Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Napanee - Down by the CN Station

The best photo from my two-part series on CN's Kingston Sub photos from the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library, in my humble, somewhat biased opinion is a view looking east through Napanee, just 23 miles west of Kingston. I've labelled the photo (above) with some of the salient features and trackage it shows. This was the site of a major CN derailment in May 1951, with photographer George Lilley's plane shown at right (arrow - Queen's University Archives photo). Lasher's feed mill is at top middle, one of several trackside industries in Napanee. More about these in our next post.
A modern-day photo from a point just to the east, and north of the tracks, includes the now land-locked former CN Smiths Falls Sub single track at left, plus the Kingston sub double-track mainline. See the biscuit factory at far left, dairy site, modern-era town water tower and the station at right?
Looking west from the same point toward Napanee West interlocking (overpass is Belleville Road). The rusty Smiths Falls Sub rails end east of the interlocking, where CN removed the switch and flipped over many of the rails, after the end of rail service to the Goodyear tire plant.
Rick Beaubien of Oshawa sent me some memories of growing up down by the station in Napanee, growing up in the 1950's-1960's in a big clapboard house on John Street, near the station. Some of the amazing rail activity Rick observed: loads of lumber for Gibbard's Furniture factory, outbound rolls of snowfence, the Kimmerly Lumber Co. near Centre and Dundas Sts. receiving shipments of lumber by rail, inbound loads of feed for Lasher's Feed Mill west of Centre St. and inbound loaded coal hoppers for the Vines Fuel Co. At the time, both the Belleville Road overpass and Centre Street underpass were still level crossings. Interestingly, Rick remembers playing pond hockey on two large 'steam shovel' ponds near the Belleville Road crossing reportedly dug by rail-mounted steam shovels! A 1960's aerial photo posted on the Vintage Kingston Facebook page, shows the Smiths Falls Sub diverging to the north; the modern-day water tower and the Nabisco biscuit factories as trackside landmarks. Note the cool coal-unloading barge south of Water Street!
Ron Barrett of Kingston remembers the barge Hilda being guided upriver by Pike Salvage steam tug Salvage Prince with most of the coal destined for Strathcona Paper and Vines. Ron also noted that the Centre Street level crossing was the site of a tragic seven-fatality car-train collision in 1951. The Grand Trunk Railway, later Canadian National Napanee station shown in this undated photo, has changed little (below). The station was the site of some railfan vehicle visits made in a Volkswagen in 1985 and classic Chevette in 1989.
Malcolm Peakman of Napanee noted that the Centre Street crossing was replaced by a road underpass in 1981. The ex-GTR station and immediate property now belongs to the Town of Greater Napanee. Originally co-located was the Bay of Quinte Railway Napanee, Tamworth & Quebec station and offices: (L&A County Museum photo)
This vintage drawing shows the Grand Trunk slicing through the pastoral countryside around Napanee, having crossed the Napanee River. This is one of the most scenic views from VIA Rail along the Corridor, and will be featured in an upcoming post on Canada's most scenic railfanning location! The now-closed, soon-to-be-condos Gibbard Furniture factory occupies the bend in the river.
Grand Trunk steam locomotive(s), likely posed while crossing Napanee River bridge:

A few views of Napanee during the CN era: 1974 westbound , 1974 Smiths Falls Sub, 1965 semaphore and 1974 station view. Phil Mason kindly shared a photo taken arriving at Napanee station in the CN era:
VIA's Turbo crosses the Grand Trunk Railway bridge, as a classic GM product rolls along Highway 2 in the foreground (Brian Schuff collection). I was proud to have my logo featuring the numbers '2000' nested under the arches, accepted by Napanee's Millennium Committee.
CN White Fleet flatcars, rebuilt from 40-foot boxcars with track gang accommodation units occupy the feed mill track along East Street in the 1980's. The Smiths Falls Sub trackage is about to cross Dairy Avenue at the crossbuck:
The station is located beyond these two aluminum boarding units basking in the summer afternoon sun:
Looking southeast, the water tower is visible at left. The first car's sewage outlet seems to be connected into the local system. Malcolm notes that the remaining freight shed lead was shortened and then removed from the parking lot side of the station when the lot was resurfaced. The original alignment north of the shed and a switch remnant are still visible near the base of the water tower. Ron remembers boat-building with a friend in 1953, including receiving shipments of wooden hulls from Mahone Bay, NS delivered to the freight shed. The hulls were built using the same principles used to construct  de Haviland Mosquito fighter-bombers!
CN 1971 car control diagrams of Napanee, showing the trackage west of Centre Street (then a level crossing, now an underpass):
and east of Centre Street. Later versions of this diagram will appear in the next post in this series, as will photos of the buildings and trackage shown here. The 'Exp Frt' represents the freight shed behind the station:
Heading north of Napanee towards Smiths Falls on the subdivision of the same name (arrow on map, above), the CNoR bridge over Highway 401 led to the Goodyear spur. The Goodyear tire plant no longer receives shipments by rail.
The Goodyear plant previously received shipments in Southern Pacific and Santa Fe 50-foot boxcars, set out by twin Geeps that had backed east after leaving their train at Napanee West. In February 2008, the trip up and back to the mainline took CN No 591 90 minutes. In the winter of 2008, the mainline frog was removed. The Strathcona Paper Co., located just to the north in the village of Strathcona began manufacturing paper in 1875. The plant was still receiving Boston & Maine boxcar loads of paper pulp in the 1980's!
Two hiking photos (above). The second photo is taken on private property (not condoned by Trackside Treasure). Another view of the bridge from a May, 2023 Kingston Whig-Standard article: 

