Friday, June 28, 2013

Canada Day 2013

Just in time for Canada Day, here are photos I've taken in every province*. Each photo is matched with passages written by notable Canadians to commemmorate the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Canada in 1939. You'll see the occasional train, and more importantly for Canada Day, the scenic majesty of our great nation!

You never know what peace is until you walk on the shores or in the fields or along the winding read roads on Abegweit on a summer twilight when the dew is falling and the old, old stars are peeping out and realize the sea keeps its nightly tryst with the little land it loves. 
...Lucy Maud Montgomery. (Above) Fishing boat and harbour at North Rustico PEI 

A peerless sea with multitudes of islands and countless arms forming beautiful bays. It rushes through a funnel-shaped entrance into the Bay of Fundy and rises in the highest tides of the world. But not only has the sea given to Nova Scotia beauty, it has furnished many of her sons with a means of livelihood. In numberless little villages along the shore, men are at work mending their nets, making ready their boats to set forth to the briny deep. 
...Clara Dennis, Low tide in Advocate Harbour NS
From a scenic point of view New Brunswick is a land of picturesque and startling contrasts. It has every kind of beauty, wild or tranquil - the thunderous plunge and savage gorge of Grand Falls; crowding, darkly-wooded heights; rolling green upland farmsteads; sleepy red-and-white villages; a chain of luxuriant meadow-islands studded with orange field-lilies, elm trees and willows
...Charles G.D. Roberts. Grand Falls NB
Winter and spring and snow and heat alternated, yet left my wondering purpose undisturbed. And Quebec was born. It was not in the forest alone that I found myself; it was as an enterprise. I was a settler, peasant, soldier, workman, merchant and navigator, trapper and missionary all in one. And then, one morning, as I wiped my forehead and drew my eyes away from the daily task, suddenly, around me, I perceived New France.
...Robert Choquette, Quebec City QC
From every perspective Ottawa is dominated by Parliament Hill and its Houses, whose central point is the Peace Tower in which is enshrined a small and precious memorial chapel - the nation's tribute to those who died in the war of 1914-18. Ontario's flavour is not to be found in landscape, architecture or industries. It lies in the character of its people, in their sense of freedom, their sense of the possibilities for social and economic progress.
...Katherine Hale. Parliament Hill, Ottawa ON
Manitoba had been admitted into Confederation and was so small that it was called 'the postage stamp province'. But Lord Dufferin was sure of its future. In a speech, he made this prophecy, "Manitoba is destined to be the keystone of a mighty arch of sister provinces stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific." 
...W. T. Allison. 'Coke can' grain cars at Symington Yard, Winnipeg MB
Wheat Country, men call Saskatchewan, for it is wheat that girds her; wheat that rivets to her golden heart the young, as well as the old and proud, provinces of Canada. Men fear her hardness when she wakes the heavens to imperial rages; and her affection, too, when for a royal mantle, she catches and holds the sunlight of the world beneath her skies of blue - unending. 
...Mary Weekes. Pioneer grain elevator at Rosetown SK.
The long billows of waving grain-fields as Alberta became an agricultural province, the bustling towns and cities of a sudden prosperity, the consecration of war and the burdens of readjustment, with always the steadfast mountains standing guard, has been distilled a spirit which is particularly the spirit of Alberta. It is an adventurous spirit, broad in vision, intense in energy, generous in motive, courageous in accomplishment and undismayed in defeat. 
...Robert J.C. Stead. Elk and river from the dome car, near Banff, AB
Adventurous ones want to invade the silent places, where no foot falls but the feet of wild animals - the long beaches of white sand packed hard by the pounding surf, fertile meadow lands where no plow has turned the sod, rich waiting valleys where seasons come and go, but no one knows but the birds and bears, for those treasures are guarded by impenetrable forests, steep and rugged coast lines, menacing mountain ranges. 
...Nellie L. McClung. Mountains from VIA's Skeena, Smithers BC

Running extra...

Still feeling especially patriotic? Check out previous posts of Canada Day by Train from 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

*Newfoundland became a province in 1949, and it was not included in the original 1939 writings. Good thing, because I haven't made it to The Rock yet!

