My first trainwatching day of my 1981 trip to Portage was August 24. Arriving in Winnipeg 45 minutes late, my aunt met the train at the station and used the layover time to get us back to Portage for lunch at the Dairy Queen! This post describes the trip, west from Toronto aboard the Super Continental, and east from Calgary via Ottawa to Montreal on the Canadian. Work cars on CN, the Super, wayfreight and loaded CP grain boxcars at one of Portage's four grain elevators show how busy a place Portage could be all at once! This post comprises my observations on that busy afternoon - new in town!
1313 W CP 5924-4434 potash empties with three vans: 434486-434464-434370, unphotographed.
1333 W VIA No 3 Engs 6505-6610-CN 4105 leading the Super Continental with 16 cars (below). CN 1353-1354 had pulled up to the station at 1311 and are seen spotting covered hoppers at Portage Pool 'B' taken from the Skyline bridge (top photo). Three cars a-loading at Pool 'B': brown & yellow CNWX 100191- silver & yellow 108218-Canadian Wheat Board 395121. Both trains will be in Portage for awhile!
1428 E CP 5954-4551-5970 with 134 grain loads and van 434373 cleared West Tower before VIA No 3 could proceed west on CN. VIA No 3 has crept up to the light at Eighth Street, and will have spent a whole hour in Portage!
1453 W VIA No 1 Engs 6550-1961-CP 8514 and 15 cars, including Riviere Rouge crew sleeper still in CN colours. I was able to photograph the westbound Canadian and Super Continental on several occasions.
In the consist of this Canadian was ex-CN E-series sleeper Ernestown, the car I'd travelled to Winnipeg in, now part of the Winnipeg Sleeper Swap.
1512 E CP 8806-4431-8493 from Carberry Sub with manifest freight and van 434455. VIA No 1 also had to wait at Portage - for this freight to clear West Tower - before heading west on CP.
1538 W CN 9450-9557-9576 headed a westbound manifest tailed by caboose 79527. This freight set out a BCR boxcar on the CN-CP interchange and is returning to the train in the yard.
1559 W CN 1353-1354 finally head west after nearly two hours in Portage with 28 grain empties: 24 cylindrical covered hoppers and four boxcars then caboose 79435. Three passenger trains waiting for three different freights? Yep, this grain peddler would end up making VIA No 2 wait on the CN-CP connecting track at West Tower! I'd catch it the following morning, returning east at West Tower with grain cars and boxcar MPA 39846 in the consist! Notice how clean the Saskatchewan and Alberta cars are, only months old:
1615 W CN 9401-9407-9624, unphotographed but included flatcar BLE 4865, bulkhead flats SLSF 4110-4180, box NAR 050160 and THB flatcar 1846 ahead of caboose 79579!
1630 E VIA No 2 Engs 1418-CP 8580-1898 and 16 cars on the now-gone connecting track, including crew sleeper Margaree River in CN colours, and sleepers Edmonton and Edson for the Winnipeg sleeper swap!
Ex-CP E-8 1898 - essentially just another VIA locomotive to me at the time? No! I did note 'an E-8!!')
I am fortunate to still have my original notes to refer to for the observations I made on these visits. If you're hungry for more, faster than I can publish them here (!) (see right sidebar for more) and in a more finished format, check out my professionally-printed books Trains & Grains, a two-volume set of my photos and observations made over 11 years' visits to Portage, preserved for print posterity in perpetuity.
We're closing in on 600 published posts here on Trackside Treasure. Penultimate posts will lead up to this round figure on this blog's 11th anniversary. Something to celebrate! Steve Lucas photo (above) with my version of CN 100 anniversary logo gracing some of its newest locomotives, like CN 3241 westbound through Kingston this week:
What a great day of train watching! I wish I was there with ya! VIA Canadian and Super Connie with mixed CN-CP-Via consists, Hellcats in triplicate on CN, SD40-2s and west of Winnipeg MLWs on CP, SW1200 pups in mainline service, GP9s mixed with F7Bs, a golden age is in full glow! All this needs is some Red Rider playing in the background!
I also love the sampling of American freight cars going through. I need to get some more Frisco Bulkheads and Maryland Pennsylvania boxcars.
Somehow, I knew you'd be along for the ride, Elijah. Maybe some 'White Hot' or 'Lunatic Fringe' playing on the playlist, the latter with that English siren sound effect!
I didn't record what those American cars were hauling. I'm guessing machinery, steel or even farm equipment. There was also a neat assortment of potash cars and leasers.
I'll include more freight car detail in future - the locomotives are part of the story, but the freight cars really give them something to pull and complete the picture!
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Question: When did Via stop applying a red VIA logo to the noses of its F and E units? Or was it a gradual thing? I always thought the units without the red VIA on the nose look strange.
That's a good question, and I share your opinion, Michael. Without the red (or in two cases, blue) VIA logo, that was just a broad expanse of yellow that no-one at VIA seemed to want to do anything with!
The first VIA logo wipe was in April, 1981, and the last up to six years later. So yes, gradual. Thanks to valuable data supplied by 'Diesel' Don McQueen, I was able to do some data analysis on these various nose treatments in Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections.
The only thing stranger was the CN cab units that lost their lazy-noodle logo to nose-wiping!
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