Friday, August 26, 2011

Then and Now: Bayview Junction 1981-2011


Retired RTC Tim Ball (TJB) travelled to Bayview Junction near Hamilton, Ontario in July and was kind enough to share some of his photos. In this post, Tim's photos are the NOW shots, with my photos taken in June 1981 being the THEN shots. A busy junction of CN's Dundas and Oakville Subdivisions, Bayview also sees GO and VIA movements, and has also seen CP and NS trains. We both started out our days at Bayview shortly after 0600, and later in the day I moved to the railfan 'triangle' which was still accessible at that time. Major differences between the Then and Now photos are the closing of the railfan 'triangle' within the wye, and the 2006 realignment: realigning of the tracks to Hamilton, removal of a crossover, and the lining of the former Oakville Sub north track directly into the Dundas Sub north track, permitting 40 mph movements. Most of the following photos are taken from the Royal Botanical Gardens footbridge.

Top two photos: Eastbound CN freights. Notice the new third track at this location. THEN: CN 9601-9572-9437 heading for Toronto with a sizeable reefer block on the head end. NOW: CN train 907, the management training train of empties led by 2438. After arriving in Hamilton, then reversing down the 'cowpath' to the Dundas Sub, it's now returning to MacMillan Yard.

Above two photos: Eastbound VIA trains. THEN: Scruffy leased CN 4017 accelerates its four cars from London eastbound around 0800. NOW: Ren 6444 and a seven-car VIA train 70. These stainless steel cars weren't even on VIA's roster in 1981.


Westbound VIA trains (above) THEN: Tempo 3152 around 0810 westbound with four VIA-painted Tempo cars. NOW: VIA train 71 behind 903. Tim notes 903's nose-job, resulting from a collision with a dumptruck near Belleville. Back in 1981, the LRC cars were just making their debut.

Westbound CN freights (below) THEN: 2032-2022-9617 lead an overpowered 15-car TOFC consist into Hamilton. The units were wyed later in the day around Bayview Junction and returned to Hamilton yard. NOW: 5528 leads CN train 393 as it heads for the Dundas Sub.

Eastbound GO Transit trains, showing the enduring and unique Bombardier bilevel cars in their familiar green & white scheme. THEN: GO APCU 902 leads eight bilevel cars into Toronto, with 706 and 709 on the tail end. NOW: GO 633 pulls GO train 494. How many generations of GO units have passed through Bayview in the intervening 30 years? Well, 500-series GP40TC, GP40-2W, and F59PH, 700-series GP40-2W and GP40M-2, and now 600-series MP40PH-3C have all worn variations of the GO paint scheme still in use today.


Westbound Amtrak trains. THEN: Amtrak engine 344 hauls Amfleet. Blue 'Harvdogmobile' visible in background shows just how close to the action visiting railfans could park. Passing crews would throw their outdated paperwork from the cab to see the railfans pounce on it. NOW: Amtrak Genesis P42DC 6 pulls New York City-bound Amtrak train 97, still Amfleet.


Westbound freights, below the Plains Road overpass. THEN: CP 4728-4511 and acid tank cars. One of the unpredictable elements of Bayview was CP's utilization of their trackage rights over CN's Oakville Sub between Toronto and Hamilton. NOW: CN train 421 with 2555-2xxx-2562-4700 passes under the bridge.


Westbound GO trains, both will Valley Inn Road visible in the background. THEN: GO engine 515 trails cab car 103 and 8 single-level cars of weary commuters back to Hamilton at 1900. NOW: GO engine 611 and more than a dozen bilevels on GO train 496.

It's easy to see that while traffic volumes have stayed high, photographic technology has advanced significantly. Tim's tele brings the trains to you, while my trusty Kodak Hawkeye required a "Wait for it" attitude until the train got closer. Regardless, Tim was gracious enough to allow me to use his recent photos, and I hope they've given you an idea of how trackage and trains may change, but the thrill of railfanning at a great location never does.