Now, since you've read this far, it's clear you're an avid Trackside Treasure reader and proud of Canada.  Let's see if you're as observant as you are patriotic. You can win a Trackside Treasure Patriotic Prize Pack by counting the number of photos in this post that feature a Canadian flag or maple leaf. No tricks here, they're fairly obvious, usually on a building or form of transportation. Simply list which provinces' photos in an email to me (email address in the blog header) or as a comment after this post. Two Packs to be won...good luck et bonne chance, eh?

July 1 - Canada Day update:
Loyal Trackside Treasure readers Elijah Hall of Saskatoon and Jakob Mueller of Ottawa are the first to have correctly answered that five of the photos contain Canadian flags: PEI, NS, ON and MB.  The CCGS at Quebec City was a bonus, as it sports a maple leaf logo.  The Pioneer elevator was certainly red-and-white, but there's no flag to be seen.  Patriotic Prize packs are on their way to the two winners. Thanks to all for your participation!

Happy Canada Day to one and all!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Brockville to Morrisburg, June 2013

On June 15, I had the pleasure of being invited by the Seaway Valley Model Railroaders to speak at their annual banquet evening in Morrisburg, Ontario. I enjoyed sharing some VIA history, the creation of my VIA books, and inspired the group and their spouses to consider creating their own book, to write what they know and enjoy! Starting my trip east on Highway 2 in Brockville, there was a paucity of passenger trains at the triple-tracked VIA station (above).
Any time I am driving on Parkedale Avenue West, I check out the spur into Wills Transfer Limited, off the Canadian Pacific line north to Smiths Falls. Last visit there were three boxcars, but this day there was only one, a graffiti'd 50-foot CN boxcar (above). Just east of Brockville at Maitland, the Dyno Nobel Nitrogen trackage leaves the north track of CN's Kingston Sub (the telegraph poles in background), then loops east, north then west around the plant property, which is just west of the former DuPont Maitland plant.  Looks like a switch has been removed:
There were many chip trucks along the highway.  Knowing that a buffet was being laid on in Morrisburg, I wisely abstained. Reaching Prescott, I headed north on Lawrence Street to Railway Avenue to find the former Grand Trunk Railway station.  An eastbound VIA train behind two P42's rocketed east as I approached.  The station hosts the Grenville County Historical Society, though its platform has been fenced for safety reasons, looking west:
Looking west from the same spot on the platform, the CN foreman's truck spends the weekend.

Several times during this trip, I was put in mind of CN Winnipeg hogger Mark Perry's 365 Project.  This photographic journey through 2013 hosts a photo per day, consisting of whatever's in front of Mark's cameras that day.   I asked Mark to suggest some captions for these photos, and I'll include the ones that popped into my mind too.  Working independently, sometimes it's like we shared the same brain! [Mark: "Copy 19Y" Mine: "Old Girl"]
At the Prescott Canadian Coast Guard base on the St Lawrence River, CCGS Griffon and CCGS Tracy were docked, along with several smaller boats and scows, plus the old buoys club:
Looking to the east at the same waterfront location, St Lawrence Cruise Lines' Canadian canal/river cruise ship 'Canadian Empress' awaited its passengers, with the Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge in the background.
The Port of Prescott includes a massive 389-silo terminal grain elevator seen here from Highway 2:
Finally, a ship that I'd been following from east of Brockville hove into view.  Federal Hunter is seen here downbound in ballast, photographed from the old (pre-Seaway) Galop Canal park:
Just east of Cardinal, the ship passed symbols of the two great nations that share the Seaway, allowing marine commerce to pass freely into the heart of our shared continent. [Mark: Free trade on the high seas. Mine: Dual Flags Scheme]
At Cardinal, the Ingredion (formerly Canada Starch/Casco) corn sweeteners wet-milling plant on the water is served by a private spur running through the town northward to the interchange along the south track of CN's Kingston Sub. [Mine: End of Steel. Mark End of the Yellow Road]
Zooming in, several tank cars and covered hoppers are on the interchange and run-around tracks off Station Road. 
In Cardinal, between the recreational centre, water tower and Highway 2, Ingredion stores three tracks of cars just north of Highway 2, parallel to Dishaw Street with their spur passing between them:
The old song goes '...the railroad runs through the middle of the house..." and just about through God's house in this case. Imagine the Ingredion GMD-1 trundling along here.
[Mark: Storage, Grand Trunk style. Mine: Grand Trunk Wet-Dry] just west of Morrisburg, an enterprising homeowner has used a Grand Trunk coil car lid to provide some behind-the-house.  I literally had to turn the car around and drive back to photograph this unique structure!
Just south of Highway 401 off Ottawa Street on Jones Road, CN's former station at Morrisburg is now a maintenance base. A piggyback ramp and express building is located farther east, more clearly visible in this CN image from decades ago.
[Mine: Something National Railways. Mark: We seem to be missing a "C"] On the west side of the station, a relic in relief:

