Monday, July 2, 2018

The Thurlow Railway

The Thurlow Railway was about three miles in length, running south off CN's Kingston Subdivision, then crossing CP's Belleville Subdivision, heading south to the Bay of Quinte to reach the Canada Portland Cement Co. cement plant on the shores of the Bay of Quinte - on the north shore of Lake Ontario. After various owners operated the plant in the 19th century, the plant ended up in the fold of the Canada Cement Company, labelled as Plant 5. The company's plant numbering system: Plant 1 Montreal East; Plant 2 Havelock, NB; Plant 3 Hull; Plant 4 Woodstock, ON (1956+); Plant 5 Belleville; Plant 8 Port Colborne; Plant 12 Exshaw, AB; Plant 13 Fort Whyte, MB. Bayside 1910 postcard view of the plant:
Located in Thurlow Township, now part of the amalgamated City of Belleville, bagged cement was shipped by rail, boat and truck. The unused tackboard card (top photo) ended up in my collection. I imagine this would have been stapled to the boxcar tackboard, including car reporting marks, consignee and rail routing. A unique line due to its operation by CN and CP concurrently, this diagram shows the line's location, including its onsite quarry at bayside:
Interestingly, when CN's Belleville city branch trackage was severed, CN accessed downtown Belleville with trackage rights from its connection to the Thurlow Railway, then branching off onto the CP west to Belleville! There is still a mileboard for Thurlow on CP's Belleville Sub. CP's April, 1972 Eastern Region employees' timetable included the following footnotes regarding the joint operation to Point Anne:
CN's 1971 operating diagram for the Belleville South Spur showed the connection to the CN Kingston Sub, interchange with CPR/TRR, three spurs near the CP then the two sidings and three spurs into the plant itself, before the End CNR operation notation.
A worker community of housing, school, stores and churches sprung up on the site. On trips to Belleville along Highway 2, I remember driving over the single track. Of course, as with other abandoned operations, there is no sign of the crossing when driving along Highway 2 today. Though this post languished in draft form for months/years, the acquisition of a bound volume of company newsletters this past Canada Day at the Kingston (behind) City Hall antiques market renewed my interest. (Three bucks, though my wife said I should have bartered for $2! Haggle more!)
These 1952 plant expansion photos, from the company newsletter The Cement Bulletin, show the boom that the post-war era brought to the construction industry. New kilns were added and the plant's future seemed bright. Arrows indicate boxcars stored on the Thurlow Railway trackage. Middle arrow below shows a spur into the plant:

The plant operated into the 1970's, but is now rated as a ghost town of ruins and remains only. Current satellite photos of the connection to CN, just east of Belleville yard along the Airport Parkway, roughly paralleling the road to the former location of the Belleville airport, also shown in a recent video capture from a speeding VIA train:
Then continuing south, remnants of the Thurlow Railway-CPR connecting track (which CN had accessed to reach downtown Belleville at one time) can be seen (below) and the quarrying operation remains...cemented in time.

Lots o' links:
Prolific model railroader Bob Fallowfield kindly shared an under-construction photo of Canada Cement's Plant 4 at Woodstock, ON. Photo from the CCL Archives:
Running extra...

If you woke up this morning and said, "Gee, I haven't seen a top-down view of those ex-B&M covered hoppers in roofing-granule service in a while", then George and Peter are there to make this your lucky day!
Canada Day has come and gone. Our local MP's staff distributed cardboard fans for a civic ceremony at Kingston City Hall. People-watching in the A/C of the Speckled Hen pub, while enjoying a very un-Canadian Budweiser was ecumenically entertaining and quintessentially, comically Canadian. The term [maple] LEAF! was used to describe those celebrants not carrying off the red-and-white clothing theme in a tasteful or appropriate manner. Going all-out with cowboy hats, pinwheels, flag capes or other festoons was well-received, however.
Meanwhile, over at Rapido Trains Inc., the recent cacophonic company cattle call for at least four new products included the Tempo train. As predictable as a CPR D-10 (one of which is also near City Hall, its thirst eternally slaked) anyone with half-a-brakeline knew this would happen eventually. I must admit that the also-announced workaday RS-18 has me model-mulling in a mercurial MLW manner. I don't consider myself a shrill, shilling Shronian but even I think this one just might be worth supporting! CN 3732 was still earning its keep in Kingston in February, 1986:

2 comments:

Robert Archer said...

The last three blog posts - I should make another trip along "Ole Highway 2" past Trenton to Kingston. I'm sure much has changed. Is there any cement industry still operating in the Belleville - Picton area?
Your Canada (Dominion) Day post includes the sign off song from Wayne and Shuster. TV is not as enjoyable without Canadian shows like Wayne and Shuster and Don Messer's Jubilee.
Kentucky Fried Chicken was standard fare in every medium sized town and many small towns in Ontario. 3 pieces of chicken, french fries, a small thing of cole slaw and the "Grecian" bread made for a filling meal. "Colonel Sanders and His Boys make it Finger Lickin'Good" is too sexist a jingle for our times now.
Thanks for these posts.

Rob Archer,
Mississauga. ON.

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments, Rob. Yes, Essroc is still operating at Picton, ON also on the Bay of Quinte.

Those CBC shows were low-key, low-production value but highly-entertaining for the time.

KFC? As they say in Quebec (or on the boxes in Ontario) "C'est bon a lecher ses doigts" and it's so true.
Eric