Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Dark and Seamy Side of Blogging

I was surprised to receive an intimidating email from a fellow blogger this past Monday. A blogger with whom I've had an amiable online connection with since about 2010. Apparently, my fellow blogger felt slighted by the fact that the link to his blog on Trackside Treasure's sidebar was in the bottom of three such gadgets featuring blogs I keep up with. This revision was made some weeks ago and was no different than any layout change I make - based on readability, functionality and the overall look of Trackside Treasure.

The simple fact of the matter is: there are so many blogs that I find interesting that I keep the most prolific bloggers near the top of the sidebar. Just so I can keep up. This blogger has posted once a month in 2016. I have other bloggers in the same gadget as his who have not blogged for two or even five years. They might start up again, so this is my way of keeping their blogs 'alive' to me. 

I'm a firm believer in not only dealing with criticism, but also shining a light on dark behaviour, for which the online environment has become known. Like aggressive drivers emboldened by their powerful cars, social media can be an equalizer for letting out our emotions, fears and suspicions. With that in mind, I'm sharing a family-friendly version of the email I received, without the blogger's name shown. Prepare yourself:

"What an arrogant s.*.*.

What is YOUR criteria to judge Blog writers?

I have been in ******** since ***** 2015. I have labored hundreds of hours to provide the Blogosphere with thoroughly researched articles. 

I strive for accuracy.  Not to compete for numbers with you and ********

While you pissed me off with your snide ****-off, you have inspired me to write an evaluation of so-called "rail" blogs. As they say, "watch this space." And don't forget to remove my hyperlink from your DISMISSIVE and OFFENSIVE "Things in the Bottom Sidebar."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Belleville TOFC ramp

Someone asked recently about extant piggyback ramps. I knew there was one in Belleville, across from the VIA station. Since I've christened this The Year of Photographing the Blisteringly Mundane, I knew where I was going next! There is nothing more mundane than a broken, disused ramp, is there?
When CN actively marketed its own Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) service, it provided loading ramps at its major terminals to facilitate onsite loading and subsequent pickup of the loaded flat cars. Online auction site photo of early circus-loading from a CN timber ramp.
And here's a view of Belleville's piggyback area in July, 1971 during the final trips of CNR 6218:
Since each piggyback car was equipped with a bridge plate on the right-hand side, so that when coupled to another car, tractor-trailers could load their trailers 'circus-style'. 
From the days of circus trains travelling by rail, circus wagons would be loaded one after another onto strings of waiting flat cars to move to the next town. This involved driving or backing across several cars to load the most distant one first. Likewise, ramps also provided a right-hand bridge plate to facilitate such loading.
While some ramps would be timber or concrete, the Belleville one is a concrete retaining wall backed by gravel up to flat car deck height. The bridge plate hardware is bolted to it, and recesses are built into the concrete to allow for couplers.
 Tire's eye view:
Looking west toward the VIA station, the piggyback tracks would have been located here.  Today this area is largely forgotten, with CN having sold off its maintenance buildings in the area, creating other businesses and vacant lots as its Belleville footprint shrunk. Today, loads travel along Highway 401 to reach Toronto or Montreal. And those are racks carrying containers that are lifted into well cars, not trailers requiring these loading facilities! 

Running extra...

Put 'em up close to the Derail. Not sure what transpired at Kingston's Invista plant on Tuesday, but SRLX 45132 was on the ground yesterday. Road-building for road crane access was underway. Re-railing took place today. A similar derailment took place in February, 2015.
Heed that blue flag message!
SRLX 45132 is one of the cars that Invista is loading with outbound product, usually one at a time. All other cars at the plant bring in feedstock material for nylon production.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lancaster & Chester Boxcars

The Lancaster & Chester Railway, a 60-mile shortline, owned two fleets of boxcars - forty 50-footers built in 1979, numbered 200-239 and twenty 60-footers built in 1996, numbered 600-619. The latter were used primarily by GAF to haul rolled roofing material. On September 1, 2010 Gulf & Ohio Railways purchased South Carolina's 62-mile Lancaster & Chester Railway. The railroad continued to use its name, powder blue paint scheme and slogan 'The Springmaid Line'. However, 2005 and later photos show the railway name and logo being painted out on the fleet, whose blue paint continues to fade. A 2012 photo shows at least one car repainted, with grey dip paint and WRWK reporting marks.

