Friday, March 29, 2019

Amherstview Trainwatching, 1971-73

Trackside in the 70's! The embarrassent of riches that is the rich, railfan photographic legacy of my family requires more sharing. While sifting through Laura Second-slideboxes, my brother highlighted several slides that would interest me. Indeed! These L.C. Gagnon slides were recently scanned by David J. Gagnon, and I've brought several of these highlights together, showing Canadian National operations near our home in Amherstview, Ontario. This bedroom community just west of Kingston was home to well-paid plant workers, educators and prison guards and their families. Or, as I now call it, near Mi 182 of CN's Kingston Sub! 
As a planned community, Amherstview had stores, churches and schools nestled among the hundreds of suburban houses. And a sports field! Later named the Willie Pratt Sports Field, a soccer pitch, rudimentary ball diamond or two, and an outdoor rink (remember those?) were operated by Ernestown Township. The sports field provided a sweeping vista through which CN trains operated, blocked only by the pole line and minimal vegetation. In January, 1971 (top two photos) a westbound Geep-powered freight makes an appearance. Noteable are the third unit still in olive CNR paint, maple leaf-bedecked boxcar, and the complete absence of visible graffiti!
Two months later, in March 1971, I'm perched on a fencepost to better view and wave at another westbound, powered by an SD40-Century pair. My scribbling sensibilities would not arrive for another five years, so the particulars remain completely undocumented. The following spring of 1972 found us 'above the tracks' in the photographic shade but nonetheless able to capture the sweep of this eastbound freight, behind which multiple-unit dwellings would later be built as Amherstview continued to expand.
A good guess is three RS-18's, one GP-9* and an MLW switcher lead what could be CN No 318, a regular dimensional movement train that served yards all along the Kingston Sub. Jakob Mueller has kindly contributed that this is a leased Chesapeake & Ohio GP-9. But wait - there's more - right behind that interesting power:
My Dad must have known he had photographic gold here, because he kept a-snapping. Above - various farm implements and machinery. Two tractors and a baler, tank bottoms and crates, two boilers, a large storage tank and a CN passenger car! Below - welded rail cars made of old boxcar frames and Otis cars to hold strings of Continuous Welded Rail welded together at Belleville.
CN 8-foot door boxcar 575987, an aged wooden ice reefer then a marker-bearing wooden caboose on the tail-end. Goodness from start to finish!
'Above the tracks' photo taken from below the tracks. A true farm-lane that would later fall victim to removal of  'fence bottoms' to make larger cash-crop fields, it made for good walking:
During inclement weather, it was time to retreat to the basement to engage in what's now called 'Old School Model Railroading' in the fall-winter of 1971-1972:
Spring has sprung and a three-Century-led westbound freight passes the sports field.
No astro-turf here - unimproved grass for the footballers in the upcoming season! I am documenting the action as one of Uncle John's boxcars nears the end of the train:
From above the tracks in summer 1972 a three-unit westbound evening passenger train smokes it up:
To the west, near Ernestown, ON at Mi. 188 in the autumn of 1973, another three-unit CN passenger train passes at speed in this pretty good pan shot:
Another Dad-dynastic diesel discovery in late 1973! A Grand Trunk Western Geep leads three other units, including an F9B on an early-morning hot piggyback train. Perhaps this was a version of CN No 250/251 between Toronto and Montreal that often rated passenger power to maintain an overnight schedule - usually nocturnal and rarely photographed in these parts! Jakob Mueller has also added that this indeed was likely a 251, and that it's the only photo he's seen (he's seen a lot!) with GTW power east of Toronto - likely a surplus 4900 since Amtrak did not continue GTW passenger service after May 1, 1971.
Pastoral visit to Collins Bay station in the autumn of 1973. Located on Station Road just west of Collins Bay Road, this wooden station was a way-point between Queens and Ernestown interlockings.


 Looking west (above) and looking east (below):

Running extra:

Train-hopper Brave Dave passes through Collins Bay at the 17:32 mark of this video and shortly thereafter mugs while passing Ernestown station, ensconced in a scrap tie-gondola, eventually reaching BC! 
A neat picture of the Scherzer rolling lift bridge at Smiths Falls, ON complete with CNoR boxcar from the Rideau Canal archives. Here's CNR 6060 at the same location, 1974 Youtube video.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Indulge me for a minute. Couldn't sleep. Got up, made a cup of  'joe' and turned on the tube. There on the screen was a PBS pledge drive special, The Bee Gees:One Night Only! An amazing 1997 concert in Las Vegas that "covered the whole spectrum of our career," according to group member Robin Gibb. Their hit "How do you Mend a Broken Heart" was on this LP that I won decades ago at a live radio broadcast:
Remembering the Bee Gees' initial membership in the British invasion, along with Gerry & the Pacemakers and their evocative song "Ferry Cross the Mersey" and its first line:

Life goes on day after day/

...though I'd enjoyed the special before, as I tuned in (remember tuning in?) the Bee Gees were starting their hit "Morning of My Life"...

