Friday, August 31, 2018

Kingston Platform Tie Renewal, May 1995

Tie replacement is normally done by large, mechanized track gangs with lots of track machines. What if the ties are in a tricky position like a bridge or a station platform? Such was the case in 1995 when CN decided it was time to replace the ties on its Kingston Subdivision between the fence and the platform at Kingston's VIA station. So on the morning of Tuesday, May 29 heavy equipment came to call, the south track ties having been renewed over the previous two weeks. First, spikes were pulled and a Pettibone SpeedSwing started lifting the rails. Tie-plate hangers-on were removed by a sectionman (top photo) and welds were severed.
We dropped by on the morning of May 29. A front-end loader scooped 15-20 tired-out ties at a time, depositing them at the ends of the platform. CN 5301-5314 were eastbound at 1002, passing the cordoned-off area on the north track, in front of the station. Blow that whistle, engineer, blow that whistle!
We returned in the afternoon on May 29. The platform was cordoned off with caution tape as the rail lifting continued. Passing trains used the south track, like CN 5338-5319-5338-EMD 813 at 1343, the first three units in the CN North America scheme passed new ties stacked at the end of the station parking lot as they plowed eastward:
My Dad came back with us to see the progress. Trains that afternoon: 
  • 1322 VIA No 42 6921-3471-3371-3321-3374
  • 1347 VIA No 43 6401-3472-3345-3330-3321-3339
  • 1432 WB VIA 6423-3456-3356-33xx-3322-3338
  • 1457 WB VIA 6405-3302-3314-3372-3361-3306-3458-8623
  • 1515 EB CN 2117-exUP 6103    
The crews worked 12 hour days. Approaching trains called a foreman on the radio for permission to pass through the worksite. The foreman sounded a pocket airhorn (seen on his belt, below as the other foreman confers on a big ol' cellphone during a passing freight) three times for eastbounds and four times for westbounds. Telling the crews whether a freight of passenger train was approaching, work stopped. Grubbing out the top 18 inches of old ballast, with both rails piled on the platform. An excavator on the right-of-way loads banged-up ballast into two waiting dumptrucks on the platform:
New ties are distributed. The SpeedSwing brings bundles of new ties to be laid out by sectionmen. The excavator operator is returning to his machine:
Tie tongs and shovels are used. Tie plates were lightly spiked. Local noted rail author and photographer Bill Thomson stops by, in red shirt and ball cap at left of photo, along with my Dad:
Returning on Friday, June 2 a yellow tamper was working in the morning. At 1800, CN 9549-5048 and 25 ballast cars were dropping ballast. A ballast regulator and another tamper were working, with the north track out of service until Monday. A messy platform with ballast dumped over the rails/ties but not tamped:
Trains that evening: 
  • 1820 WB VIA 6413 and 3 cars
  • 1846 EB VIA 6406 and 3 cars
  • 1909 WB CN 5369-9629 and 113 cars
CN tamper 651-17, operated remotely by its operator seen standing on the platform on the evening of June 2:
My son stands at attention! The evening express, which was non-stop through Kingston: VIA 6902 with three coaches passing eastbound at reduced speed at 1900 while the tamper operator slowly works his way west:
On Sunday, June 4 the ballast regulator and tamper were still working. Three freights in less than 30 minutes:
  • 1445 EB CN 5322-GTW 6213-CNNA 6416 intermodal
  • 1502 EB CN 9406-5303 25 cars
  • 1509 WB CNNA 5359-2028-3528-CNNA 2437 from Queens south track
The north track was open, and a few trains used it. Then it was closed again and the machines gave the track a final going-over. The machines had to be in Cobourg on Monday morning!

