Saturday, February 19, 2011

Canada's Longest Railway Bridge

Canada's longest railway bridge is the 5,327-foot Lethbridge viaduct over the Oldman River. One of Canada's shortest is at Mi 178.8 of CN's Kingston Sub, supporting the double-track mainline over a small creek, parallel to Bath Road on Kingston's west side. In June 1992, CN's Bridge & Building forces replaced the steel bridge deck with a pre-cast concrete deck on the existing limestone block culvert. The previous bridge is seen in this March 1981 photo of CN flat car 57590 with ties, Burro crane 50408 , tie cars 60168-60133 and transfer caboose 76555:
Concrete retaining walls were poured into wooden forms above the culvert and backfilled. A Kingston Crane Rentals GROVE crane straddled the track to lift in the concrete bridge spans and components, working on the north track first:
Rather unscientific drawings of old and new bridge decks without ties and rails:
CN hirail and other trucks, and materiel trailers lined Bath Road and had access to the site through private property on the north side via the private road crossing just west of the bridge. A 17-car ballast train had arrived from Belleville to drop ballast along both tracks, working at 1600 May 17. Century 2314 hauled CN 300593-300654-301421-300333-300502-301086 and eleven others working the south track. On June 8, 9639 brought CN 89-foot flat cars 639998-668285-668080 to the site, with new bridge components, and removing the old ones. Trains past the site on the south track included an eastbound freight at 0930, 2402-2403 and 112 cars:
and a westbound LRC consist at 0945, 6902-4 LRC cars-6919:
Later in the day, "air-conditioned" 9639 returned with CN ballast car 302329 and caboose 79437, spreading ballast in various locations at the job site. Sectionmen banged on the side of the car to loosen more ballast.
A pronounced hump (see top photo from south side) was visible under the north track at the bridge. Track machines would tamp and evenly distribute this ballast later. But in the mean time, only hand tools were in use:
At 1547, a 4-car wayfreight headed west on the south track, 4118-4122-gondolas CN 136607-156307-tank car DOCX 23503-covered hopper NAHX 455025, tailed by International Service caboose 78107. That evening, the work train reposed on Queens track KL30. CN ballast car 302210, the three flat cars as listed above (one empty, one with ties and the the steel deck from the north track, and the third with new components for the south track) and ballast car 302329.
The south track bridge was replaced next. Six years later, on January 21, 1998 CN train 307's auto racks trundle over the bridge and past 3 CN hirail trucks sitting on the south track:
On June 10, 1992 an evening of trains at Kingston station:
1935 EB: 6447-5 LRC cars
1955 WB: 6419-3469-3345-3320
2023 WB Laser: 9669-six 5-Paks
2034 EB: 6418-3303-3338-3455
2048 WB: 5320-2025-5338-general freight including B&M, MPA, SP, MEC, TASD 79044, BN 376916, CV 600168 boxcars, PLCX, IC, SLSF, CNW, GTW, BN 462724-462516, TNM 1053, CNW 753536 covered hoppers, CN and BN bulkhead flat cars.

Running extra...

The Lethbridge viaduct over the Oldman River, you say? That Ol' Man River, it just keeps rolling along, sang Paul Robeson in Showboat.

Trackside Treasure's recent reader poll responses indicated that readers return for photos, and to read the blogs of my blog partners. Few if any solely for the blog text (hey, you're reading this stuff) or sidebar features. But the vast majority return for the "whole enchilada".

The Las Cruces NM Enchilada Fiesta celebrated its 30th anniversary this year...a Jeopardy question this week, when IBM's mighty Watson couldn't harness enough of its brain power to remember Toronto (or as we might say, 'Tronna') is not a major American city. Maybe Watson was thinking of Trona, California (Pop. 2, 742), headquarters of the Trona Railway?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Trackside Modelling Portage la Prairie 1984

