Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy New Year 201(pick)3!

Following close on the heels of my Christmas-ellaneous 201st post, here's another miscellaneous 201st post.  What does the view down the track look like for 2013? Everyone engages in deep thought at the start of a new year...what will the year bring?  Achievements and disappointments, highs and lows, the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.   I'd like you to join me in some crystal-balling.  What follows is a look inside the Trackside Treasure High-Level Strategic Planning Document 1.0, also known as a coil scribbler full o' Post-it notes: 
Each Post-it represents a potential post, upon which I write various references, photos and other information I'll use to create that post.  (These Post-its don't include the additional subjects from the Posts in Production on Trackside Treasure's sidebar, which are also fair game for purposes of this exercise.) Here's page 1:
A lot of these ideas just get 'stuck in my craw' or perhaps are railway-related bubblegum that stick to my shoe sole, as I stroll along the virtual sidewalk of online or published railway subjects.  Here's page 2:
Trackside Treasure exists as a synergistic relationship between what interests me and what others might want to read.  See any personal favourites here?  If so, what's your pick 3...if you could enjoy three of these potential posts on your next visits to Trackside Treasure, which ones would they be?  Send me a comment or an email - I'll tabulate the submissions, and then get to work.  For that matter, send me your ideas for other potential posts, too.  These can become future Post-it's.  As always, thanks for your input, suggestions and continuing interest in this cornucopic corner of cyberspace.
(Top photo - engineer's view from VIA 6507 on No 1 at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba on June 11, 1982.)

Running:  Extra...
Resolving: I resolve to do my own version of Psy's sensational Youtube video.  I'll call it Gagnon-Style!
Refreshing: Leftover Christmas turkey, baked goods and fruitcake (heck, the latter will last until June!)
Reflecting: I have a room full of mirrors, and sometimes I go there just to reflect.
Rewarding: I had the opportunity to meet fellow VIA author Chris Greenlaw.  We had a great time talking trains, VIA and Canadiana.  Watch for an upcoming blog post.  Thanks to everyone for allowing me to reach a 2012 milestone.
Returning: New Year's greetings to Trackside Treasure community members.  Have a good one, and all the best for 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas-ellaneous 201

Every 100th post, I bring together some miscellaneous stuff that I want to share, but which doesn't fit anywhere else.  It's also a way of celebrating the continued viability of my blog, by allowing my blog content to seem as random, easily-distracted and unfocused, much as I am in real life.  This 200th post is a little late, actually coming in as the 206th Trackside Treasure post.  Hey,  I was busy with my VIA Rail books  and preparing several posts that I didn't want to delay.  So here it is. Better late than never, and miscellaneous as ever!
We all know that any self-respecting Christmas tree should have a train under it.  I scanned a couple of pages of a childhood-era Sears catalogue to show those who are too young to remember that they actually used to sell train sets in the Christmas catalogues (youngish Trackside Treasure reader asking, "What's a Christmas catalogue?") The above catalogue also included Planet of the Apes 8-inch tall vinyl action figures, plus GI Joe with KUNG-FU GRIP! 

A 1974 Life-Like Catalogue, available in a toy store at the time, reveals several different trainsets available: D&H, steam, and action-oriented, including a photo of a sample trainset box.
A Leisure World catalogue gives some early indications as the cosmic necessity for Jason Shron to be born and Rapido Trains to be founded.  VIA FP45: foobie.  VIA blue-painted fluted passenger cars:  'nother foobie.  But look below at the cool freight cars, marked Aurora.  These were some different prototypes than had previously been available, featuring Canadian roadnames.  
More cool freight cars, this time under the Tyco brand.  One of those Ralston Purina wood reefers made many rounds on my early layouts.  Searchlight car! Piggyback ramp! Cattle loading!  I should disclose that I like the trainset rolling stock from this era, if you can't tell already.  ExactRail and the other super-detailed rolling stock manufacturers are a far cry from these resilient yet unresearched earlier models.
Another Canadian first...Parker Brothers Lionel HO catalogue showing the most Canadian roadnames available at that time.  Though this catalogue didn't show it, the versions of these cars I had featured the T-prefixed stock number as the reporting marks.  Encore des foobies!  Get a load of that 'GP-30' locomotive that's actually a GP20 with a C424 number on it. But they were Canadian!
Bachmann advertisement from Model Railroader magazine.  Look, even one Canadian scheme among all those guaranteed sellers lettered for the big Class 1 roads.  Any young model railroader of the 1970's would be pleased to find any of the above from Santa under their tree. We all know that Santa likes trains!
Maine Central: the Route of the Pine Tree.  In this case, it sure looks like a Christmas tree logo to me.  I unearthed this letter in a stack of responses I received in my teens from railroads, many now mega-merged. Do you think there's anyone at the railroads today who would respond, never mind on a nicely-written and perfectly-formatted business letter on letterhead?  Unlikely.

