Tuesday, July 20, 2021

CN 6060 Fantrips 1973-1980

Canadian National sponsored an active steam program from the transition era until 1980. Several excursion engines became famous for their annual 'last chance' runs: CN 5107, 6153, 6167, 6218 and ultimately 6060. Fifty years ago, 6218 made its last runs from Belleville to Anson Junction, and afterwards it would be two more years until another Mountain-type, CN 6060 was brought from Jasper display and restored to operating status. This post documents the plethora of excursions pulled by CN's last fantrip queen (all photos by L.C. Gagnon unless otherwise noted).
Built at Montreal Locomotive Works in October 1944, 6060 operated in Ontario and Quebec before moving to the Prairies in the 1950's, and undergoing conversion to an oil-burner retaining its Vanderbilt tender. After retirement, spared from scrapping 6060 was put on display in Jasper from 1962 (above - over my head). Removed for overhaul, the replacement at Jasper was CN 6015 from the CRHA collection in Delson, still in place during our visit in June, 2019:
Sisters CN 6069 at Sarnia and 6077 at Capreol were three out of 20 U-1-f's preserved. The overhaul of 6060 was undertaken at CN's Pointe St. Charles shops (PSC) in Montreal between August 3, 1972 and June 26, 1973. Steam-up took place on July 6, 1973. Test runs were made, with display at Dorval station with CN business car Pacific, on September 8-9, and a test run was made to Coteau with 60 freight cars on Sept 11/73. The maiden fantrip for 6060, finally able to stretch its 73-inch drivers again, was from Montreal-Victoriaville return, leaving Central Station on Sept 15, 1973.

October 26, 1973 - 6060 led a baggage car, five coaches and Pacific on its second trip, an ambitious fantrip from Montreal to Toronto via Ottawa. Departing Montreal at 0700, 175 passengers were aboard, paying $24.50 for Montreal-Toronto or $18.50 for Ottawa-Toronto fares. Departing the National Museum of Science and Technology at 1130, the excursion arrived in Toronto at 1815. If you squint, you can just see the excursion on CN's Smiths Falls Sub as my Dad photographed it from the football field at Sydenham High School:
October 27, 1973 - CN carried 700 passengers from Toronto-Fort Erie return, for which the above fantrip was a ferry move:
July 6-7, 1974 - Two-day excursion to Portland, ME return.

July 14, 1974 - Montreal to Grand-Mere, QC return.

August 5, 1974 - Toronto to Orillia return.

August 14-23, 1974 - Toronto to Moncton (planned but not operated).

September 6,  1974  - Montreal to Toronto via Napanee and Ottawa, one way.

September 28, 1974 - Toronto-Lindsay-Haliburton return.

Oct 13, 1974 - Toronto to Hamilton return. Most of the fares for the 1974 season were set at $26.95, one-way.

1975 - due to shopping for a scored axle and overheated bearing at the end of 1974, the excursion schedule in Ontario and Quebec for this year was conservative.

August 14, 1976 - We rode VIA's Cavalier from Kingston to Toronto. There we boarded the Toronto-Niagara Falls return fantrip with side trip to Yager, ON. This was to become a regular summer excursion schedule operated by CN and VIA, carrying more than 10,000 passengers. Listed in the April 15, 1976 VIA timetable as Saturday train 6060, operating from June 12 to September 4.
May 20, 1976 - I recorded a deadhead run made by 6060 through Kingston at 1545. Such deadhead moves came as quite a surprise. We would hear the plaintive wail of 6060's whistle, shake our heads, then bike or drive up to the CN Kingston Sub to see if we could catch her!

May 30, 1976 - Excursion to Sherbrooke.

September 18, 1976 - Toronto: to Peterborough and Anson Junction.

September 26, 1976 - Montreal to Quebec City.

October 2, 1976 - Toronto to Gravenhurst/Washago.
Spring 1977 - Deadheading east (Bob Hunter photo - Trackside Treasure collection via Tim Reid) on Queens 4 at Kingston. 