These cars were standouts on passing freights on CN's Kingston Sub.

My observations of L&C boxcars. Date, car number, CN train number on, remarks:
Feb 28/98 LC 604 on CN No 320 (top photo - note placards)
Sep 1/98 LC 607
Sep 4/98 LC 616 CN No 368
Nov 11/98 LC 604 CN No 320
Jun 5/99 LC 613 CN No 367 Dest Toledo, OH empty
Jun 12/99 LC 608-616 CN No 320 Dest Delson, QC loaded
Aug 12/99 LC 606 on CN No 366
Mar 18/00 LC 605 on CN No 306 Dest Chemin de Fer Baie Chaleur

Jim Parker posted this interesting photo - note two-tone blue paint and reversed '8' in reporting marks - of Lancaster & Chester 40-footer 1008 taken at Wishram, OR in 1968:

Running extra...

A previous post in my Classic Canadian Freight Cars (see sidebar) series featured DuPont's SCLAIR covered hoppers. One of these rolling rarities (looks to be NCLX 46548) made its way up CN's Kingston Sub today on CN No 369. Trackside Treasure reader Logan Cadue caught the train at Kingston station, sharing this capture - thanks, Logan! Same car photographed in Belleville without the mill gon and right behind the power. Likely a Belleville set-out for Kimco back in Kingston, which it has just passed in this photo!
Speaking of sidebars, check in for updates on my latest book on VIA Rail, which is now in the works - hence the red background. Not green for a little while yet. And yes, there will be a colour section. Thank you for your votes and comments.

Speaking of votes, an unnamed country directly to our south held an election recently. I watched a lot of coverage. I mean a lot. Probably too much. I did appreciate the eclectically elucidative comments offered by five CNN reporters who covered the unnamed successful candidate's campaign. Here at Trackside Treasure, we are MakingTrainsGreatAgain. Not that they were not great in the first place. Like that same unnamed country. Not perfect, but still great.

Friday, November 11, 2016

CN Expo 86 Boxcars

CN applied unique Expo86 Vancouver paint to four of its boxcars. The cars were painted as early as 1984 to publicize the upcoming World's Fair. I was fortunate to be able to take in Expo86 - watch for an upcoming post on the Parade of Steam - in reverse! Observing these Expo-painted cars was always a treat trackside. I was able to catch three of them. Each had slightly different shades of stripes applied, so they were each truly unique. Photos and my observations follow...
Pierre Fournier shared this December 13, 1986 view of an eclectic consist: CN 557417 on CN No 305 behind VIA steam generator unit 15481, ahead of  a 'leftside' insulated boxcar (above). An online auction site photo of CN 557417 dated March 22, 1986:
Online auction site photo of CN 557417 in April, 1986, along with a conventionally-painted classmate:

Jim Parker kindly shared this Bill Grandin collection photo of CN 557417 on August 29, 1986:

Jim Parker also posted this Bill Grandin photo of CN 557420 at a lumber yard, location not known:

 Lots o' links:
My observations of CN Expo boxcars with date, car and CN train on:
Mar 28/86 CNIS 417093
May 3/86 CNIS 417093
Dec 28/87 CN 557417
Oct 24/91 CNIS 417225
May 29/94 CNIS 417225
Mar 5/99 CNIS 417093 on No 306
Sep 4/99 CNIS 417225 on No 364
May 16/01 CNIS 417093 on No 365

Also, on January 21, 1998 I staked out CN No 395 since CN car tracing data showed that CN 557417 was on this train. But no Expo-painted boxcar was seen. Had it been repainted?