Running Extra...In Kingston and Sudbury test markets, Tim Horton's is changing the sizing of their hot beverage cups. Alert the news media! Same overpowering coffee! Same high prices! McDonald's pressure tactics and superior value have clearly sent Tim's management into a tizzy. Somewhere, Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar and maybe even Grimace are smiling.

For Trackside Treasure's easy guide to drive-thru etiquette at Tim Horton's, McDonald's or your local favourite, check this post.

Sadly, two accomplished Kingston-area railfans have recently left us. Colin Murray, operator of a Canadian-themed layout featured in Canadian Railway Modeller, and Tim Reid, accomplished photographer and rail traveller. I was able to meet both gentlemen during a visit to Colin's layout a year ago.



Friday, August 19, 2011

New Belleville VIA Station

VIA's operations in the Montreal-Toronto are getting a huge boost due to several projects underway along CN's Kingston Sub. One of the most visible of these is the Belleville, Ontario station project. While in Belleville last Monday, I stopped in to check on progress. One word: HUGE. A new waiting room and overhead access make this a big project. It's 'the monster that ate Belleville' when you see it in person! While photographing the station, CN Montreal-Chicago train 148 behind engines 5748-5504 was changing crews at Belleville's west end.
The Grand Trunk station looks tiny next to the steelwork of three-flight staircase over Track 1. The number of CN buildings in Belleville yard is way down - the rail welding plant is gone, except for the welding building itself, now used by a private business. The other station buildings and roundhouse are also gone, and the former express building/dispatching office is now a recycling facility.
A passing autorack on CN train 369 give an idea of scale (above) - the walkway is well above Plate F-plus cars and double-stacked containers. A parking lot view, looking northeast toward the tracks from Station Street shows the bulk of the station. Passengers not using the elevator...feel free to climb three flights of stairs. Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis is pro-rail, and he was riding in my VIA1 car on a recent trip back from Toronto.
Another parking lot view, looking east from alongside the original Grand Trunk station. The new construction is on the site of a former baggage building that was demolished. Belleville, unlike some other recently-announced VIA station projects like Brockville and Cobourg, had abundant trackside real estate available for station design and construction.
Platform view with Track 1 in the foreground and train 149 waiting for a signal to head west on Track 2. Q: What has four wheels and is often found at Tim Horton's? A: Rule 42 foreman. Actually, a succession of Rule 42's were in effect here and to the east: Foreman McKnight Mi 199-207, Foreman Persad Mi 209-216, and Foreman Philips Mi 218-221.
Look up...look waaay up. A boom forklift is elevating some construction material up to the walkway over Track 1 and the Rule 42 foreman has an eye on things. Looks like the walkway might be a sweet, all-weather trainwatching spot when completed.
Also overhead, Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules, Airbus and Globemasters were lining up for Runway 06/24 at CFB Trenton to the west. Train 149 starts to pull westward at 1245:
A little earlier in the morning, I was at the crossing of Shannonville Road at Mi 213 of the Kingston Sub. The third-tracking project runs east of here as far as the eye can see, extending to Napanee West near Mi 200, and west of here under the CP crossing at Mi 219 and on towards Belleville. At Mi 213, the third track subroadbed is complete and is being used as an access road for crews working farther east. But railfans should not even think of driving on it. I was standing atop the rock cut, well back from the track, when I had a friendly visit from a CN foreman in a pickup: "What's goin' on?". Traffic on Shannonville Road is stopped at 1125 for CN train 308 behind 8803:
In DPU mode is 8860, pulling the rear part of the train eastward, along the hogs' backs east of here, where approaching trains' headlights are visible, then invisible, then visible again. (Reminds me of a joke: Q: What goes VROOM-SCREECH-VROOM-SCREECH? A: A dumb guy at a flashing red light.) The crews have done a nice job on right-of-way fencing, grass seeding on top of the cut, and ditching the subroadbed for drainage:
CN train 305 heads west at 1140 behind CN engines 2243-5541-5634-2259. The Shannonville Road crossing on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory sits at the top of the grade, and the headend is rolling west toward the new third track undercut of the CP Belleville Sub. West of that point, CP is south of CN until Cobourg, when it again heads to the north on another bridge.
DPU unit de jour: 8953, with its notched nose nestled next to a load of Irving lumber:
This is a recent first: CN cars with other-than-CN-or-subsidiary reporting marks. CN 853182 and a sister wear NOKL (Northwestern Oklahoma Railroad) lettering:
VIA P42DC 907 whistles by through the intermediate signals with a Ren consist at 1148:
To the east, near Marysville, CN has had to build third-track extensions to two of their bridges: the first over Old Highway 2 at Milltown, and the second over the Salmon River:In a pastoral scene, horses graze (above) as the forms for the additional bridge deck's piers are being readied on the north side of the bridge. The country road under the CN has also had an extension added (below). Notice that the surface has been detailed to match the limestone block construction of the existing underpass.
Running Extra:

