Sunday, January 11, 2015

VIA's Super Continental at Portage, 1981

VIA's Super Continental ran until the November 1981 Pepin cuts to VIA. Westbound VIA train No 3 was scheduled to stop in Portage la Prairie at 1330. This was following a 4-hour servicing stop in Winnipeg in the middle of the train's transcontinenal run, 1,217 miles from Toronto. Approaching Portage, westbound Canadians or Super Continentals, still mostly on time, would slowly round the curve at East Tower and ease up the station, where separate stops would be made for baggage, coach and/or sleeping car passengers.  Less than three months before the cuts took effect, I was trackside in Portage la Prairie, recording the daily passage of the Super Continental, as well as the Canadian.

Aug 24, 1981 VIA No 3 at 1333 (above): 6505-6610-CN 4105-9663-Iroquois-5441-5500-506-1343-5723-5725-Enterprise-Evangeline-Green Lane-1360-Chateau Rouville-Chateau Levis-Lorne Manor-Kootenay Park. Two ex-CN diners! Stainless steel sleepers from the Canadian, swapped for ex-CN sleepers at Winnipeg. Waited at West Tower for eastbound CP grain train to clear the diamonds!
Aug 25 (above) The late afternoon sun glints off 6510's nose, as a nearly three hour-late No 3 arrives at 1623: 6510-6607-CN 4102-9653-Indigo-5485-5626-502-1370-5719-5706-Excelsior-Ennishore-Greenway-1377-Chateau Iberville-Chateau Montcalm-Blair Manor-Columbia-Cabot Manor. I wonder if the substitution of Columbia for the usual Park car had taken place in Winnipeg, thus delaying this day's No 3?
Aug 25 No 3 at 1344: (above and below) 6504-6603-CN 4100-9600-9640-Ingonish-5616-5643-515-1342-5732-5735-Endeavour-Edmunston-Greenfield-1361-Chateau Jolliet-Chateau Lemoyne-Monck Manor-Algonquin Park. CP van 434619 is westbound, while S-3 6569 burbles at the |CP Rail station. On CN, a freight is threading its way through the yard lead, while a short grain train with two GMD-1's (1052-1065) has halted east of the station. This grain pickup would return east on August 28! Another westbound's headlight approaches, led by 5291-5574-5135-5102!. Five trains at once explains why I'm up on the overpass this day.
Aug 26 No 4 at 1658 (below) ahead of the scheduled 1705 at Portage, VIA train No 4 has come 1,560 miles from Vancouver, with 6513-6602-CN 4103-9662-Ingramport-5603-5497-505-1376-5729-5750-Eastview-Everett-Green Cabin-1369-Chateau Denonville-Chateau Argenson-Rogers Manor-Banff Park. No 4 will have a 2 hour, 20 minute servicing stop in Winnipeg before departing 10 minutes after the eastbound Canadian. A westbound CN freight behind 9486-5199-5363 is on the next track.
Aug 27 No 3 at 1333 (below): 6513-6604-6606-9602-Inkerman-5647-5443-505-1376-5743-5713-Edenwold-Elnora-Green Point-1369-Chateau Rigaud-Chateau Richelieu-Carleton Manor-Banff Park. FP9A 6513 was a regular, and that faded yellow nose paint is not an optical illusion - I made a note at the time that it was faded, here returning west after leading yesterday's No 4. CN 4259-4320-4323 are on the yard lead, having arrived in Portage at 1205, staying and working until 1527!
Aug 28 No 3 at 1340 (below): 6501-6602-6605-9648-Irma-5590-5533-513-1368-5745-5710-Escuminac-Euclid-Greenmount-1340-Chateau Closse-Emperor-Drummond Manor-Assiniboine Park. CN water tank car 80123 is on the team track, replacing two others: CN 51624 built in 1911 and CN 51691 built in 1916.
Watch for the next post to come down this track soon - the Canadian at Portage, 1981

Running extra...

This Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the massive cuts to VIA Rail that took effect on January 15, 1990. That night, I drove with my Dad to Kingston's VIA station - the only ones there to witness the two last Cavaliers: stainless steel steam-breathing nocturnal monsters hauled by LRC locomotives into historical oblivion. Well, not fully. Six years ago, I published a blog post on that night. I'm not going to get preachy, weepy, political, maudlin, morose, or needlessly, pathetically adjectival more than I already have. I am, however, going to wallow in nostalgia. I am going to blog what I remember of VIA Rail in its early years to mark the occasion. I am going to do my best to share what I have in the faint hope that others will appreciate what I was able to experience. Online and on paper. Think of it for a moment - at what other time but 1981 could one stand trackside and hear 15+ car-long passenger trains throb, coast, clank, ding and accelerate their way in an out of a manned station, making multiple stops, devouring and disgorging baggage, very small numbers of passengers hosted by uniformed, proud railroaders who cared about the passengers and about their profession. Actually, no, two 15+ car-long passenger trains just over an hour apart, down the same track, east and west across this great country while they still could.  -Eric

And if you want to hear the ground rumble, about every ten minutes, check out the Chesterton, IN webcam recommended to me by loyal Trackside Treasure Chris DeVries. Thanks, Chris!


Zartok-35 said...

As you already know, I am obsessed with the Super Continental, especially in 1981, when it featured more stainless steel CP cars than in previous years. Thanks allot for sharing these pictures! The trains look even more beautiful than I could have imagined after reading about them in 'Via the first 35 years'

On, Phil Mason posted some shots of the Super Connie in Jasper from July 1981, and the consist is a little different; it only features 1 coach, 1 dayniter, and only the diner between blocked with the sleepers. One of the 2 trains even had an Ex-NW River sleeper, as used by the 1980 Super, instead of the contemporary I-series.

Anyway, I have painstakingly collected my passenger car models with this train in mind; all I need to finish it off is a manor, a skyline, and the CN diners. The dream is alive!

Anonymous said...

This Winnipeg boy misses everything profiled in this post. The "Super Continental" name, the beautiful bold blue and yellow graphics that VIA used in that era, the F-units, the busy scene at Portage, the sense that long-distance passenger trains were not just a curious anachronism but a reasonable mode of transportation for a traveller to take. Yeah, I miss all of that.

Thanks for reminding me of what it was like.

Eric said...

You're right, Elijah. A good-looking, and interesting train! Also interesting about Phil's photos. Sounds slim for summer consists. Keep working on that scale consist!
Thanks for your comment,

Eric said...

Agreed, A. My pleasure to remind you ( and me) of what we were seeing trackside! Things sure have changed.

Watch for more posts on this era and the operations thereof.

Thanks for your comment,

Michael said...

I wonder if, years from now, railway preservationists will see fit to restoring some old Via equipment, like the blue and yellow coaches, and possibly an old F unit. I know I would love to see these at a museum. There was something about the blue and yellow that seems timeless to me. Much more so than any other equipment that followed.

Eric said...

Michael, Kam River Park in Thunder Bay: or includes VIA eng 6510 as included in this post. Also, VIA 6309 in St Constant's CRM. The blue & yellow was a good scheme on ex-CN rolling stock, agreed!
Thanks for your comment,

schuff said...

Portage la P in its heyday...covered wagons and grain elevators...CP 6513 or 6569 in the yard...ah to willow in the recesses of our minds...

Eric said...

Indeed, Brian. Immersed in nostalgia up to my Kodak Hawkeye and ballcap turned backwards photographing these classic covered wagons, back in the day!