Running extra...

It was great to meet the avid model railroaders of the Seaway Valley club, and I really appreciated their hospitality at the McIntosh Country Inn.  It was a great evening of dining, photos and talking trains.  Even the spouses participated, asking some great questions! Thanks to  Gary Baillargeon for inviting me and to the club for their warm welcome. The club is doing some great modelling and participates actively in community events. My section forces are checking out the new arrival in my yard:

I just finished listening to Traffic - Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt. I learned that it's best to be a late merger, that 350 Americans die every year entering the interstate going the wrong way, that at a yellow light, stepping on the brakes causes more accidents. Just yesterday I saw a female driver eating a yogurt while driving on a local major thoroughfare! With both hands!

Trackside Treasure welcomes Ottawa blogger Michael Hammond.  Michael's Beachburg Sub blog covers a variety of Ontario railway subjects both modern and retro, blended with his family's railway history and railfanning.  You can find Michael's blog in the UCOR Second Section in the right sidebar.  Great to have you aboard, Michael and keep on blogging!

Just in time for Canada Day! Shoreline Productions' singing bridge performs O Canada.  Featuring Kingston's own Lasalle Causeway, historically known as the penny bridge. Hum along!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CP Detours on CN's Kingston Sub

CN and CP's Montreal-Toronto mainlines (the Kingston Sub and Belleville/Winchester Subs respectively) are sometimes fouled by derailments.  Since CP's line is single-track, the lack of redundancy can lead to detours over CN.  By contrast, both CN's tracks would have to be impassable to force a detour over CP lines.  This has happened east of Brockville, with CN freights being sent CN Coteau to Ottawa to Smiths Falls then CP to Brockville. Usually though, one track can be cleared and detours over CP are not required.

I've been able to document some recent detours. Usually, CN Rail Traffic Controllers handle CP trains when a window of time appears between CN and VIA trains, and the CP trains are routed over the shortest section of available CN trackage to bypass the blockage. Interchange locations Toronto, Brockville, Brighton and Port Hope ON; Dorval and Montreal QC have been used to handle CP detours on CN.

December 31, 1985: Along Sucker Lake at Mi 31.5 Belleville Sub, CP No 505 derailed eight of twelve units and 36 cars. Toronto auxiliary behind CP 5520-1811-1831 was at the site. On CN's Kingston Sub:

  • On January 2, I observed an eastbound CP freight at 1620 behind three CP Centuries, likely CP No 404. 
  • On January 4 at 1815, a CP eastbound without ditchlights was powered by CP 4564-4561-4500-8760, approximately 90 cars and van 434581.
  • Also on January 4, CP No 501's third unit had died: CP 5550-5504-5542 with van 434434 and the 19th car was being setout at Queens.
  • On January 5 at 0140, I observed CP 5958-3080-5721-5718 leading an intermodal westbound with Angus van 434581.
  • Also on January 5, a CP container train was westbound with three units at 1010, a westbound freight with three CP vans at 1400, a CP eastbound at 1445 and a CP westbound intermodal with CP 5527-5977-4504 and van 434113.
January 13, 1991: East of Bolingbroke ON at Mi 30 Belleville Sub, CP No 516 derailed 33 of 52 cars. CP detoured over CP Brockville Sub from Smiths Falls to Brockville, thence CN Kingston Sub Brockville to Brighton from January 14 to 16.