May 14, 1977 - Pierre Fournier reported in Classic Canadian National Facebook group, "On a trip from Montreal to Toronto we were stopped 2 hours at Belleville, and for some reason diverted through Campbellford and Lindsay, and got at Union Station at Midnight instead of 1800 hrs." Sam McLauchlan kindly his photo (top) of a westbound excursion crossing the bridge [I must have dug that mileboard out of the ditch, because it's in my collection now!] over the Rideau Canal at Kingston Mills in 1977, perhaps the same excursion. We waited for the same fantrip, seen here roaring through Collins Bay, ON past our 1976 bronze VW Beetle (below), likely on its way to Toronto for the June 24-September 25 Toronto to Niagara Falls excursion season:
The Toronto-Niagara Falls excursions were publicized by VIA, including various package trips and just the 56-mile Niagara Falls-Yager sidetrip for wyeing. An article appeared in the August, 1977 issue of Railfan magazine, in which editor Jim Boyd mentions going 80 mph near Port Credit! The 1977 Toronto excursions operated from June 4 to September 24.

Interestingly, CN commissioned a survey to gauge reaction to the second, mid-week excursion operated from July 4 to August 24 inclusive in the summer of 1977. Most fantrippers learned of the mid-week excursions from newspaper ads, with 23% finding out from friends or family. Sixty per-cent of Wednesday passengers arrived in Toronto by car with 52% living in Toronto, while 42% of Saturday passengers arrived by train, with 24% coming from Quebec. Passengers requested more time during the stopover in Niagara Falls for those not taking the Yager sidetrip, better food service on the train, and better descriptive literature.

September or October, 1977 - Montreal to Hawkesbury return fantrip, shown at Hawkesbury while we were driving to Lachute, QC to visit relatives:
October 1, 1977 Toronto-Gravenhurst-Washago return.

October 15, 1977 - Montreal to Toronto excursion via Ottawa. We met the train at Sydenham on CN Smiths Falls Sub during a water stop already profiled in this post.
November 27, 1977 at Whitby - Ross Wakefield kindly shared this deadhead-move photo:
Spring, 1978 - deadhead moves Toronto-Montreal and Montreal-Toronto:
Westbound deadhead move at Mi 182, Kingston Sub through Amherstview, ON (above and below):
Eastbound deadhead move, same location. One of these deadhead moves took place on Wednesday, May 17, 1978.
April 29, 1978 - Excursion to celebrate the opening of Richmond Hill GO Transit.

May 7, 1978 - Montreal to Grand-Mere, QC return.

May 14, 1978 - Montreal to Ottawa return for tulip festival:
May 21, 1978 - Toronto-Stouffville-Lindsay-Campbellford-Belleville circle tour fantrip for Belleville Centennial, Railway Days. 
We visited Belleville on Victoria Day, May 22 for Railway Days:
Your humble blogger posed with 6060 and her crew:
Ready to depart to another trip to Anson Junction, with L.C. Gagnon:
May 2x-September 23, 1978 - Toronto to Niagara Falls excursion season.

September 23, 1978 - Toronto-Stratford-Clinton via Guelph Sub, return.

October 14, 1978 - Montreal-Toronto fantrip with baggage car and three coaches. Reaching Kingston at 1220 with an awesome smokeshow, conditions were fog and rain! (Eric Gagnon photo)
June 2, 1979 - Toronto to Barrie with a CN GP9 assist and 14 cars.

September 29, 1979 -Toronto-Gravenhurst-Washago in Trackside Treasure's third-ever post.

July 12, 1980 - Montreal-Toronto six-car farewell fantrip was planned as 6060's final run, with fares of $99, but not operated. Fantrippers preferred to ride the CPR 1201 excursion to Maniwaki instead! It seemed that the excursion market for 'Bullet-Nosed Betty' had been saturated.

July 19, 1980 - Toronto-Niagara Falls return, the last steam excursion operated by the Upper Canada Railway Society.

July 24, 1980 - First of two fantrips for the NRHS convention in Toronto. Toronto to Niagara Falls with a VIA FP9A.

July 26, 1980 - Second NRHS convention fantrip to Washago, with an FPA4 in CN colours.

