Thursday, April 16, 2009

CN's Cataraqui Spur, from Mainline to Lakeshore


Branching off CN's Kingston Subdivision at Mi 178, the Cataraqui Spur extends 3 miles south to Lake Ontario. It serves the Invista (formerly DuPont) nylon plant on Front Road. In 1981, 3741 crossed Gardiners Road with 2 covered hoppers from DuPont and stops to lift a CN covered hopper from the team track. Current trackage is shown in red, and red dashes indicate trackage that has been removed. What does the "A" represent? That's the location of a Harvey's restaurant with a nice view of a very scenic part of the spur:

The trainman exits the cab and swings down to couple on to the car, then makes the joint onto the caboose. Beyond the train are the DuPont warehouse (left) and Weldwood lumber (right), two west-end CN customers that will be the subject of future posts profiling Kingston's rail-served industries:
Just ahead of 3741 is the mainline switch. In these photos, the team track and runaround were west of Gardiners Road. The Cat Spur and the double-track Kingston Sub mainline crossed Gardiners Road at level crossings. When the road was widened, and an underpass excavated under the mainline, the mainline switch was relocated east of the road. This is where the team track and runaround are now located. In June 1995, train No 590 with 4120 and 4121 is coming up the Cat Spur from Bath Road, approaching the new Tanner Drive subdivision crossing. At the lowest point in the photo is the first of three trestles on the spur.

Just beyond that trestle was a track, now pulled up, that served the heating plant at Collins Bay federal penitentiary, often referred to as "Cinderella's Castle" and plainly visible from the mainline. Rails lifted from the spur can still be seen near its original alignment, beside the Tim Horton's drive-thru at the Pioneer gas bar on Bath Road.

Just ahead is the Cat Spur mainline switch at Mi 178. Note the unofficial sign "Dupont Spurline - the little engine that could - slow moving train"

In April 1994, 4118 and 4128 head up the spur after switching DuPont, and cross the first trestle over some spring runoff:

The second trestle is the longest of the three, as the spur swings south, crosses the Little Cataraqui River and Bath Road. In January 1980, a diminutive train, consisting of equally diminutive engines 1298, 1310, a single covered hopper and caboose 79522 heads along the spur. Returning up the spur, after doing some switching in Kingston, the train headed west to Belleville with tank car UTLX 47999 and caboose 79651.


This trestle was the site of a derailment on October 13, 1995. 4141 and 4122 were pushing tank cars PROX 73189 - PROX 73710 - DOCX 23503 - covered hoppers CN 377758 - DUPX 38204 - tank car PROX 42112 - two other cars and a caboose when the train derailed at the west end of the trestle. The engines stayed put as hi-rail trucks, Quinte rental crane and Provost transport pumped out and rerailed the cars over the next three days:


This view, from the north side of the trestle, shows how close the cars may have been to going for a swim. The last three cars of the train had been hauled to DuPont by the plant's Trackmobile. Check out the postscript for more coverage, including Ron Barrett photos.



In August 1996, CN sent crane 50472 with its pile driver to add piles to the trestle. The crane's outfit train was based in the new team track, and the crane travelled east to the worksite each day. A puff of steam issues forth from the pile driver as it hammers into the soft mud below.

An M-420W such as 3561, shown here on the trestle with 4110 the same month, could occasionally be seen on the Cat Spur, heading south towards DuPont.

Part 2 will cover the remainder of the spur, south from Bath Road to Lake Ontario.
Running extra...
The most famous dog in the world now resides at the White House. "BO", the Portuguese water dog, shares its initials with its owner, Barack Obama. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Gordon Brown could name his dog "GB". Our Stephen Harper could name his "SH".
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The context of how, where and why a train operates is often overlooked. I remember standing at Bayview Junction and watching a knot of railfans furiously photographing the power on a heavy train heading to Hamilton, then turning their backs on the rest of the train, which included some really interesting cars. Check out http://wvrr.ca/prototype.htm Dave Winter's prototype page, where he profiles Canadian rail operations that help him inject interest, realism and life into his modeled scenes.
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I'm pleased to add Byron Henderson's blog to my Useful Collection of Railblogs. Byron has some deep thoughts on layout design, and great taste, as he uses the same blogger template I do!

7 comments:

Train Geek said...

Great detail on the spur. I've never been there and likely never will, but you've made it come alive.

Often the roster shooters focus on the motive power and ignore the rest of the train. I like to watch the whole train, because you do see interesting cars there... be it different loads (flatcars, military), strange road names, or odd graffiti.

That being said, the power is usually the most interesting part of the train. :)

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments on the Cat Spur post, Steve.

On fallenflags and other photo websites, the roster shots don't give any context - if the photographer had only stepped back a few feet, we could see some neat cars/engines/buildings.

I try to find something interesting on every train, even if it's just a patched paint job. Granted, the variety of road names and schemes of years past is a thing of the past.
Eric

Oil-Electric said...

Geeze - what a treat to see a "real" train, complete with crummy! Us kid's always waited for the caboose, there was always a friendly wave. Like a period on the end of a sentence. Not like see a 100 car "cut" being towed by a Toaster Oven. Thanks for an interesting read!

The Old Fart said...

Wonderful Blog, found it by way of my friend Robert at Oil~Electric. Please visit my blogs when you get a chance. You might like my blog I have for my Dad and his trains.

Thank you

Eric said...

Hi Robert and "O.F.",

Thanks to you both for your kind comments. Robert, your blog looks very interesting, and I will be checking it out more in future, and have included it on my blog roll. Regarding cabooses, if you search "punctuation" at the top of my blog, you'll find a post on the end of cabooses in Canada. I'll also be checking out "O.F."'s blog, looks like some very interesting 1970's CN material here: http://mydadstrains.blogspot.com/

Eric

Bryan said...

Hi Eric,

This is a great post. I love it. I lived in Kingston for 7 years and became quite obsessed with Kingston-area operations...only after I moved away.

I never knew about the spur to Collins Bay Pen. Also, was Gardiner's Road a level crossing before it was replaced by a bridge? I only knew this info by looking at property alginment maps from the City of Kingston's website. Does this small "yard" serve as a team track for Kingston now? I thought the area around it was owned by the city for Public Works.

I look forward to your blogging about the rest of the spur. I've walked the Bath-Front St. section and the old site of the grain elevator at Lake Ontario Park, more than once. I'd especially like to hear what you've got on some of the other venues around Kingston (Aluminum Spur, abandonned K&P/CP trackage north of Counter Blvd?, the Outer Station trackage...although I never found poking along Rideau St. and around the Outer Station with a camera to be the safest experience!)

Best regards,
Bryan

Eric said...

Hi Bryan, glad you enjoyed that post. If you look carefully, you'll see that 3741 is crossing Gardiners Road in the lead photo. The Cat Spur crossing was south of the main line crossing. The team track east of Gardiners Road hasn't seen very much use. Asphalt tankcars were unloaded there each spring, but now those cars are taken directly to Lafarge (formerly Ashwarren) on the Millhaven Spur. There was a County of Frontenac roads department garage near the team track, you're right.

Stay tuned for more posts on the Kingston's rail-serve industries: Northern Telecom spur, Aluminum (Alcan) Spur, maybe even the Hanley Spur. I've already covered CP's interchange at Queens, and I have another post yet to come.
Thanks for stopping by,
Eric