Friday, May 20, 2022

Derailment at Gardiners Road, July 1999

On Friday, July 2, 1999 I witnessed my one-and-only, right-in-front-of-my-own-eyes, derailment-in-progress. While at Business Depot, I could hear an eastbound freight. It was Toronto-Senneterre, QC CN No 366 at 1605. I missed the engines, but drove behind the big-box stores and watched what I thought was the end of the train go by, right at Mi 178 Kingston Sub. Then, a rapid deceleration, made me realize 366 was going into emergency due to a break-apart! I could see a few cars, the tail-end of the train after the break-apart, also coming to a stop. Oddly, there was a huge grey dust cloud rising from the cars, with audible heavy digging sounds on the ballast. 

The last seven cars were covered hopper NAHX 52317, an ARSX covered hopper, PROX sulphuric acid loaded tank cars 13608, 13601, 13600 and 13610, then a Railbox carrying the ETU. I could see a shattered truck on the easternmost end of the NAHX car. Resting on the north track, one axle was straddling the south rail. The other axle of the truck was jammed into the bolster, though the car remained upright. Notice the chain over the in the top photo. The sulphuric acid loads were sitting on the Gardiners Road underpass. The head-end of the train was stopped 15 carlengths ahead of the tail-end. It appeared that the switch to the Industrial Spur, serving Northern Telecom, had been the site where problems started. The switch looked slightly damaged. The head-end was roughly one mile east. (Top photo shared by the late Ron Barrett - taken from the north side of the Industrial Spur looking south, with two main tracks - north in foreground.)

Like any responsible railfan, I headed home to get my camera. This also got me away from the site as I could hear sirens starting to wail. Upon my return at 1625, Kingston Police, 366's conductor, three Kingston Township firetrucks and volunteer firefighters' cars were onsite. The ETU was transferred to the new tail-end, and a CN signal maintainer was en route. I don't think I actually took any photos with all that activity, though I'm grateful that Ron did, the only tangible sign of what we witnessed.

I returned to the scene at 2150. A CN car and Blazer were parked at the Ontario Hydro transformer station. CN's hi-rail road-repair truck was on the Industrial Spur, with the NAHX car jacked and a new truck ready to be added. The car was taken to the Industrial Spur when it was moveable. Passing trains were limited to 20 mph past the site. CN No 519 from Belleville had been on hand to check clearances on the south track. 

My brother reconnoitred Queens to Ernestown, noting VIA Nos 49, 48/650 and 69 and CN No 148 had passed through. Two more eastbound freights were sitting on the north track at Ernestown: CN Nos 320 and 108. At 2155, 320 with 5687-5210 and 41 cars passed by, then 108 with 5744-5764 and 55 double-stack platforms went through at 2205. One westbound and four more eastbounds passed the site before midnight. 

The next day, all cars involved were gone by noon. According to a public CN trace of cars on the train, No 366 had arrived at Garneau, QC by 0630 that morning.

Running extra...
The Thousand Islands Playhouse is putting their money where their bus is, advertising two upcoming shows on Kingston Transit 2105. Unlike most earlier wraps, this is different on both sides! Strike Up The Band.....because this wrap will not last all Four Seasons.

It's been a Rapido kind of week, with the new People Moving People (are the luckiest people in the world?) book and the June Model Railroader cover article, both due to Rapido Trains Inc. and its improbably irrepressible and incessantly indefatigable leader, Jason Shron. You know, that Other Guy with Kingston in his basement!

Trackside Treasure readers: the election is coming up fast. Vote early and often!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Kingston-Portage Road Trip, 1979 - Part 2

In this second post in a two-post series, my brother and I head east from Portage la Prairie, MB back to Kingston. We left Portage at 0915 on August 30. Supper that night was at McDonald’s in Schreiber, then we were down at the station to see CP No 406’s crew change: 5797-5794-5900-5540 and van 434361 (top photo - Dave at left). On August 31 we were motel-bound except for lunch and supper at the Esso station’s “witch’s hat” Voyageur restaurant. It was too rainy for trainwatching except in the evening, when we caught CP No 404 with 5533 and 37 cars, and 5504-4213-8748 with van 434579.

Departing Schreiber on September 1, we passed Birchville school being moved (above - though I'm not sure whether this was August 30 or Sept. 1) and caught an eastbound CP freight at White River at 0830: 5704-4726-4730 with van 434508. 