The east end of CN's yard in Belleville contains lots of signal gantries for installation when the third track is ready. A former SOO gon lettered for WC and a few other cars have brought in ties for eventual tracklaying. The work immediately east of Belleville is visible from parallel Airport Parkway West.

Editorial leanings aside, I'll let readers be the judge of whether the new station deserves the moniker 'monster' or 'monstrosity' or not. It might be just as big as the moribund Docter's Hotel across Station Street. I'm not saying we should live in the Grand Trunk era; of course progress and new facilities for VIA are desirable. Other online communities have balked at VIA's proposed designs and have been successful sending the architects back for revised designs.

While in Belleville, try out the new Veterans' Memorial Bridge on Bell Boulevard, crossing the now nearly-dry Moira River. A handsome structure unveiled last year to honour veterans from the overwhelmingly-RCAF communities of Belleville and Trenton, and a convenient conveyance as you travel from CN's yard to the Quinte Mall and local beaneries.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Postscript: Trackside Treasure Third Anniversary


We have a winner! And how it happened is a really interesting story. Congratulations to Bryan Fulsom who guessed all five station photos in the contest. Here's Bryan's story of how he did it:

It was a really good contest. Actually, it took me more than an hour to figure it all out. I grew up in Ottawa, so I recognized #1 right away. I've been to Montreal a dozen times, so #5 wasn't too hard either.

For the others, I used the Parks Canada website. Maybe you're familiar with it. It seems pretty much every railway station in Canada has been designated as a historic building. As a result, their database has something like 395+ thumbnails to dig through! The "Y" in North Bay helped narrow it down, but it took a while to figure out until I matched the particular brick pattern around the second storey windows.

Next was Smithers, a place, to be honest, I'd never even heard of. I didn't notice the "S", or if I did, it didn't help. That was a really tough one, but I found it by scanning through all of the pictures that looked like multiple-storey stations. Still, the picture I found online has a completely different orientation. What I barely noticed was the CN wet noodle sign on the roof (I thought maybe it was a clock?), which matched the old CNR maple leaf logo in the online picture.

For Thunder Bay, I used the grain elevator, bridge, and the clue that only 2 out of the 5 still had rail service. Present-day photos Marina Park maybe sort of looked like a match, but I really didn't know for sure. By that time my wife was yelling at me to come to bed, so I took a guess. I think what was most interesting was comparing your photos with historic and present day photos to see how much the geography/use of the station had changed over time...from busy yards / epic stations to near non-existence in some cases. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the follow-up post where you explain the circumstances of each of your photos.

Well done, Bryan. The Ottawa photo was taken while heading west through Ottawa. Although the dome appears empty in the photo, I'd just been part of a very spontaneous sing-along up there with a tour group from Nova Scotia. "Edna! Edna! Who's he put your mind to? The MacAulay boy?" North Bay's photo was taken on the same trip. Both North Bay and Smithers had the last letter of each nameboard in the photo, but you had to look hard for it. Smithers' photo was taken into the early morning sun, during a station stop on the way to Prince Rupert. Port Arthur's Canadian Northern station is well-known, but not all that visible in the vestibule photo, although other Thunder Bay themes were visible. An honourable mention goes to Manny Jacob for specifically mentioning Windsor Station in Montreal, which I photographed after arriving on the overnight Cavalier before heading west. The MUCTC bus and Montreal city logo on the lamppost were hints.

