Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas on the Cataraqui Spur

Pre-Christmas vacation gave me a chance to photograph CN No 518 working Kingston's Cataraqui Spur. Normally, this train has operated Belleville-Kingston return (and a plethora of other iterations over the years) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays ex Belleville around 0900. None of these days works for me, normally. Since Christmas fell on a Thursday (or perhaps it's a new iteration) this particular week I was able to catch it on a Monday. Off my great-nephew and I went on a grey-morning 518 chase!
First we had to get our priorities in order. That meant one thing...Tim Horton's drive-thru. During that wait, we ascertained that 518 was on Queens service track, having worked the remnant of CN's Aluminum Spur, which has been fenced-in and taken over by Kingston Iron and Metal Co (KIMCO). (Note to self - next time get going early enough to get to KIMCO before 518!) The RTC granted permission to run on the south track to the Cat Spur switch at Mi 178.01 Kingston Sub. It was on. Wanting to photograph the train crossing the trestle over the Little Cataraqui Creek, we headed to the parking lot of a strip mall in the former Armstrong Subdivision. This group of houses and Harvey's has now been replaced by giant apartment blocks and an LCBO store! CN 4116-4121, one empty bulkhead flatcar and two scrap gons from KIMCO, plus covered hopper and tank loads were backing south down the spur (above and below):
Lots o' links: in this earlier photo of the trestle in this Part 1 of my initial Cataraqui Spur post in January 1980, CN 1298-1310, one car and caboose 79522 are heading north. Here's a B&W version of a 1977 visit! The dressed-for-the-weather conductor rode the lead tank. Who needs a caboose or rider car in the post-Hunter Harrison, ultra-low operating-ratio world of CN!?
Having backed down the spur at 10 mph, the tail-end has just crossed Front Road at 1030. We responded 'Code 4' down Queen Mary Road and suburban streets, scooping the sauntering switcher. Covered hopper loads of adipic acid (from head-end) TCMX 703447, 703423, INVX 38736, TCMX 703414, INVX 38780, and tank loads of hexamethyldiamine GATX 90404, INVX 29802, 26165, SHPX 207393, DBUX 251030, and INVX 26110. Watch for a magnum-opus post on DuPont/Invista cars I've observed over the years...
Cutting off the covered hopper loads on the load track, the engines backed into the tank track holding onto two of the KIMCO cars, lifted the empties and spotted the loads. Can a nine year-old enjoy a Tim Hortons iced coffee? Yes he can. Make mine a medium Dark Roast double cream. We both cadged Timbits, while the crew waited for a placid plant person to slowly sidle over to unlock the gate. Blow the horn again!
Built in November 2013, these OMNX cars were loaded with scrap - 1120 and 1038.
This new spur was built in 2001. Impeccable radio protocol by the CN crew - every chock, derail, distance to coupling called. And no, I'm not 'the guy who follows us every Sunday in his van with his kid' however it was accurately opined that 'there'll be lots of picture-taking today'. Truer words never spoken.
The units are pulling out of the spur as the cut-off scrap gon is waiting on the lead. The spotted tank loads are visible through TTPX 82451.
Backing onto the empties, coupling to the empty covered hoppers and soon to head north, we drove north, back to Bath Road to catch the northbound movement there. The sign pertains to a City of Kingston reptile conservation initiative, and does not pertain to the track speed that 518 reaches!
Passing through protected wetlands, woodlands and waterbodies. Cattails camber and dry boughs bow in homage to the frost-frozen freize. Let it go, let it go! (That's not the song from the movie, it's my hypothermic hands on my camera.) In Part 2 of my initial Cataraqui Spur series, snowplow service-equipped CN 4510 was at this location. On this day, a pastoral patina of frost and snow had coated the trees. Micro-climate!
Easing up to the mainline switch, the RTC has just given 4116 permission to enter the south track. Empty tanks (from head end) INVX 26157, 26200, 26226, 26242 and SHPX 207352, and empty covered hoppers INVX 38489, 38820, 38500, 38442, 38387, 38472 and ACFX 58778.
The trainman has opened the electric lock and thrown the switch. After closing the switch, why walk when you can ride? The train backed up so he could clamber aboard the lead unit.
Next stop Millhaven and then Belleville. Having eschewed mainline VIA and freight action, we were happy with our chase. Can a nine year-old enjoy a Tim Hortons ice coffee? Yes he can. Make mine a hot medium double-cream. We both cadged Timbits.
But one more photo - the last few cars have a dusting of snow on them, which they are now depositing at Mile 180 whistling west along Bath Road.