In the morning when the moon is at its rest/
You will find me at the time I love the best
The minutes take so long to drift away/Please be patient with your life
It's only morning and you're still to live your day
In the evening I will fly you to the moon/Where we'll stay until the sun shines/
Another day to swing on clothes lines/May I be yawning

There are two ways I can live life - through song lyrics (doesn't everything remind you of a song??) or punchlines - to paraphrase my colleague George "...and that's why they don't let me in the A&P anymore!" And I would be yawning, because it was 0400 hours at the time. I wondered what it was like for the three brothers to be singing those lyrics into a shared microphone, a capella and no doubt reflecting on their long career.

As I am.

After 33 and three-quarter years, it's time to hang it up. Not blogging! Day job - you know, don't quit your day job? Well, why not?? And of course this moment reminds me of...trains.

When riding a train, there are three ways to look - forward, backward, or out the window. What's coming down the track? What's happening right now? Where have we just been? What's your preferred view? While I enjoy wallowing in nostalgia, especially railway nostalgia, there's a time to look ahead and keep your eye on the tracks ahead.

I was standing in a Budd-built vestibule in May, 1986 having crossed the Ontario-Manitoba border (top photo) as the setting sun illuminated me and the reflection appeared in the open upper Dutch door. Meandering moustache and itchy Icelandic sweater knit by soon-to-be bride are to be seen in this early-era selfie.

Take this little trackside guy, waving at the bemused crew of a westbound CN freight at Mi 182 Kingston Sub in March, 1971. 
 L.C. Gagnon photos, scanned by David J. Gagnon
Also trackside, the next summer, my Dad and I were going for a walk down the farm lane across the Kingston Sub with binoculars and 'gun' made out of Meccano. (With a pacifist mother, we couldn't 'buy' a toy gun, so I guess I resorted to making one, to hunt those 'bad guys'.) Speaking of dressing up, Hallowe'en 2018 photo includes me 'dressed up as a retired guy' and two other colleagues who have since retired. Why not join 'em? (Though I will not be returning on a part-time basis, as they did)
With VIA's new emphasis on bidirectional consists and more to come in the future, at least ticket booking now includes notification of forward-facing or rearward-facing seats. I don't really mind riding backwards, though some objected strenuously on Twitter when the practice first began! But I don't want to spend ever trip seeing where I've been. I'd rather see what's coming - and be ready to photograph something interesting.

We're looking forward to doing some new things and some of the same things. Because you know, once you use the 'R' word, people ask, "Are you going to get a part-time job?". Well, not with what I do. "What will you do?" and "What are your plans?"are other popular questions. Plans include:
  • spend time with family including train-watching with that little rascal grandson o' mine!
  • enjoying the great outdoors
  • blogging and model railroading 
  • volunteering with music will continue
  • delving more into Kingston's industrial and railway history
  • travelling aboard VIA Rail, and lots of day trips
  • learning to say 'no' (thanks, Kevin!) but being open to new opportunities
Thanks for indulging me. And this is no April Fool's! Though the first pension cheque will be in the mail April 1.

Kevin's suggestion in meme form:
 Followed by best wishes from fellow Portage modeller Randy O'Brien:
And your humble blogger in his natural habitat:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Postscript: Sudbury 1985

Bob Fallowfield was guest operator at the Waterloo Region Model Railway Club recently. Between switching moves, Bob snapped a photo of stored CP plows in the club's Sudbury yard. When I subsequently posted a photo of double-track (one-sided!) plow CP 400823 that I photographed after temporarily detraining from VIA No 2 in 1985, club member Ted Kocyla mentioned an interesting fact: that the club had used my original 1985 photo as a prototype reference for these models. And Ted said 'thanks' for taking the photo so many years ago.
One need not wonder why a layout in Maryhill portrays Sudbury any more than one wonders why a layout in 2019 models the 1970s. The fidelity of their modelling, especially rolling stock modelling, to that specific era is what most interests me. Photos of CP plows are a dime-a-dozen, but based on the photos I took, I was lucky to see a double-track plow stuffed and mounted like this! In plow times, CN also stationed double-track and single-track plows at Belleville, ON.  Look at the big, black, expansive between-tracks side:
Gak! If only I'd posted the other photos in that original post, for the club's benefit! The post that included the single CP 400823 photo was only the third post I'd published on Trackside Treasure back in August, 2008. At that time, I was focussing on Retro Railfan Reports, sharing consists and other fun facts noted trackside. I had not yet decided to showcase more photos and theme-type posts. At the time, I considered the other photos of this unique piece of snowfighting equipment to be poorly manually-exposed. Modern photo-editing software to the rescue! I'm pleased to share more photos in this post, taken during that same brief visit.
No shop personnel were visible, and I was free to walk purposefully, safely and carefully around the shop's outdoor ready tracks happily snapping photos of well-lit, separately-spotted plows. Though film was precious and expensive at that time, I was nearing the end of my trip West and seemed willing to expose several frames to these snow-hungry subjects. Maybe to finish the film off!
I apparently took no notes of the numbers, so they're what you can see in these photos. I don't know whether the plows were receiving a pre-winter once-over, or if they were always spotted on these tracks. I suspect the former. (That's former, not foamer!)
The business end! (above) and rear views (below). Notice differences in cab styles, details and appurtenances, and even block versus CP Rail lettering.
At the time, these plows were still vital to CP's track maintenance in Northern Ontario. Today, not so much, and the expertise to operate such equipment is likely vanishing quickly.
On the same track as CP 400823 were these roofless woodchip boxcars (amazing how many former International of Maine boxcars were in this service throughout Northern Ontario at the time - but that's another post for another day) and ore cars:
Script-lettered at the shop:
The original post included leased Conrail units and CP Rail switchers at the shop tracks, but these larger MLW cousins are posted here for the first time:
I wish many happy additional years of truly prototype-based modelling to modern-era CP Rail modellers like Bob Fallowfield and the members of the WRMRC!

Running extra...

Friday, March 15, 2019

Sundays at the Valois Station, 1971-72

Some people get dressed in their Sunday best to go....to church. These photos make it look like we got dressed in their Sunday best to go....trainwatching. Actually, in this post it was both denomination destination stations! My maternal grandmother lived just steps away from the CP Rail Valois station and her neighbour was the station agent! So it was trackside we went - in my case stylin' with blazer and flannels. These slides were taken by my Dad, L.C. Gagnon and recently painstakingly scanned by my brother, David J. Gagnon. Thanks to both these fine gentlemen, we can enjoy some true treasure trackside.
Since it was at least five years before I was writing down consists, and only three years after I learned to print, there is no data for each train pictured. We're under the shady station eaves -  top photo shows a westbound CP freight with CN mainline in the background - June, 1971. The above photo shows me not watching a westbound CN passenger train. And below, I'm not watching a short, weekend Dayliner making its station stop:
 Summer 1971 - best photo of the bunch. Pan shot of a speeder speeding:
Then it's another (non-multimarked!) hockey-masked Dayliner:
Seems somewhat unusual to find two units on a single-level Lakeshore commuter consist:
Evening commuter run with Vickers gallery cars:
Arriving (above) and departing (below) with classic 'bus stop' commuter shelters on the platform:
Evening action in 1972 - freshly-painted candy-striped SD's leading one other MLW unit:
Tail-end and tail number. Jet lifting off west from Dorval airport as this CP marker-lit run-through van tails open autoracks east. My Dad would always try to fit two subjects into one photo!
I'll sneak in a weekday photo, this one from the summer of 1973 with a bountiful brace of beautiful RDC's heading into the city:
 Later that year, a westbound MLW-led freight smokes it up:
 And a Dayliner consist is just west of the station:
In 1974, morning commuters are ready to board this inbound single-level consist:
Running extra...

Don't trip over these names I'm about to drop. Not a bad week at all. Kingston Rail-o-Rama supplied a small shopping bag of paper and books. As usual, the Bytown Railway Society booth staffed by Paul and Les was well-stocked. One tank car for my HO scale Hanley Spur layout thanks to Peter. Plethoric photos from Liz. Konversation with Kevin.

A few days later, it was great to meet Courtenay at the Associated Railroaders of Kingston March meeting. Her generosity led to a break-out post on the historic Bajus Brewery, removing it from solely existing in the ignominy of the Industrial History post. The Hanley Spur Industrial Approach presentation went well and no-one threw anything. Well except helpful comments and questions!

Silty synergy: I planted a swamp, along the Great Cataraqui River. Thank you, Michaels, for your 69-cent cattail inspiration and Allison for your recycled calendar photos!