Saturday, March 14, 2009

BNML 2 and the Midland Railway of Manitoba

BNSF 1685, the last high-hood, first-generation Geep in service with a North American Class I railway has gone stateside. Formerly Burlington Northern Manitoba Limited (BNML) 2, ex-Midland Railway of Manitoba 2, the unit was built in 1957. Unfortunately, time has run out for her, and now she sits forlorn outside the BNSF diesel shop in Minneapolis. Due to years of shuttling between CN and CP in Winnipeg, with occasional opportunities to stretch her legs on trackage rights over CN's Letellier Sub down to the U.S. border, she's low mileage. BNSF 1685 has been replaced by GP39-2 2710.
The top photo shows the results of my single sighting of this unique unit - a quick picture taken through the window of my sleeper on VIA No 2, in June 1982. BNML 2 was waiting with 15 cars for us to clear Portage Jct. The first car is an auto rack - traffic brought north to Winnipeg over the years included vehicles, farm machinery, fresh produce, TOFC, gondolas of scrap metal, and boxcars of merchandise for Winnipeg's warehouses. After coming north of the border on the Letellier Sub, the trains travelled CN's Rivers Sub from Portage Jct to St James Jct (black line on map) then north to BNML's small yard along Lindsay St. Mark Perry shared this photo of BNML 2 with a few cars in tow at Portage Jct in 1993:
Among the cabooses used in BNML yard service were: wooden ex-NP BNML 1723 and 1974, steel ex-CB&Q BN 10355, ex-GN BN 11292 and BN 12580. Here's BNML 1723, preserved at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum in Austin, with a freshly-painted NP monad symbol in 1978:
BN road units assigned to help BNML 2 up and down to the border, before CN took over in the mid-1980's, included ex-GN GP-7's 1532, 1543, 1544, 1545, 1553, 1554 and 1555. BN train No 123 departed Noyes, Minnesota at 0850 on May 16, 1974: BNML2 - 1555 - 24 lds - 15 etys - 2108 tons -2592 feet - caboose 10783. BN train No 124 departed Crookston, Minnesota at 2320 on April 18, 1977: 5322 - 5330 - 2061 - BNML 2 (likely headed stateside for inspection and maintenance) - 62 lds - 21 etys - 6033 tons - 4925 feet - caboose 12153. Here's a Midland switchlist from 1972, written out on a GN Form 55:

This switchlist for the Midland Transfer is written on a CP script Form 3493W:

NP 9616 and MILW 16601 are boxcars. CB&Q 94269 is a 66-foot flat, and NP 51649 is a gondola. The cars on the lists are heading to/from BN, CN and CP. Here's a Midland transfer slip, also from the pre-computer era. Scribbled on the back in pencil "NYC 41892 in Track 5":

BNML 2 still exists, albeit in HO-scale. Here she is with some BN cars on my Winnipeg Terminals layout:

Manny Jacob has done a really nice job modelling the unit, check out:
Running Extra...
TRAINS magazine's 45th Anniversary edition, November 1985, profiles BNML 2's run to the border. BRMNA's The Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railways in Canada (Volume One) shows her at home in the BNML yard, with a train of 6 BN boxcars and caboose.
After leaving the CPR syndicate, James J. Hill tried to siphon traffic from the CPR, building four Great Northern branches, including the Midland, over or approaching Canada's southern border.


Lord Darth McIan said...

Hi Eric!

Great post - I live on Refrew St in Winnipeg, and I've seen the 1685 many times. The GP39-2 just isn't the same...

Any more shots of your Model RR out there? I'm planning a Winnipeg based CP/VIA layout and I'd love to see some other shots for inspiration!

Ian Lisakowski

Eric said...

Hi Ian,

Thanks for your kinds words - if the BNML post resonated with a Winnipegger, that's a good thing.

Regarding my layout, John Longhurst of Canadian Railway Modeller requested one, and it's ready to go as soon as I get the photos on the disk and mail it.

Actually, you raise an interesting point, as I'd considered having some posts on here about my Winnipeg Terminals layout, but the Proto posts have kept my busy so far. What do you think about a modelling section on here?

Anonymous said...

What a great website and interesting array of old articles. Love the segment on BNML #2 and thank you for the acknowledgement of my model. Yours is the only other one I've seen. How did you do the BNML lettering on the cab?

And yes, a modelling section would be cool. Pleased to hear that Ian is planning a WPG CP VIA layout. Would Ian have any photos of VIA on the Keewatin Sub??

Love the website Eric, keep it up!

Eric said...

Hi Manny, glad you're enjoying Trackside Treasure. Re: BNML 2, those are C-D-S decals, from the CN passenger car name set and CN diesel set. I know there are lots of proto fans that stop by, but a lot of my railfanning has gone into HO modelling, so I'll probably explore the proto-model connection in future.

Lord Darth McIan said...

Hi Eric and Manny;

I'd love to see some modelling stuff as well as the proto, especially Winnipeg related items.

I'm not sure if I have any photos of VIA on the Keewatin Sub, I know I saw lots of it - espeically seeing I had to go up Hwy 206 to my Grandmother's Farm many time. I'll dig around. I'm pretty sure there's some shots somewhere around Kenora and Rennie, but whether they have VIA in them or not???

Now to just find and raid my Father's collection of pics....


Eric said...

Watch for my next post: VIA's vestibule view from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg.

Anonymous said...

The southern Manitoba posts are always very interesting to this ex-Winnipeger who is planning a layout set in the area. I wouldn't mind seeing a few posts on your Winnipeg Terminal layout either.

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments, Tyler. Just yesterday I dropped an article in the mail to Canadian Railway Modeller profiling my Winnipeg Terminals. I also plan to do some modelling posts, perhaps starting with modelling the West. I'm also thinking of doing a 360-degree coverage of Portage Pool B elevator with trains on all sides, over the years. It's one of the few primary elevators I've ever seen served by two railways.