Running extra...

To quote Lily Tomlin (on the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors broadcast tonight on CBS) "I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific." The storied careers of Tom Hanks, Al Green, Sting and unknown-to-me ballerina Geeima Notschurovyournama were similarly celebrated.
For 2015, I wish you clear signals, no crossovers, few Rule 42's to call, no dragging equipment, switching of your train by the outbound crew, no need for a pull-by, and early quits. Highball! I plan to keep up my feverish four-times-monthly publishing schedule. Hope you can keep up!
Future blogger in cab of ONR 1502 at Spadina, July 1982. 
Photo by L.C. Gagnon. Thanks, Dad!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Boxcars at Kingston's CP Express

CP Express operated a terminal off Dalton Avenue near Division Street in Kingston, one of the last CP-served industries in Kingston. The CP Express terminal began operation at this location in mid-1967 until the CP line was abandoned in 1986. After that, CN operated on some of CP's former trackage via its interlocking and interchange at Queens. In the mid-1980's, I photographed some interesting boxcars that CP had spotted there. Likely carrying lumber, the cars were spotted at the timber unloading ramp. CP 202018 script combination-door boxcar, July 1983 (above). CP 80290 plug-door newsprint car (bringing newsprint for the Kingston Whig-Standard?) and Amador Central double-door AMC 2061 , both in June 1983:
MN&S All-Door boxcar MNS 2018, built 11-76, spotted in August 1982. End and side views:

Interestingly, MNS 2017 and MNS 2040 were spotted on CN's Team Track in 1985 and 1991, respectively. Four combination-door CP Rail cars were at the CP Express facility on January 14, 1986. CP 201389 built 7-59:
 CP 202139
 CP 201377

 CP 202201 and the other three:
Two undated photos purchased from Liz Reid seem to show CP 50-footers at CP Express:

Running extra...

Hoping you have a Merry Christmas and an inviting 2015. CN No 518 Engs 4116-4121 served the Cataraqui Spur on December 22, under the watchful eye of a bearded, ermine-trimmed trainmaster! Watch for an upcoming post on their southbound sojourn and their northbound noodling.

Notwithstanding ne'er-do-well North Korean hackers, I've decided to do something new - a movie review! For Sony Pictures' The Interview! The review, without further adieu, will be in the form of an interview:
Me: Do you plan on seeing The Interview, especially in light of the recent media frenzy?
Also Me: Probably not.

Speaking of much ado about nothing, here are two rather mundane, average VIA trains meeting at Kingston on December 23: VIA No 47 Eng 914 and VIA no 42 Eng 6428. Well, No 47 is carrying a working baggage car. But other than that, entirely unremarkable.
Consider making this the year to photograph the mundane, the workaday, the pedestrian, the commonplace; you know, the kind of stuff you normally wouldn't photograph. Years from now, you'll wish you had!

