Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Spur at Kingston DuPont, 2001

These days, it seems industries are eschewing rail service in favour of truck transport. However, there are some plants that not only continue to receive shipments by rail, but maintain and improve their plant trackage to do so.
In October 2001, grading was taking place along Front Road at Kingston's DuPont (later Invista) nylon plant on CN's Cataraqui Spur. The excavation surely resembled roadbed for additional trackage to the plant, based on its flat profile and gentle curve away from the switching lead to the plant. The new roadbed left the spur, switch points eventually facing east, curving south, then crossing the main road into the east-end parking lot at the plant. The new unloading building and sub-roadbed were visible to the south, the new roadbed entering the plant property proper:
Later the same month, ballast had been trucked in, and some ties were laid on what was now obviously becoming a new unloading track!
Seen from the north side of the trackage from King Street, a hi-rail front-end loader and private contractor crew were installing the turnout to the new track, looking south-east:
The crew had started work after CN No 590 finished switching the plant on Saturday, working over the weekend to finish the installation in time for the train's next arrival on Monday. Looking north-west:
All was in place on a snowy, windswept day in January 2002. This view looks south from the east-end plant parking lot road. Interestingly, the plant Trackmobile seems to have road access from within the plant property on pavement, as it's sometimes visible between cuts of two or three cars. Note the derail and guard rail, as well as the gradient down to the fenced unloading area.
The new unloading facility at the east end of the plant was to facilitate unloading tank cars of one of the feedstocks of nylon production, hexamethylenediamine.
Locomotives would no longer have to enter the plant property to switch tank cars, but could instead switch the new derail-protected facility without the safety concern of moving around between the plant buildings with bell ringing! CN No 590 with engines 4100-4124 places cars for unloading in May 2002, with a new sign warning arriving employees of the new crossing on their way to the parking lot.
Note gradient of track, and derail to help if cars do start rolling out of the spur. There is room for about 10 cars on the new unloading track, which are often spotted in groups of two to five cars - a variety of INVX, GATX and DBUX reporting marks. Setting out loads:
 Pulling empties looking east from the plant parking lot:
The new-style hand-throw switchstand allowed CN's Belleville-Kingston turn No 590, later re-symboled 518, to spot inbound loads of the other feedstock, covered hoppers of adipic acid and lift empties from the plant sidings. Weather-worn CN 4810-4710 switch the plant (through the weeds that have grown in - top photo) in summer 2006 - similar view to the 2002 view of the two 4100-series Geeps (above).

Running extra...

Prince Edward Island modeller and blog partner Chris Mears has produced several unique scale locomotive and rolling stock detailing parts using the Shapeways 3D printing system. Beautiful CN Tempo locomotive short hoods, MLW roadswitcher hood ends, Youngstown doors and many more. See what Chris has created and made available to modellers everywhere. Oh, and then there's the very cool CN caboose project he's working on!

A recent evening visit to Brockville, ON netted more ships than trains - Riverside Treasure! A few short experimental videos follow. During an afternoon visit to Iroquois lock, saltie Andean last port Hamilton shot the lock downbound:
 BBC Austria, upbound for Goderich:
Canada Steamship Lines Cedarglen, also upbound a few minutes behind:
Downbound Zealand Juliana had been at Port Weller Anchorage for few days, after unloading at Sorel then Oshawa:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summertime at Joyceville, August 2014

