Now it's time to fill in some operational details and possibilities, plus share some additional structures for the Portage la Prairie layout trackplans in the previous post. While I only included some signature scenes and structures for the trackplans, there is always more that can be done to contextualize a prototype-based 1980's Portage layout. My chief railfanning haunt in Portage was the steps of the passenger waiting room in CN's station (above). From there I had good lighting and sightlines of the passing action. Once I was able to drive (!) my aunt and uncle's car, I had more mobility from West Tower to East Tower and beyond. Spoiler alert...this post is Super Dense with SD's.
CN's station was home to the CN operation/station agent (who usually parked his car near the bay window in front of the station) the VIA ticket counter, foremen and some baggage and express traffic. In August 1978, VIA's Super Continental behind 6515-6607-6502 is handling baggage and passengers, with MPE 'B' elevator, CP's motor car sheds and Engro fertilizer shed in the background. Interestingly, the Texaco/Shell/Esso fuel dealer spur across Third St NE is clearly visible in the foreground. I don't recall seeing tank cars spotted here during my 1978+ visits, though I have seen such a photo online in an earlier era.
Photos including CN station photo (top), above and next three by D.J. Gagnon taken in 1988-1989. The fuel dealer spur is only partly visible, having grown over with vegetation (above). CN 5247 and another SD with a Coke can covered hopper work the CP interchange, located where the CN 86-foot hi-cube boxcar is in the background before heading west. CN's ramp track diverges to left in foreground. Note scrap strapping and banding at left of photo:
Working the interchange from the east end, CN 5254-5070 and a slabside CN covered hopper are heading for East Tower. In the lower photo, the units are crossing Trenton Avenue. The white structure is a North American Van Lines storage warehouse - a classic, added-to whitewashed building that would be a fun kitbash. Also, note the plethora of poles in these photos!
Three road units to lift one car from the team track? On August 20, 1978 CN black-widow SD40's 5134-5194-5182 have been working the CP interchange and are now backing a covered hopper of corn loaded on August 18 back to the yard, as the trainman keeps an eye out for the approaching crossings. In the background are the CN station and apartment building near the Skyline bridge. It was quite common for CN (and CP) westbounds to drop their train in the yard and perform local work with road power. For CN, units worked the interchange, yard, team track, elevators (usually lighter units) and as far west as Bloom. For CP, road units rarely if ever ventured west of the station while making lifts and setouts in the yard, with 6569 handling local switching. Both railways' through freights also stopped to switch the east end of the yard, usually lifting cars for Winnipeg and points east.
This eastbound CN freight led by CN 5175 is eastbound through the yard. in June 1988. Notice the compactness of CN's yard trackage here, indicating the prevalence of block-swapping over local industry switching. A tank car, plus cuts of ballast cars and covered hoppers occupy the three yard tracks, with switch leading to the interchange yard at right.
West of CN's station, the storage track and United Grain Growers spurs were often in use. A boarding outfit train, with insulated water tank car CN 80284, white fleet and house cars looking very much at home here in September 1989. Above and below: D.J. Gagnon photos.
CN (foreground) and CP mainlines are shown east of Eighth St in 1982. An eastbound freight with a covered script gondola and CP 434330 pass between CP wooden and steel minibox Service cars in the storage track, and the Munro Farm Supplies Cominco Elephant fertilizer elevator and shed. These durable little turquoise elevators dotted the prairies, are easily modelled, and are a magnet for vehicles such as fertilizer trucks, trailers and pickups.
Slightly out-of-the-way, in its location on a spur running off CP's yard lead, north of Fourth St NE was the NM McCallister Pea & Seed elevator. A westbound freight's trainman is visible just ahead of CP 8702-4440-4030 in the yard on August 22, 1978. Centred on a Waterloo Manufacturing Co distribution warehouse with a large blue elevator and silos, this is the best photo I have of this interesting Portage industry.
I have had little luck finding any information on this plant, though it was featured (lower right of page) in a 1983 Province of Manitoba brochure on historic properties in Portage la Prairie, along with both railways' depots:
Another industry I included in my trackplans is the interesting North American Can of Canada Ltd warehouse northeast of Third St NE. This industry received CN combination door boxcars switched by 6569. I suppose the warehouse supplied the local produce operations. A westbound CP hotshot behind 5518-5528-4739 passes the warehouse in August, 1978. The grassy Engro fertilizer track is visible in foreground, with McCallister just visible in background, left of trees.
CP 5788-3091 with ditchlights and class lights ablaze are working the east end of CP's yard in 1987 before rejoining their train with a 40-foot CP insulated boxcar. Notice the yard lead and double-ended yard tracks. Between CP and CN yards, Manitoba Telephone System maintained a large supply and pole yard that would make an interesting addition to a 1980's Portage layout.
Also in 1987, 5746-5718 have pulled up to the station before entering the yard off their westbound freight, likely to pick up paperwork from the agent. Notice the absence of semaphore blades, with nearby, free employee parking! Above and below: D.J. Gagnon photos. CP's yard is still busy, with road freights pausing to make lifts and setouts. The station is a museum, the station area has more trees, fewer structures and better sightlines today!
