Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CP and ACR at Franz, Ontario

Recently, I was pruning my collection of TRAINS magazines to make room on my bookshelf. While moving the magazines around, I came across a long-lost photo print. It just dropped out of the January 1992 issue of TRAINS and fell to the floor.

For many years, I'd had an empty spot in my 1984 VIA trip photo album. I'd probably removed the photo for some good reason, like a modelling project or research. The missing photo that I'd taken had this caption: Franz - station and work cars [on the shed track] at 1650. But where had that darned photo disappeared to? Now I knew. It marked a place in that issue of TRAINS like a bookmark. Marking what? An article on a well-known Ontario outpost, hewn out of boreal forest and Precambrian rock - Franz!

Franz has always been a location of operational interest in northern Ontario. The north-south Sault Ste Marie-Hearst Algoma Central line transected CP Rail's Cartier-White River line here, just as Algoma Central met and interchanged with the CN at Oba, ON. Having travelled the CP and CN lines aboard VIA Rail through Franz and Oba respectively, Franz seemed more photogenic. I hadn't been lucky enough to see CN-ACR interchange at Oba, plus the lines run parallel there and are less compact than at Franz.

I recorded and photographed my few lucky experiences riding through Franz on CP Rail:
October, 1980: ACR units at Franz switching the yard at 1613 (photographed from aboard No 1):
1982: Westbound - Scheduled 1520. Waited 1533-1535 for signal to cross Algoma Central, then waited for No 2 1537-1553.
1982: Eastbound - Scheduled 1530. At 1540- No locos but AC gons.

1984: Westbound - Scheduled 1520. At 1538, 15-car box boarding outfit, CP freight in hole.

1984: Eastbound, scheduled 1520. At 1650 (see top photo) and a dog on the platform, just in line with the operator's bay window! I had been riding in the vestibule in No 2, enjoying the fresh air of the northern Ontario woods when the interchange track and sidings of Franz appeared. Snap!

The bookmarked TRAINS magazine article profiled the closing of the Franz operator position with agent-operator Reg Fitzpatrick. Reg notes that the train-order era ended April 1, 1991 with a change to Occupancy Control System and the abolition of the Franz agent/operator position.
Checking my train order collection, I found two sets of Algoma Central clearances and train orders copied in 1987 at Franz - by none other than agent-operator Reg Fitzpatrick! And scroll back to that top photo - it shows Reg standing on the platform with a CP American-crane operator, with Reg's 1980 Ford pickup just visible between the train and the station.
A map for orientation by ACR guru Chris van der Heide and a satellite view. Here are some shots of Franz from various eras, as posted to the Franz Facebook group:
1960s: from CP train (above) and ACR (below) showing water tower and operator's house:
also from CP, showing interchange track to ACR and back track behind station (below). A 1981 view.
August, 1983:eastbound CP freight crossing ACR by Ted Ellis:
2010: ACR looking north, interchange track to left:
Former station site (below) - the station was moved to Dubreuilville after its closure. The concrete base of the water tower, which was taken down in 1983, is visible in background:
VIA 6523 crosses the diamond in March, 1983. Online auction site photo:

Lots o' links! 

Running extra...

Some of my fellow bloggers have adopted a day-of-the-week weekly theme post, like Wordless Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, or Front-End Friday (on the F-unit Facebook group!). While my relaxed, generally once-weekly, publishing schedule doesn't lend itself to daily posts, here's what a typical Trackside Treasure week would look like:
  • Material Assembly Monday
  • Time to Write Something Tuesday
  • What? It's Wednesday?
  • Throw it Together Thursday
  • Fretful Final Draft Friday
  • Scan some Photos Saturday
  • Success! Ship it out Sunday
If it was your last night on Earth, and you could only check out one Flickr page, it would be this one. Wow called. They want their Factor back. 

My neighbour just returned from a day-trip on the scenic Agawa Canyon Tour Train and kindly shared some photos of the train at Canyon. The ex-Amtrak units pulled Rio Grande's Ski Train and ex-CN Tempo coaches before coming north to power the Tour Train. CN 106 and another Tour Train F40PHR bracketed CN 4796:


Jason Sailer said...