Friday, December 19, 2014

VIA trains 111 and 112, December 1980

VIA's September 29, 1980 timetable (Hello, ladies!) included a centre supplement with something new: the first time a train to Halifax had originated and terminated in Toronto. VIA train No 112 operated eastbound on four dates from Toronto to Halifax, and No 111 operated westbound, both departing their respective originating stations on December 20, 22, 26 and 28. A closeup of the fanciful timetable centre supplement artwork - Santa onboard:

Both trains made stops in Guildwood, Kingston, operating through southeastern Ontario, southern Quebec, then a long non-stop trip across Maine to McAdam, NB thence making the regular stops the Atlantic made into Halifax. In succeeding years, VIA operated extra pre-Christmas trains to the East Coast, though these subsequent trains ran only as far west as Montreal. But December 1980's were the first trains to operate across the state of Maine in two sections in 25 years. The second (non-advance) sections of each train terminated in Montreal. This article was published in the Kingston Whig-Standard by columnist and railfan photographer Bill Reid on December 10, 1980:
Among VIAphiles, the memory of these sold-out trains can spark considerable controversy. How and why were they operated? Why were their consists special? What operational changes were made to ensure their cars of east- and westbound holiday travellers would arrive at their distant destinations on time and in comfort?
December, 1980 trainwatching at Amherst View, just west of Mi 182 Kingston Sub (L.C. Gagnon photo). My brother Dave documents a storming eastbound, with a CN RS-18 behind the leading FPA-4. This was the era in which VIA cab units had those very good-looking red nose logos. The consist of a VIA westbound on Dec 23, likely Rapido No 63 running 15 minutes late at 1347 - 15 cars led by 6526-6619-6760:
My Dad watches a westbound at 1250 with 6525-6621-9 cars - likely Nos 53/43, the combined Lakeshore/Capital:
Jason Shron has pointed out that Turbos were covering morning Rapido AND afternoon Turbo runs in the pre-Christmas rush. I observed 149-154 eastbound, and 146-151 westbound on morning runs December 22 and 23. Eastbound morning Turbo:
Westbound - not too many numbers for me to write down - just the power units:
Another westbound, likely late afternoon, with a CN-painted coach second in the consist. VIA was using non-EM coaches and balloon tops to fill out consists during this busy period.
VIA No 111 was shown on the same schedule as No 11. Did the trains operate together? Nope, they would have been way too long at nearly 30 cars total. No 112 was shown operating 1 hour and 25 minutes ahead of No 12's regular schedule east of McAdam. Bruce Owen Nett authored an article in January 1982 Railfan & Railroad, profiling the trains' arrival on December 21, 1980 at Brownville Junction, ME. Temperature that night dropped to 30 degrees below - that's Fahrenheit! Bruce noted that observation cars were used for accommodation of the on-board service crews, though not the engine crews. The OBS crews would stay on board from Toronto to Halifax, since the train did not (officially) stop in Montreal. The cars Burrard and Bedford were brought east from their usual assignment on the summer-only Skeena between Jasper and Prince Rupert for these special trains. To see multiple sleepers and diners operating on the Kingston Sub in daytime was indeed special, and we made some efforts to catch these trains and record their consists.

I was fortunate to see two of the trains:
Eastbound No 112 at 1316 on December 22: 
6790-6620-CN 3119-9645-5426-5409-752-5722-5734-Greenbank-1369-Bonheur-Elcott-Evanston-Reversing Falls...

...and westbound No 111 at 1357 on December 23 (above photo - original notes below): 
6790-6620-CN 3119-Sisiboo Falls-Exeter-Evelyn-Harmonie-1348-Ecum Secum River-Green Lane-5733-5701-765-5297-5306-5197-9646. (HH61 is a designation I added, one prefix series  for freights, another for VIA trains) Power at Truro was 6772-6634-6773.
Through the efforts of Bill Linley, David Morris, David Othen and Bruce Owen Nett, we have these December 1980 consists for posterity - VIA Nos 111 and 112 are referred to as First 11 and First 12 respectively.

December 20, First No 11 at Halifax NS:
6772-6623-6773, no consist available. (6772 flying white flags.)