August 29, 1995: Near Tichborne ON on the Belleville Sub, a CP freight derailed some cars though they did not uncouple, and eight miles of  track was damaged.  CP 4678(sic)-5521 were eastbound on that day, with 5520 leading a westbound on August 30.  I observed CP No 902 with CP 5617-ex-MILW 6366 eastbound with 35 cars from the Bayridge Drive overpass on August 29 at 1125. Detours lasted into September, with delays over CN compounded by track and ballast work east of Napanee - CN's Kingston Sub was down to one track. (One year later, CP experienced another derailment, of 36 cars at Dalhousie Mills QC, Mi 42.6 Winchester Sub!)
Detours continued on September 1, with CP eastbounds running on CN. West of Trenton at Morningstar Road, CP 5757-HLCX 3023 led an intermodal at 1455 under threatening skies. CP's mainline is in foreground:
CP westbounds were on CP rails, with a mixed freight/intermodal westbound at 1903 5595-HLCX 6202. At 1820, an eastbound intermodal with 5648-HLCX 3679 was on CN at Lawson Settlement Road:
Also at Lawson Settlement Road looking west, an eastbound intermodal passed CN's Kingston Sub milepost and concrete mile marker at 1931. CP's mainline is in the background (below). The train had been in track 4 at Brighton, likely having crossed over from CP after a trainman walked the train. At 1943 a 70-car eastbound mixed freight with was 5657-4237 was on CP rails, as was a westbound at 2100 behind CP 1841-1802-1808. In Belleville yard at 2115, a long CP intermodal train with no power, CP power at the roundhouse, CP 5845 was in the yard, and CN was running short of power and crews, as the detours continued to take a toll on the capacity and crews of the Kingston Sub. On September 9, an eastbound intermodal at 1630 was powered by CP 5658-5585 at Kingston, with a two-unit CP freight of auto parts eastbound an hour later!
February 21, 2003: At Lonsdale ON at Mi 79.8 Belleville Sub, CP No 251 Eng 8654 stopped to take the siding. CP No 410's 30th car had an overheating axle which derailed into No 251. Twenty-one cars derailed, with propane tank cars being blown more than 1 mile into nearby pastures.  More than twenty-four trains were derailed from at least February 22 to 24, with high-priority intermodal trains detouring on CSX Chicago-Buffalo thence CP Buffalo-Binghamton-Montreal.  I observed CP No 159 Eng 8557 westbound at 1330 near Mi 179 Kingston Sub along Bath Road at the Bayridge Drive overpass (top photo and below):

The same train three miles west, at Coronation Boulevard (L.C. Gagnon photos)
CP No 159 met and helped CN No 306 at Mi 183 Kingston Sub with a knuckle, then approached Mi 184:
Two hours later an 80-car CP No 308 grain train was eastbound with CP 5776-6010-5662.

Mid-January, 2004: CP derailed a freight off the Garden Street bridge in Whitby onto the road below, resulting in two fatalities in a vehicle passing underneath. CP rerouted several trains onto the Kingston Sub as a result, including a westbound intermodal led by CP 9022

June 5, 2009: Near Oshawa at Mi 174 CP Belleville Sub, CP No 235 derailed four of seven units and 27 cars due to a broken axle on fourth unit CP Eng 4652. I observed CP Red Barns 9003-9010 on what might have been CP No 150, making 60 mph eastbound and meeting VIA No 65 Eng 911 west of Mi 178 Kingston Sub near Vista Drive at dusk.
Head-end, tail-end!
While the above represent major recent detours, it's possible that there have been others. In September 2010, CP experience a derailment on its Winchester Sub., and used its Brockville Sub from Smiths Falls then CN's Kingston Sub to Montreal from Brockville. I have to wonder if CP and CN will ever entertain directional running between Montreal and Toronto?  Unlikely, due to the presence of VIA trains and CN's double track, neither of which exists on other directional running locations in Northern Ontario and British Columbia.  Wouldn't it be cool though, to see CN and CP freights operating together?

Running extra...

Canadian Pacific: Now more than ever! We're selling off fully-depreciated stuff! CP will send out emails to those interested in bidding on assets for disposal.  A favourite is the ol' Tridem Container Chassis or obsolete 48-foot containers at obscure locations across CP's North American network.  Today's new offers: 4,000 turnable  wheel axles (I read it as turntable) but wait...a land-locked and weed-grown turntable in Kenmare, North Dakota. Kenmare where? This ain't Craigellachie! Perfect for that tourist railway or museum. Give it a spin!

