Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Day at Portage la Prairie, 1982

A day of railfanning at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba yielded well over 20 trains between 0900 and 1700. Two CN and two CP mainlines converging and bringing a plethora of box and covered hopper grain trains, priority intermodal, VIA passenger trains and switching moves that kept this 18 year-old railfan busy on a sunny June 11, 1982. CN got into the act at 1027 with the second train of the day, rolling 120 grain loads east behind SD40's 5147-5217 with caboose 79545:
The third train of the day at 1038 (top photo) was an eastbound 100-car CP priority freight behind 8697-8801-4403. Both railways still used F-units and B-units in freight service. Auto parts, auto racks, TOFC and COFC and even a double-deck stock car were on this train. The CP-to-CN connecting track used by VIA is in foreground. The first train of the day was 130 eastbound CP grain loads behind 5921-5991 at 0947 (below) flying white flags as it takes the CP interlocking at West Tower. I recorded eight new Saskatchewan SKPX and 4 new Alberta ALPX covered hoppers on this train:
VIA's pint-sized train to Saskatoon: 6519-604-3215 arrived from Winnipeg at 1156:
At least three unphotographed trains slipped by at lunchtime:
1201 EB CP mixed freight 5942-8805.
1215 EB CN 4295-4283.
1246 EB CN 5180-5122.
At 1309, westbound SD40-2W's 5245-5329 are on the north main at the CN station, with MPE Pool 'B' elevator in the background. Mixed freight ahead of caboose 79257 seems to include a couple of insulated cars from Campbell's Soup lifted from the CN-CP interchange deep in the yard.
Short and sweet - CP GP9 8621's friendly hogger waves as his three-car work train from the Carberry Sub hustles east with van 434427 fifteen minutes later. Grain boxes loaded at MPE Pool 'A' and stored mechanical reefers can be seen in the background:
Not to be outdone, lone CN Geep 4322 trundles through the Eighth Street crossover eastbound from the Rivers Sub with 40 grain loads*: 3 boxcars, 37 covered hoppers and 1 ballast car.
It's only six minutes later, and with ditch lights and white classification lights burning bright, CP 5987-5627 hightail it east from the Minnedosa Sub - mostly grain but also tank car RUDX 402 and hicube box CPAA 205971 plus 106 more cars ahead of van 434378, photographed passing Portage's westernmost UGG elevator.
Destined for the Minnedosa Sub, candy-striped CP 5717 and 5736 drag 133 grain empties including at least nine each SKPX and ALPX covered hoppers and van 434670. The train skirts a string of stored, dirty mechanical reefers as switcher CP 6569 trundles along the switdching lead, far right background:
At 1426, ten minutes later, CN sends two westbounds through with paired SD's. First is 5189-5084 with 34 CWR cars, 56 mixed freight and caboose 79710; second is 5232-5354 with 92 grain empties and 79286, sailing through a sea of grass as CP's section speeder heads to the shed for the night at left.
Just before 1500, VIA train 1 arrives with 15 cars behind ex-CN 6507-6607-6611. No 1 was in no hurry to leave town, being stabbed at West Tower for 30 minutes waiting for CP traffic. A short cab visit netted a hogger's eye view of the way west:

Then five more unphotographed trains:
1505 WB CP 5524-5010-105 potash etys-434568.
1530 EB CN 5095-5090-5153-79742.
CP 6569 simmered along to Campbell's Soup with end-cupola van 437000.
1556 WB CP 5525-121 grain etys-434131.
1612 EB CN 5231-5014-120 grain loads*-79591.
VIA train 2 behind ex-CP 1405-1961-1402 and 15 cars rolls out of the setting sun at 1634:
The last two trains before suppertime were CN 5269-5009 westbound at 1657 with some mixed freight but mostly empty lumber cars for BC including Mountain Pine Lumber boxcar MPLX 1015, GCFX all-door boxes 862, 869 and 907, and Finlay Forest Products bulkhead flat FFIX 173074 and caboose 79546. This train has just met 30 eastbound grain box loads* behind GMD-1's 1053-1054 and 79763. Sunburnt, windburnt and seeking sustenance, it was time to call it a day, head to Winnipeg with relatives for supper and an after-dinner visit to Symington Yard.
Consists of grain trains with * will be featured in an upcoming post.