December 20 First No 11 at Saint John NB:
6775-6871-CP 8561-9645-5426-5409-5389-752-5722-5734-Greenbank-Rideau River-1369-Bonheur-Elcott-Evanston-Reversing Falls-Exploits River

December 20 Second No 11 at Saint John NB:
6768-6628-6864-9636-5621-5405-5394-3035-426-5714-Fortune Bay-1374-Cape Tormentine-Green Bush-Greenvale?-Pyramid Falls-Fitzwilliam

December 21 First No 11 at Brownville Jct, ME:
6775-6861-CP 8561-9627-5542-5578-5483-5532-755-5702-5707-Greenshields?-Greenhurst-1307?-Cape Canso-Reversing Falls-Churchill Falls-Exploits River

December 21 Second No 11 at Brownville Jct. ME:
6768-6628-6864, no consist available.

December 21 First No 12 at Saint John NB
6772-6634-6773-Sisiboo Falls-Exeter-Evelyn-Harmonie-1348-Ecum Secum River-Green Lane-5701-5733-765-5297-5306-5197-9646-Bedford

December 21 Second No 12 at Saint John NB:
6776-6865-6780-9627-5580-5407-3039-432-5702-Buckley Bay-Yukon River-1365-Cape Canso- Green Cabin - Green Ridge-Rainbow Falls-Resplendent

December 22, First No 11 at Halifax:
photographed by David Othen: 6782-6858-67xx, no consist available. (6782 flying green flags)

December 22  Second No 11 at Truro:
6780-6865-6776-9627-5580-5407-3039-432-5702-Yukon River-1365-Cape Canso-Green Ridge- Green Cabin-Rainbow Falls-Mount Resplendent.

December 26 First No 11 at Halifax:
6785 and 2 B units, no consist available.

December 27 No train number, direction or location:
6771-6867-6868-Entwistle-Sisiboo Falls-Harmonie-1377-Green Lane-5701-765-5400-5283-9646-Bedford.

I included the above consist in my first book on VIA Rail, and was pleased when book contributor Gary Hadfield sent me consists of the trains he observed in Truro, NS on December 22. One major difference - Gary's consist of No 111 included the VIA observation car Bedford, and the train was marshalled in its usual order - locomotives-baggage car-coaches-Dayniters-sleepers. Not so when I observed the train at Kingston - Bedford was missing, and the train operated reversed so that as shown above, the baggage car trailed.

I believe that the train crossed the Victoria Bridge, entered Montreal's Central Station, at least for the removal of Bedford, before proceeding in 'reverse' order westward on the Kingston Sub.

But then again, Dec 21's First 12 was operating with Sisiboo Falls behind the power and the rest of the train in reverse order!

Some 43 years later, Steve Bradley came across a couple of his own photos and realized from the dates that they represented two departures of VIA No 112 from Toronto. On an overcast morning, VIA No 62 Eng 6774 (at left) and VIA No 112 Eng 6790 on December 22, 1980 steaming at Toronto Union (below). The same train I observed, but didn't photograph, right on time at Kingston. Then I photographed the same locomotive consist westbound (above), returning west the next day.
VIA No 112 Eng 6515 near Guildwood on  December 20, 1980 - the very first No 112! This definitely fills a hole in the data points above.
Thanks, Steve!


Mark Hymers from New Brunswick recently shared a photo taken onboard the eastbound No 112 on December 22, 1980! Mark's daughter is enjoying her time in one of the sections - big smile compared to today's equivalent - watching a DVD in a minivan on a long drive east! A neighbouring section's passenger is making good use of a pillow! Mark mentioned that the westward Saint John to Kitchener trip required a change of trains at Montreal and Toronto, but the simpler eastbound trip meant no connections necessary at Montreal! Now, though Mark doesn't recall the sleeper's name, can we deduce which car they were travelling in from this view?

Running extra...