Pastoral. Bucolic. Idyllic. Thundering trains! Words not normally heard together but entirely appropriate as I stationed myself alongside CN's Kingston Sub on August 14 at Joyceville Road crossing, east of Kingston. The evening VIA parade was about to begin and I was in a nice spot to take in the action. VIA No 55 was the first westbound at 1701 with a short three-car consist behind VIA Eng 910.
CN westbound oil empties train No 711 with 2276-8911 followed at 1715. After a perfunctory packet of covered hoppers and tanks on the head end, the main part of the consist was UN 1267-placarded VMSX crude oil tank cars. Lots and lots of tank cars:
Between the trackside sign and the trackside sumac there is...a train! In this case, eastbound VIA No 66 doubleheading four cars behind 6439-905 at 1750.
I have been calling this background tree the 'Tom Thomson tree' after the famed Canadian artist who was associated with the iconic Group of Seven, though it also reminds me of White Pine by A J Casson. Though the tree looks windswept, it always stays that way. Another westbound freight, likely No 377 judging by the cut of grey ACFX covered hoppers on the head-end, was pulled by 8010-2677 followed by CTCX and UTLX crude oil empty tank cars.
Sylvan signal solitude. Taken from the crossing looking eastward, this view shows the Mi 163 Kings hotbox detector. A view of the Mi 163 detector installation in 2002 shows considerably better right-of-way vegetation control, especially on the roadbed! That overgrown track to the right is not some passing siding or back track  - it's the south main track of CN's freakin' Kingston Sub - one of the busiest mainlines in Canada!
From the south side of the crossing, westbound VIA No 67 appears over the crest, slamming through with 908 leading, three HEP2 cars and 6453 trailing.
Warning: contains graphic images. Still experimenting with my new Nikon settings - fisheye and sepia treatments for No 67...

Looking south across the tracks toward the distant Highway 401, the crossing protection and concession road bracket the scene. Despite bright plumage and chirping, a feathered friend blends in with the scene.
Up close though, he's pretty bright! Zoom in - a male goldfinch has stopped by for a sip of water:
Eastbound VIA No 46 rounds the sumac 'berm' behind 903. Notice the preponderance, nay I should say plethora, of refurbished Business Class 3400-series cars trailing the power on this night's trains.
North side of crossing looking west (above), south side of crossing looking west (below). Notice the 401 just to the left of the blazing lights of No 56. The trees tremble timorously, the cattails cant convincingly, and the Queen Anne's lace quivers quietly...
Meanwhile, just behind VIA No 56 operating on the north track, CN No 308 was plowing ahead on the south track, and VIA No 57 was waiting at Kings for the eastbound VIA to get ahead of 308, with engines IC 2720 (sublettered CN-painted) and newly-repainted ex-UP 2011. No 308 was hauling lots of, you guessed it, NATX crude oil tank cars between cuts of auto racks.
Then and one and only previous photography at this site shows quite a difference. That forest of sumac growing west of the crossing has bisected the sweeping panoramic view (above), while only a few trees are different in the view to the east (below). On April 26, 2002 another CN No 308 was heading east behind engines 5630-5554.
Mid-train Distributed Power IC 'deathstar' 1015 (below). VIA Nos 68 and 69 would soon pass by at 1925 and 1935 respectively. Darkness was descending as I headed home along the 401. Upon reaching Kingston, I stopped on the Sir John A MacDonald overpass to try a video of VIA No 650's P42-HEP2 equipment heading to the wye and overnight on Queens. Then, heading to the station, tripod-less, I steadied my camera against a lamppost to record CN No 148 meeting VIA No 69 (bottom). My first attempts at video with this new camera in non-ambient light conditions! 
VIA No 650 enters Queens 1 to wye
CN No 148 at Kingston station
VIA No 69 makes it station stop as CN No 148 continues to roll east
Running extra...

I'll leave the last word in this post to Tom Warchuk of the Railview Model Railway Club, conveniently located above George's Trains in Markham. While posting a request for 1950's and newer timetable information for Bayview Junction, Tom included the following reference to this humble blog in his Yahoogroups message: "Is there a forum or blog, similar to Trackside Treasure, that deals with Southern Ontario? For those not familiar with Trackside Treasure, it is an amazing well-constructed blog dealing with the Toronto-Kingston corridor**, with excellent articles and pics." [**and other things - my note!]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Canada's Most Scenic Trainwatching Spot?