Plus ca change...seven years earlier, a similar scene. Flags a-flyin' high-multimark 5534-5505 are heading for the yard across Third St NE on the yard lead on June 18, 1980. The local van is visible between the units and freight cars in the yard at right. For a Portage layout, one or two units idling in front of the CN or CP station are absolutely prototypical! A few days earlier, another westbound had dropped seven grain cars in the yard that were soon spotted at Portage's CP-served elevators.
Safely tucked away in a corner of CN's yard, a Portage-stationed plow and small Jordan spreader in June 1982! Freshly-painted and outshopped two months previous in April, CN 55251 and 51082 respectively huddle behind the cupola-topped Co-Op fertilizer shed. Portage was a handy spot for CN to stash MoW equipment, as these two snow-fighters prove. Check out Randy O'Brien's latest Portage layout plans including a three-way switch serving the interchange tracks!
Just listened to Poke the Box by Seth Godin, an inspirational look at taking initiative. On two discs, this is one book I should listen to again. Seth has filled it with so much good stuff that there's almost too much to digest at one listening. For instance...a study by the Max Planck Institute confirmed that those who get lost in the woods, though they believe they're walking in a direct line to reach help, actually do wander in circles. Also, ever wonder why maps don't come with a guarantee?
Rapido Trains is publicizing their GMD-1. Though I believe the word iconic (and epic, artisan, signature) is over-used, this uniquely Canadian locomotive model certainly qualifies. We all know (don't we?) that it's properly designated GMD-1 (22,000+ Google hits) vs GMD1 (a paltry 800+ hits). Imagine a brace of GMD-1's growling across a Portage la Prairie layout. Epic!
Reports and photos surfaced online showing a partially-painted VIA Business Class LRC car in use on CN's Kingston Sub, likely undergoing testing. Formerly known as VIA 1 (not surprisingly, I still use that term) this car would rate a VIA 0.5 in its not-quite-ready dark forest (see above) green Nikesque swoosh scheme. Nike said 'Just do it' and Seth Godin replied 'Just do what? How do I do it?' Now who's wandering in circles (also see above). Time for another Keurig, my friends.
3 Blackwidows making a lift! And in 1978 even. I like the Trenton Avenue shot too.
Glad you liked those Blackwidows, Elijah. And yes, I'm still working on a nickname post for our favourite CN units. Those units certainly have the lone covered hopper 'outnumbered'.
My brother spent some time along Trenton Ave, and got some great results.
Thanks for your comments,
Quite a mixed bag of rolling stock. I love the insulated tank car. A rare car to photograph, from my experience.
Thanks for your comments, Michael. CN had silver (non-insulated) water tank cars plus the white ones as shown.
As a big fan of MoW equipment on both railways, I can seldom resist the temptation to share photos of such rarities. There is so little left now - Belleville yard used to winter rows and rows of such cars...all gone now.
Wallowing in nostalgia,
Great series of posts!
My new basement has a 25-foot wall that will be dedicated to Portage. Subtracting off the curves on either end, that will give me roughly 19 feet for a compressed model of CP and CN through town. This is an increase over my previous spare bedroom layout where I only had a 15-foot wall (about 10 feet after curves) to model the area from the depots west. Thus, I'm looking forward to including more of the yard tracks east of the depots. I haven't re-drawn the complete detailed track plan for the new space but I might need to leave room for the "modelgenic" NA Van Lines warehouse (now a self storage facility?) that reminds me of a few Walthers cornerstone series kits.
Thanks for sharing all of your photos and ideas! This and the GMD-1 announcement have me itching to get the basement walls prepped for benchwork!
Tyler, great news! 25 feet vs 24 feet in the trackplan is very close! Both railways' Portage yards are quite flexible, with more or fewer tracks depending on your likes. And yes, the NA Van Lines building would be an excellent addition to an otherwise vacant area!
Others have mentioned the nexus of Portage trackplans and Rapido's GMD-1. Absolutely! A great pairing!
Remember to share the progress on your layout, and glad that these posts have provided some inspiration.
Dear Eric Holy moly, more Portage. I feel that you and I walked thru the same footsteps in the ballast and cinders. Portage in the 1980s, after the purge of first gen power was a hum-drum mix of SDson CP and CN. Mainline priority manifests manned by Sds and GP38s and GP40s on CN. Where are the Fs today? On film my friends. As always you capture the past giving a window for the blog viewers. I-Spy updates...Jun 01 Via 1...6428-6427 with 20 cars-Banff Pk.Jun 02 Via 693...6434-6442 with 5 cars at Diamond. Jun 03 Via 1 6420-6407-6406 with 19 cars, Tremblant Pk. Jun 03 Via 694 at Diamond, 6445-6417 with 5 cars. Jun 08 Via no 1 6416-6454 with 19 cars, yoho Pk. Jun 10, Via 1 at Diamond 6428-6438 with 20 cars, Banff Pk. Jun 10 Via 694 6434-6442 with 5 cars. Have nothing left to report other than CN traffic is heavier than CP west of Winnipeg. Can not comment on Winnipeg East side or south, maybe Mark?
Thanks for your observations and comments, Brian. SD's maybe were a little hum-drum at the time, but compared to the big Toasters and DPUs of today, they seem quite quaint! I remember David P Morgan's moniker of a kid with too-big tennis shoes! We marvelled at how far out the trucks extended, requiring that extra space on the back porch!
More Portage to come, in a while.
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