VIA has commented on the just-released Transportation Safety Board report into the derailment of VIA No 92. I've read the 75+ page report, with its themes of cameras, recorders, crashworthiness and automatic train-braking system implementation. It is hoped some technological advances in the field of rail safety will not let this incident remain in vain.

Just finished reading Lions of Kandahar by US Special Forces Major Rusty Bradley. A moving passage about  air support rendered by two A-10s, callsign Tusk 16: "Pulling up, they started to climb into the darkening sky. The lead A-10 made a steep left turn and came straight toward Sperwan Ghar. He couldn't have been more than a hundred feet off the deck. I could see him clearly in side the cockpit as he rolled the plane slightly onto its right side, looking down at us over his shoulder as he gave us a thumbs-up. As the plane cleared the hill, he levelled out, rocked his wings back and forth, and shot straight up into the sky doing a slow, steady barrel roll. To this day, that scene is burned into my memory."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Modelling Portage - Operations

Now it's time to fill in some operational details and possibilities, plus share some additional structures for the Portage la Prairie layout trackplans in the previous post. While I only included some signature scenes and structures for the trackplans, there is always more that can be done to contextualize a prototype-based 1980's Portage layout. My chief railfanning haunt in Portage was the steps of the passenger waiting room in CN's station (above).  From there I had good lighting and sightlines of the passing action.  Once I was able to drive (!) my aunt and uncle's car, I had more mobility from West Tower to East Tower and beyond. Spoiler alert...this post is Super Dense with SD's.
CN's station was home to the CN operation/station agent (who usually parked his car near the bay window in front of the station) the VIA ticket counter, foremen and some baggage and express traffic. In August 1978, VIA's Super Continental behind 6515-6607-6502 is handling baggage and passengers, with MPE 'B' elevator, CP's motor car sheds and Engro fertilizer shed in the background.  Interestingly, the Texaco/Shell/Esso fuel dealer spur across Third St NE is clearly visible in the foreground.  I don't recall seeing tank cars spotted here during my 1978+ visits, though I have seen such a photo online in an earlier era.
Photos including CN station photo (top), above and next three by D.J. Gagnon taken in 1988-1989.  The fuel dealer spur is only partly visible, having grown over with vegetation (above). CN 5247 and another SD with a Coke can covered hopper work the CP interchange, located where the CN 86-foot hi-cube boxcar is in the background before heading west.  CN's ramp track diverges to left in foreground. Note scrap strapping and banding at left of photo:
Working the interchange from the east end, CN 5254-5070 and a slabside CN covered hopper are heading for East Tower. In the lower photo, the units are crossing Trenton Avenue.  The white structure is a North American Van Lines storage warehouse - a classic, added-to whitewashed building that would be a fun kitbash. Also, note the plethora of poles in these photos!