Where is Canada's Most Scenic location to watch trains? Not necessarily the most tains, or the best trains, but the most photogenic trains due to supremely scenic surroundings. I intended to do a Top Ten. Then I realized it would become a Top 20. You may think the most scenic spot is right where you are. Let's face it - just because Trackside Treasure names Elbow Rapids, ON as Canada's Most Scenic, doesn't mean that a plethora of readers will travel there, cameras in hand to record the rail action. For less effort, less money and more satisfaction, that spot may be one or two miles from where you live, making up in easy access what it may lack in serendipitous scenic splendour. That said, let's get scenic!
Dundas Hill, Ontario - never been there, but I revel in any high-angle photo of this supremely scenic scene that I come across. It was even featured in a United Church bulletin from 1996, illustrating Genesis 12 - Going Out Not Knowing (below).  Even though TRAINS magazine and others have featured ground level photography here, it's just not the same. The top of the Dundas Peak gives one a hawk-like view of the sweeping vista. Present in early photos, it's too bad the station and back track are now gone. (Above) - from page 37 of Greg McDonnell 's superlative Signatures in Steel, CN SD's 5021-5047 lead a train there in June 1972.
I'm not even going to mention Bayview Junction (well, I just did). Mad train frequency, cool recently-redesigned trackage and legendary variety. Not scintillatingly scenic. Not even scenic, though lots of greenery and gardens are nearby - CN rolls pulpwood past the bay in 1981:
A Trackside Treasure poll revealed that 60% of respondents find British Columbia's trackside scenery to be Canada's most photogenic. I couldn't agree more. That's why my next two most scenic spots can be found on the left side of Canada. The first is Painted Canyon, sometimes called White Canyon at Mi 93 of CN's Ashcroft Sub between Lasha and Pitquah. Large rockslide sheds, 20+ bridges and tunnels totalling one mile in 20 miles of trackage have been constructed to CN's mainline through the topography. Here's my vestibule view of rockslide sheds, taken from VIA No 4 in 1985:
I believe the most supremely scenic site in BC is in the Fraser canyon, 6 miles west of Lytton, BC at Cisco. Here, CN and CP's main lines exchange sides of the river. More about Cisco in an upcoming post!
"At Hell's Gate, the waters boil through a small opening between columnar rock formations that once must have formed a natural dam. A suspension bridge and an overhead aerial tram complement the two railways in a tableau of the human assault on this hostile topography.  Nowhere I have traveled has there been such a striking juxtaposition of ferocious natural obstacles and ingenious human inventiveness in conquering them."
The CN looms above CP's Cisco bridge and the frothing Fraser below:
Closer to home, I would nominate CN's Kingston Sub double-track stone-piered bridge over the Napanee River at Napanee, ON. While there are more scenic rail bridges around, the stone-arched and steel Grand Trunk Railway bridge certainly puts passing trains 'on a pedestal'. But the real scenic highlight comes from being aboard a train crosssing the bridge over the river, especially westbound. A placid early morning view from VIA No 651:
VIA Turbo at Napanee, on the same bridge (Brian Schuff collection) and a commercial postcard aerial view (top photo) set the scene:
The river and rapids curve below, and the former Gibbard furniture factory, flag-flying town hall and small-town streets hug the shoreline of the river. Napanee, early-1900's Vintage Kingston Facebook photo:
Based on the stiff sceneramic competition, it may not be surprising that no-one in the Trackside Treasure poll chose the Corridor as Canada's most scenic trainwatching area! An eastbound CN freight led by 9525-2328, crosses the bridge on April 24, 1994 (below). I was proud to have my logo with the numerals '2000' nested in the arches chosen for Napanee's Millennium logo back in Y2K!
"[Her memoirs] revealed a lifetime of love for the scenes of the prairie - the wildflowers exploding like fireworks from the spring grasses, the promise of infinite possibility in the huge sky, the mornings like an invitation to participate in the beginning of the world." CN 5357-9588-5107 lead 85 cars east through fields springing with life, into Portage la Prairie, MB on June 13, 1982:
While the Prairies were voted second-most scenic region, what about the Rockies - taken from aboard VIA on CN rails at Henry House, Alberta in 1986. The Spiral Tunnels, Field and so many other scenic delights were unfortunately sold out to private interests when VIA retreated from the southern Alberta CP route.
"All morning the Canadian winds along the spectacular shore of Lake Superior. To the right is the immense emptiness of the Great Shield, rock without end only partially overgrown with ragged forest that struggles vainly to set down roots and veined with rivulets of water running south. To the left is the blue of the lake stretching to three horizons with sizeable white breakers crashing on the rocks just below the railway grade.  How the voyageurs must have welcomed their first glimpse of the water after nearly a thousand miles of stams and portages from the east. And how they must have yearned to be free of it after a week of storms and wetness, rounding each point of land only to confront another vast expanse of blue and another point on the far horizon."
CP Mink tunnel, taken from No 1 near Coldwell, Ontario in 1986 while VIA's Canadian ran on CP's former especially scenic Superior route - another route no longer accessible by VIA Rail:
Italicized excerpts from Last Train to Toronto - A Canadian Rail Odyssey by Terry Pindell - a fine read!