Dave is on the platform (above) during the crew change. We reached Sudbury at 1700. We checked out the nickel mine attraction, riding a miniature train around the George VI Big Nickel. A nearby photo-friendly ex-CN caboose and ex-CP service car 411520 had been hauled to the rocky site. 

After a long day's drive, David is transcribing data from the cassette tape recorder, at the motel in the evening:

I also photographed the CP wooden water tower during a stop in Spanish:

We arrived home on September 2, having left Sudbury at 0600, and were home by 1300 after lunch at Pembroke McDonald’s. I had nearly five 110-format film cartridges to get developed. It was back to high school’s Grade 11 two days later!


August 20 - Thunder Bay to Winnipeg 

-CN 1907-1911, 1378, 1916, 1900, 1912, caboose 79236.

-CP 7051-7083, 6567, 7049, 8476, 7082, 6606, 8775, 6595, 6581, 6563, 7048, 8762, 5016, 5024, 5709, 4037, 4221, 4703, 5725, 4061, 4736-5500-4511-4563, 5792-5535, 5008; CP vans 434451, 434444, 434356 and plow 400795.

August 30 - Winnipeg to Schreiber

-CP 6555, 8128, 8817; end-cupola van 434416 and end-cupola vans 437041, 437310, 437147.

September 1 - Sudbury

-CP 6549, 8168, 8159, 8125, 8104

Running extra...

Friday the 13th is not all unlucky. In three separate orders from across Canada, three customers ordered one of each of my eight books. All within an hour! As always, I trust they will enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoyed creating them!

This past Monday, a heads-up from my mother-in-law tipped off a trespasser fatality (aka suicide, aka jumper) at the Bayridge Drive overpass west of Mi 179 Kingston Sub. Five police vehicles and forensic van were parked on shoulder of Bath Road. Fire and ambulance cleared. VIA No 60/50 was held three hours. VIA No 51 and CN No 123 were held east of the location. I did not feel the need to attend or document this sad event that disrupted the lives of so many VIA passengers, train crews, and others on that sunny Monday morning. 

Speaking of rare events, I tuned in to Rapido Trains Inc.'s most recent live session on May 12. I didn't find it very entertaining, and only selected questions were answered. One Rapido employee repeatedly asked "Who's running this Live, anyway?", and the best way for a Rapido employee to be mentioned was not to be present! My main interest was in their new Canadian prototype piggyback trailers (26-footer or 45-footer $39 ea.) and their Chevy Caprice ($29 ea.) Heaven help you if your layout has a trailer lot or parking lot to fill! But they are beautiful models.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Hanley Spur Diorama

Using some of the signature buildings from my HO-scale Hanley Spur layout (National Grocers, Bailey Broom factory, Rosen Fuels and Woolen Mill), I constructed a diorama for an upcoming exhibition. The signature scene is Kingston's Rideau and Cataraqui Streets, where three of the four buildings are extant. I took the diorama outside for some natural-light photography using my iPhone camera and my Canon point-and-shoot camera in March. In most cases, they are presented in parallel order when portraying a similar scene. The iPhone really allows for low-angle photography due to the corner-position of its camera lens. In each scene, I'll point out some features I included in the diorama design and construction. But first, the build.

I began in early January, spending about an hour each night on the diorama. Early stages in planning the non-powered trackage were including CN's Hanley Spur and CP's parallel Kingston Subdivision trackage, as well as the nexus of local industries. On the prototype, the two lines were poorly-drained and low, though I elevated mine to make them more prominent. Some structures were placed on an additional layer of plywood, with papier-mache filling the gaps over modelling clay. Then, I gave the various areas a brown, green or black base coat, painting the edges black, and added roads and some details. I took care not to 'over-detail', in order to not detract from the overall scene.
Rosen and Woolen Mill in background, Bailey and National Grocers in foreground. The entire diorama measures 39 x 48 inches.
The concept was to show the importance of rail (and road) transportation in developing industrial development along Kingston's downtown waterfront. I made a point of painting the railheads silver on the spur leads, with the spurs rusted. I added a small oil dealer at right, low river/swamp backdrop with vegetation, pole lines and wires, signs, figures, and vehicles.
The diorama is on the move, able to fit in the back of the van for its voyage. The renumbered CN 7123 now includes a full crew. All rolling stock, vehicles and structures were wired to the plywood to keep them stationary and make their eventual removal and return to my home layout easier. I'm pleased to say that this diorama is now on display as part of the 'On The Move - 400 Years of Transportation in Kingston' exhibition at the Pumphouse Museum. The exhibition opened April 22, and will be open until November.
I included hydro and telephone lines, these being the last details added - they're virtually invisible when looking and working down at the diorama and therefore prone to accidental removal! The sky backdrop is printed bristol-board clouds, gamely held in position on a windy day by my wife!