The photos were cropped to hide some obvious details. Many readers showed dogged determination in guessing the stations, which is admirable. Maybe the contest next year should be more difficult, perhaps featuring closeups of window styles from various stations, or chimneys, or parking lots...well, I'm getting carried away. Instead, here's the Parks Canada website Bryan found so helpful - definitely worth a look. Interestingly, it was a Canadian railfan searching a Canadian website all the way from France! Magnifique!

Trackside Treasure readers rise to the challenge! Thanks for helping this blogger celebrate another milestone (milepost?) and for all your support of Trackside Treasure.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Trackside Treasure Third Anniversary

Three years ago I looked ahead, as through a scratched Skyline window, and decided to begin this blog as a way of sharing information and photos I'd accumulated while railfanning across Canada for the last three decades plus. Was anyone else interested? If so, would a blog be a good way to share? With the answers being maybe and maybe, Trackside Treasure went live on August 19, 2008. Three years later, my blog is still very much alive - no mean feat where blogs and bloggers often flame out before their time.
This blog opened doors to a new way to enjoy Canada's railways with others, to share information and experiences, and to communicate back and forth with Trackside Treasure's readers. As always, I acknowledge the excellent blogs and websites created by my sidebar blog partners: Adam, Chris L., Chris M., Chris V., Dave, Jason, John, Matt, Robert, Scott and Steve. These guys help keep my blog fresh and ever-changing, and I trust you enjoy reading their informative posts like I do. Trackside Treasure has also served as portal to a parallel blog all about my new VIA book.
This blog became a pathway to a new platform, albeit one with which I had no experience at the time, but one that seemed easy-to-use. Planning and writing posts, scanning and editing photos, and attempting to improve the design of my blog get easier as time goes on. Polls, seasonal memorabilia sales, special guest contributors, rotating slide shows and of course anniversaries pop up periodically. On average, 80 visits are made to Trackside Treasure each day, mainly from Canada and US but also by readers worldwide. So far, I've posted or prepared 142 blog posts, and 522 comments have been posted.
Looking ahead, I can only see continued enjoyment from Trackside Treasure, and hope that loyal readers like you feel the same way. I've got lots to post, as the number of potential posts always exceeds my relatively relaxed posting schedule. While some posts occasionally contain railway modelling and miscellany, rest assured that the meat-and-potatoes of this blog will always be classic Canadian diesel-era railfanning and prototype information. It's a very small, ethereal corner of cyberspace, but I try to keep my corner neat, orderly and most importantly, interesting.
And now, since you've read this far, it's time to roll out the annual Trackside Treasure contest. Throughout this post are five photos of Canadian railway stations I've taken while travelling on VIA. Only two of the stations still see arrivals and departures of VIA trains, but they all remain beacons to a transportation system that still serves our country reliably.

The first reader to successfully identify all five stations, either in a comment at the end of this post (hey, give it a shot) or as an email to mile179kingstonATyahooDOTca (if you aren't too sure) will receive the Trackside Treasure Third Anniversary Contest Prize Pack. If it's too difficult to ID all five (doubtful, what with my well-informed readership) the entry with the highest number of correct guesses within one week of the contest launch wins. Good luck to all, I'm glad you stopped by, and thanks for celebrating this third anniversary!

Running extra...