What locations would you nominate for your top ten, top three or favourite most scenic trainwatching spot?

Postscript: Sixth Anniversary Contest

Fiendishly, devilishly challenging. That's what this year's Trackside Treasure sixth anniversary contest proved to be. By connecting the first (or last) letters in a covertly-concocted sentence, I invited readers to come up with up to 15 names of specific (or more generic) trains. Thanks to all who put on their thinking caps and rose to the challenge. Below are the capitalized letters in each sentence, with the full answer in brackets:

1. Perhaps A Northern Ontario Regional Association Miles Away would succeed. (PANORAMA)

2. Can't Anyone Notice A Decline In Award Nominations? (CANADIAN)

3. A majestic stainless Steel Iconic Luxurious Kaleidoscope of mountain scenery awaits you. (SILK)

4. At least one Local Association Suggested Extra Recognition for trailer parks. (LASER)

5. At one Time Every Maritime Province Operated its own racetrack. (TEMPO)

6. This is a Relaxingly Deep Couch. (RDC)

7. The Relatively Affluent Iconoclasts Never Do Enjoy VIA In Little Lanes Except reducing congestion. (TRAIN DE VILLE)

8. Definite Acronyms: YOLO, LMAO, IMHO, NATO, EMO, ROFL - well, not the last one! (DAYLINER)

9. Ever randoM tempO ruN selecT riveR extremE aquA saiL cruisE oveR the ocean. (MONTREALER)

10. Randomly advancing Manufacturing Industrialism Xenophobia Eliminated Democracy overnight. (MIXED)

11. When I feel the need to travel by rail Generally Others agree. (GO)

12. For real excitement Bronc Riding Allows Sportsmen Definite Opportunities Rodeo related (BRAS D'OR)

13. NeveR A poP minI skirteD bimbO, Twiggy. (RAPIDO)

14. Little sleeP nO meaL A baR taB oncE A touR. (POLAR BEAR)

15. I found this year's Trackside Treasure anniversary contest to be Literally Rail-ly Challenging! (LRC)

This year's winner is Tim Hayman. Tim cleverly and correctly guessed 13 of the answers - fourteen if you count 'TEE' which he found in sentences 2 and 5, referring to the Trans-European Express! There was a typo in 7, mea culpa, which might have netted Tim one more. Regardless, Tim now wins the coveted Trackside Treasure prize pack which will be winging its way to him shortly. Right on the nose, or is that Blue Nose, like VIA 6758 at Brockville in November, 1986 (Jackie McNeill photo, kindly shared by Ron Visockis - above).

I'd also like to thank everyone who kindly sent good wishes for the continued health of this little corner of cyberspace, as a comment or by email. I appreciate your interest, your loyalty and your continued readership. Now, on to more retro railfanning! (Like CN's 4-unit westbound at Winnipeg Depot on October 26, 1980, shared by longtime friend and fellow railfan Drew Makepeace (below):

