Thursday, February 6, 2014

CPR 1201 at Brockville, 1990

CPR G5a 4-6-2 1201 (Angus shops, June 1944) was retired from CPR service in April 1960, entering excursion service 16 years later in June 1976. Bearing in mind her size, and her central Canada location, 1201 was remarkably well-travelled in excursion service, even conveying royalty! Leaving Ottawa on October 7, 1985 behind CP's newest GP38-2 3040, coupled to combination car 3051, Micmac and Sandpoint, 1201 made its way to Revelstoke BC. Passing CP's Portage la Prairie station, my uncle photographed the nicely-steaming movement (above) on its way to celebrations for Canadian Pacific's Centennial. Wintering in BC, 1201 made an appearance at Steamexpo, part of Vancouver's Expo86. I photographed her as she reversed through CP's Burrard Inlet yard trackage, returning to the Steamexpo exhibition grounds:
In the fall of 1990, the plucky G5 made its final round of excursions closer to home. The excursion consist hauled by 1201 arrives in Smiths Falls from CN's Smiths Falls Sub (photographer unknown), on its way to Brockville to mark the 130th anniversary of Brockville's railway tunnel. Bruce Chapman must be just to the right of CP Rail 1856 in the next photo, because he shared the following photo showing 1856 with 1201 just to the west. In the City of the Thousand Islands, she would meet three generations of her extended family.

On Sunday, September 16 our carload of four (my wife, son, my Dad and me) arrived in Brockville in 1315. By the time we reached Brockville, the train which had departed Ottawa at 0900 had been remarshalled such that 1201 was ready to pull the sidetrip nine miles to Bellamy. Bruce Chapman was on the William Street overpass and shared the following two photos of 1201 arriving, leading the multicoloured consist on CP...
...before pulling into the pocket track behind the VIA station, with CP's loop line and dismantled freight house trackage at right:
You'll note some of the following scanned prints look strangely similar. I've intentionally scanned my Dad's 126-format print next to my 4x6 35 mm print. We were often, thought not always, standing in the same spot - with similar but not identical photographic results!
Foamers...jeesh. Though I would not make a habit of sitting on a rail, perhaps this guy just got tired of standing around. At least it's a spur. CP's freight house is still just visible at right of that photo. Sorry about my hi-cube CNR-emblazoned engineer's hat. Bytown's Earl Roberts reports that the 554 passengers from Ottawa had to disembark to make room for the sidetrip passengers. Fortunately, there was no rain to dampen spirits or waiting passengers! Tunnel commemmoration ceremonies, waterfront tours and boat cruises were set up for entertainment during the four-hour layover.
At 1348, VIA No 43, the Lakeshore from Ottawa arrived: 6425-3466-3343-3312-3369. Passing from CP rails under the William Street overpass, 6425 pulled alongside 1201. With some judicious framing, I was able to crop most of the CN coach out of the picture, making it look like 1201 was still in active service, belying the 46 years since 1201 was built.
The sidetrip was now able to depart Brockville, and it did so in fine style, spewing smoke which enveloped those standing on the overpass above. I noted that her drivers slipped twice as she endeavoured to lift the seven-car consist of  CN 4960, CN 4977, ACR articulated car 458-459, and CP-style cars 3051, Midway, Micmac and Sandpoint onto CP's Brockville Sub, past some CN boxcars on the interchange tracks.
Having run a couple of errands for different kinds of 'fuel' at Petro-Canada and McDonald's, we headed back trackside, hoping to catch the returning sidetrip at the Parkedale Avenue crossing. We waited. And waited. Finally, a passing carload of enthusiasts updated us. The train had slipped past us and was now at the station, readying for its return to Ottawa. We were able to grab a few more trackside-with-family shots at 1600 back at the station:
Trackside Treasure reader Jeremy Corke has been in touch recently. We both lost our fathers in January of this year, and believe it or not, all four of us were at Brockville - Jeremy and his Dad were passengers on the trip out of Ottawa. Jeremy kindly sent a photo of a steam-shrouded 1201 before one of its fantrips that season:
Bytown's brochure for the 1990 steam season reveals an ambitious program of trips around and away from Ottawa, delighting over 12,000 passengers over 12 operating days. Accounts of these trips show that they required a lot of dedication, legwork and communication with the railways. The excursions did not just happen. Bytown also puts out its renowned Branchline newsletter and promotes preservation of both equipment and archives. I'm proud to be a Branchline reader since 1987 (thanks Dave and Susan!) having just finished the most recent issue today which included an excellent Bruce Chapman article on second sections - in 1973!
Gobsmacked gawkers, onlookers, rivet-counters and daisy-pickers alike lined the cinders at the end of the platform. It was easy to see why the iron horse held so much fascination, drama and interest for all three of the generations of our family present that day, one of whom actually went back to the age of steam!
After 1201's sidetrip departure, a non-stop VIA No 65, the Meridian from Montreal, hustled through Brockville at 1415: 6417-3471-3335-3333-3371-3328. Another VIA train, No 62 the LaSalle from Toronto was due at Brockville at 1431. Having hurriedly returned to the Parkedale Avenue CP crossing just above the 401 overpass, VIA No 42, we photographed the Lakeshore to Ottawa heading north past us at 1510: 6427-3455-3341-3348-3351.
With VIA gone, the main attraction's arrival on stage was now at hand. At 1630, we saw smoke rising above the 401 in the distance! Tender-first, 1201 had her train in hand in the failing afternoon light.
CN steam-qualified engineer Tim Verge is craning his neck to watch the track ahead, with Bytown's Earl Roberts cueing whistleposts, visible only from the other side of the cab! Steam locomotives were from an era of roundhouses and wyes, both gone from Brockville via the diesel era. Smiths Falls' wye was used to advantage to reposition 1201 facing forward, and Earl delivered the latest issue of BRS's Branchline to the CP Smiths Falls operator (also a Branchline subscriber)!
I will be publishing a post on Steamexpo - to share photos of the steamers under steam at the exhibition site, plus the parade. Big US road power was eventually a no-show, as was CNR 6060. But a variety of venerable, variable-sized steam locos (and lokies) more than put on a show. This photo of some other Bytowners proudly piloting 1201 back to the site after the Grand Parade of Steam will have to suffice for now:
Unofficially retired in October 1990 following its last runpast at Dalkeith, Ontario on October 14, due to pending expensive springing and driver work, plus her boiler tube time had expired. Steaming to the West coast for Steamexpo and the East coast over the Canadian Atlantic Railway in 1989, 1201 has only seen the light of day one time since. This was during equipment shuffling at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum, who are still 1201's owners.