Permit me a bit of Currier & Ives Americana for my Christmas card (below) to Trackside Treasure's loyal readers and blog partners: Steve, John, Chris, Dave, TOTW, Oddblock Station Agent, Michael, Robert, JD, Jason, Bruce, Chris, Adam, Matt and Scott. 
Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Blogging in 2015!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thunder Bay 1979, Part 1

In April 1979, we made a school trip to deepest, darkest Thunder Bay, Ontario. We made known to our billets that we were interested in seeing some of the grain elevators and CN and CP action there. Billet Rob Lucy obliged, transporting us in his, um, "grey ****box" car down to the yards upon arrival. We immediately encountered both railways' gamut of grain cars, plus CP switchers 8122-8120 (top photo), vans 434587, and 437032 and yard set 6563-B102-7081, with B102 still in  CPR 'steam' lettering (below). The B102 was photographed in Vancouver by July, 1979; B101 which had received script lettering.
On April 23, we'd headed north on our Wagar Coach Lines bus. We met the southbound Canadian with two of three units in VIA paint: 1414 and 1416 (both painted in Feb/79) a CN-painted steam generator unit, a VIA/CN Dayniter and largely CP consist. April 24 - we visited Thunder Bay yard after arrival. We were offered a cab ride by the engineer of CN switcher 7034 as it bunted brown boxcars about the yard. (Drew Makepeace photo):
At 1200, an eastbound CP freight behind 8745-8736 burbled by...
...with CP hoppers, Procor and CP tank cars, and end-cupola van 434065. A few days earlier, I had observed sister 434064 at the CN-CP interchange in Kingston.
 Also switching on CN were GMD-1's 1913-1912, one of several yard sets we would observe:
CN 1913 was still working the Lakehead in this 1986 Vestibule View post. Kingston railfans had infested the yard, with the trainman perhaps pondering the plethora of those trackside.
Later that afternon at 1515, a five-SD was eastbound with  high multimarks: 5606-5749-5549-5518-5911 hustled CP piggyback traffic, stock cars, and van 434136:
Now called the Pac-Man, at the time we were still playing stand-up Pac-Man games at the arcade. Wokka-wokka-wokka. These black-and-white things we called multimarks.
On April 25, we drove around the yards in the evening. CP MLW's 4740-4249 (below) were eastbound, CN 7034 still working, as was CN 7030, CN 1907, 1908-1917, 1900-1916, 4414-4410, 4498-4409, caboose 79804, transfer vans 76564 and 76565, 1910-1911 on iron ore, end-cupola 78246, and vans CP 434562 and CP 437015. Lakers Richelieu, Ottercliffe Hall and Frankcliffe Hall were moored nearby. 
On April 26 we toured a towering terminal grain elevator and Mount McKay. On April 27 on our way home, we checked out ONR yards in Cochrane. Photos of these visits can be found in Part 2!

Running extra...

The gestation period of this post is among the longest for anything published on Trackside Treasure. My original scribbled draft dates from the Christmas holidays of December, 2008! Six years? Better late than never. I have to credit Drew Makepeace for posting the cab ride photo on Facebook, which prompted me to publish this puppy, loosing it from its long-languishing laxity.

I had a really cool tacky-Christmas-sweater-with-model-train video but Youtube said not available. In its place, for American Trackside Treasure reader Bill Staiger, I'd like to include your humble blogger Turbo-watching in December, 1980 (L.C. Gagnon photo - below). This was 12 years to the month after CN instituted Turbo service, and less than two years before the end of Turbo service:
Best Jeopardy categories ever, this past Monday: Toothpaste - Crest - Closeup - 'AIM' - Rembrandt - Aqua, Fresh. Respectively, they dealt with yes, Toothpaste, then heraldry, partial photos of famous people, words containing the letters a-i-m, the European masters, and water terms. (Dude who got it wrong - free-flowing water from limestone is a SPRING, not a STREAM and certainly not an AQUA-STREAM. Alex, I'll take Desperation for 400!!)