Wednesday, December 12, 2018

CN Toronto MacMillan Yard, December 2018

I'd reached the end of steel. Having dropped my $3.25 into the farebox and boarded Northbound Route 1 for Vaughan, I was now in the cool air of Vaughan. Home of Rapido Trains Global HQ and George's Trains. So many choices. But I needed a walk. And coffee. And trains. But not in that order. Exiting the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, I headed east. At least I thought it was east. 
Yes, it was east. I was soon atop the Highway 7 overpass at CN's Toronto MacMillan yard. It was so thoughtful of CN to provide Railfan Platforms so I could safely watch the freight action below. Did I say safely? At this point, the boulevard narrows, the sidewalk shrinks and when not on the Railfan Platform, I was mere inches from a steady parade of frenzied commuters, stone trucks, and full-throttle semis and horn-honking courier trucks. Not exactly railfan-friendly. Not really even life-friendly.
An imminent movement warmed me. Otherwise, it was becoming cold. Cold as a Bay Street banker's heart. CN 5760-2124, the latter with the flaming-toaster logo of the 15-year "shareholder bonanza" anniversary headed south from the west side of the yard (above). Forgive my lack of knowledge of the sprawling scene that unfolded before me. A spaghetti-bowl of parallel tracks! Mac-aroni! But let's leave that in the past-a! Ten minutes later, a second train departed south, having been parked in front of the yard office. DPU 2240 chugged by:
Just then, a four-engine train made its approach known from south of Highway 7. I moved to the east Railfan Platform just in time to photograph CN 2639-2684-2516 and former ATSF warbonnet (now barfbonnet) leaser PRLX 211. What would Chico say, indeed!
As the train slitheringly stopped, a second train slipped in behind it. CN 2181-2108 with intermodal/auto racks sidled in from the snowy south as the snowflakes shimmered earthward.
Now it was coffee time. Literally. At the nearby Coffee Time on the north side of Highway 7, I contemplated packing it in. This was not Winnipeg. It was only -1, after all. Fuelled by caffeine and warmed by the thought of more CN movements, I returned to my rather unsafe perch. Indecisive like me, CN 2956-8897 appeared from the south, seemingly unsure of where to go or which way to face:
Right behind them, this short local appeared with a wintry mix of motive power:
Those tank cars in the background were on a lead that led south under the Highway 407 overpass, holding more tank cars and covered hoppers. Their spur disappeared northeast around a curve behind a warehouse that appeared non-rail-served. CN 4726-GMTX 2264 led BAEX boxcars, a few tank cars, three Winchester & Western and two DJTX covered hoppers:
CN 4726 bore traces of its previous wet-noodle logo as 5506, plus its current scrappy stripes:
WWUX 4458-4461-4701, this one with the most graffiti:
A hump set that I'd been watching work the west side of the yard now pulled under the overpass: CN 6019 still wearing its CN North America scheme:
It was coupled to CN232-IC 6201 and soon revved up to push its long train of New Brunswick-bound cars back north:
Another headlight beckoned from the south at 1451: CN 5679-5783-5475-2340 led CN No 305. A cut of ICG bulkhead flats imbued with ingots were on the pin....
...faithfully followed by Fort Saskatchewan-bound gondolas with their distinctive bagged loads, including ATW 87070 and COER 800983, many more auto racks and a few Canpotex empties on the tail end:
Could this consist be topped? Probably not, but a final parting shot of ex-CN 1394 working CN's transload terminal just west and south would do. Having just pulled a cut of hi-cube boxcars clear of the warehouse, it returned for two more boxcars, while scrap gons between the two cuts continued a-loading:
Geep hump sets buzzed around, such as CN 7274-208, here having deposited 15 auto racks into the auto compound to the northwest, and now returning to the yard for their next assignment. The friendly crew waved, perhaps glovingly gladdened (as were the many CN vehicles buzzing around) that I had no nefarious intentions - or perhaps marvelling at my continuing survival in such a challenging environment. That little green sign says 'Halton Outbound'.
 The falling snow was as white as...Michael Buble's teeth. Time to head south toward Union Station!
This post has come full circle - first train I caught at Mac!

Running extra...