Running extra...

W.C. Slim published this excellent book on 1201's regular trips between Ottawa and Wakefield, Quebec. The illustrated 1981 work is now available for your reading pleasure online!

Rapido Trains has just announced its latest locomotive (Note to self - insert here once it's announced or just leave this in because I'm pretty sure it's going to be an S-13). To model Spadina without an S-13 would be like modelling Horseshoe Curve without four tracks. See CN 8512 in the roundhouse. ***Update: Two days ago, Rapido telegraphed the upcoming release of their F40PH-2D. (I think I had my fingers on the wrong keys when I typed S-13 above. Should have read F-40. My bad.)

Q: Where did the snowman keep his money! A: In a snow bank. What a winter this has been. Close call near Nipigon...get my drift? Winter Olympics dance break: Russian Police choir Gets Lucky!


GP9Rm4108 said...

I actually watched my Ottawa Valley Steam video today!

Wasn't the loop line still in place in Brockville after 1990? I was born in '86 and have a clear memory of the tracks still being in place, especially one of of the bridges near Church St.

Was it out of service then and just not lifted until later on around 94?

Taylor said...

I'll take those wheel stops for sure. What's your email Eric?

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments, Chris. Good to see you're reliving some 1201 history, too. I know the loop line was in use in 1987, as there was concern that VIA's new 6400's would clear the tunnel. I believe your years are correct.

Taylor, I see you've found my email, and I've replied.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article on 1201's trip to Brockville. For me it was the culmination of a long-held dream, one that I had developed when I became involved with the locomotive in the fall of 1978 after moving from Brockville to Ottawa and joining the Bytown Railway Society.

Working with 1201 was lots of fun - whether it was during the Wakefield years or whether it was in the period 1987-1990 when I had the dubious honour of being the Steam Train Trip chairman. In that latter era, we ran 1201 to a number of places within eastern Ontario, western Quebec and elsewhere including Montreal and the ultimate, Saint John, New Brunswick, when we reprised Canadian Pacific's "Scoot" as part of centennial celebrations for their service in Atlantic Canada.

As I said at the outset, the trip to Brockville was particularly memorable as I was bringing her to my home town. We ran out there with the "Thousand Islander" and we then ran a side trip to Bellamy, on what we called the "General Brock" with tickets sold locally for us by Bytown member Lyle Young, who was the owner of Piper's Men’s and Boys Wear and the son of a CN railroader. To thank Lyle for his generosity, we gave him complementary tickets on what would be 1201's last trip - to Hawkesbury, Ontario.

You will note 1201's reverse moves to Bellamy and back to Smiths Falls. Sadly, we were not able to use the Loop Line and Brockville wye to turn her as CP was worried about the structural condition of a bridge abutment on the east side of Beecher Street which was at the east wye switch. This was a disappointment as it also prevented 1201 from using trackage that dated back to the one-time Brockville, Westport and Sault Ste. Marie Railway, an area that I had regularly haunted while growing up in and around Brockville. On the other hand, we were lucky to have CP keep the pocket track behind the station intact as it was removed not long after our trip out there.

My love for steam came during the 1950s and I still remember the time that I was "hoisted" into the cab of either a CP G5 or 2200, the power for the Ottawa Pool train which was sitting on the pocket track while waiting for the arrival of the evening CN "Flyer" from Toronto with part of the consist to be switched for Ottawa. The Fireman opened the butterfly doors and the sight of the flames has remained etched in my memory ever since.

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since 1201 went to Brockville. I am not so sure that a mainline steam excursion is possible in Canada in the 21st Century so posting these memories is really important. Who knows, maybe someone can find a way.

Thanks again for the memories.
Philip Jago

Eric said...

Thanks very much for your comment and memories, Philip. It is great to hear from someone who was so involved in that fantrip.

Though it's 23+ years later that I'm finally publishing this post and photos, belated thanks to you and Bytown for staging this fantrip. We definitely enjoyed being a very small part of it!