Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Family Fantrip! CN Countdown 6218, July 1971

Laurie, Allison, Eric --- Mrs Parke, Marjorie, Eric, Allison, David at Belleville Station
"Shortly...saw smoke. It was the first trip pulling out, a half-hour late. Directed to a parking lot by a uniformed volunteer, we walked a short distance to the [Belleville] station. A striking view of train of billboard cars: refrigerator car painted with sylized apple and leaves, cattle car with stylized painting of steer with cuts of differing shades of red, orange and yellow, a tank car with lettering OCN(CH2)6 NCO painted in a spectrum of colours, and bright red caboose. We put Mother's folding chair in the shade, as she was not going on the trip with us."
Returning from Anson Jct on its first trip of the day - the last run of the engineer before retiring.
"One pair of riders amused us, dressed as railwaymen, though they clearly were not. One wore the the uniform of a NYC conductor. Many men wore engineer caps, as did little Eric. Some women wore dresses, but many were attired as I was, in shorts or slacks. I wondered how a woman in a bright yellow dress would fare under the rain of soot which I knew was to follow!"
Business cars---The smoke deflectors were restored for this series of Belleville-Anson Jct trips.
"The train pulled in on schedule, around 10:00. People were hanging out the windows, many sighting through camera viewfinders, and the two baggage cars held men with tape recorder microphones stretched out the sides, safely barred to catch the sounds of the whistle, engine puffs and wheels clackety-clack. The train was not over-crowded, and we were quite comfortable in a double seat. I sat beside Eric, with back to the engine. Laurie and Allison sat opposite, but Laurie beat a path between the baggage car and his seat, keeping track of David in the baggage car, holding our battery-run tape recorder."
We are aboard for the second trip of the day --- Marjorie, Eric, Allison
"Laurie often took pictures from between the cars as well. Before we left he insisted on taking a picture of the engine. He took a long time getting back - I thought he'd get left behind - carrying five ice cream bars. Good old generous Dad, giving the kids a treat! Behind us were two young men, one with grey hair but a young face, the other dark-haired with sunglasses. They hung out of the window, often with their cameras, and hollered at each other from time to time, wrapped in engine noise."
On the way to Anson Junction
"People were waiting at good vantage points, some with movie cameras on tripods. I even saw one man ankle-deep in the middle of a stream 50 feet wide, holding his camera to get a long view of the train on a bridge. Some just waved. There was a string of parked cars at every road crossing. Kids were sitting on farm fences. Showers of soot came in the car. Eric drifted off the sleep in the last few miles. During the short break at Anson Junction,  the train stopped and backed onto a wye to run forward again."
Returning to Belleville ---After we return, we walk up to see the engine Eric, David, Allison, Marjorie.
"Mother was in good spirits when we rejoined her. While waiting at the station, they'd played several records by Johnny Cash on railroad themes. We were soon in the car, being whisked off to a good vantage point at Foxboro for the passing of the train on the next trip. Behind us drew in a car from OHIO. Many Americans had come for this last steam ride on the continent. We had a half-hour to eat lunch. We ate our sandwiches and drank our drinks together."
We go to Foxboro to see the train head north to Anson Junction on its third trip of the day.
"Laurie and the kids went up the line a bit around a curve, to record and photograph the train passing. I wished it goodbye as it steamed past. I think Laurie would have liked to have watched its passing back to Belleville, but we headed for home instead. The car was silent except for the noisy VW motor, everyone but the driver asleep!"
Audio-Visual Designs postcard "Countdown 6218" was Canadian National's two-day celebration with excursions for the 4-8-4 prior to its retirement and display at Fort Erie, Ont. Retirement day, July 4, 1971 finds the Northern crossing the Moira River near Foxboro, Ont on one of its last trips.[Perhaps this was taken by the railfan standing ankle-deep in the middle of 'the stream']
The above is a typewritten account by my Mom that was taped in to the photo album containing these 126-format B&W photos my Dad took and captioned. The account and photos include my parents, brother, sister and grandmother. We were all there that day, having driven from Kingston to Belleville to witness and ride these last runs of famous fantrip steam engine 6218. Lightly edited, the account gives a version of events that day from a quasi-railfan perspective, because spending that much time trackside, no matter how unwillingly, can not help but make one at least a quasi-railfan, if not the engineer-cap-wearing, crest-festooned variety!

A previous post in this series included more details the Countdown 6218 Belleville fantrips. Watch for the next post in this series - those fascinating CN billboard freight cars. Thanks, Dad. And Mom!

Running extra...

Speaking of filming steam, check out this 1946 B&W video that includes some fantastic Portage la Prairie footage from about the 2:07 mark to about 3:00. I discovered a fuel dealer at the 2:15 mark, just east of Third St crossing, served by CP:

6 comments:

BA railsystem said...

Really cool Eric! The whole family on board for the final days of steam. Her typed up notes paint a very vivid picture of the events that day.
Ben

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ben. I didn't expect to find my Mom's account, and I just read over some parts to her to refresh her memory! Until 6060 came out of retirement, this could have been the last. But then, my Dad used a phrase that was going around at the time - "This is the ANNUAL last chance" for steam. He was an avid fantrip rider and took whichever kid(s) along as able.

Watch for the next post to find a really cool connection to CN's billboard train that was spotted across from the station.

Eric

Steve Boyko said...

Very cool! Good on your mom for recording that. Although.. shame on you for falling asleep. ;P

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments, Steve. Mom's never been much of a railfan, and I can just imagine her sitting in a hot car at Foxboro waiting for the next excursion to pass by :( but that's also why I thought her account was remarkable.

Falling asleep? Well, being an Interesting Railfan does not mean one is always an energetic railfan. I do like the one photo aboard the fantrip where my engineer cap is turned sideways - like a rapper!

Eric

Chris Lyon said...

Thanks for telling this great adventure. Enjoyed it a whole bunch.

Eric said...

My pleasure Chris; glad you enjoyed it. It had lain dormant in the family archives for 44 years and I thought it deserved a proper airing!

Eric