Friday, August 8, 2014

Trackside Treasure's Sixth Anniversary

Once again, Trackside Treasure traces its roots to an August day in 2008 when this cyberspace-based cornucpia of Canadian railway information came to life. Every year the occasion is marked with a retrospective of the year that has passed, a look forward, and of course a contest! Now closing in on 300 published posts, a blistering rate of one per week on average, the work continues to be fun! Has anything changed over these six years? Check out some varied linked sample posts from each of the past six years, photos from which punctuate this post:
There are several groups of Trackside Treasure participants I'd like to mention. The least of these is the Spammers. These clowns continue to haunt my comments section, posting links to their bizarre get-rich quick websites that have nothing to do with Canadian railroading. Their names are Sonny, Rick, Lee Woo or Betsy Lou, and their phony comments? I really like your style of writing. My brother told me about it. Read more at fashion scarves (link). Fine post and very informative. All about luxury jewellery (link) here. It's because of you that legitimate commenters have to endure word recognition! Beat it spammers - get a job!
I'm always happy to hear from fellow rail enthusiasts and railroaders with personal experiences from the various trains and locations that I profile from across Canada. Enthusiastic photographers from the US, Canada and abroad continue to share photos related to published posts. There is an amazing amount of material out there that lies undiscovered. I have only seen glimpses of what's out there and it's intriguing. Just wait till the phoenix emerges from the R3K postal code later this year.
I check in with blog partners in my sidebar every day, as I know many other readers do. Whether newly added blogger to the sidebar, or a long-time denizen, I enjoy your perspectives on 1:1 and smaller scale operations, and your creative ways to elevate the discussion.
Also in my sidebar, the Tracksidedication '1927' CPR culvert photo continues to signify the dedication of all 2014 posts to my Dad's memory and his influence in my becoming a rail enthusiast.
It's been great to make so many connections via* this blog, sharing knowledge, photos and experiences with others who share this pastime, like fellow VIA Rail author Christopher Greenlaw, a fellow viator*. Lots of *via references around here :)
I'll continue to forge ahead into some new territory, some familiar territory and lots of retro railfanning as Trackside Treasure's seventh year begins. We'll see what results from the test-tube babies and vials* of draft posts currently incubating. Hope to have you along for the ride, viatic* visitors! Stay tuned for more meaty posts - plein de viande*. That's like the Kingston Rail-O-Rama train show organizer who responded to a reporter's question..."Is there anything new in this year's show?" Answer: "No, not really." Well, at least he was honest. A question to readers - Is more of the same a viable* option?

Now to the annual anniversary contest:
The Rules: A series of 15 sentences follow. Each sentence contains the name of a Canadian train. It can be freight or passenger, a name train or something more generic. The name can be short (two letters) or longer (up to twelve letters) and can be found by listing the first (or last) letters of each word, then looking for the train name consecutively within that list of letters. There are some red herrings! Look carefully! Expect the unexpected!

How to win: This is not a strictly time-limited challenge. The winner will be a Trackside Treasure reader who successfully comes up with the highest number of the 15 names correctly. We'll give it one week after posting date - that should be plenty of time! Please submit them by their numbers, as an email to mile179kingstonATyahooDOTca. Of course, if you're the first to correctly guess all 15, you win the anniversary prize pack. 

Legal disclaimer: Not valid in Hawaii or the British Virgin Islands. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Valid on dine-in or take-out. May cause an unexpected rise in blood pressure. May cause the condition known as 'hotdog fingers'. May contain nuts, or a blogger who is nuts. APR financing OAC only. Don't you hate legal disclaimers? Now, on to the Pacific!

A Sample Sentence: To get you off and running:
Of Course Every Aardvark Naps (OCEAN)

1. Perhaps a northern Ontario regional association miles away would succeed.

2. Can't anyone notice a decline in award nominations?

3. A majestic stainless steel iconic luxurious kaleidoscope of mountain scenery awaits you.

4. At least one local association suggested extra recognition for trailer parks.

5. At one time every maritime province operated its own racetrack.

6. This is a relaxingly deep couch.

7. The relatively affluent iconoclasts never do enjoy VIA in little lanes except reducing congestion.

8. Definite acronyms: YOLO, LMAO, IMHO, NATO, EMO, ROFL - well, not the last one!

9. Ever random tempo run select river extreme aqua sail cruise over the ocean.

10. Randomly advancing manufacturing industrialism xenophobia eliminated democracy overnight.

11. When I feel the need to travel by rail generally others agree.

12. For real excitement bronc riding allows sportsmen definite opportunities rodeo related

13. Never a pop mini skirted bimbo, Twiggy.

14. Little sleep no meal a bar tab once a tour.

15. I found this year's Trackside Treasure anniversary contest to be literally rail-ly challenging!
You have a pass to our seventh year!
**August 11 update. From the contest entry emails received so far, no-one has guessed all 15! The door is still open to the Trackside Treasure Sixth Anniversary Prize Pack! Also, faithful Trackside Treasure reader Randy O'Brien sent in his own very creative version of the Year # Seven Canrailpass. Thanks, Randy!