My three favourite places to be in Toronto:
  • Yonge and Dundas
  • Mac Yard
  • Kingston
Watch for Trackside Treasure's annual Christmas greetings post. Baby, it was cold outside but later on we'll perspire, as we sweat by the fire, and face unafraid the photos we made, walking in a Highway 7 wonderland. Ever heard of Seven View Dodge? That's a dealership, cleverly named to reflect the near-total lack of scenery in the area!
Full circle! Seems fitting that this might be my last trip aboard VIA Rail for awhile, and I'm publishing this blog post - my 600th including draft posts. And VIA has just announced its contract with Siemens for new equipment. Due to their bright yellow hue, I'm calling them Dayliners. But that's just a working title. And this LRC is rocking like a Dayliner!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Kingston Switchlists, 1977 and 1979


Artifacts showing actual operations of CN's rail-served industries in Kingston are hard to come by. So when your humble blogger found a month-old, tattered, windblown and weathered hand-written switchlist at Queens in May 1979, it was a major find! Prepared by conductor W. Cleaver, this list of cars for CN's train No 763 on this day seems to indicate hours of switching ahead.

The cars to be switched are at the Outer Station, the Industrial Spur, the Cataraqui Spur, the CP interchange at Queens, the Aluminum Spur and CP's former trackage being operated by CN from its Hanley Spur. How the crew could accomplish this, darting in and out of CN and VIA traffic on the busy CN Kingston Subdivision amazes me, but there you go!

I've transcribed the list (above) for easier reading, adding car type if known.

Major collection points for inbound and outbound cars at Kingston included the Outer Station and increasingly, the KL tracks alongside Queens interchange, just east of CN's Counter Street station. Here, passing trains could drop and lift blocks of cars destined Toronto or Montreal or beyond. Inbound cars are on track KL29. Outbound cars, largely empties, are heading to simply 'KL'. A few liner notes:
  • 'Northern' refers to Northern Telecom on the Industrial Spur, along with Weldwood-KM54 and the DuPont warehouse-KM55
  • KK30 refers to Frontenac Tile, and KK22 was the Outer Station piggyback ramp
  • Imperial Oil and Whig(-Standard) Paper cars were far down the Hanley Spur, near the Inner Harbour
  • cars to/from the CP interchange north of Queens are shown as KL90 - three cars to CP, four cars from CP
  • Topnotch Feeds cars were set out at the Counter Street team track, just down the street from the feed store.
  • Lots of 40-foot boxcars in use!
  • one of the only cars I've ever photographed on CP's CN-operated trackage: SLC 232 
Here's the original. Top half:
And here's the bottom half:

An earlier list, for CN No 762 written in January 1977 has a pared-down list of daily duties:
  • One NCHX car is heading from Queens to DuPont.
  • Three boxcars were at Weldwood lumber on the Industrial Spur. Two were being lifted as empties, one re-spotted...
  • ...also on the Industrial Spur, two cars were being lifted from the DuPont warehouse
  • two empties were lifted from Northern Telecom, ready to head east as empties.

These two hand-written documents appear to be archeological artifacts of a bygone era of manual switchlists, single-car railroading. Interestingly, only one of the industries that appear here are still CN customers - the lakefront nylong plant no longer known as DuPont, now Invista.

Anyone seeking to model the Hanley Spur, including CP's trackage operated by CN, will find lots of useful information in these lists!

Running extra...

While most members of the Presidents' Club were shown on CNN being seated in the National Cathedral, a group of Canadian Forces personnel, in dress uniform, saluted the funeral procession of President George H.W. Bush, I believe at the Canadian embassy:
Painted to resemble Air Force One, Union Pacific 4141, having been stored since 2005, was brought out of storage and prepared for its special assignment leading the Bush funeral train from Spring to College Station, Texas. When the first sentries were posted in the U.S. Capitol's rotunda, a brass quintet played the theme from the HBO TV series 'Band of Brothers'.

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, referred to by one was as 'the chin that walks like a man', acquitted himself quite well as an invited speaker at the funeral service, referring to Bush's plaque lettering CAVU - Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Postscript 3: VIA Nos 109/110 in 1983-1985

February 1983, No 109 meet
Following 'on the block' of the previous portentous postscript post, I'm pleased to showcase more of Bill McGuire's work in this post. This post includes more varied views of Winnipeg-Saskatoon train Nos 109/110 beginning in 1983.
February 1983, No 109 meeting CP freight
I want to be very clear about these photos. Bill included slides, smaller and larger format black & white photos. I scanned the prints, but without a slide scanner I laboured to produce some serviceable images of the slides and the accompanying proofs. Any unusual colouration or blurriness are due to my 'redneck scans' and in no way reflect on Bill's photography. There, that's said. Leaving disclaimer land, please enjoy these photos as much as I did - each is captioned with date and location data kindly provided by Bill.
March 23, 1983 No 109 led by CN Geep at Brandon