In December 1986, newly employed full-time, I took my parents for a day trip to our former home, Montreal.  Upon arrival at Montreal's Central Station, we posed in front of this very festive tree in the concourse, with the arrivals and departures board in the background.
I always hark back to my post showing VIA Christmas consists from 1976-1985.  Meanwhile, over at Windsor Station, CP put on another festive display, with real trees alive with lights on an awning.
It's very important that I remember to thank my Trackside Treasure blog partners here at each year-end:
-Steve, Confessions of a Train Geek
-John, CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Sub
-Chris, Prince Street Terminal
-Adam, The Walker Express
-Chris, Canadian Freight Car Gallery
-Dave, Pax Canadensis & Rolly Martin Country
-Manny, Modelling VIA F40PH-2's
-Train of the Week
-Matt, Saintjohnrailfan's Ultimate Adventures
-Robert, Oil-Electric
-Jason, Rapido Trains Blog
-Chris, Lyon Valley Northern
-Scott, Prince Rupert Rail Images

These blogs and sites bring lots of flavour, photos, videos, modelling, prototype, Ontario, BC, Manitoba, Eastern Canada, Pacific Northwest, CN, CP, VIA, GO, ONR and other good stuff to Trackside Treasure readers, as if ripped from today's railroading headlines or memories of yesterday.  Thanks, guys, for enriching us all with your engrossing and engaging material that I'm pleased to share!
Nothing says Christmas more than a snowy train shot or two.  VIA 6775-6541 speed seven cars westward through Napanee in early 1985 (above), while this photo from the Brian Schuff collection shows M420 2523 leading two RDC's, one an RDC-9 through what is likely snowy southern Ontario scenery (below).  Both photos of VIA's  unique power are featured in my second book on VIA Rail and epitomize Canadian improvisation as well as the unique trains and operations of VIA.
Try to take in a Christmas concert, movie or TV special.  Some of my favourite performances this year have been Little Big Town (Children, Go Where I Send Thee - a capella and a standing ovation!) and Jennifer Nettles on the Country Music Association Country Christmas, The Band Perry (Amazing Grace) on CBC's I'll be Home, and Katherine Jenkins at the Mormon Tabernacle at Temple Square.

Merry Christmas to all Trackside Treasure readers, commenters, emailers, contributors and best wishes to all for a healthy and prosperous 2013!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

VIA's Canadian, 1984

VIA's Canadian was the only Toronto-Vancouver train from late-1981 to mid-1984.  While not as varied as the trains of the 1979 rainbow (more pertinent to Amtrak) or circus train (RBB&B or Strates shows?) era, nor as frequent as the two daily transcons through Portage before the 1981 cuts, these F-hauled trains still included ex-CN and ex-CP cars, sometimes alternating i.e. coaches, diners, sleepers.  Giving us a glimpse of VIA's car rotations you'll notice the eastbound consist of No 2 returning from Vancouver a few days after the westbound consist of No 1.  I'll note some interesting variations in the consists below, most of which have accompanying photos.