I also caught CNIS 417225 with its faded colour stripes at CN's Belleville yard in (approx) September, 1999. Unfortunately, camera malfunctioned! Orange stripes and '86' are fading. Trackside Treasure reader Kevin Ingraham also observed this car in Binghamton NY in 1998.
I was tracing this car. In July 1998, the car was loaded on track V272 in Montreal East, to YANFITCHV CT on the NECR. It was later loaded on the same track to Sherburne NY on NYSW, PTNEWELIZ NJ and Dewitt NY on CR. An online auction site view taken at Oshawa in 1991:
Getting close to a repaint with fading and graffiti - online auction site photo captioned June 22, 2001:
CNIS 417225 was back in CN colours in 2006 (Marc A Hudon photo):
CNIS 417225, also in the early 1990s in Vermont, twice. Here is CNIS 417093 at Bayview Junction in 1989 (online auction site photo).
And another view of CNIS 417093, also from an online auction site, taken at Bayview Junction on February 21, 1987:
Still out there...CNIS 417093 at Hamilton in 1998:
Aboard VIA No 4 at Edmonton, returning from Expo86, appropriately-painted CN SD42-2(W) 5334 was at CN's locomotive facility, right outside my coach window!
My HO scale version of CN 557417, using an Athearn 50-foot double-door car with scratchbuilt plug door:

Here's George's Trains' ad for N-scale Expo boxcar pairs. Not 1986 prices!
Running extra...

Fellow Kingstonian Paul Hunter kindly shared photos of three of VIA's now-small fleet of RDC's tagging along behind No 63 at Kingston on November 4. Ostensibly heading to Southwest Ontario for more testing, the three (6208, 6105 and 6251) made a fine sight behind 6431 as Paul photographed them from the south side. Thanks, Paul!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

CN's Gananoque Spur

Beginning in 1871, the Thousand Islands Railway (TIR) served the town of Gananoque, running southward from the GTR/CN Montreal-Toronto mainline to the town on the St Lawrence River waterfront, over a 5 mile-long spur. TIR 500 is preserved near the town hall in Gananoque, photographed during our visit there in July, 2016 (top photo), formerly displayed on the Gananoque waterfront (photo courtesy Reg Aitken - below). Unless otherwise noted, [*photos are from Vintage Gananoque Facebook group, **photos are from the Gerry Ross Flickr set, *** photos from online auction site.]
A TIR ticket, which you could get punched on your trip to 'Cemetery'!
TIR 500 in use, undated:
Thousand Islands Railway combine 200, 1940 CN photo:

Wooden passenger combine photo and postcard view* of the waterfront station trackage (above and below):
Perhaps its best-known motive power was Susan Push 500 (top photo) still preserved near the former right-of-way on King Street. The operation was subsumed by CN in 1958, with passenger service ending in 1962 and freight service in 1995. The last of the track was removed by 1997. The focus of this post is CN freight operation in the 1970's-1990's, when the line was operated by CN as the Gananoque Spur.

An October, 1970 Whig clipping shows a CN RS-18 trundling past the former station, then a restaurant, tto serve Cow & Gate and/or Mitchell & Wilson:
A 1920 aerial view of the waterfront, including the large GANANOQUE lettering on the wharf rooftop:
Look behind the classic Grand Trunk station, now referred to as VIA Gananoque Junction, to see lumber reload including at least two bulkhead flat cars at left and piles of packaged lumber from the team track. (Eugene Burles photo, posted to Old Time Trains website)
Keith Hansen sent two photos of a CN Kingston-Gananoque wayfreight he took in the spring of 1970. The first view is along Highway 401 east of Kingston, with the second view at the bridge over the Rideau Canal at Kingston Mills:
A combination door (?lumber) boxcar and CN block lettering gondola ahead of the wooden caboose (above) and a gondola of scrap, another gon, CN insulated box and ice reefer (below):
Also at Kingston Mills with locks and motorboats on the Rideau Canal in the foreground, in June 1979 I caught a speeding air-filter equipped CN 4510 and four cars, at least two of them CN hoppers, westbound from Gananoque toward Kingston:
Here's CN 3708 at the station***:
Keith also kindly shared three photos of CN RS-18 3708 at the Cheeseborough lumber operation, at the former site of Gananoque's mainline station before it was relocated to Gananoque Junction, on Station Road. An April 15, 1957 Kingston Whig-Standard article announces improvements to the Cheseborough level crossing:
These photos were taken in the summer of 1986. Caboose 79615 leads the backup move from the CN Kingston Sub mainline, visible at left. Three bulkhead flats of lumber and a 40-foot double-door CN boxcar are in the consist:
Switching an empty, a half-unloaded bulkhead and two loads among the goldenrod:
MLW smoke back to the train - looks like an empty bulkhead plus the boxcar are back there:
At one time, the TIR hosted over 25 industrial operations - mills, factories and many were rail-served. The town was even known as 'Little Birmingham' a reference to the British steel centre. Colour postcard view:
An undated colour aerial view* shows the TIR line curving from left centre to left bottom towards the waterfront station.
A 1934 black & white aerial view* shows the Cow & Gate plant at bottom left, and other industrial properties clustered along the river (below):
CN's trackage in the timeframe of interest: mileage, track designation, name, last year shown on 1971/1980/1985/1986 CN track schematics:
Mi 1.5 K-126 Team track (1971)
Mi 2.84 KG27 Rockwell Industries (referred to as KG28 Rockwell on CN journal)(1986)
Mi 3.48 K-127 Leeds Bridge & Iron Works (1971)
Mi 3.89 KG29 Cattle siding (1986)
Mi 3.89 K-130 Gananoque District Co-Op (1971)
Mi 4.04 KG33 Inside and KG34 Outside Steel Co. of Canada (1986)
Mi 4.42 KG26 Cow & Gate (1980)
The Cow & Gate plant*, earlier known as National Milk Products, produced powdered and canned milk products. The plant was located beyond the waterfront TIR/CN passenger station, and no longer stands.
Aerial  (closest to bottom of photo) and more modern colour views* of the Cow & Gate plant on the waterfront:

Some dates in Gananoque's more recent industrial history:
1963 - Jones Shovel Co., (interior photo - above) located near the Gananoque River upper dam, closed its plant.
1980s - Ontario Steel Co., St Lawrence Steel & Wire Co. and Cow & Gate closed.
1986 - Gananoque Spur from just west of King Street down to harbour abandoned, CN having received permission to abandon Mi 4.10-4.42 within the Town of Gananoque.
1991 - the canal trestle was removed to improve water flow to the town generator.
1995 - CN still served Gananoque Steel Forging (formerly Stelco) and Manchester Plastics (900 Queen Street, west of Highway 32, south of Highway 401, producing automotive trim, panels, grills and assemblies). The Parmenter & Bulloch plant* was later operated by Textron:
The metal addition, added in 1969 required the CN spur to be moved, according to this April 10 Whig story: 
Gananoque Steel Forging, later known as Mahle Engine Components in 2003, but closed by 2005. Started as Byers Manufacturing in 1865, Stelco began producing engine parts for Ford and Chrysler in 1960. Hobbled by a strike in 1990, renamed GSF in 1993, bought by Brockhaus in 1997.

Rockwell Industries was previously known as Ontario Steel Products, and before that, Gananoque Spring & Axle Co. 

