Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Afternoons at Ernestown, 1985

Ernestown, Ontario is not one of Canada's trainwatching hotspots. It barely rates a map dot, yet hosts the only set of mainline crossovers between Kingston and Napanee West on CN's busy Kingston Sub. It's also the location of one of Grand Trunk's surviving classic limestone stations. CN and VIA trains rip through the tiny hamlet when they're not waiting for signals at the interlocking. Such was the case on June 23, 1985. An eastbound 7-car LRC train is waiting to cross from north to south main track. A westbound 10-car LRC with trailing unit 6908 clears the south track (above).
An hour later, CN train No 318 with a cut of empty rail cars behind 2579-2566-4377 slowly passes the concrete milepost at Mi 188, with Ernestown station visible at right. Upon receiving the signal to proceed, the train accelerates as MLW smoke engulfs the Highway 133 overpass:
At 1704, an eastbound freight with 9529-2334-4493-3652 and caboose 79396 passes the station in the humid haze of the afternoon. Produce reefers are visible on the headend, in this photo taken from the overpass approach, as is the signal maintainer's van at the station:
Five months later on November 23, a dusting of snow covers the ground as a westbound freight behind 2112-3626-4224-2558 with autoracks on the headend approaches Ernestown station. New yellow and white fibre-optic cable warning markers are visible in the foreground:

CN lumber and paper cars loaded in northern Quebec follow. Note that most of the lumber on the standard bulkhead flatcars is unwrapped; today most is plastic-wrapped and rides on longer centre-beam bulkhead flats.
The markers on caboose 79559 bring up the rear as the train passes beneath hydro towers from the nearby Lennox Generating Station, featured in this post on Oil Trains and Tank Trains:
Forty minutes later, an eastbound LRC passes Ernestown station on the south track. The spur/setout track, a handy place for bad-order cars to be set out but now lifted, is to the left. Can you find the second LRC in the photo? No? Hint: it's beside the station...Little Round Car.
The train passes over the hand-throw switch to the spur, parallels the snow-covered signal maintainer's road to the interlocking, and is about to take the green signal at Ernestown:
At 1600, the last LRC train of the afternoon blasts through the hamlet, past the Insulbrick-covered storage shed and some of the barking-dog homes of the hamlet into the setting sun. Overshadowed by nearby Bath and even Millhaven, both on Lake Ontario, Ernestown's rail connection never led to much prosperity.
CN's Images of Canada historic photo collection, hosted by the Canada Science and Technology Museum has two nice photos taken just west of Ernestown station, looking east before the level crossing became an overpass. An undated steam-hauled westbound freight with reefers on the headend passes the station and milk-loading platform on the business track, and CN's 1953 museum train visits.

Running extra...

This post leads to a few upcoming posts: bad-order cars, CN's fibre-optic train on the Kingston Sub, and railfanning vehicles I have known. (That 1976 barely-heated Volkswagen Beetle is an early example.)

Try our Trackside Treasure pre-Christmas poll. All I want for Christmas is... Notice socks and ties are not two of the choices.


Zartok-35 said...

It must have been hard to come accross a freight that didn't have a geep classic mixed in to the power back in those days! Must have bee nice.

Eric said...

Hi Elijah, you're right, lots of GP's and RS's in the power consists. Trains 317/318 hauled lots of switchers for Belleville, Brockville and other yards along the Kingston Sub, plus 4377 being a western Geep makes me wonder if it was down for rebuilding at Pte St Charles? Very unpredictable power indeed.

Thanks for your comment,

Chris Lyon said...

Hi Eric. Really enjoyed your site this year. Always a blast to see these historical days. Hope to see you continue your contributions to the blogs in 2011. Merry Christmas!

Eric said...

Thanks Chris, and it's a given. I've got lots of stuff planned, even some model posts for the modellers out there, since we all know that prototype and model worlds are one-and-the-same.