1980 - In April, my Dad instituted his own letter-writing campaign involving the Upper Canada Railway Society CRHA Saint Lawrence Valley Division, and CN President Robert Bandeen. CRHA Chapter President Stephen A. Wray responded, mentioning costs to operate mainline steam operations, as well as the generational loss of experienced steam operating and shop forces. UCRS President Peter F. Oehm also responded, amplifying my Dad's suggested pursuit of Federal government assistance in a letter to CN President Dr R.A.Bandeen, suggesting further operation as part of a tourism promotion program.
It became apparent 6060 was about to find a new home in Alberta. It was left to Office Assistant P. Downman (apt!) of  President's Office Administrative Officer Roy W. Lowry's staff to advise that 6060 had reached the end of its road in Ontario, on its way west on August 2 behind the power on CN train No 375. In Alberta, 6060 would present an incongruous image of pulling CP Rail single-level commuter coaches assisted by a CN switcher! An over-ambitious run to SteamExpo in 1986 with Alberta Heritage Fund grain cars led to a two-day-late arrival, after the much-anticipated parade of steam. Staying at the Royal Hudson steam shop from late 1987 to May, 1988

After several years of storage at the Alberta Railway Museum, 6060 was moved to Stettler, AB in 1998 to operate as Alberta Prairie Steam Tours. The Rocky Mountain Rail Society has been responsible for 6060 since 2009, and recently announced renewed efforts to restore and operate the historic locomotive following the receipt of government grants augmenting the society’s own fundraising efforts.

Lots o' links:
Running extra...

Speaking of steam and preservation, thanks to faithful Trackside Treasure Ken Wadden for sending me a photo of a model of CNR 46 at the Maine Narrow Gauge RR Co and Museum in Portland, ME. Along with the model is the prototype photo of CNR 46 at CN's big final steam exhibit at Montreal's Turcot Yard. On the running board is my paternal Grandfather and my brother. Merci, Ken!
Kingston Transit is hiring. I'd seen a graphic of a wrap and have been waiting for KT 2103 to roll past our home route. No dice. Until Monday's morning walk where I not only observed it, but due to its stop, had time to snap a quick photo! They won't just hire anyone - ya have to be driven! (Oh, stop. Bus-ted!)
CP was quick off the mark to refute remarks made by TSB Chair Kathy Fox. To paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Twins', "We did nothing wrong. The pavement was his enemy." In their defence, CP trotted out some useful-sounding fire prevention measures. Anyone who's been trackside in the last decade knows these things are just talking points for either Canadian Class 1 railway, and not wildfire-related:


4 comments:

Steve Boyko said...

When I look back at the CRHA, UCRS or BRS notices of railfan excursions, I think of two things: 1) man, you guys had it all; and 2) why didn't you charge more and make it more sustainable?

Today's railfans would give their eyeteeth for the steam excursion opportunities that were present in the 1960s and 1970s in Ontario and Quebec.

Eric said...

Very thought-provoking points there, Steve, which probably justify an entire post on the downfall of fantrips. Like Rapido Trains Inc.'s Icons of Steam, timing is everything. Those that had steam fresh in their memory had a hard time letting go. Hence the 'annual last chance' that began with CN 6153's End of Steam - which we all know wasn't the end. Even basic facilities like coal for fueling and stations for passenger handling were still intact.

The sustainability and current appeal of steam is hard to gauge. The railways seemed to get tired of hosting fantrips. And based on the US experience, train-chasers and insurance were two big liabilities that made fantrips easy to abandon and hard to operate and justify costs for. Even 6060 saturated the potential ridership base. Floods knocked out the former CPR 1201/HC&W runs of Ottawa.

Now, I think you guys have it all with the PDC!
Thanks for your comment,
Eric

K Wadden said...

Prior to Via’s inaugural the Montreal region during the 70’s had as many as 3 passenger extra organizers: CRHA, Les Amis Du Rail and Iron Horse Tours/St.Lawrence Valley Railway Society. The railways were extremely cooperative prior to Via’s takeover.

CRHA was not willing to take the financial risk. Les Amis Du Rail lost interest with repetitive theme trips. St.Lawrence Valley thrived sponsoring runs over hard to reach, freight only destinations. Behind both steam and diesel.

The 2 railways had Via kill off passenger extras by charging double markups after March of ‘79. Suddenly their guarantees made it cost prohibitive. How convenient (!)

6060’s departure for Alberta in 1980 signalled the end of an era...indeed. It was fun while it lasted.

Ken Wadden
Pointe Claire Quebec

Eric said...

Thanks for that additional information, Ken. Our family also got in on some of those rare mileage/freight/diesel-powered trips. It was a golden era. Today is a bit of a wasteland by comparison: heavily safe-guarded museum dinner trains and short romps down a rickety right-of-way.

A far cry from high-speed romps down an active Class 1 mainline with cinders-in-eyes, microphone-festooned audiophiles and camera-toting daytrippers and daisy-pickers forming long photo lines. Did we know how good we had it?

Eric