One report mentions unloading boxcars of British Columbia lumber for Mitchell & Wilson Construction, whose lumber yard was near Market and Clarence Streets near the waterfront. A 1986 view of TIR 500 and trackage approaching Highway 2***:
The running track of the spur was referred to as KG25 for its length. A photo in the Nov-Dec 2005 Canadian Rail included a 1985 photo of ex-RBOX boxcar SBD 10483 and one other boxcar on the siding in Gananoque. Perhaps this view is just west of River Street:
This dam photo (below) that Jakob Mueller shared from his collection taken in October, 1986 shows CN RS-18 3708 with a short CN hopper on the Gananoque River bridge, about to back into the Stelco spur. 
Keith Hansen shared another photo taken the same day. This shows not only the locomotive and hopper, but also a gon being switched at Stelco.
Here's an online auction site photo of CN 3708 returning train No 590 north past the dam, captioned September, 1986:
This online auction site photo was definitely taken from the dam! CN 3105 switches with a CN gon, DWC bulkhead flat and two short hoppers last, dated April 1984. A present-day Panoramio view.
Another online auction site photo of CN 4422 at the same location in February, 1984 also hopper-last: 
Satellite photo of this area:
Aerial view of Stelco from the Gerry Ross Flickr set**. Check out these cool photos in the set: Aerial view showing siding and boxcars, loading scrap in CN gon, and another gon. Co-op building, which was once rail-served, with white arched roof and green angled roof at right of this photo:
Now a riverside town park where we have launched our kayaks, where once Stelco sat**:
A winter view* of the River Street facility and CN crossbucks:
A local news article mentioned that Stelco hoped to expand onto its plant parking lot in the direction of the CN tracks, west of River Street in July, 1969. The industry wished to have its zoning from light industrial to heavy industrial to permit outdoor material storage, as well as moving to a less-noisy forging press from forging hammers. Stelco threatened to leave Gananoque if the zoning change was not approved.
CN's 1987 Great Lakes Region timetable notes that the Gananoque Spur extends 4.1 miles south from the Kingston Sub at Mi 155.3, with a maximum permissible speed of 10 miles per hour, down to 5 miles per hour at the bridge at Mi 4.0. Heaviest car permitted was 220,000 pounds.

Footnotes for the Steel Co. siding - "Before movement past derail, employee warning system switch located in box on power pole opposite derail post and marked by sign must be put in 'on ' position. This switch must not be put in 'off' position until switching is completed and clear of derail." Restrictions from a 1963 CN employees' timetable (scanned by David J. Gagnon):
Crossings at Mi 3.8 Third St and Mi 4.0 River St were to be protected by a member of the crew. Engines were not to go beyond frog of switch leading to track KG34. Cars over 52 feet long must not be placed on track KG34 (outside Stelco track). River is to the right of this view**:
Steel bars and billets used in the production of forgings were brought from Stelco's Hamilton Works - various high-carbon, low-carbon and alloy steels depending on production requirements. River Street in the distance...the Co-op building at left in this view** taken from the bridge - only the most distant part of the building is still standing:
This Hans Boldt photo dates from 1980:
A slightly more distant view, reformatted from an online auction site shows the Susan Push train near the bridge, dated 1954! The Co-op has a more modest roof:
Another photo from the November-December 2005 Kingston Rail shows the bridge in 1985, including the Co-Op building and curving to the south, more overgrown and with the Stelco switch possibly removed.
A 1906 view*(Archives of Ontario) of the Gananoque Bolt Company, later site of Stelco: 
Is this news? It was in 1971, according to the Kingston Whig-Standard. CN RS-18 3119 has derailed on some icy tracks, likely while switching Stelco. Notice the wooden end-cupola caboose complete with marker lamps and the same yellowish brick building as in the above photos:
Ten years later, in the news...again! Kingston Whig-Standard newspaper clippings from my files. Sectionmen are working on tie replacement just north of the bridge at the switch into Stelco, this view looking south:
Yet another ten years on, this happened:                        
Vintage view** looking from Stelco back toward the bridge. What's that? TIR 500 and a gon on the bridge?                            

Lots o'links: