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.


Steve Boyko said...

Photographic gold! Thanks for sharing these gems from the days when cabeese still trailed the trains.

I can't get over how these "train hoppers" can share their illegal and dangerous activities on YouTube. Sheesh. They get no love from me.

Eric said...

Kudos to my brother for laboriously scanning enabling sharing.

I like the concept of trainhopping, and some are better videographers (and train-hoppers) than others. Use of trackside guides and scanners proliferate. Grain hoppers seem to be a favourite!

I'll continue sofa-sitting, not train-hopping!
Thanks for your comment, Steve.