSBY 4910, PRR 260374 GT PC
RE: PFE white 459388 (Blt 6-70)

Dec 5/80 1628 E
CN 9502 auto transporter BO

Dec 6/80 1457 E
TA: DOCX green and yellow 6012, DUPX Genstar UTLX NCTX

Dec 6/80 1553 E
BO: IC 592816, SOO 16232, COP 7130, CN CV C&P VTR SSI
RE: Santa Fe 2626, PFE

Dec 7/80 1630 W
C&GT SW-8 102 locomotive
RE: ONYX 8206
HO: DRGW 10997

Dec 9/80 1626 W
BO: StL 155441 and 153412, MEC MD&W CN CV LVRC CP
HO: WITX/Continex 4607, DOCX UP CR PC
TA: Procor CGTX
FL: TH&B 1096
Depressed-centre FL: CN

Dec 11/80 2125 W
BO: NW 702264, Apache SP SSW
HO: SCPX 5369, Chessie
CO: Pittsburgh & Shawmut 582

Dec 23/80 0959 E local
HO: CN 378810, NAHX 43590

Dec 26/80 1955 W
BO: Railbox 14783, MPA 39831, CV DW&P Reading
HO: Milwaukee, Chessie, GT

Although I've created books on various facets of my railfanning over the years: VIA, Manitoba, grain branchlines and elevators, I've often thought it would be interesting to create something on CN freight train locomotive 'lashups' and the freight consists they powered. This post is certainly on-track with such a concept. General trends could be illustrated - fewer high-horsepower units, less variety, longer trains, distributed-power. But would it really be that interesting to that many? Just looking at these examples in one small season trackside, it was enjoyable to relive some of these freight trains' passing and power! Hmm...

Running extra...
Had a great time presenting the above presentation at our January Associated Railroaders of Kingston meeting. An effort to show the value of railfanning local! (Not not leaving home, just not leaving behind what we have at home, right under our noses. You could call it the Moustache Campaign!) There was good discussion, good questions and a really good club sandwich!
Awards season! So far, it's the Golden Globs, then the SAGgies, now the controversy-ridden Grammys (?Grammies) and the gold will be going to the Oscars. What will J Lo be wearing? Will anyone show up wearing a swan? Who are you wearing? For that question, I can currently answer Heinz. And couteur by French's. Oh, and Bick's.

Nachos and beer are a great pairing for awards-show watching! We had hot dogs this week. First time in a long while! It was nice to catch up on this underrated main course, and we relished how we finally mustered the energy to do so! All we had to do was get off our buns to do it! Everyone's a wiener!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Cataraqui Spur Bluebirds, January 2020

On January 8, I took the opportunity to follow CN No 518 as it switched Kingston's Invista plant via the CN Cataraqui Spur. While at the VIA station, an eastbound VIA arrived at 1053, as No 518 hove into view at the west end of Queens south service track, with leased power 'Bluebirds' GMTX 2323-2289 - the same Belleville road/yard power since at least Oct.30 of the last decade! (This changed a week later, finally, when it was GMTX 2323-CN 7081.) The local passed on the south track, heading for Invista after the VIA train cleared the block, at 1105:
I like these GATX (GMTX) Geeps that replace CN GP9's and GP38's on various system locals. Speaking of locals, photographer Paul Wash was photographing from the Princess Street overpass and took this fine overhead photo:
By 1124, 518 had backed off the Kingston Subdivision and into the Cataraqui Spur and made its way east to the Armstrong Road crossing:
The trainman has to ride the first car of the movement, radioing crossing status information to the engineer by radio:
The power eases over the trestle across the Cataraqui Creek...
...before crossing Bath Road a few seconds later:
Unusually, I found four loaded covered hoppers (top photo) spotted on the Cataraqui Spur north of Front Road. I believe this was due to excavation work being carried out by Shea Construction adjacent to the Cataraqui Spur lead. The crew was digging soil out from the north side of the lead, dropping it on the south side, then a Bobcat was carrying it to the main plant entrance for removal. The covered hoppers at the plant were clear of their normal storage location on the lead, down near the plant east entrance road, plus the four cars spotted up the spur! Seemed unusual and the plant must not have been switched on its normal Monday run. At 1139, they'd coupled to the four cars on the Spur and pushed across Front Road:
Now a long delay. Coupling onto the covered hoppers at the plant, stopping and pumping air, an unfortunate Kingston Express bus eastbound on Front Road, plus a school bus westbound had to wait and dared not cross while the crossing signals were flashing as the movement stopped south of the crossing was still activating them.
At 1152, the units resumed entering the plant property and cleared Front Road with the entire assemblage of 20 cars they'd accumulated. This allowed the buses and traffic to move on Front Road, as well as vehicles entering and leaving the east plant entrance. Here's the total consist at this point from the tail-end. All cars are covered hoppers except tankcar TILX 294146. Those with (*) were already at the Invista plant lead. Those with (**) were sitting on the Cataraqui Spur. (L)oads and (E)mpties were on No 518 as I observed it at the station.
MGRX 50094*
KLRX 525048*
KLRX 525004*
TCMX 703424*
KLRX 525076*
MGRX 50264*
MGRX 50047*
INVX 38744*
INVX 38791*
MGRX 50162*
MGRX 50273*
MGRX 50272**
MGRX 50021**
KLRX 525080**
MGRX 50080**
MGRX 50247 L
KLRX 525058 L
SRLX 45062 E
INVX 38611 E
TILX 294146 L
GMTX 2289
GMTX 2323
While the buses and I had waited for the train to move, it gave me an opportunity for some photography of the motive power on the trestle, with Lake Ontario beyond:

Backing back into the plant after Front Road traffic has cleared. Evidence of a recent snow-squall on the traffic sign:
On the plant lead parallel to Front Road:
Duct tape ain't working to hold the number board in place:
Returning to the station, I caught the following VIA trains:
  • 1225 WB: 910L-3474-3308-4117-4122
  • 1307 EB: 908L-5 LRC cars-6416L
  • 1329 WB: 6418-3353F-3331R-3323R-3365F-3469-917
  • 1345 WB: 904L-4005-4119-8117-4118
Being loaded at KIMCO Steel off Lappan's Lane: BISX 30938 grey - BISX 30919 yellow and two gons. BISX = Brandenburg Industrial Service, a company known for remediating soil and contaminants.
Interestingly, while Paul Wash was on the overpass, in a photo of the distant 518 and an eastbound VIA train that just preceded it, he captured your humble blogger on the platform, digitally!
The consist of the eastbound train I'm photographing: 
VIA 920L-3468-3335-3370-6410-3458-3366F-3369-3316F-4111(D&H)

Running extra...

It's not Shark Week, it seems like X2F week! Sunday - a message from Out West kindly offering me some X2F couplers. Tuesday - an envelope of X2F's arrives in my inbox, also from Out West. Tuesday night, a fellow Associated Railroaders of Kingston club member gave me a pair of couplers to say 'thanks' for my presentation that night.
Like he said... fellow Prince Street Terminal blogger's quotable-quote Chris Mears (above). Also, watch for a special blog partner event coming in February.

Some potent-potable TV-watching over the last two weeks - the Greatest of All Time Jeopardy tournament featuring James Holzhauer, Brad Rutter and the eventual winner Ken Jennings. Just the write wrecipe of wry writ wrought by Alex Trebek and the contestants. I really thought Alex might announce his retirement on the final night. What is...This didn't happen?