Running extra...
Forty-nine thousand screaming and singing-along teens, their moms and grandmothers packed the dome-open Rogers Centre on August 30 for the first of two Ed Sheeran concerts. Perfect, (I was Thinking Out Loud). A chance to take a Photograph or two while waiting for the show to let out. I couldn't have been Happier while taking this time exposure of Union-Pearson Express and GO Transit trains passing the venue while on the Spadina Street bridge. Where only thirty-some years ago I'd stood pointing a camera at FPA4's and much older green-and-white GO Transit steeds.
The fenced-in Canada Malting elevator still stands on the Harbourfront at Bathurst. What can be done with a former terminal elevator? Apparently not much! Speaking of doing things with things, check out this ghostly image of your humble blogger on the steps of Portage la Prairie's CN station:
Graphics guru and Portage modeller Randy O'Brien took Mark Perry's speed-filled westbound DPU shot taken at one of my favourite trainwatching spots in all Canada, and added a 1984 'me' to the scene. Yep, that's where it all happened. Thanks, Randy!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Four More Days at Portage, August 1979

To kick off Trackside Treasure's eleventh year, let's travel back thirty-nine years to the day (no less!) at Portage la Prairie, MB. During a visit to my aunt and uncle with my brother, we spent part or all of ten days trackside, including August 21 and 22. This post portrays the last four, beginning on August 25. At 1443, the CN operator has emerged from the station operator's bay to hoop up orders to eastbound CN 1069-1027 with grain boxcar loads and caboose 79790 (top photo) while more CN grain boxcars are loaded at Portage Pool 'B' grain elevator.
From atop the Skyline Bridge, at 1516 (above), a four-unit eastbound manifest behind CP 5555-5643-4563-4560 glides by. The former site of burned Portage Pool 'C' lies fallow just behind the CP trackage. CP boarding cars from a tie gang (note new ties between mainlines) are behind the train, with CP Express' former location at left. 
Vertical views! At 1529 a CN westbound led by 9657-9479-213-1352 lugs lumber empties ahead of caboose 79274 past CN's station at right. Then at 1545, it's a CP eastbound from the Carberry Sub behind candy-striped 5708 solo with van 434312 bringing up the tail-end and Portage Pool 'A'.
What can be more exciting than an SD-sandwich meet right before our very eyes in the shadow of Pool 'B'? CP 5595-8715 plod eastward, with a wave from the engineer:
The westbound, also with white extra flags is viewed through a flatcar with power CP 5540-5640. Though once a dead wombat could not be swung without heading a CP SD-led freight, now they're rare as hen's spectacles.
On August 27 at 1024, CN 4121-4303-4301 have lifted 49 empties from CN's Portage yard tracks, departing with 8 loads and 128 empties:

Just less than an hour later, the varnish arrives. Just when is the best moment to hide the nose of an F-unit behind an inconvenient pole? Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnow! As CN loads a grain boxcar at the former Victoria Grain, now United Grain Growers elevator at left, VIA 1413-CP 8516-CP 8559 have 15 cars in tow:
A westbound with CP 5621-4447 is in the background as sleeper Chateau Latour, diner Fairholme, and ex-CN sleepers Essex, Edson, Excelsior and precede Tremblant Park. Another multi-train prolific Portage moment!
Back at ground level during the station stop, CP Action Red adorns coaches 127, 105, and Skyline 517 ahead of blue & yellow ex-CN coach 5630. Truly VIA's rainbow era:
Thirty minutes later at 1144, this westbound CN manifest was led by 9405-9448:
Then on August 29 at 1529, an unusual visitor in an eastbound CP locomotive consist: 5514, SOO 777 and Geep 8703:
The modern SOO parallellogram logo just getting some sun while the photographer savours some shade under the Skyline bridge:
At 1548 the sun beams benevolently on westbound CP 5901-5744-4717 with a manifest in tow:
Finally at 1632 was this CN eastbound behind 5225-9610-9424-9567-9430-9478, mostly lumber loads with caboose 79430:
Of course all these photos appear, with hundreds more taken at the railfan mecca of Portage, in Volume 1 of my two-volume Trains & Grains book set. Though printing costs would have made an all-colour presentation prohibitive, we're able to get the best of both worlds here on Trackside Treasure. It truly was a golden age of Canadian Prairie railroading!

Running extra...

Last weekend's visit to Kingston's Fort Henry of the United States Marine Corps Drum & Bugle Corps, Battle Color Detachment and Silent Drill Platoon from Washington DC gave us these images of duelling drum majors. Of course, a friendly duel, as the association of the two military bands and infantry units goes back to 1954. The Marines also gamely participate in the Gunner's Gun competition, practising up to four hours a day in preparation!
As an HO scale version of CN's Kingston Hanley Spur draws inexorably closer, this 1911 fire insurance map of the much-ballyhooed and now protected Bailey Broom factory at Rideau and Cataraqui Streets speaks to us of the sweep of Kingston's industrial past. And present. Would look good in HO scale!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

CN's Hanley Spur, Layout Planning Snapshot

What to leave in, what to leave out? Not only are these the lyrics of a Bob Seger song, they also pertain to model railway layout planning. What available space, what trackplan, which industries and what won't fit? A recent morning walk along the K&P Urban Trail, as built by the City of Kingston, began at the former Imperial Oil warehouse on North Street. Currently being rebuilt, standing at the site I suddenly envisioned an HO scale layout featuring....the Hanley Spur! This diminutive direct line connected the outside world via CN and CP with downtown Kingston. It was time to change modelled locale. Again.
After the walk, I surfed over to Snapshot Kingston. Hosted by the city, the site features aerial views of Kingston that can be overlaid and tracked through the years. I left the slider view, showing the year of each photo, at the top. Some industries were served by CP, then CN after CP lost access to the spur. Not all industries were rail-served in all eras. Starting at the CN Outer Station, the proceeding south along the spur, the first industry to be modelled is the CN Express building (top photo, yellow arrow). Originally receiving shipments by rail, in later years it was a transport truck. Across from the station, Frontenac Tile (above, yellow arrow) and Gould Battery (red arrow) were both served by both railways via a nifty bit of inter-switching!
Along Division Street, Gus Marker's cement works were not primarily served by rail, though Anglin Coal received shipments on a coal trestle (above, yellow arrow) from CP. Farther down CP's trackage, modern warehouses along Railway Street like Coca-Cola, Weston's Bakeries and MacCosham Van Lines were served by a succession of spurs near Railway and Montreal Streets (yellow arrows). Quattrochi Fine Foods received produce shipments (red arrow):
Along Rideau Street, C.E. McPherson received coal shipments from CP (yellow arrow) while the Davis Tannery (red arrow) was formerly rail-served:
At River Street, the tracks changed position with CN on the 'left' serving the National Grocers building (yellow arrow) and CP serving the Hield woolen mill (red arrow). Check out that effluent into the Great Cataraqui River. Yecch!
Where it all began...the Imperial Oil warehouse (yellow arrow) and oil tanks at North Street, across from the former CP (Kingston & Pembroke, red arrow) roundhouse and yard. The turntable was relocated to Wakefield, QC in 1974, for use by restored CPR 1201. The warehouse is currently being restored, and will line the Wellingon Street Extension, following the route of the Hanley Spur north.
Most modellers would probably want to continue the line along the lake to City Hall, coal dealers and the Canadian Locomotive Co., but it will suit my space better to end the line at the former Grand Trunk freight shed, team tracks and yard at Place d'Armes (yellow arrow). A suitable spot to set out reefers, boxcars, gons and even flat cars carrying machinery. With a switch along Ontario Street, CP also served Soward's Coal (red arrow) on the Inner Harbour. Millard & Lumb (blue arrow) was a fixture on the waterfront, catering to the marine trade, for decades!
With that, we've reached the end of the Hanley Spur and the end of this post. Watch for a successive post showing sketching the line and the trackplan, then if and when construction begins, construction photos and updates!

Running extra...

Beaming and basking at the celebration of Trackside Treasure's 10th anniversary, this is no time for laurel-resting. Now, 'On to the Pacific!'

Another downtown walk recently took me past the imposing statue of our first Prime Minister in City Park. With all the recent furor surrounding Sir John A statue shilly-shallying, I briefly considered 'chaining myself to the statue' should the furor sweep through Kingston. Especially ironic that the very capital city that was promised and anchored a Western railway, Victoria BC, would warehouse its history and deny its birthright.
On a lighter note, the end of Aretha Franklin's career told me...you gotta think. That joyous scene of dancing and merriment from the Blues Brothers movie outshone many other cameos and she did it in fuzzy pink slippers! Perhaps there's a message in the lyrics for all of us here on Trackside Treasure..."You need me, and I need you" and even, "Freedom, freedom, freedom, oh freedom!"

Friday, August 10, 2018

Trackside Treasure's Tenth Anniversary

So it's been ten years. Ten is normally the number at which we switch writing a number in letters to  numbers. It means you've been around awhile. In Roman numerals, ten is 'X' and graphics guru Randy O'Brien kindly shared his inventive X2F-based anniversary logo (top photo). Thanks, Randy!

For this anniversary, I would like to have sponsored a cross-Canada tour of some kind aboard VIA Rail, greeting readers along the way. Maybe charter Glenfraser and stock it with Glenfiddich! Reality set in and I sat down to ponder the tenth, er, 10th. What to do...the usual anniversary contest and tributes? Realizing that a blog fosters online community, and exists in a virtual state, it occurred to me that I should devote this commemmorative corner of cyberspace to 10 special folks. These 10 folks, whom I would not have had the pleasure of communicating with (and meeting) were it not for Trackside Treasure.

This non-inclusive list, in no particular order, brings to light some amazing connections that I've been able to make over the past 10 years of this blog. Each one lists our connection, and in yearbook style, as applicable, a nickname (NN), fun fact (FF), probable fate (PF) and/or favourite saying (FS) then awards for awesome knowledge (K), invaluable information-sharing (I), enlightening life-experience (E) or managing any of those while being a family man (F). All of these are traits I value, and try to possess, but sometimes fall short of. Photos (where available) or text have not been pre-approved, just to keep this post fresh and edgy.

JAKOB MUELLER - Initially, Jakob contacted me regarding some VIA consists I'd posted to Yahoogroups. This was a huge push in the direction of creating my four books on VIA Rail. We had a great talk while I was at my rented table for a Kingston Rail-O-Rama train show. Jakob contributed VIA rolling stock paint transition data to my first book: Trackside with VIA  - The First 35 YearsNN: Uberviaphile, FF: Married CTSG editor Earl Roberts' neighbour's daughter. Awards: K, I.
MARK PERRY - CN hogger for 39 years, just retired. Our initial contact was in July 2007. Mark has first-hand experience with Manitoba railway operations. Mark contributed railroading stories to Trackside with VIA: Research & Recollections and Trains & Grains Volume 1. He probably wishes I hadn't made this connection because I keep suggesting he could do a killer book on MB railways, with both his photography and writing credibility! NN: Bridge Troll, PF: Retiree, FS: "Killer shot!", Awards: E, I.
BRIAN SCHUFF - Mark Perry referred Brian to me, as an off-the-grid 80's shooter. Brian enjoyed a short trainman career with CP. Pondering his own website to showcase his photos, Brian was eventually roped into joining Facebook by Mark and me, and others. Brian is generous with his time, information and photo collection, having contributed photos to Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium. NN: The Mayor of Diamond, FF: Owned an ambulance, FS: "The event is over", Awards: K, I.
CHRIS deVRIES - Chris has been a constant commenter to Trackside Treasure (under a loco-themed pseudonym) beginning in November, 2012. Chris has Winnipeg and Brockville connections. Chris and I met up to railfan Brockville on July 14, 2016. Chris' expertise includes signal indications, locomotive markings and types, placards, railcams and CN operations around Canada. NN: CdeV, FF: Prolific running shoe collector, Awards: E, I.
CHUCK BOHI: Chuck (Charles) is the dean of Western Canadian stations, railroading and grain elevators. Chuck was in contact with me in January 2012 regarding an upcoming Trackside Treasure post on Wartime, SK. The post was not published until February, 2014. Chuck contributed to both volumes of  Trains & Grains. My Dad regarded Chuck's books on CN and CP Western Depots among the ultimate books on Canadian railroading, and he would be proud to know of this connection. NN: Chuck, FF: Lives in WRJ VT, Awards: E, I.
MICHAEL HAMMOND: Michael's fine blog The Beachburg Sub debuted on April 30, 2013 and includes as its first comment one by this humble blogger. Michael has kindly credited Trackside Treasure as a formative influence on his blogging. Though Ottawa is not the rail hub it once was, Michael has succeeded in creating a true online community around what remains: CN No 589, the O-Train, Walkley Yard and Ottawa railway history.  PF: Prime Minister, FF: Published fiction author, Awards: I, F.
DAVID GAGNON: Dave is not only my brother, he's a one-time CP trainman and life-long rail enthusiast. His groundbreaking blog Rolly Martin Country began  on a Netscape browser in HTML, before transitioning through Tumblr to Blogger. Dave has branched out beyond railroading, preserving family history, Canadian history and technology interpretation online. This use of online platforms is what I believe to be the best way to document, preserve and share history. NN: Captain Megadave, Big Dave. FF: Built his North of Superior HO scale layout encompassing White River-Schreiber-Thunder Bay with pioneering handheld control, FS: "Smeeeeeeeee.", Awards, E, I.
HANLEY DESCENDANTS: When I published the first of a multi-part series on CN's Hanley Spur here in Kingston, little did I know I would make a connection to some of the descendants of the man whose name the spur shares. This shows the power of Google, the durability and spread of blogging, and the uniqueness and unexpectedness of connections that can be made. Few would now know of the existence of the Hanley spur, which was once a key connection to Kingston's Canadian Locomotive Company plant, linking downtown Kingston to railways in Canada and around the world. FF: the former Grand Trunk station was later a restaurant names Hanley Station, Award: K, I.
CHRIS MEARS: I discovered Chris' eclectic and insightful blog Prince Street Terminal in May, 2011. Chris shares varied interests from model railroading to GO Transit, commuter rail, English railways and many more eclectic and electrically esoteric realms beyond the humble island of PEI on which it began. He may be Canada's easternmost GO Transit fan. He enjoys a good beverage with a good book. And he can write. Well! PF: Beverage reviewer, Awards: I, F. 
STEVE BOYKO: Steve began his blogging journey in July, 2005, and his Confessions of a Train Geek is now Canada's longest-running rail blog, with its current cut-line "Writing about trains since 2005". Steve's blogging encompasses model railroading, railfanning, travel and photography, recently taking on hosting a grain elevator photo site. Steve is a prolific blog reader and commenter, and I sometimes wonder how he has time to other things like eat and sleep. FF: Is a five-time geek i.e. medievalist geek, Awards: I, F.
KINGSTON MEET-UPs - I've been privileged to meet some Trackside Treasure readers here on the platform at Kingston's VIA station as they travelled by train. These gentlemen are their own Venn diagrams....VIAphiles like Shron and Soknacki, book contributors like Box and Hayman, travellers and photographers like Tolton and Fidelak, engineers like McCallum and Brennan. Sometimes I provided reading material for their rail journey. I'm fortunate to have them kindly sharing Trackside Treasure's message as they criss-cross Canada. NN: The Shron, Socks, Buffy and Terry John. Awards: I, E, K, F.

It has been a treat to get to know all of the above. Thanks as always to the blog partners, commenters, contributors, pointer-outers and readers. I would probably still push a weekly post out the door into cyberspace if it weren't for all of you, but knowing that two or three are reading and enjoying makes it all worthwhile! Sticking with the numeral idea, that's 547 published posts, 37 in draft form and starting Trackside Treasure's 11th year!

Running extra...

TLC's hit program "Railfan Sisters" latest episode takes place where much of my railfanning started - Portage la Prairie, MB! The episode explores the environs of the CP station/interpretive centre, and includes this train of CP coal empties pounding the Third St crossing:
OK, so it's not high-multimarked, candy-striped SD's, but it's still steel wheels and the coal still rolls!
While there is no anniversary contest this year, I think the connections above go uncontested!