Sunday, March 22, 2009

VIA's Vestibule View heading west to Winnipeg, 1985

A brilliantly sunlit September afternoon, and an open Dutch door in coach 126 made a great combination on board VIA No 1, the Canadian, travelling CP Rail's double track Kaministiquia, Ignace and Keewatin Subs west of Thunder Bay, heading for Winnipeg.
There were lots of work programs on the Kam Sub that day: Foreman Forte Mi 18-20, Foreman Lix Mi 29-36, Foreman Scott Mi 47-48, and Foreman Hansen Mi 109-112.
I did some train-to-train photography, as we paced a CN freight with caboose 79472, led by Eng 5075 out of Thunder Bay:
Just past Upsala at 1315, we passed a small church, and a sweeping curve and fall colours along one of many lakes made a nice background for a view of our train.
Top photo and above - No 1's consist at Mi 89 Kaministiquia Sub, Carlstadt: 6557 - 6631 - 616 - 126 - 3246 - 500 - 5752 - Cameron Manor - Hunter Manor - Bayfield Manor - Chateau Rouville - Louise - Eldorado- Algonquin Park. At Martin, the siding was full of bulkhead flats being loaded from a looming pile of pulpwood:
At Ignace, Eng 5980 was switching:
There were also many work programs on the Ignace Sub: Foreman Santos Mi 2-7, Foreman Taddeo Mi 15-16, Foreman Bucci Mi 21-29, Foreman Palermo Mi 44-45, Foreman Newman Mi 69-70, Foreman Slack at Mi 86-88, and Foreman Paskewitz Mi 139-143.
Eight miles from Kenora, the Rail Changeout Unit was parked on the south main track for the night. At 1700, looking back toward the Park car, we passed a Pettibone Speed-Swing. This is one of the few times we weren't left-hand running. Normally considered running wrong-main, left-hand running was normal for this route, due to easier grades for loaded grain trains on the north track. The north track was built later, in some places separated from the south track. The line was single-tracked between 1996 and 1998.
A bit more muskeg and swamp, backed by birches, preceded the transition to prairie flatlands near Ingolf on the Keewatin Sub:
At Rennie, the setting sun glinted off about 50 grain cars in the back track, putting the north side of our train in the lengthening shadows at 1800:
We passed under CN's mainline, entered grassland, and passed Whitemouth station at 1820:
Taking a break from combining, some farmers were sitting on the hood of their vintage grain truck, maybe having supper. They gave us a friendly Manitoba wave as we passed. What a fantastic afternoon's ride it had been!
Thanks to Bryan Martyniuk for additional information.

Running extra...
In the same area a year earlier, at the same time of day but heading the opposite direction, here is the elevator at Hazelridge, Manitoba:
The Kingston Rail-O-Rama was held this weekend. At the Bytown Railway Society booth, Paul and Dave were selling Bytown publications and spreading the word about the Society's valuable restoration efforts in Ottawa. To support these efforts, I bought some second-hand magazines, then donated some others that were surplus to my needs. They have a willing and able volunteer workforce, making great strides to preserve some interesting examples of Canada's railway heritage. There were lots of other vendors selling photos and somewhat expensive ready-to-run equipment, but the second-hand HO rolling stock market seems to have dried up. Fewer finds to find on the show tables!


Anonymous said...

Awesome posting of pix and article.
I await every weekend to see the updates.
Thanks for this blogspot, this railfan really appreciates it.

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments, fellow railfan. I've got quite a few more posts ready to go, with more in the works.

Anonymous said...

Hi Eric, this is terrific! Love this latest writeup from my home turf.

Regarding the left hand running, you are correct as to the reason, however, I would just add some info for anyone reading. The left hand running started at the hopover at mile 91 of the Keewatin Sub, known as Bunker Hill. A huge embankment would carry westbound trains to the proper track, while heavier eastbound trains would pass underneath the small bridge and effectively end up on the stronger track/roadbed. This all changed by the fall in 1984, when the hopover was removed and the tracks were upgraded. This allowed the eventual installation of CTC, which was completed in 1987.

You are also correct about the single track. The main trigger for this was a much lower traffic volume than a decade earlier, with the train you rode being moved to CN in January 1990 and the loss of the Ontario Hydro coal contract to CN in 1996, there was far less traffic to warrant maintenance of two mainline tracks.

GREAT website. Keep it up!

Zartok-35 said...

Lefthand running? Pulling a Chicago Northwestern!

Eric said...

Hi Manny, thanks for your comments on this post. It's great to have someone familiar with the area adding more information. Although a somewhat isolated area, it was an important funnel for grain traffic, the demise of which in favour or Asian markets also led to the single-tracking. Far be it for CP not to analyze its assets closely.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Great post, Eric... you tell a good story.

Eric said...

Hi Steve, thanks, and most of the story's actually true :) Seriously though, I like to include as many consists, numbers and sighting details as reasonably possible, as well as a picture being worth a thousand words. Can't ride the CP route on VIA anymore, and not sure what VIA's current position on railfans in the vestibule is.