In this third post in the Portage Then and Now series, I'm sharing my Then photos with the Now photos of Manny Jacob. Manny is a Winnipeg modeller and aficianado of VIA F40's and CP SD40-2's, whose preferred Portage la Prairie photo perch is the Skyview Bridge. From up here, there are panoramic views both east and west of CN and CP mainlines plus VIA trains on CN. Though the title again incorporates the years 1980 and 2010, these images actually range from 1978 to 2012. Now let's head up the sidewalk along the bridge to see what we can see. For best effect, click on each Then photo, open a second tab, click on the accompanying Now photo, then toggle back and forth between them. Jump 30 years in a click! Manny's large digital files contrast with my diminutive, 110-format Kodak Hawkeye images.
Then (above): VIA No 3, the Super Continental behind 6504-6503-CN 4100 exchanges baggage and passengers as a CN freight passes by on the yard lead on August 26, 1981. Another headlight is in the distance: GMD-1's 1052-1065. Over on CP, a westbound empty coal train passes as Portage switcher S-3 6569 idles for lunch by the station. Local farmers load two grain boxcars opposite CN's station.
Now (below): VIA No 1, the Canadian on the same track on September 29, 2012.
Then: the same train as the top photo leaves the station, giving us a good view of 4100's spark arrestors, a Potash Corporation of Canada and Alberta Heritage Fund covered hoppers (the latter at Portage Pool B), and the van of the westbound CP coal train.
Now: 6409-6452- Grey Cup 6445 with No 1 and the Grey Cup 100th Anniversary cars on the tail end on September 1, 2012. That shelter-belt row of trees obscures the CP line, with the elevator and Esso fertilizer buildings gone and the CP station now the Canadian Pacific Railway Heritage Park
Then: One-of-a-kind VIA 1418, its blue windshield uniquely painted at CP's Angus Shops on December 21, 1978 leads No 1 on August 27, 1981 in the company of CP 8580, one of VIA's two E8's 1898, 6553 and 16 cars. Due into Portage 70 minutes behind the Super, the Canadian has the engineers looking at something between the second and third units as an eastbound freight full of British Columbia lumber (yes, you could even smell the fresh-cut lumber up here) lumbers by.
Now: 6401-6442 bring the Canadian in as a crewman trolls the empty platform. CN's yard trackage is much reduced on March 31, 2012.
Then: The eastbound Canadian 'pole position' with 1413-CP 8516-CP 8559 and 15 cars on August 27, 1979. A grain car is being loaded at United Grain Growers (formerly Victoria Grain) elevator just west of the bridge.
Now: CN 2342-5746 eastbound on August 11, 2012, with a CP westbound windmill parts train in the background. While it's true that there are still lots of trains in Portage, they're fewer and longer than in the Then era in this post. It seems I often headed up to the bridge when multiple trains were approaching...notice how many Then photos show multiple trains!
Then: No 3 heads west past a CN boarding outfit (at left) behind 6505-6610-CN 4105. The Super would spend lots of time in Portage this day, August 24, 1981: from 1333 to 1425 waiting for traffic to clear at West Tower. CN 1353-1354 with two covered hoppers from Manitoba Pool B, with CP grain boxcars at Manitoba Pool A.
Now: 2310-IC 1031 with general freight including a caboose (!) off the Rivers Sub on Sept 13, 2012 at 1258.
Then: August 24, 1978: 9407-9529 pass minty new CPWX covered hoppers and fully-depreciated CP boarding outfit cars north of the main, now the site of the the expanded Centennial Arena.
Now: Early snow greets CN 2229 eastbound on October 6, 2012 at 1220. The absence of grain elevators and accompanying elevator tracks is noticeable.
Then: CP Extra with 5954-4551-5970 and a 134-car loaded grain train, stabs the Super Continental at West Tower in August 1981. The CP Express building with spur is at left foreground.
Then: On June 16, 1980 a westbound CN freight fortified by forty-foot boxcars is stopped for this eastbound CP freight at West Tower: 5525-4502-81 car grain loads. The head-end trainman is on the front porch ready to pick up orders at the station.
Now: 100th Anniversary Grey Cup train has arrived for its event October 4, 2012 at 1546. A CWR train is on the next track, then a passing CP freight.
Then: Power-heavy CP westbound past the handcar sheds at 1532 on August 22, 1979: 5708-5536-5518-5717-5758-4568. A CN freight behind 9522-9496 hides behind the telegraph pole.
Now: 9644-9603 lug intermodal traffic west on August 18, 2012 at 1110. Trees block the view towards CN trackage as MPE Pool B once did.
Then: In front of the handcar sheds, 5779 tugs 61 empty box cars west, meeting eastbound loads to the Lakehead behind 8496-5546 eastbound in August 1981.
Now: CP westbound 'oil can' unit train with 8615-8651 makes a slick sight on September 3, 2012 at 1324. CP's Portage Geep switcher now resides in a fenced compound east of Third St, instead of 6569 slumbering in the shade across from the station in years past. CryoTrans reefers have replaced CP 50-foot insulated boxcars in CP's yard.
Manny Jacob sent an additional photo of the CN caboose (CN 79623?) in the freight led cn CN 2310-IC 1031. This is not the way CN cabooses were intended to look, but it is the way they end their careers. Windows busted out, oil fill discouraged, smokejacks askew and marshalled at the head-end, not on the tail-end of the train. Warning to viewers...the following image may be disturbing to some rolling stock enthusiasts.
Just finished listening to An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson. Macro and micro historical account of the Allied invasion and liberation of North Africa. Many useful quotes by Dwight Eisenhower included. Like Dieppe, this seaborne invasion was a huge learning experience for the subsequent Normandy landings.
Speaking of learning, I've posted errata on my book blog left sidebar for my recent Cross-Canada Compendium. As I mentioned in the book, I encourage readers to submit any corrections or suggestions. Orders are coming in, received from both coasts - Newfoundland and California this week.
An enjoyable trip aboard VIA this week to Toronto - on VIA train Nos 651 and 48. Was that a VIA consist with red markers parked in Belleville yard next to Hydro One's ex-CN caboose 79640? Hard to tell at 0610. UPDATE: it was a similarly-painted IC caboose used on the triple-tracking ballast train including those BCOL ballast cars shown in the previous posts. Trip home included 1812 white wine - that was the name on the label, not the vintage. The average Canadian buys 22 bottles of wine per year. I recommend this Mighty Diesel Whine.
Good news Mr Gagnon, I've finally seen my first actual VIA train! The trains are usually nocturnal in through these parts. Now I can be a VIAphile with you. Anyway, I'm in just the right mood to look at these old passenger pictures! Lots of RS18s, and the E8 is a nice touch aswell.
Now the standard statement for this occasion: things were delightfully ecclectic back then, thats why I love this era, always cherish the fact that you've seen all these cool old trains, and of course, thanks allot for sharing!
Wonderful post. As a 30-something who has passed through Portage many times on VIA trains through the years, looking at the "then" photos creates full-on nostalgia overload.
Hi Elijah and A.,
Glad you both liked this post. I really enjoyed putting it together, not only looking at my Then photos, but also comparing them with Manny's Now photos.
Of course you can expect more of the same...more Portage. I'd been spending a fair bit of time in the present and passenger worlds, so it was time to return to Portage with this post, and will do so again.
It was indeed a good time to be a VIAphile trackside in Portage! Imagine holding the hottest passenger train in Portage for an hour for West Tower to clear...
Thanks to you both for your kind comments,
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