Above, No 1 at White River, Ontario on May 27: 6510-6619-612-107-3228-763-5715-Edgeley-Amherst Manor-Craig Manor-Champlain-Thompson Manor-Chateau Vercheres-Prince Albert Park (no Skyline car), and below as Budd and the CPR intended, draped like a stainless steel curtain around the edge of a shimmering lake in the wilds of northern Ontario:
No 1 at MacGregor, Manitoba at 1541 on May 29: 6504-6603-616-5654-3235-510-3226-Everett Manor- Lorne Manor-Fraser Manor-1349-Dawson Manor - Chateau Dollier - Banff Park (no Dayniter nor 100-series coach, but two of the ubiquitous 3200's). 
I caught No 2 at the hotbox detector about 6 miles east of MacGregor the same day at 1623: 6505-6602...506-Egerton-Brant Manor-Grant Manor...Kootenay Park.  Partial consist only because this 12-car thing was going like stink!
For a going-away shot of Kootenay Park and the detector, see this post on hotbox detectors.  On May 30, No 1 was passing through East Tower at 1447, with the first of the ex-CP rebuilt F's I'd see on this visit: 6553-6615-617-126-3223-504-5700-Chateau Argenson-Christie Manor-Rogers Manor-1363-Ennishore-Chateau Jolliet-Evangeline Park (two Chateau cars). Rebuilt at CN Pointe Ste Charles on July 4, 1980 to CN standards, 6553's peeling paint with CP Rail action red belies its heritage, as does its painted-out VIA nose logo.  Having worked on the Algoma Central, the unit now belongs to the West Coast Railway Association.
Also on May 30, No 2's station stop at Portage at 1709 allows an extreme closeup view of 6566's snout.  Consist: 6566-6610-6614-602-110-3243-511-5723-Elgin Manor-Osler Manor-Draper Manor-1367-Stuart Manor-Chateau Lemoyne-Kokanee Park (two B-units). Rebuilt at PSC on November 26, 1980, 6566 would be lost in the tragic Hinton derailment less  two years later.
A morning of grain elevator photography to the north led me back to Portage in time for No 1 and No 2, and you can find photos and consists in this post about a hot afternoon and a cool spot in the shade on May 31.  June 1 found me east of Portage in the morning, again returning for an (overcast) afternoon of trains, including No 1 on the VIA connecting track at West Tower at 1509: 6550-6605-609-100-3242-502-5703-Clearwater River-Blair Manor-Elizabeth-1371-Bliss Manor-Chateau Roberval-Yoho Park.(River car still in service)  A later PSC rebuild in July 1981, 6550 returned to CP, renumbered 1400 in Royal Canadian Pacific service.
Strangely unphotographed (?raining) No 2 on June 1: 6507-6653-513-612-3220-500-5715-Burton Manor-Edgeley-Amherst Manor-Craig Manor-Champlain-Thompson Manor-Chateau Vercheres-Prince Albert Park (deadheading Skyline behind the power). My original consist heading west except for four cars swapped out. On June 2 we're off to Brandon, as No 2 slides in at 1422: 6504-6616-616-5654-3235-516-5728-Everett-Lorne Manor-Fraser Manor-1349-Dawson Manor-Chateau Dollier-Banff Park (no stainless steel coach).  Same consist as May 29 except for two replacement cars. Interestingly, I saw the last No 109 pass through Brandon this same day, with the first Panorama (Winnipeg-Edmonton-Prince Rupert) the next day).
