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.


Zartok-35 said...

Wonderful, a truly wonderful post for sure! These are the posts the I enjoy the most! The SD40 generation seems to have taken hold of this era. Nice to see a GP38-2W in the mix too, and boy, is it ever mixed up!

Is that a flatcar loaded with farm equipment 8 cars down on that CP train? Those seem very abundant in the mid 1980s at Portage.

No CN F-units this time. Were they more or less a thing of the past by this point?

Eric said...

Hi Elijah, 1984 was SD heaven, but the SD50's were just around the bend. Don't worry, I'll soon be putting together a post featuring just black widow CN units.

Yes, that is a load of "Big John Green" on that CP freight. My favourite of the time were bulkhead flats from Brantford, Ontario each with two Massey-Ferguson combines.

The F's were definitely in the mix - don't let my choice of photos fool you. Blind mice on and regular F's on the CN. CP, not so much by this point.

Thanks very much for your comments and questions,

Zartok-35 said...

Massey Ferguson combines between bulkheads? Thats bizzare. Deffinatley something I would like to model.
That may be what we are seeing here:
It's even taken right in Portage, too! In 1983.

I figured the Fs were still about, CN did run them until 1989.
Looking forward to the post about the black widows units. They fascinate me, if you haven`t noticed.

Eric said...

That is an awesome photo link, Elijah. John Eull was at the NMRA 1983 convention in Winnipeg at the time.

Let's popularize that "Black Widow" moniker as much as we can.

Ian Lisakowski said...

Hi Eric;
What a timely post! I'm in the midst of finalizing my layout's track plan that will include PLaP - focusing on the CP side with the CN as just the diamonds. Would you happen to have a sketch of the CP's track arrangement through town? I can only figure so much from photos and what I remember.

As to the 'Black Widow' moniker for the CN Noodle units, beware of the legions of Espee fans and their Black Widow F's, Geeps, SDs amongst others...

Eric said...

Ian, thanks very much for your comments. I can sketch a CP trackage diagram for you. I remember sketching a few times sitting out at West Tower waiting for the trains to roll by.

Yes, I realize there are potential dangers with Trackside Treasure's readers who admire the SP. (Are there many such people reading this, I wonder?) Though until I hear a better moniker, I'm going to stick with 'Black Widow'. Hopefully they will see the (Day)light, and let me ride off into the Sunset.

Ian Lisakowski said...

Thanks for taking the time to sketch CP PLaP for me Eric. I'll send you my contact info seperately.

I am a fan of the late, great Espee (probably the only one reading your blog), and I have no worries on the use of Black Widow for the CN Noodle units. It fits perfectly. Give 'er!!


Zartok-35 said...

I, the very person who spear headed the 'Black widow' terminology, have noting but the utmost respect and admiration of the SoPac. I like the CN more, however.

Eric said...

SoPac, MoPac, it's all good. I am on the blunt part of the spear, Elijah you continue spearheading this drive.

Just last night I was poring over lots of Black Widow SD's. Now a question, should it be just SD40's, or are Geeps, Trainmasters, MLW RS's etc wearing the wet noodle also worthy of the title??

Zartok-35 said...

If it's black, it's a black widow. The first time I mentioned the name was to address a GMD-1.