Running extra...

Just finished listening to Richard Wolffe's Renegade: The Making of a President. An excellent study of the interesting life, dramatic campaign and eventful presidency of Barack Obama. 'Renegade' was also his Secret Service codename.

Just re-elected, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's RCMP code name could be 'Hobby Shop' because he's been known to frequent a Calgary hobby shop to pick up model trains 'for his son'. It's OK Steve, the Canadian public would be alright with knowing the stuff is really for you.

Thanks for all the interest shown and purchases made in our Trackside Treasure Spring Cleaning Sale (If you're reading this, the remaining items are now 20% off.) I'm pleased to see these items finding good homes. Not that mine isn't good, it's just a tad full. Stay tuned for further sale posts for some items you might like, and vote to show what you might like to see.


Lord Darth McIan said...

Oh, wow...drool. This is more great stuff to add to idea file for my model of PLaP.

Keep it coming!!

Ian Lisakowski

Eric said...

Will do, Ian. Bear in mind I didn't even take a photo of some of the trains that were passing me by that day.

Selective compression is a must for modelling those 120-car empty CP grain drags, though.

Thanks for your comment,

Zartok-35 said...

Marvelous! Marvelous! They still powered hotshot trains with first generation power on the CP! CN SD40s of most every sort, and a one unit wonder hauled by a geep. Another great post, Mr Gagnon! Confidentially, 1982 is the year I am most interested in. Thank you very much.

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Elijah. Notice the redundancy among the first-gen CP power, just in case. Rest assured, I have lots of days of Portage railfanning that I will be posting in future, from various years, including Black Widows, of course. And yes, I got to toot the horn in the cab of 6507.


Tyler said...

Fantastic! Those were the days...

Eric said...

Thanks Tyler, you're right, Portage was a different place then.

Just imagine if I'd had a digital camera, I would've been snapping like crazy...those stored reefers, every switching move, every car on the Canadian. What you're seeing in these posts is pre-photography editing in action.


Tyler said...

Yes, I think during my one visit to Portage with my DSLR I took nearly as many photographs as all of my previous visits combined! A lot easier to capture all of the station details and everything else surrounding the tracks digitally than it was back when anything more than one shot of each passing train would prompt a "What are you going to do with all these pictures?" from my parents as they listened to film and dollar signs winding away in the camera.

Eric said...

True Tyler, but I still hear such questions about "What are you going to do with..."

Seriously though, digital would have been great for capturing detail, especially after travelling 1,500-miles from Kingston to Portage to railfan, like I did in '82.


Anonymous said...

Dear Eric, from Mr I-Spy from Wpg. As told by our conversation, caught the Via no 1 at Port Jct with CFL dead-head train and what a sight. Passed at 12.16 CDT and shot the train. The photos of P-la-P of 1982 of of most interest, as I shot alot of stuff from 1980-pres in the Port area. CP s-3 6569 was the CP unit for Campbell Soup and the McCain FF plant. Wish to report that all pix at Calgary -Ayl of Via Fs and the RDCs are from AUG 13 1983. VIA 1405-06-07-13-14-23-32 and 1965 and 6146 and 6127 all shot on the same day. Date of CP 8100 at the station will have to checked if you need the date.Thats all for now...

Anonymous said...

Dear Eric, boy did I ever mess up. Mr I-Spy here reporting in with an update from yesterday, and an error. The CP colors on the stored Fs at Calgary and Via 1414-1965-1423 at Aylth were taken on Aug 12 NOT 13 1983 with the silver coffin views as well, both intact and damaged. The view of the GMD SW1200rs CP 8100 at the VIA-CP Calgary station tracks was shot on Aug 11 1983. Acc is the key to a good book becoming a GREAT book. CP 6513 was the Portage yard loco until 1981, then retired and sent to Weston for a stuffed-and-mount in Dinsdale Park in the Wheat City. CP 6569 was of interest as it had a way-side cold weather unit called a KIP-HOT START or KIPP, anyway instead of an oil watchman heater, elec was used in Portage, maybe the only unit with this feature. Maybe Bruce Chapman knows for sure. From the Labor day or Labour day scene here in I-Spy land as always, take care Eric form me.