Running extra...
From an upcoming episode of Sister Railfans on TLC, May 17 at County Road 6 level crossing between Amherst View and Odessa. It's CN No 369 heading west along CN's Kingston Sub. Side mirror lettering: People Shown in Mirror may be Bigger Railfans than they ever Imagined.
Get your potash in gear In this Vista:
There is no word that rhymes with ingots:
No auto racks today on the tail-end:


GP9Rm4108 said...

You got a lucky shot here. That INVX 21063 tank was recently pulled from DuPont in Maitland by 532. What is so special about this?

That tank had been sitting there for well over a year.

They have recently pulled another tank from there that had been sitting for well over a year as well.

Eric said...

Good eye, Chris. My sister shared about 10 photos with me, and I selected them from tiny thumbnail-sized images on her smart phone.

Of course I knew this one would be special! Hope they got the rust off the wheels.

Thanks for your comment,

Allison said...

A little context: we (our Mom and I) were on our way back from a drive up to Napanee and, as we came down County Road 6 and I saw the signals start flashing, I said "Great! A train! I can take some pictures and get on Trackside Treasure!"
For real. No secrets.
Also for context: I took 12-15 shots to capture as many different-looking cars as I could. It really is true that Eric selected from the thumbnails on the phone…*without his glasses on* is the part that's in invisible ink on his post. So it was pure rail fan instinct that directed his selection!! Great that we got that lucky one between us all!

GP9Rm4108 said...

If I am correct, I believe those potash cars were delivered back to CN from CP in Brockville as well. They come from Sylvite, Sk and are delivered to CP for furtherance to one of their customers.

It might be the place in Oxford that receives the odd Anhydrous Ammonia tank.

I have to check 532's work for yesterday and Wednesday tonight. I know there were more potash empties for 369 to lift yesterday.

Eric said...

Thanks Sis for the context content. The glasses are just a prop to make me look older and wiser.

Chris, the latest BRS Branchline showed the CP de Beaujeu turn returning to Smiths Falls with half a dozen Potash Corp cars. Those cars are a big fleet that really gets around, not always in unit train service!

Thanks for your comments,

GP9Rm4108 said...

That is true but CN delivers potash to CP in Brockville and CP sends them back to CN.

On Friday, there were 2 tanks of Anhydrous for CP to spot at the place in Oxford.

CP brought in some more potash empties to be returned to Sylvite, Sk.

GP9Rm4108 said...

Harvex Agromart in Oxford Station.

Eric said...

Thanks, Chris. Googled it and it shows a pretty big operation with a couple of car spots on a long siding, nurse tanks, and lots of storage.

Interesting to find out about these various interchange arrangements.


Daniel McConnachie said...

Hi Eric,

My wife Martha and I lived in Napanee for a school year in 1978-1979 on Bridge Street at the intersection with Adelphi Street. I had a great view of the viaduct from my study window. Great view of the passing parade of the day including a steam exclusion! Alas, I did not have an adequate camera. I did explore the yard in Napanee and the BofQ relics to be found. The dead end spur just south of the main line west of the crossing had a concrete platform running beside where it became straight. Research indicated that the BofQ's station was located on this spur as was the CNoR's after it took over the BofQ. Many a night after hockey was spent at the bar near the station as well. They had great hot dogs! Did the CNoR cross at grade here at one point with signals or were a series of crossovers used?

Eric said...

That is a great question, Daniel, and I'd have to consult some archival sources to answer it. It's a little outside my normal frame of reference, chronologically.

Regarding those steam excursions, watch for an upcoming post on those and the deadhead moves of CNR 6060. Quite a change going on there now with the Gibbard development!

Thanks for your comment,

Anonymous said...


From the alignments each side of the CN track I believe it was a diamond crossing, remember there were connections to the old Napanee B of Q station (north a west curve)
and a south east curve. I must admit I dont know when the south west curve was built, and if there was a north west curve.


Eric said...

Very interesting additional information, Malcolm.

There remains must railway archeology to be discovered, even in our little corner of Ontario!

Thanks for your comment,