June 28, 1983 No 109

June 1983, No 109

June 1983, No 110 Eng 6520 at Portage la Prairie

July 18, 1983 No 110 at Chater

July 18, 1983 No 109 at Brandon

July 18, 1983 No 109 departing Brandon

October 1983, No 110 at Portage la Prairie

January 1984, Brandon

March 1984, No 109 at Kemnay


May 1, 1985 No 3 Eng 6514 at Portage la Prairie

Head end of Royal Train facing west at Brandon
On July 15, 1982 a Royal Train with consist: CP 8528-8517-CP Strathcona-CP Killarney-VIA 103-Governor General cars No 1 and 2 brought Princess Anne to Brandon. Bill was down by the station to catch the train being wyed:
Tail end of Royal Train facing west at Brandon

Royal Train wyed and returning to station

Royal Train wyed and returning to station
Running extra...

CBS' John Blackstone is stepping away from regular CBS reporting. Tonight's CBS News with Jeff Glor included a parting shot of John sipping wine in the control room with colleagues. Like all good things, John came from Canada.

December is upon us. That can mean only one thing. Christmas! Forget the fact that the retail calendar has been foisting Chestnuts, Rudolph and Olive the Other Reindeer on us for the past two months. It's on, now! The advent of the festive season includes a few of my favourite things...Christmas carols, fruitcake and impending online greeting cards sent by my fellow rail enthusiasts....
...and one of my least favourite things - those hokey, treacley faux-Christmas movies I'm seeing on the W Network and City-TV. Most are filmed in the southern mainland of BC. In July. With fake snow. And cocoa cups completely empty! My wife likes them, though. And I know she won't be reading this critique. "What's that, honey? The movie's starting? OK, I'll be right there. I'm just finishing up this pos

Friday, November 23, 2018

Postscript 2: VIA Nos 109/110 in 1982

February 13, 1982 No 109 Eng CN 4120 at Brandon
After reading my earlier posts on VIA Nos 109/110, Bill McGuire of Brandon kindly offered to send me some of his photographs for sharing here on Trackside Treasure. This was back in May, 2018. So I'm a little slow. Bill noted that he would often railfan with the great Lawrence Stuckey on Sundays. Hey, "Stuckey Sundays" sure sounds like a thing. Imagine being there. In all weather. Well, now you can through Bill's gracious sharing of these photos which appear herein. This post includes Bill's VIA photos from 1982, and an upcoming post will feature VIA in 1983-1985 plus a few extra goodies.
February 13, 1982 No 109 Eng CN 4120 at Brandon
I want to be very clear about these photos. Bill included slides, smaller and larger format black & white photos. I scanned the prints, but without a slide scanner I laboured to produce some serviceable images of the slides and the accompanying proofs. Any unusual colouration or blurriness are due to my 'redneck scans' and in no way reflect on Bill's photography. There, that's said. Leaving disclaimer land, please enjoy these photos as much as I did - each is captioned with date and location data kindly provided by Bill.
February 14, 1982 No 109 Eng 6512 at Brandon

February 14, 1982  No 109 Eng 6512 at Kemnay

February 20, 1982 No 109 Eng CN 4101 at Brandon

February 21, 1982 No 109 Eng 6513 at Virden

February 21, 1982 No 110 Eng CN 4101 at Virden

March 14, 1982 No 110 Eng 6512 at Brandon

March 1982, No 110 at Kemnay
June 5, 1982 No 109 at Portage la Prairie

June 5, 1982 No 109 Eng 6512 at Portage la Prairie

June 5, 1982 No 110 at Portage la Prairie
June 10, 1982 No 109 with 6131 deadheading at Brandon

June 12, 1982 No 109 Eng 6514 at Brandon meeting No 2

June 12, 1982 No 109 Eng 6514 at Brandon

June 28, 1982 No 109 Eng 6520 at Virden

July 1982, No 109 at Virden

July 1982, No 110
August 22, 1982 No 109 at Virden

Summer, 1982 No 109 at Portage la Prairie
For more on these little trains, please see:
Running extra...

Kingston's new train show Rail Fair debuts tomorrow! A waiting list of vendors/exhibitors seems to indicate success and successive shows succeeding!

Also in Kingston, Canadian Locomotive Co. produced some interesting car loads in the plant's waning years of operation - this post from my new blog on my current modelling interest - Kingston's Hanley Spur. Thanks to CN's Images of Canada collection photo CN001031, we have this transformative Trainmaster photo of CN 3000 on the waterfront with a Martello tower, to boot!
Meanwhile, in Syracuse: