Saturday, April 28, 2018

CN No 518 Lifts a Boxcar!

But not just any boxcar. Stay with me here - first, some set-up. On the way home from work, I noticed CN No 518 at the Invista plant on CN's Cataraqui Spur. Granted, not exactly news. It happens every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. Arriving home aboard the Kingston Express bus, I was on my way to an oil change for our van, with a few extra minutes on the clock. I headed to the Tanner Drive crossing, guessing I might miss the train after negotiating various Sunday drivers on Wednesday, traffic lights and all. But no. The train was approaching and about to cross one of two trestles east of Tanner Drive (top photo). Approaching very slowly.
Then, I heard a loud noise. Was it a crash or a whoosh? Bear in mind I was standing out in the drizzle, trying to keep my camera (and me if I could) dry. Traffic was passing over the nearby Tanner Drive crossing. Was this train ever going to get within shooting distance? Taking its time. But look closely (above). That whoosh was the train being uncoupled from the power!
Between crossings and at the bottom of a sag, the power only continued uphill. Watch the 68-second video! Yelling and pointing, "Hey guys, you lost your train!" crossed my mind. Where were they headed next? Well, the trainman lined the switch and they headed for the runaround/team track at the top of the Cataraqui Spur, just east of Gardiners Road, that's where! But why?
To lift a boxcar! But not just any boxcar. An empty boxcar. But not just any empty boxcar. This one had been spotted here months ago. Maybe a year ago, maybe even two years! Faithful Trackside Treasure reader Chris de Vries had noted that the car was billed to contain 'personal effects' and we guessed a CN employee was moving to the area. I hadn't even bothered to walk in and take a photo because surely one of these days it was just going to be gone. Or not.
The power nosed up to the car (above). The conductor and trainman checked under the car. A lot. Several times. Well, if you were going to lift a car that had been there for that long, wouldn't you? Much crouching and headscratching. In the rain. Finally, the conclusion was reached...let's get back to Belleville. The power coupled on and started to push east towards my Tanner Drive vantage point. Watch the 19-second video!
Looking east, the train was still there! Three empty flatcars from KIMCO and covered hoppers plus tank cars from Invista (above). The conductor boarded the boxcar to ride back to the cars in the sag. The trainman's role was now to trudge up to the mainline switch and wait for the complete train to return there:
Near some new piled ties, the power and boxcar start to roll. I managed to catch the one shiny spot on the wheels not covered by months-old rust:
Difficult photogaphy: I didn't want my camera to get wet and some of these photos are video captures because the grey, misty conditions lent themselves better to videography! Through the drizzle, at the Tanner Drive crossing which is protected by bell and flashing lights:
And starting to head downhill. Watch the 27-second video!
It's a long way down:
And back up. Watch the 3-minute video here!  Rainy video capture:
CNIS 413507 is ready for its closeup. By nightfall, Chris reported that the empty car was already in Toronto MacMillan Yard!
I can't guess how much graffiti was from elsewhere and how much Kingston taggers added:
Writing down the consist, I knew that Invista uses SRLX covered hoppers to ship outbound product. But it says SLRX 45190 on the end and SRLX 45190 on the side!
Clearing the crossing, grey covered hoppers clatter westward, ready to head back to Belleville yard when the RTC could take them on the south track, against the current of traffic. The complete consist:
  • CN 4728
  • CN 7025 
  • CNIS 413507
  • PTTX 140667 empty flatcar
  • PTTX 141670 empty flatcar
  • PTTX 140595 empty flatcar
  • DBUX 207165 empty tankcar
  • UTLX651141 empty tankcar
  • INVX 26238 empty tankcar
  • DBUX 207189 empty tankcar
  • DBUX 207149 empty tankcar
  • SRLX (yes, it really was SRLX) 45190 loaded covered hopper car
  • INVX 38795 empty covered hopper car
  • TCMX 703421 empty covered hopper car
  • INVX 38724 empty covered hopper car
  • KLRX 525043 empty covered hopper car
Working through the last curve up to the main and the waiting rained-on trainman!
This was precision railfanning. Limited amount of time, maximum amount of activity. And the Cat Spur returned to its slumber.

Running extra...

Spring has finally sprung. The spring rains have made the grass green, and retirees in my neighbourhood are already cutting the grass which has not yet begun to grow. Both Trains and Grains books are with my graphic designer, so I've been 'turned out to grass' to begin my walking program during work breaks. I'll likely take some photos of the storied streets of Kingston as I did last year:
If there are train spotters, can there also be rental van spotters? If so, this is their busy season. U-Hauls aplenty dot the streets of Kingston as students move hastily home for the summer or just change their housal habitation for next year. Great time of the year to pick up a bookshelf!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