Neat Eric to re-visit a past article & trip through a forgotten photo used as a bookmark. I had a somewhat similar experience - I purchased a second hand railway book and opened it up and found a photo from Mossleigh, AB in the 1980s showing the elevator row! Where it was in the book there was a train going by a elevator, so it meant something to the previous owner!

BTW the way you describe your thought process in writing 'Trackside Treasure' blog posts looks similar to what I use for doing the Galt Historic Railway Park blog posts...good intentions early in the week and a mad panic at the end! Take care.

Eric said...

Good stuff, Jason! Yes, used books that contain treasures are the best kind!
Thanks for sharing those photos from the GCPRS Collection!

DaveM said...

Eric, those are some great historical pics you've got. I've never seen the station in its original place, I've only seen it in Duberville.

I do agree that there are tones of great photo opportunities up there, all you have to do is to make the trek.

It is a shame that they've still not straightened out the ACR situation with service to Hearst. I think it hasn't run since the early summer.


Eric said...

Thanks, Dave. Franz is an interesting location, due to two passenger services still passing through there. I know it was always a point of interest when I was riding CP rails aboard VIA's Canadian. Probably the only way I would make it up there!


Unknown said...

As I was doing genealogical research on my maternal grandfather's side of the family I came across this Franz entry in your blog. My mom, Blanche Carruth Wirt, lived in Franz for about the first five or six years of her life. He father managed the general store in town and her mother cooked at the hotel (yes, there was a hotel back then, 1917-1923). She remembered on time when the Prince of Wales came through and everyone in the little village stood along the tracks to wave.

Several of her mother's siblings lived down the line in Hawk Junction, at least one working for the ACR and another in the hotel/restaurant business.

Mike Wirt
Spokane, WA

Eric said...

Great to have you aboard Trackside Treasure, Mike! Also great to hear of your connection to Franz. A wild part of our province, with unique people and definitely railway-related existence.

Thanks for adding your memories to this post!

Allyson Schmidt said...

My Baba, Annie Wiznuk and her husband owned the hotel in Franz so many years ago.

Eric said...

Thanks for your comment, Allyson. I trust you enjoyed the post!

Robert Melville said...

I lived in Franz for one year, 1943. I was 5 years old, before we moved to Goudreau in 1944, then on to Wawa where I went to school.
After Grade 8 I went to a boarding school in Toronto. I had to change trains in Franz. Sometimes I caught a freight train to Hawk Junction, on the way home then a big snow machine to Wawa across Hawk And Wawa lakes. Big trips for me. Stayed at the Franz hotel a few times when I couldn’t make a connection. This was during 1951- 1955. The Wiznuks had two children I knew of. A girl, older than I (now 81) and a boy about a year or two older. He attended Scollard Hall in North Bay as did the Capellinis from Goudreau and Arthur Berdusco from Wawa. I was protestant so I went to Pickering College in Newmarket. My father was a tourist outfitter featuring long canoe trips in the 1920’s and 30’s and used the hotel a lot.
Used Selkirks general store a lot for his provisions There was also a Spadoni Bros. Store
So my father was very close friends with the Wiznuks. The person above would either be the direct descendant of one of their two children above. Also above it would be Selkirks that your fathere worked at and would have known my father very well.
Would love to hear from you both. Name Robert Melville. Email. Thanks

RojMiller said...

I voted in Franz!

I worked for two summers at an MNR camp on Hobon Lake. Franz is at the north end of the lake, the MNR camp was near the south end. There was a federal election in the summer of 1974, and the 2 nearest voting locations were Dubreuilville and Franz. Dubreuilville was just a boring drive down a road we drove regularly, so several of us decided to vote in Franz instead (it also gave us more time off work!). So we took the long boat ride up to Franz and back.

There was nothing exciting to see or report. I found it curious that there was a place to vote there, I guess solely for the station operator (I doubt that the federal government knew that there was a MNR summer camp on Hobon Lake).

Just another connection to Franz to report!

Eric said...

Thanks for the additional information, Roj!