Gaining CP rails at Shepp from the CN-CP connecting track, here's No 1 on June 4 at 1505: 6553-6615-6613-507-602-129-3213-511-5723-Deep River-Elgin Manor-Bell Manor-Eureka-1367-Hunter Manor-Chateau Lauzon-Kokanee Park.  Some similarities, but seven differences from No 2's consist of May 30 (deadheading Skyline).  Rebuilt at PSC in April 1982, 6557 is now in Cranbrook BC.
At 1620, No 2 gains CN Rivers Sub rails after a westbound CN train of BC-bound lumber empties including up to nine Thrall All-Door boxcars: 6557-6617-601-5622-3202-501-5738-Naiscoot River-Cameron Manor-Laird Manor-1364-Monck Manor-Chateau Richelieu-Revelstoke Park (again no 100-series coach, three Manors, no E-series), same as No 1's May 31 consist.  No 1 was due at Portage at 1457 and No 2 at 1640, meaning this No 2 has done some fast running on CP's Carberry Sub:
Near the CP crossing of the Trans-Canada Highway, No 1 heads west at 1512 on June 5: 6557-6617-617-110-3243-514-5746-Riviere Cloche-Amherst Manor-Craig Manor-1338-Stuart Manor-Chateau Denonville-Laurentide Park:
CP lends VIA a hand the same day at 1640, as SD40-2 5809 leads 6606-6652-609-100-3242-502-5703-Clearwater River-Blair Manor-Elizabeth-1371-Bliss Manor-Chateau Roberval-Yoho Park, identical to No 1 of June 1.  Making an already unfriendly engineer even unfriendlier, this rescue unit-led  train wasted no time getting out of town.  The only rebuilt ex-CP F-unit I missed seeing during this trip was 6569.  Perhaps 5809 had replaced it?  Like the others, 6569 spent ensuing years in Corridor service, now preserved in Squamish BC.
6652, one of three ex-CP B-units rebuilt to CN standards (watch for an upcoming post) was westbound on No 1 at 1507 on June 6: 6566-6652-615-104-3240-500-5715-Nashwaak River-Lorne Manor-Burton Manor-Wascana-Franklin Manor-Chateau Lemoyne-Prince Albert Park unphotographed in the rain, unlike No 2 at West Tower at 1630: 6507 (like 6504 above, your ditchlights connection is showing)-6603-Eureka-606-118-3236-505-5701-Chateau Papineau-Bayfield Manor-Hearne Manor-1340-Macdonald Manor-Chateau Latour-Assiniboine Park (deadheading E-series behind the power):
Heading east from Winnipeg aboard No 2, we met No 1 west of Franz at 1622 on June 8: 6531-6633-601-126-3223-509-5738-Naiscoot River-Blair Manor-Laird Manor-1364-Ennishore-Chateau Jolliet-Revelstoke Park.  
Then, nearing Franz, taken from the vestibule of Dufferin Manor, as clouds scud across a tree-trimmed northern Ontario sky:
No 2 safely tucked under the trainshed at Toronto Union on the morning of June 9 after its long eastward journey: 6542-6616-Edgeley-604-108-3215-506-5752-Warpath River-Osler Manor-Draper Manor-1374-Dufferin Manor-Chateau Varennes-Kootenay Park.
If this post has whetted your appetite for more consists, you'll find a greater selection in my Consist Companion as well as much more information on the ex-CP F's in my Cross-Canada Compendium.  I hope you enjoyed this trip back in time riding and railfanning the Canadian almost 30 years ago,  as much as I did.  Possibly my favourite Trackside Treasure post. Ever.