Three road units to lift one car from the team track? On August 20, 1978 CN black-widow SD40's 5134-5194-5182 have been working the CP interchange and are now backing a covered hopper of corn loaded on August 18 back to the yard, as the trainman keeps an eye out for the approaching crossings. In the background are the CN station and apartment building near the Skyline bridge. It was quite common for CN (and CP) westbounds to drop their train in the yard and perform local work with road power. For CN, units worked the interchange, yard, team track, elevators (usually lighter units) and as far west as Bloom.  For CP, road units rarely if ever ventured west of the station while making lifts and setouts in the yard, with 6569 handling local switching. Both railways' through freights also stopped to switch the east end of the yard, usually lifting cars for Winnipeg and points east.
This eastbound CN freight led by CN 5175 is eastbound through the yard. in June 1988.  Notice the compactness of CN's yard trackage here, indicating the prevalence of block-swapping over local industry switching. A tank car, plus cuts of ballast cars and covered hoppers occupy the three yard tracks, with switch leading to the interchange yard at right.
West of CN's station, the storage track and United Grain Growers spurs were often in use. A boarding outfit train, with insulated water tank car CN 80284, white fleet and house cars looking very much at home here in September 1989.  Above and below: D.J. Gagnon photos.
CN (foreground) and CP mainlines are shown east of Eighth St in 1982.  An eastbound freight with a covered script gondola and CP 434330 pass between CP wooden and steel minibox Service cars in the storage track, and the Munro Farm Supplies Cominco Elephant fertilizer elevator and shed.  These durable little turquoise elevators dotted the prairies, are easily modelled, and are a magnet for vehicles such as fertilizer trucks, trailers and pickups.
Slightly out-of-the-way, in its location on a spur running off CP's yard lead, north of Fourth St NE was the NM McCallister Pea & Seed elevator. A westbound freight's trainman is visible just ahead of CP 8702-4440-4030 in the yard on August 22, 1978.  Centred on a Waterloo Manufacturing Co distribution warehouse with a large blue elevator and silos, this is the best photo I have of this interesting Portage industry.
I have had little luck finding any information on this plant, though it was featured (lower right of page) in a 1983 Province of Manitoba brochure on historic properties in Portage la Prairie, along with both railways' depots:
Another industry I included in my trackplans is the interesting North American Can of Canada Ltd warehouse northeast of Third St NE. This industry received CN combination door boxcars switched by 6569.  I suppose the warehouse supplied the local produce operations. A westbound CP hotshot behind 5518-5528-4739 passes the warehouse in August, 1978.  The grassy Engro fertilizer track is visible in foreground, with McCallister just visible in background, left of trees.
CP 5788-3091 with ditchlights and class lights ablaze are working the east end of CP's yard in 1987 before rejoining their train with a 40-foot CP insulated boxcar. Notice the yard lead and double-ended yard tracks. Between CP and CN yards, Manitoba Telephone System maintained a large supply and pole yard that would make an interesting addition to a 1980's Portage layout.
Also in 1987, 5746-5718 have pulled up to the station before entering the yard off their westbound freight, likely to pick up paperwork from the agent. Notice the absence of semaphore blades, with nearby, free employee parking! Above and below: D.J. Gagnon photos. CP's yard is still busy, with road freights pausing to make lifts and setouts.  The station is a museum, the station area has more trees, fewer structures and better sightlines today!
Plus ca years earlier, a similar scene.  Flags a-flyin' high-multimark 5534-5505 are heading for the yard across Third St NE on the yard lead on June 18, 1980. The local van is visible between the units and freight cars in the yard at right.  For a Portage layout, one or two units idling in front of the CN or CP station are absolutely prototypical! A few days earlier, another westbound had dropped seven grain cars in the yard that were soon spotted at Portage's CP-served elevators.
Safely tucked away in a corner of CN's yard, a Portage-stationed plow and small Jordan spreader in June 1982! Freshly-painted and outshopped two months previous in April, CN 55251 and 51082 respectively huddle behind the cupola-topped Co-Op fertilizer shed. Portage was a handy spot for CN to stash MoW equipment, as these two snow-fighters prove. Check out Randy O'Brien's latest Portage layout plans including a three-way switch serving the interchange tracks!

Running extra...

Just listened to Poke the Box by Seth Godin, an inspirational look at taking initiative. On two discs, this is one book I should listen to again.  Seth has filled it with so much good stuff that there's almost too much to digest at one listening.  For instance...a study by the Max Planck Institute confirmed that those who get lost in the woods, though they believe they're walking in a direct line to reach help, actually do wander in circles. Also, ever wonder why maps don't come with a guarantee? 

Rapido Trains is publicizing their GMD-1. Though I believe the word iconic (and epic, artisan, signature)  is over-used, this uniquely Canadian locomotive model certainly qualifies. We all know (don't we?) that it's properly designated GMD-1 (22,000+ Google hits) vs GMD1 (a paltry 800+ hits). Imagine a brace of GMD-1's growling across a Portage la Prairie layout. Epic!

Reports and photos surfaced online showing a partially-painted VIA Business Class LRC car in use on CN's Kingston Sub, likely undergoing testing. Formerly known as VIA 1 (not surprisingly, I still use that term) this car would rate a VIA 0.5 in its not-quite-ready dark forest (see above) green Nikesque swoosh scheme. Nike said 'Just do it' and Seth Godin replied 'Just do what? How do I do it?' Now who's wandering in circles (also see above). Time for another Keurig, my friends.