Portage la Prairie, Manitoba is a railfan hotspot. The confluence of CN and CP mainlines means a high frequency of trains. Are you interested in modelling Portage and its railways in scale? In 1984, I was modelling Manitoba in HO scale. While railfanning there, I snapped some additional trackside photos to allow more faithful reproduction of various elements in the Portage scene. Most important - the trains. Instead of building just a static diorama, this was a dynamic environment through which trains passed. In 1984, SD40's and SD40-2's ruled. GP38-2's, GP40-2's, GP9's and F's were powering trains. A 103-car CP coal train behind 5791-5795 pounds the west switch for the VIA connecting track between CP's Carberry Sub and CN's Rivers Sub, which was used by VIA trains to switch to CN tracks between Portage and Winnipeg (above) DETAILS: switch heater, signal bungalow, tan-coloured gravel and ballast, tilled field. With CP's Carberry and Minnedosa Subs to the west, Portage could see multiple CP trains at once. 6053-5809-3017 wait with a 67-car general freight for the Carberry Sub, while 8626-8806 wait with 31 ballast cars for the Minnedosa Sub. They're waiting for VIA No 2 to switch from CP to CN at West Tower. CN trains on the Gladstone and Rivers Subs to the west meant multiple CN trains too. DETAILS: switching lead and mainline rail, Mitsui OSK containers.
CN allowed farmers to load grain cars across from the CN station. A maple-leaf boxcar is spotted on the team track as 5213-5209 grind by with an eastbound (above). Running behind the boxcar, Pacific Avenue was the best route to view the action. Note the agent's car parked in front of the operator's bay on the platform. Engro Fertilizers, part of Esso/Imperial Oil operated a fertilizer shed served by CP. CN or CP fertilizer cars were unloaded by an under-track conveyor. Here, a FBH Transport truck is loaded by conveyor (below). DETAILS: Agent's pickup truck, switch stand, crossbucks, Portage water tower in background.
This speeder shed is located on the ladder track to CN's yard. From here, section forces could putt-putt out to inspect and repair track. These days it's a big ol' hirail truck. Yellow CP insulated boxcars are visible in CP's yard in the background. DETAILS: speeder, track signs, smokejack on shed, run-out rails, bench along front wall.
Behind the speeder shed, Co-op also had a fertilizer shed, served by a CN spur, just east of Third St beside CN's team track unloading ramp and welding crew office cars. This Quonset hut has a weathered look. DETAILS: shrubs, CN timber ramp, wooden outfit cars, shed vents and cupola, CP station and train-order board (far left).
West of town, Co-op had a bulk fuel facility served by another CN spur. A good place to mix tank cars and tank trucks. DETAILS: Co-op logo, ladder and cage to tanks.
The Esso dealership east of Third St was located next to Shell and Texaco dealerships, all in a row and served at one time by a CN spur. DETAILS: old and new signage, steps and pumps on loading dock.
A view of Esso's oil tanks, with fuel truck ready to go at loading platform. Rural service fuel trucks had a rack on the back to hold drums of fuel or lubricants. DETAILS: yard light, berm around tanks, lots of poles and wires.
I parked in front of Tony's to get this photo of the "down by the tracks" flavour. Texaco buildings at left are clad with tin. Both CN and CP have yards and wyes east of here. CP had a team track and yard switcher storage tracks, plus spur off wye to McCallister Pea & Seed. Then it's double-track on both railways into Winnipeg. DETAILS: pickup trucks...lots of pickup trucks, Shell Farm Service sign, painted concrete curbs, Coke signs.
At the Engro fertilizer shed, these pull-type fertilizer spreaders were among four ready for use by area farmers. Covered hoppers behind them were loaded at Portage Pool 'B' which was served by both CN and CP. DETAILS: weathering, crooked telegraph pole cross-arm.

There were lots of other unique vehicles seen on Portage-area roads that were ideal candidates for modelling. New Chevy grain truck for sale at Portage Leisure & Truck Sales:
A Manitoba Telephone System truck is at the scene of construction along Saskatchewan Avenue. DETAILS: mix of old and new building styles and signage.
Here's a schematic of CN and CP trackage west of the stations to West Tower. CP often spotted outfit cars in the yard trackage west of the Skyview Bridge, as did CN in the spur near the UGG elevator, as well as in the CN yard. CP trains could use either main or either lead to get through town. CN trains could also get to their yard from the lead track. Both railways interchanged in the yard, often switched by westward trains, although eastbounds also worked the yards.
Trackside Treasure's recent poll showed that 78% of readers who responded would rather be trackside in Portage in 1984, 14% in 1959 at the end of steam, 7% earlier and perhaps not surprisingly, none in 2011. Watch for more Portage railfanning posts from the 70's and 80's, including VIA 'circus' trains, GMD-1's, CP's longtime switcher 6569, and CN 9100-series F-units.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Afternoon at Portage la Prairie, 1984

CN and CP lines through Portage la Prairie, Manitoba were alive with trains on a partly overcast, very humid May 31, 1984. An enjoyable morning was spent photographing grain elevators at Burnside, Rignold, MacDonald, Westbourne and Longburn. A slow-moving CN eastbound along the Trans-Canada Highway east of Bloom was pulled by 9587, with 40-foot welded-rail cars and lumber in tow(above). Returning to Portage, I paced another CN eastbound into Portage then jumped out at the east end overpass of the Portage bypass. Unexpectedly, another CN freight westbound with 3 SD's was approaching on the north track of the Rivers Sub:
At 1150, 5100-5023-5168 powered the westbound across the prairie. Five minutes later, the eastbound appeared with still-black 5056 and 5163. The Fort la Reine Museum is visible above 5056. A variety of cars are in the consist, including Port of Tillamook boxcars 114 and 168 and caboose 79784.
After a hearty lunch, I tried to find some shade west of the station. The next train was a CP westbound at 1440 that had stopped to lift a cut of grain cars for Franklin, on CP's Minnedosa Sub.
5584-5793 and Angus Shops van 434319 "met" an eastbound CN freight just west of my location, as 5290-5360 smoked it up entering town. Their train included TGIX tank cars 592, 812, 776 and caboose 79588. CP's mainlines, siding, switching lead and CP Express track are visible. CN is loading grain on their spur behind Manitoba Pool's Portage 'B' elevator:
At 1452, VIA's Canadian was on time, pulling its 12 cars past a set-out CN outfit train. Yes, there is track under those work cars, and a track mid-foreground to the United Grain Growers elevator at right, hidden in that sea of grass.
VIA No 1's consist was: 6557-6612-6606-601-5622-3202-501-5738-Naiscoot River-Cameron Manor-Laird Manor-1364-Monck Manor-Chateau Richelieu-Revelstoke Park.
An hour-long lull meant that all there was to photograph was CN 53014, a nearby air dump car. Used to carry a clamshell bucket and other crane-related equipment, this car features an interesting array of air hoses:
Action resumed at 1540, with 9541-9566 lifting a westbound out of Portage up the Gladstone Sub, including CN boxcar 427354 with roof hatches, and caboose 79826. Little did I know I'd find myself in the cab of 9566 a few days later, watching VIA's Panorama speed by.
At 1604, 5980-5685 cruised across Eighth Street, horn blaring, with a CP potash train, including RNDX 166 Glasshopper II covered hopper and van 434567:
VIA No 2 slid into the station on the north track, with passengers gingerly detraining around 5107, seen backing up onto its train left in the yard. The head-end trainman is keeping an eye out along the platform, after setting out a flatcar for the outfit train. No 2's consist: 6501-6607-607-104-3240-514-5746-Deep River-Elgin Manor-Bell Manor-1338-Franklin Manor-Chateau Laval-Laurentide Park.
Jordan spreader CN 50937 looks ready to pull this train westward. 5107 has backed into the yard, and a crew does some rail rehab. Beyond them, a CN flanger, interchange, and CP's yard are visible in the distance:
A 105-car grain eastbound behind 9606-5205-5209 slipped by at 1650, and fifteen minutes later, it's another eastbound, off the Gladstone Sub. Flexicoil truck-equipped 4206-5560-4109 do the honours on the last train of the afternoon. CNWX 100072, an original brown & yellow government grain covered hopper is on the train, as is caboose 79233.
Care to spend another day watching trains in Portage? Things were hoppin' in June, 1980 too...

Running extra...

Railfanning often involves a visit to a local drive-thru. It's time for My Rules of Drive-Thru:

1. Don't order anything crazy - stick to basics and you'll keep the line moving. Go inside if you're feeling creative.
2. Pull up as close as possible to the vehicle ahead of you at all times.
3. Have your mode of payment ready - preferably cold hard cash. Don't be cheap, forget the change - leave a tip.
4. If possible, have a front-seat buddy to quickly hand the change to, plus the order. At least have your vehicle cup-holders cleared out and ready.
5. Once you've received your order, move off smartly - pull ahead at least one carlength if you need to settle up or stabilize things in your vehicle.
6. If your power windows are frozen shut, it's OK to 'kick it old-school' by pulling just past the window and completing the transaction through your propped-open door. Hey, this is Canada.