Saturday, July 9, 2011

Kingston Platform Scenes

Recently, railfan and VIAphile Matt Soknacki arranged to meet me at Kingston's VIA station. Matt was travelling on VIA train 54, and used the station stop to pick up his copies of my new book on VIA Rail . During our conversation before train 54 headed east, Matt mentioned that he'd never railfanned from the platform at Kingston. Having done a fair bit of that myself, Matt's comment got me thinking. What about a post in which I'd share some photos and thoughts about railfanning from that very platform and the plethora of interesting and diverse CN Kingston Sub sights I'd seen there? Here we go:

RS-18 3123 scampers by on the south track with two covered hoppers and three tank cars, from Queens to the DuPont nylon plant on the Cataraqui Spur (top) in spring, 1985. CN 4-8-2 6060 stomps smokily into Kingston with a fantrip on a stormy October 14, 1978 (above). Motorists are to be forgiven for thinking they've momentarily time-travelled back 20 years. The expanse of grass next to the north track gives an overall view of the station which was built on swamp land. To clean up an August 1986 derailment CN auxiliary crane 50397 and the rest of the auxiliary train head east on the north track:

CN 9634-2033-2014 slam a westbound freight through during the evening VIA rush on July 15, 1991. Kingston's distinctive hockey-stick platform lights frame the scene. It's difficult to get a photo at Kingston without them somewhere in the frame, or framing the train:

A VIA FPA4-FPB-4 have brought a long westbound VIA consist into Kingston in this undated photo. The red CN-noodled, slanted yellow nose unit has stopped much farther west than its F40 or P42 brethren with their relatively shorter trains do today. Ample parking, long platforms for walking, washrooms, refreshments and generous sight lines make this a great spot to railfan no matter the era.

An LRC locomotive and 5 VIA Tempo cars comprise the early train to Toronto I'm about to board on March 9, 1985. The sun has yet to peek over the horizon. In 1985, did LRC's haul Tempo cars east of Toronto? Looks like they did:

Slightly more conventionally-equipped nine-car trains meet on December 21, 1984. Ex-CP coach 108 is in use on the westbound behind 6762-6865, and the eastbound is powered by 6530-6864. The boarding building on the south track (track 2) is reached via escalator through a damp, subterranean tunnel.

Another meet, this one on April 14, 1991. Midday conventional trains 62 and 63 have just met, and train 63 with 6442, an SGU and 5 cars accelerates westward under the Princess Street overpass. Train 62 behind plain-grey, small-flagged 6438, an SGU and 4 cars is braking to a stop on the south track. The overpass gives a panoramic view, but it's quite a climb and busy.

Matt, you would have been surprised by this - one of my top-ten wackiest VIA consists ever seen. The date is July 3, Y2K and at dusk, VIA train 68 has 6417, 3 LRC cars, 3 HEP2 cars, and three (yes, I said three) F40's on the tail-end. Western unit 6451 is dead, but colourful Kool-Aid bedecked 6405-6411 are online and pushing hard eastward. The dark sky activated my camera flash, reflectorizing a nearby Blazer's turn indicator light and the marker lights and Kool-Aid logos on both units:

The following angle only works in winter: accumulated snow from the platforms and parking lot has been dumped to form a lofty snowbank, just west of the station. An eastbound freight approaches and passes by on the south track behind 6016 (ex-5026)-9665-9664 on February 15, 1997:

A gang of sectionmen was heading east on the south track on May 8, 1998. This International hirail truck might put off at the nearby Counter Street crossing:

On October 18, 1997 nine new Amtrak express cars built by Nova Scotia's TrentonWorks are heading for Chicago. An early part of the 100-car order AMTK 71000-71199, these cars later had a wide blue and narrow red stripes above the reporting marks. Benches located under the eaves on both tracks make handy rest spots for railfans during lulls between trains.

This post only scratches the surface of the pile of Kingston platform scenes I've photographed. Watch for future posts spanning the last 35 years, when this station was Kingston's CN, then VIA stop, plus a nice place to watch trains any time of day.

Running extra...

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or as we call them, Will and Kate, left Calgary yesterday at the end of their 9-day Canadian tour of red-and-white Ottawa, stately Quebec, down-home PEI, wild North West Territories and yee-hah Alberta. There'll be no walkabouts with the public in Hollywood, where you'll have to pay to watch William play polo. Marco!

Also wrapping up a tour is Jason Shron of Rapido Trains. Having toured Canada on VIA Rail from coast-to-coast, Jason is now home and Rapido is entering the blogosphere. Watch for Rapido Trains' blog with the lastest post by Bill Schneider during the National Train Show in California's capitol with photos by someone called Dashing, Dangerous Dan.

Just finished listening to CEO of the Sofa by P.J. O'Rourke. The unabridged version, and it felt like it. Tiresome section on wine-tasting, endless Clinton-bashing, but a hilarious passage on winter driving lessons to P.J.'s godson Nick.


Zartok-35 said...

Nice pictures, Mr. Gagnon. Everyone has their special train place. Kingston has seen many variations of the great canadian brace(Hellcat-C630x2, SD40U-Hellcatx2).

Wasn't that derailment in 1986?

Adam Walker said...

Nice shots, Eric.
Kingston station looks more accessible than the stations around here. The closest I got to shooting on platform was a few weeks ago and, even then, I was concerned about the transit cops coming over for a "chat".

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments, Elijah (duly corrected that) and Adam (Kingston platform wide open).

Closest thing to a cop at Kingston is the Gestipark (or Gestapopark?) guy trolling the parking lot for expired parking passes.


Bryan said...

Hi Eric,

I've waiting for another post about Kingston, and this one is definitely nostalgic for me! The station, Queens, and Kingston Mills were my three favourite spots in the area, but the station tend to win because it had bathrooms, bus access, and warmth in the winter. There's also that dedicated railfan bench down at the end of the platform. Also, I sometimes found going up on the Princess Street bridge embankment offered a good view...although that spot near the Rideau Trail was sometimes a little sketchy and occasionally a homeless campout. Nonetheless, one of my best moments there was a CN meet just after the evening VIA rush. The sound of two trains going under the bridge at the same time was awesome.

As always, looking forward to more posts about Kingston's rail past (especially the Outer Station/Hanley Spur, and the LaFarge plant on the Bath Spur if you have any notes on it).

Best regards,

Eric said...

I will definitely be posting on the topics you mentioned, Bryan. To use a phrase by John Ozell, I have an "embarrassment of riches". So much to post, so little time.

Plus, I will be serializing Kingston Platform Scenes...I could start a whole new blog on this, but will continue alternating these with posts on other Canadian topics.

Great to hear your memories, and thanks for your comments,

Unknown said...

You fellows are a wealth of knowledge on two legs. Here is a question for you . Do any of you know if someone is recording the street art that has appeared on trains in the last 10-15 years? I find it fascinating...a little vandalistic , but fascinating none the less .

Eric said...

Yes, powmill, there are fans of train graffiti. My official position is that it's a crime, and the perpetrators have been trespassing while tagging railway equipment.

My unofficial position is that it's sometimes artful and colourful, and somebody must enjoy it because model train manufacturers sell car kits and decal sets to accurately portray graffiti. Oh, my wife says she likes it too (!) and often comments on it while we're watching a train go by.

I've also seen a book and websites dedicated to train graffiti. The websites allow taggers and their fans to view their artwork rolling across North America's railway network.

Hope this helps,