Looking north at the National Grocers spur, from the CP side. The low-level photography readily reveals modelling gaps that the naked eye is less likely to perceive.

Colour views. A peril of outdoor photography is inclusion of trees and the neighbours' houses in the background. Fellow blogger Chris Mears suggested photographing the railway models in front of the prototype structures. Definitely an intriguing idea!

CN 7123 (since renumbered from the incorrect 6012 factory number) on CN's Hanley Spur at left, with CP's differently-ballasted Kingston Subdivision at right, with its spur to Dyeco and tannery branching off at right. The Rosen building is realistically nondescript and grey one that I had already built - it fit the space I had available.

A boxcar spotted on the Woolen Mill CP spur. Slight diffferences in the angle and photo-editing result in remarkably different results!

Some various iPhone views of the CN switcher, formerly owned by my Dad, positioned with an ice-reefer and an loaded American coal car. The black & white format reveals the easily-backdated nature of this trackage, and I look forward to holding some steam/transition-era operating sessions on my home Hanley Spur layout.

The billboard along Rideau Street is transportation-themed, and one that fits with the steam era. The molding, painted black,that I nailed to the front edge of the diorama is just visible here:
Before renumbering and crewing, the CN switcher is crossing Cataraqui Street. The backrops are paper-printed on foam-core, with the top edge of the backing painted to match the photo, and the backing screwed to the base using brackets. The Cataraqui River and upper storeys of the Woolen Mill are intended to add perceived depth to the diorama as well as adding context.
Final iPhone photo, showing the Cataraqui Street crossing fom the CP side, with my imagined Abramsky's truck patiently waiting:                      

CN and CP were given different balasting to give viewers the idea that they are operated by different railways. The Dyeco spur 'disappears' into the backdrop, partly hidden by foliage, the Rosen building and 'ballast' painting on the backdrop.
Back where we started - a slightly suspended point-and-shoot view of Cataraqui Street.
I haven't made it to the exhibition at the Pumphouse Museum yet, but I am looking forward to going to see it in its entirety.

Running extra...
Atlas Model Railroad Co. is releasing a Ukraine Peace Car. Proceeds from sales are to go to Ukraine relief. Personally, I'm surprised it wasn't lettered with yarding instructions for HO-scale trainmen: 'Russian Warship - Go Hump Yourself'. Oh well, there is lots of room for custom decalling. Delivery expected in December, hopefully after this evil war ends.

Speaking of war and peace, let's talk marriage. And how to get one off on the right track. Not my photo (for which I'm thankful). I hope the happy couple enjoyed many years of welded bliss, holy matrainmony and are still a happy coupler. Though I'm still asking myself...What The F-Unit?
No-one is wedded to his hobby like Rapido Trains Inc.'s Jason Shron. He is the cover story of the June 2022 Model Railroader and MR is giving him the perfect platform. Rejected article titles: "Taking Kingston and Brockville All the Way to the Top (Level)", "Did I Mensch That I Like Model Trains?", "Spadina -The Interminable Terminal"  and "40 Days and 40 Nights - Building the KingstonSub!" 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Kingston-Portage Road Trip, 1979 - Part 1

My brother David and I were heading to Portage la Prairie to visit our aunt and uncle in August, 1979. Of course, a big part of the trip, plus the journey, involved train-watching.  I was packed on Thursday, and we didn’t leave until 0615 on Saturday! We packed lots of food and drink in his Volkswagen Rabbit GTI. And my Kodak Hawkeye 110 format 'instamatic' camera, of course!

On August 18, we drove all day reaching Cochrane, ON at 1700. Dave had decided to drive the more northerly of the two northern Ontario routes. He was a driver who didn’t dawdle. At North Bay, we cased the Ontario Northland Railway (ONR) yards and shop. Temiskaming & Northern Ontario 2-8-2 503 was preserved and fenced in North Bay City Park (above). Kitty-corner to the park was ONR’s expansive shops complex. GP38-2 1803, SD40-2’s 1732-1736, and Northlander power unit 1982 were visible (below). We also found ONR’s former Wabash/Norfolk & Western business car Onakawana/400 (top photo). Also at North Bay: CN 9553-9449-5579 and 1387.

At the Cochrane station, ONR RS-10 1400 was switching, and 1730-1802-1521 were powering a freight. 