Walker Express blog partner Adam Walker was in the right place at the right time to catch a nice over-under, set up at Plug Hat Road on August 12, with trains on both the CN York Sub (engines CN 2527-IC 1002 and QGRY 2005) and CP Belleville Sub (CP 5763-5773). Nicely done, Adam!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bee Hive Corn Syrup Tank Cars


St. Lawrence Starch Co. of Port Credit owned a small fleet of eight distinctive tank cars. Don McQueen's photo of SLAX 5024 at Allandale in 1982 shows the cars in use into the early 1980's, hauling corn syrup products from Port Credit to a variety of destinations including a candy factory in Collingwood, McCormick's in London, confectioners in Montreal, and possibly Ganong in New Brunswick. Indeed, SLAX 5024 was refurbished by National Steel Car in Hamilton in 1982. The cars were fitted with steam coils and steam jacketed valves for winter use, with insulation added at a later date. I recorded several sightings of these distinctive cars early in my railfanning career, in CN trains on the Kingston Sub:

April 11/76 SLAX 5023
June 4/76: SLAX 5024
June 17/76: SLAX 49102
August 21/76: SLAX 5023, 49102, 49103
September 12/76: SLAX 49102
July 12/79: SLAX 5022
and there were likely more - these were the ones I noted at the time.

SLAX 5021-5024 were 8000-gallon cars built in 1950, while SLAX 49101-49104 were 10,000-gallon cars built in 1949 by Canadian Car & Foundry. CN 990895-990969 were also 10,000-gallon cars built in 1950 for petroleum products service. I saw black-painted CN 990915 still in MoW service at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1984. Here's all-blue SLAX 5024, photo by Mac Wilson:

The classic yellow over blue two-tone paint scheme with "Bee Hive Corn Syrup" script made these cars noticeable trackside. The earliest livery was all-silver, followed by the lower half painted Royal Blue to hide road grime, lastly with the upper half painted Inca Gold. Full ladders and walkways were added later. I was a big fan of Bee Hive corn syrup, often enjoying a saucer of syrup with Graham wafers for a Sunday lunch dessert (pray for my poor ol' pancreas). SLAX 49104 on the CP at Smiths Falls, Ontario in a 1970 photo by Ken Chivers:

A.W. Mooney posted this photo to railpictures.ca, taken in May 1979 at CP's Agincourt Yard. The car now has a railing around the dome:
A clue to cars' purchase/build dates were their numbers: Year/Month/Date - 49101's date was October 1, 1949. Don McQueen photo of all-blue SLAX 49101 in London, 1980:

As the Port Credit operation wound down, corn syrup arrived at the plant in Staley tank cars from Decatur, Illinois. The plant had always had its own locomotive; a Whitcomb in the 1950's and a Whiting Trackmobile in later years.  Construction of the plant located near CN's Oakville Sub was begun in 1889,  was served by both CN and CP, most recently daily by CN, but production ceased in 1990 and demolition soon followed in 1993 to make way for waterfront housing and redevelopment.  Trackside Treasure reader MrDan supplied a cool link to the City of Mississauga website, showing SLAX 5022 on plant trackage after the plant's closure in 1990.

An Ontario Archives photo shows a string of blue & yellow tank cars visible on the spur between smokestack and water tower in 1960:
Bee Hive was notable not only for elevating my glucose levels, but also for their Bee Hive Hockey Picture card promotion that ran from 1934 to 1967. It was always a sweet sight to see these little cars buzzing along the rails.

Running extra...

An enjoyable trip aboard VIA trains 655 and 648 to Toronto yesterday. Not too many early morning trains, as train 655 was holding the south track at Kingston for at least 30 minutes before departure, and was able to make Napanee and Belleville station stops off the south track, not meeting any freight trains. Train 648 home was busier, pulled by Ren 6406 in a J-train consist with train 668, which was headed by VIA engines 901-6424.

Our travels across Toronto included a ride on the Toronto Transit Commission's New Rocket subway cars on the Spadina-University line. The cars feature full accessibility between cars, electronic signage and announcements, and indeed several passengers took photos down the consist, pushed baby strollers or just strolled through the train themselves while en route. Our car was 5414.

Watch for Trackside Treasure's third anniversary consist next weekend, so station your thinking caps nearby in preparation. Don't worry, I've got enough material for at least another three years!