Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CN's Millhaven Spur

Ten miles west of Kingston, CN's 1.5-mile long Millhaven Spur branches off the south track at Mi 186.6 Kingston Sub. Loyalist Township has posted a 2013 map of the industrial park and a 1960s aerial photo:
For years, the spur only served the terylene and ammonia plants built by England's Imperial Chemical industries, opened by Canadian Industries Limited in 1954, and later known as Millhaven Fibres Limited. Once Canada's third-largest producer of polyester, and the Kingston area's sixth-largest employer in 1970, by 1992 it was the only Canadian producer of polyester fibre for clothing, carpets and tires. The plant location was chosen for its excellent road, rail and lake transportation links and access to large quantities of cooling water from Lake Ontario.
The continuous polymerization staple line was added in 1967, and the Heavy Decitex plant in 1968. Sold to Celanese, then KoSa, ultimately re-sold to Invista, the plant closed in 2009, after latterly producing PET plastic for pop bottles, and is being demolished in mid-2013. A dock, built by Liquifuels for ship-to-shore transfer of bunker C oil for the C-I-L power house and ammonia plant, is still available for liquid asphalt transfer to the Ashwarren then Lafarge, now CoCo Paving operation. The Enerchem Refiner is docked here on October 12/97:
As the plant grew, CN handed plant switching over to Cando Contracting of Brandon, Manitoba. Various switchers were stationed at the plant engine house, and their single-chime, US-style airhorns could be heard hooting miles to the east as they switched across Taylor-Kidd Boulevard. Cando's ex-PRR SW1200 1003 is switching on July 31/97 (top) and had been joined by 1002 nose-to-nose in July/02 (below). Cando 1002 was the last switcher to leave the property in January 2010, billed by Total Track to the National Research Council in Ottawa.
Jim Snow Drive makes viewing of plant switching easier. Named for Ontario's transportation minister (1975-84), it links Highway 33/Bath Road with Taylor-Kidd Boulevard and the UTDC-Bombardier mass transit plant. The Bombardier plant was once served by the Millhaven Spur. And it is again. The plant was taken over by international transportation giant Alstom. Originally, polyester plant trackage comprised a tank farm on the east side of the plant, staple unloading at the west side, as well as boxcar unloading. CN crane 50472 and two flatcars were adding trackage on July 8/96. With plant expansion, a Trackmobile operated by KoSa employees was added to move cars at the PET resin plant expansion.
The Trackmobile supplemented twice-daily Cando switcher runs to the multi-track North storage-in-transit yard, parallel to CN's Kingston Sub. In 1982, a spike's-eye view looking west shows CN ballast cars stored on the lift/setout tracks at the North yard, with the County Road 4 overpass and Ernestown interlocking in the distance:
The asphalt operation added rail service in 2006. A two-track unloading area, including heating pipes to facilitate high-temperature product transfer, brought an end to trucking the product from the top of the Cataraqui Spur, an eight mile drive to the east. Branching off the spur north of Taylor-Kidd Blvd., then crossing it, the asphalt lead hosts tank cars for unloading during winter-spring months. Awaiting cars, freshly graded and ballasted looking south:
Looking north at the new spur:
With grass now growing in the Invista staff parking lot, and plans for a Millhaven ethanol plant still fermenting, CoCo is the sole customer on the Millhaven Spur. As of 2013, the Invista plant has been demolished, while wind and solar hydro projects have sprouted north of the CoCo property, across Taylor-Kidd Blvd. and slightly east. Interestingly, Bombardier recently built a 1 mile-long linear test track visible from County Road 4:
On June 27/94, 4119-4121-79549 hustle seven cars west through Napanee: the first two from Norcom and the last five from Celanese. Ault Foods' milk processing plant in the background later closed due to a strike.
Lone engine 4116 muscles 25 cars east out of Belleville yard as CN train 519 to Celanese on a snowy but sunny morning, March 1/01:
At the top of the Bath Spur on June 26/02, train 519 has only run as far east as KoSa, and is now entering the east leg of the wye to turn its train before returning to Belleville. KoSa cars are in evidence in the consist, as is a single ATSF boxcar for the Napanee Goodyear plant, now without rail service.
4122 and 4124 have just cleared the Kingston Sub:
With work in Kingston, train 519 has run around its train at Queens on August 30/02. After hooking on the TIBS, it's got the light at the home signal and is now hauling 18 cars uphill out of Queens on the south track behind 4132-4121. Next stop: Belleville.
Running Extra...

Tonight's train 519 leaving the Cataraqui Spur is still Geep-powered. Train can make track speed to Belleville, even though the warranty on lead engine 4131 ran out in 1961.

Historically, Millhaven (on Lake Ontario) and Ernestown (a small hamlet on the CN line) were economically eclipsed by their neighbour Bath, which became the regional commercial and shipbuilding centre. The Bath Spur is actually west of Bath, and doesn't serve Bath at all. Not even the confusingly-named Bath Water Filtration Plant. Think about that.

Just listened to The Worry Cure by Robert Leahy. He suggests distinguishing productive worry from unproductive worry. So don't worry, it's OK to worry. No worries.


Bryan said...

Hi Eric,

Great write-up again. Geez, I didn't know Goodyear was no longer connected, and I had no idea the Celanese/KoSa/Invista plant had closed! I know a guy who worked on the co-gen plant there. I guess that Upper Canada Ethanol thing was just part of the craze a few years ago and nothing came of it. Sad times for the area economy and the local railfan, I guess...


Eric said...

Hi Bryan, these changes happen so gradually and insidiously that we don't always notice them. Invista still looks "open" from a distance. Upper Canada was indeed a flash in the pan - the principals stood to get rich, but the craze spawned a shortage and price increase in components and equipment that made startups improbable and unprofitable.

Not only has the Goodyear connection been severed, but several hundred feet of rail alongside the Kingston Sub were unbolted and kicked over on their sides. Stay tuned for Millhaven spur, including a tour, ride and derailments "back in the day".

Drew Makepeace said...

Noticed this demolition video on Youtube.

Eric said...

Good one, Drew. I had the impression that some of the machinery from that part of the plant would be salvaged. Maybe it was, and that's why it was the last to go. Flat as a pancake there now.
Thanks for the link,

Unknown said...

currently cando rail has engin 1004 sitting behind the gate to coco paving and Northland power had a plant on Taylor kid there's also a bombardier plant and a steel coil manufacturing place in bath there's a Lafarge plant and a pair of power plants cn 518 still Gose out there and I believe Gibson gas is still operating

Anonymous said...

currently in the area of the site of the invista millhaven plant is a natural gas power plant previously owned by Northland power now under new ownership a coco paving operation a Bombardier plant that manufactures and tests ion lrt light rail vehicles in bath there is a Lafarge plant and two large power plants ( L&a generating station and an atura power station) near Sandhurst there is a large fenced in area that I believe there used to be some sort of factory there too

Eric said...

There were plans for an ethanol plant in that same industrial park. Now will be home to the electric vehicle battery component plant. The ethanol plant would have kept CN, Cando or whomever very busy, but that activity seems to have gone to Prescott/Johnstown.

Thanks for your comment, A.