Also at Cochrane’s station were VIA 6787-6778-9644 in CN colours-Manitou-5492 in CN colours-5569-4884-ONR 812. Normetal-lettered 4-6-0 219 was at the shop, with its cab windows boarded up. ONR National Steel Car coaches 805-806 in green paint, and white/yellow/two-tone blue 801 were nearby, as were ONR cabooses 95 and 96. CN-painted VIA 6518 was with baggage car 9641 and coach 5193 at the station.

August 19 found us leaving Cochrane at 0545, keeping a sharp eye out for moose on the highway. We kept track of times mileages and speeds using a cassette tape recorder, with occasional comedy improv bits thrown in. At Kapuskasing’s VIA/ONR station, former fantrip star CNR 4-6-2 5107 was preserved. On the other side of the station was the Spruce Falls Power & Paper plant. A small Jordan spreader, orange boxcar 321 and transformer-laden depressed-centre flatcar were part of their captive rolling stock fleet visible beyond the CN yard. Their switcher slumbered in the shop:

At Hearst, we found an Algoma Central Railway passenger train at the ACR station at 0815, led by GP-9’s 100-164. Content to wait for the train to pass us by so I could record the consist, imagine our surprise as it inexorably backed away from us, ever so slowly. Beyond steam-generator car 74 were ex-troop sleeper baggage-express cars 203-205. The identity of the baggage car and three coaches will forever remain a mystery. It was a not-so-great moment in Canadian railfanning!

We made it to our next stopover at Schreiber around 1500. CP 4508-5905 were in the yard (below), as were 4711, 5799, 5023 and switcher 7090. CP 8709 had a Speno rail-grinding train in the yard, and vans 437147 end-cupola, 434580 and Jordan spreader 402890 were there, too.

Superintendent’s car 10 sat across from the station with the Speno train behind:
Freights past the station that evening: Eastbound at 1642: 5531-5019; eastbound at 1853 (below): 5621-4509-4567-5557 priority train with van 434432; eastbound at 2120: 5671-5694-5757 priority train; westbound at 2138: 5722-5730-5662-5726 with van 434559.
Departing Schreiber on August 20 at 0545, we breakfasted in Thunder Bay and made it to Portage at 1700. Of course, our first visit to the CN and CP yards was that evening, and we caught three trains there.  Our first full day, we were back at the tracks netting 12+ trains. It was the height of VIA’s circus train era, with CP fully signing over their western passenger operations the previous October. Cars and locomotives were in CP red and VIA blue stripes. CN and VIA paint adorned ex-CN cars. One-of-a-kind blue & yellow ex-CP 8558 was the middle unit on one morning’s VIA No 2!
Also on August 21, we located a scrap switchstand at Helston, where CN’s branchline was being pulled up (above). More station trainwatching ensued on August 22, the afternoon of the 23rd and 24th, morning of the 27th and afternoon of the 29th. Other excursions we made with our aunt and uncle: Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage production of ‘Desert Song’, the Manitoba Agricultural Museum at Austin, a ride on the Prairie Dog Central (below) wyeing at Grosse Isle with your humble blogger, and paddlewheeler cruise in Winnipeg, the Mennonite Museum in Steinbach and Portage’s Fort la Reine Museum, and St. Ambrose Provincial Beach. On August 25 we returned to Helston to salvage collector’s items including the abandoned switchstand, which would depress the GTI’s rear suspension all the way back to Kingston!

Winnipeg's Paul Newsome, now a published author with his new book on the PDC, noted that local farmer Arnold Borthistle is at right! In Part 2 we head back east, again tracing the shore of Lake Superior and partaking in some CP sights and sites.

Running extra...

I'm honoured to have a diorama in this upcoming exhibit at Kingston's Pumphouse Museum. I'm looking forward to seeing the amassed artifacts and displays on planes, trains, and automobiles, and ships, and more! 'On the Move' opened this past Friday and runs until November.

If you like grain boxcars, check out this video. It's got 14,000+ views in three days! AmtrakGuy365 (Jared) asked back in December, 2021 to feature my photos, and feature them he did! Four months ago, it was Incentive Per Diem boxcars. These videos make me feel...historic!
I came across a photo of the Concordia, KS flour mill this week and got a little obsessed by this structure. It is treasure that is located trackside, so it might become a post. Even though it's American. But it's not the first American subject featured on here. I'm just going back to the daily blogging grind and we'll see if a flour grows. Who know wheat will happen.