Running extra...

Though Rapido Trains' products will eventually equip modellers to reproduce these steam-heated consists, (ex-CN B-units just announced), the blue-stripe VIA stainless steel cars will be the last of the Budd sets produced, with CPR and CP Rail cars preceding them.  But no modelled Canadian in this era would be complete without a CP Rail SD40-2 on the point once in awhile. Or C-424, RS18u or Century, especially in eastern Canada.

I like this time of year.  I like Christmas, and I even like Christmas shopping.  Because it's one of the few times of the year I can see my lost, wandering brethren in the malls and stores, looking for that the perfect gift for the people on their list, ball caps on, bewilderment on their faces and scribbled lists in hand.  Trudge on, modern-day Wenceslases!  There's tons of shopping time left!

Friday, December 7, 2012

CSX in Syracuse NY

On November 23 we headed south to Syracuse NY for Black Friday festivities.  I was able to do a commercial cut-out and head to CSX's Mohawk Division 3 mile-long yard facilities, including the largest intermodal yard in all of New York state.  My location: C.P. 286 at the Bridge Street overpass in East Syracuse.  These photos are taken west of the overpass showing CSX's TransFlo transfer facility and 1937-built coaling tower(above) and east (below).  Interestingly, the Village of East Syracuse includes a photo (wait for the slideshow) of a CSX train taken from the Bridge Street overpass!
While I only had about three hours to spend here, weather deterioriated to heavy overcast and showers, dampening my enthusiasm slightly.  Regardless, I wanted to record some of the views available.  When I said three-mile-long yard, I wasn't kidding.  Look at this CSX intermodal train stretched out to the horizon, powered by CSX 934-5247 at 1140:
The above 'drive-by' photo shows the excellent access road that parallels CSX property. Previously, the Syracuse Amtrak station was in this area.  No need to trespass here, and if a train is slow-moving, there is a chance to catch up to it without driving like an idiot. Did I mention trackside dining?  Rico's Ristorante has enticing trackside-view windows.
Amtrak snuck up on me at 1150. This is the Lakeshore Limited from Chicago, with baggage, dining and sleeping cars eastbound from Chicago, due in Syracuse at 1138.
Consist: 129-203-baggage 1738-Viewliner 67048-Amfleet 25001-25096-25079-43385-25117-25008-25007-25015-25098-diner 8528-Viewliners 67000-67007-baggage 1713.
As Amtrak markers disappear into the distance, a mostly empty CSX intermodal freight appeares from behind it with 5259-5412-107.
Continuing west under the Bridge Street overpass, the structure in the distance appears to be a freight house.  Speno rail grinding operations were also based here, before being absorbed by Michigan-based Pandrol-Jackson and later Harsco Track Technologies.
Geeps 2692-2792 trundled east from the TransFlo facility after spotting some track machine flat cars.  At 1205, a couple of units entered the yard with a few intermodal cars: 5436-7779.  Ever heard the term Toaster used for a GE unit?  Here's why. Check out the burn marks on C40-8W 7779:
North side of the yard (Conn Rail Road, says the sign) is home to stored intermodal equipment and CSX maintenance facilities.  (Submit the correct number of STOP signs readily visible in this post and win a prize!) **We have a winner.  Thanks to all for your guesses and being sharp-eyed readers! 
Conrail lives on along Conn Rail Road; the railroad version of Elvis.  This double-door boxcar has vestiges of U-1 wheel stencil, consolidated lube plates and an ACI label. Perhaps an AEI car reader tag too.
Conrail predecessor E-L is also represented:
While rejoining my party at Wal-Mart (where the Salvation Army kettle-minder rings his bells in a suitably attention-getting and hopefully donation-getting manner), I missed an eastbound auto rack train.  No problem, just zoom in from the parking lot to catch these BNSF Auto-Max cars.
And now a selection of US intermodal cars (click to enlarge) you won't see on CN's Kingston Sub.  While regular Trackside Treasure readers know that I usually feature Canadian railroading, Syracuse is close to Kingston, and is the junction of the CSX St Lawrence Subdivision which connects with the CSX Montreal Subdivision at Massena.  The junction is very close to Destiny USA, formerly known as Carousel Mall, and can be seen at the top of this Destiny USA aerial photo

Running extra...

Got ONR? Check out Jerry Marshall's awesome N scale collection.  Adam Walker photographed Jerry's train show display.  It's truly impressive.

CP hunts for savings, moving its Calgary headquarters to cheaper real estate, chopping train starts, cutting their workforce, and no doubt adopting the measures that got CN's operating ratio way down.  Cutting costs since 1885...

NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center featured always cool Tony Bennett, Mariah Carey, Trace Adkins and the tinselly festive and precise Radio City Rockettes.  'Tis the season for Christmas specials.  I share David Letterman's favourite show suggestions: Martha Stewart Makes a Bunch of Cheap Crap from Tinsel.  Due to global warming, CBS has remade Frosty the Snowman into Frosty the Puddle.