CP's Carberry Subdivision west of Portage

CP's mainline between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie was featured in this previous post. Now, go west young man! Manitoba Pool Elevators (MPE) Burnside grain elevator was one of the last wooden grain elevators built, opening on July 24, 1984. Surprisingly, its lifespan was a short 25 years. Located eight miles west of Portage la Prairie on CP's Carberry Subdivision, near the Trans-Canada Highway, this shipping point was intended to replace Portage's 'A' elevator which was lost to fire in 1982. I was able to visit the elevator twice - once in 1984 during construction and again in 1986 with agent Fern Legault. Eastbound at Burnside on June 5, 1986 at 1042 is a CP intermodal freight with 5989-5924-5407:
At 80 feet high, the double-composite design comprised 47 bins with a 5,680 tonne, 308,000-bushel  capacity. The acccess road featured a former CP tank car body in use as a culvert! I was shocked to see a photo of this 25 year-old, still-useful elevator being demolished in this 2009 photo, kindly shared by Dwayne Chapman.
MacGregor at Mi 78 also had an MPE presence. MacGregor was named after Doctor MacGregor of Glasgow, Scotland. A 1963 view of CP's station and water tower from the Dave Shaw collection:
During a May, 1984 visit to MacGregor, I photographed the CPR wooden water tower, the Elephant fertilizers elevator as well as the Manitoba Pool elevator:
A variety of CP boxcars spotted for loading (above) and a better-lit view of the trackside MPE fertilizer shed (below):
 The Esso fuel dealership was in the shadow of Manitoba Pool:
Austin was at Mi 85. It was named after the aide-de-camp of the Marquis of Lorne. Manitoba Pool elevator, May 1994. (L.C. Gagnon photo):
Sidney was at Mi 95; the Cargill elevator seen here during an evening visit in 1984:
Sidney trackside view with a tank hopper spotted at left, and at right, the CP portable station:
Thanks to Matt Tolton who noted that Sidney's elevator was demolished in 1999. The Carberry Sub, shown in red, runs across the middle of this map:
In June, 1984 this large Pioneer plant in Brandon hosted CNWX aluminum and yellow covered hoppers:
 Brandon B Manitoba Pool Elevators:
 Newly-built Manitoba Pool Elevators Brandon A visible from the Trans-Canada Highway:
I digress - west of Brandon at Mi 47 of CP's Broadview Sub, Virden's unique stone station, taken from the tail-end of VIA No 2 in 1982:
Photos taken by my Dad during a trip westward on CP in the steam era. Carberry United Grain Growers elevator and passing freight, in September, 1950 (L.C. Gagnon photo)
Sidney Pool No. 200 in September, 1950 with a more substantial CP station (L.C. Gagnon photo):
The timing of this post is not completely surprising. Walling in wheaty nostalgia, I've just saved over 270 grain elevator photos to a memory stick that's going to my graphic designer tomorrow. Having just received a draft (draft cover, below) of Volume 1 - TRAINS of my Trains and Grains project, it's great to have Volume 2 - GRAINS ready to receive the same fine treatment!

Running extra...

Kingston Transit continues to pour new buses onto its express routes. The fourth and newest express route debuts May 7 - Route 801/802 Montreal Street. Here's Nova-built KT 1826 in service this morning on Kingston Express Route 702:
Thanks to Canadian Railway Modeller magazine for this just-published review of my fourth book on VIA, Trackside with VIA - Research and Recollections:

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Lantic Sugar in Mimico

A stroll around Mimico in April  2017 combined two favourite subjects - VIA Rail and spot 'n' spur freight activity. An earlier post featured CGMX/LATX covered hoppers as seen on CN's Kingston Sub, carrying sugar from the Lantic Sugar facility in Montreal East to the blending facility in Mimico, located at 230 New Toronto Road.
I managed a well-lit photo of the unloading tracks, even though no LATX covered hoppers were visible. These newer WFRX (Wells Fargo Rail Corporation) and EAMX cars, and in 2023 TILX cars, are slowly replacing the LATX cars. A view of the Lantic logo:
Check out this model railroady trackwork with Lantic's spur (left to right in photo) crossing Mimico wye tracks, complete with stop signs leading to Lantic, taken from the Islington Avenue overpass. VIA uses the wye regularly. The tail track approaching New Toronto Street can accommodate one engine and five cars. The crossing was rehabilitated in May, 2022 and can now accommodate one engine and six cars once derail is removed and crossing occupied.
Also from the Islington overpass, the unloading shed at Lantic, with two LATX cars now visible! Two cars can be unloaded in four hours. Two cars are usually here at one time, with another nine on a spur west of Islington Ave. which Lantic's Trackmobile can access.
Just around the corner, several LATX cars were being held off-spot. There is space on this track for nine cars. Notice the unique Salco hatch covers and plastic lining, which flap fancily while heading along the Kingston Sub!
Ground view of the other end of the string of LATX covered hoppers taken from Eighth Street. Notice wheel stops on track, and GO locomotive at VIA's nearby Toronto Maintenance Centre:
A closeup view of the Salco covers and walkways atop the LATX cars:
Here's a video capture from Rapido Trains' video of their RDC-1 RPDX 6133 stretching its legs near the TMC. It's February 2018, and the Lantic operation is visible in the background including their parked orange Trackmobile:
Satellite view shows the Lantic spurs, the diamond with the wye, stored LATX cylindrical covered hoppers and Trackmobile driveway!
Just last month, here's LATX 7010 westbound for Toronto on March 17, 2018. In the company of former NAHX 455xxx-series, now LATX cylindricals, plus WFRX's like 849636! (Heck, even today CN No 376 had several cylindricals and two WFRX's. Those LATX's are getting tons of graffiti now.)

Running extra...

Book update! TRAINS being graphically designed. GRAINS being captioned. Worked my way through 1986 (hello Saskatoon C - below!) and soon it will be 1985 and I'll be....wallowing in nostalgia even more. Even with all the wallowing, the spring 2018 publication date is still intact! And thanks to the at-least ten people who are expressing interest in this exciting and unique project!
And now for a verdant Vermont moment. I'm doing some prototype research on the dollar-barn for my HO scale Green Mountain Lines. Years ago, barns in Vermont (below) were used for messy things like cows, hay bales, and manure. Now, a Google search reveals that nearly every barn is used for shabby chic, denim apparel, exposed lightbulbs and weddings! Well, marriage can be messy, too.
This week's April meeting of the Associated Railroaders of Kingston included a member-update section during which attendees brought a few photos on a memory stick. The Green Mountain Lines brought their update and for a few minutes it was all green and 1970's. Also - Michael, Bob, Greg, Len, Fred and Paul brought their neat photos and videos. And Denny's brought the slams!