Friday, October 23, 2020

Bowmanville Cement Traffic

St. Mary's Cement in Bowmanville has long been a reliable CN customer. CN 7074-4100 lead CN's Cobourg Turn from Bowmanville back to Belleville on June 26, 1998 at Morningstar Road west of Trenton, cement cars in tow (top photo). At the time of this photo, the plant was served by the Belleville roadswitcher assignment, CN No 518. Now this assignment only travels as far west as Cobourg, returning to Belleville.  I believe the plant is now switched from Oshawa. This photo shows several MDTX and some CN cement cars at the CN yard in Cobourg, with CP's mainline in foreground, undated. (Peter Mumby photo, author collection):
St. Mary's Cement, at Mi 292 of the CN Kingston Sub opened the Bowmanville plant in 1968, replacing two wet kilns with a dry kiln in the early 1990's producing 5,000 tonnes per day! Located adjacent to a quarry that is expected to have useable limestone for the next 90 years! Producing cement for such notable local projects as the Darlington nuclear energy plant, Roy Thomson Hall and the CN Tower, the plant is truly embedded in the local scene...and topography! The cars were waybilled to Schoolcraft, Michigan.
Visits to CN's Belleville yard would often reveal Flexi-Flo covered hoppers waiting to be delivered to Bowmanville. MDTX 897830 (above) with MDT lettering and logo, and 897754 'plain-jane' at Belleville on January 11, 2001.
MDTX 897690 at Belleville on October 11, 1998, with the can-opener logo and Conrail lettering barely visible:
While my observations (see below) were sometimes made in Belleville, passing through Bowmanville aboard VIA Rail also provided some data. The Bowmanville plant looms large over this eastbound VIA five-car train captioned 1982 - online auction site photo - with the lead just visible behind the baggage car, diverging from the south track. The 2,740-foot lead was designated CN track KU50, with silo tracks KU51, 52 and 54 each over 1,100 feet long. Empties were waybilled to track KU51.
The plant lead parallels and descends from the mainline embankment to the silos. Video captures from aboard VIA train No 54 in July 2018 show CITX and CEFX short covered hoppers: 40 on the lead, 15 around the loading silos. The plant's limestone quarry is in background at left:
From this distance, the short cement cars look almost like....models.

My Flexi-Flo observations by date, car number, notes/location:
Oct 11/98 MDTX 897690 at Belleville
Jan 21/99 NAHX 93632 with Trackmobile at Bowmanville
Apr 3/99 MDTX 897754 at Belleville
May/99 MDTX 897884, 8977776, 897799 setout at Belleville
Jun 24/99 MDTX 897754, 897829, 897720, 897887, 897774, 897693 at Bowmanville
No date? SMMX 100001, NAHX 93402 short
Sep 28/99 MDTX 897851, 897879, 897857 and NAHX 93632 short at Bowmanville
Nov 6/99 MDTX 897825, 897892 Belleville setout
Mar 5/00 MDTX 897829 to Bowmanville
Aug 24/00 MDTX 897720 lifted by CN No 365 at Belleville
May 17/10 Rusty rails, no cars due to Bowmanville strike.
July 10/14 Rail shipping has resumed.

Rapido Trains Inc. announced Flexi-Flo cars at the Amherst Train Show in January 2019, and since this post has languished in Draft form for 18 months, the models are now being delivered!

Speaking of models and Flexi-Flo's, check out the modelling of this Flexi-Flo by the inimitable Bob Fallowfield.  In this case, produced by irrepressible Rapido Trains:

Running extra...

Less than two weeks until the U.S. Presidential election, and from watching coverage, I can already predict each candidate's answers to reporters' questions. Last night's debate included many of the same lines from three weeks ago, except this time they were audible!

Speaking of stock lines, I recently spent an enjoyable morning matching archival photos with current locations, trying not to become a traffic statistic while doing so, such as in the middle of Ontario Street:
Here, the LNER 4472 'Flying Scotsman' tiptoed across this lakefront street back in 1970, with the downtown track removed soon after. 

I'm waiting for a printed proof copy of my latest book on Kingston history! 


chris mears said...


When I lived in Bowmanville, briefly, I used to go railfanning near this location but just a little east. I couldn’t remember the road name but Google helped: Port Darlington Road.

Until then I’d never been trackside on a proper mainline and the contrast was amazing - those trains are impressive!

It looks like St.Mary’s Cement have their own Trackmobile to move cars. Might be a neat layout to model.

Eric said...

Hi Chris,

A pathologist I worked with noted that the present-day Clarington place name was a compound word made from Clarke and Darlington!

Yes, one could be down at plant level watching the slow switching and look up and see VIA or CN streaking by!

One factor for modelling - stock up on grey paint in various shades. The dust gets on everything! Also an opportunity for marine modelling with lake boats in the distance, with ships at the dolphins visible from the train in season!

Thanks for your comment,

Robert Archer said...

Hi Eric; a good report on the St Mary's Bowmanville works. We have a cement plant here in Mississauga. It's latest name is apparently Ashgrove. We will have to see if they use that in any rail car reporting marks.
They did use SLCX marks for a time.
Thanks for the detailed report.

Rob Archer,

Eric said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Rob. This only scratches the surface, but I was always interested to see these, largely because I have one for my layout. Or two. These are the AHM bangers versions, but much more at my price point than the Rapido very detailed version. In fact, I made one into my CN scale test car!