Saturday, May 15, 2021

VIA 1405 Derails at Illecillewaet

This dramatic derailment has been a mystery to me for quite awhile. I'd first seen a photo in TRAINS magazine, and this uncredited view (top) has been making the rounds of the internet for some time. When it happened, railfan newsletters and magazines of the era did not have the blanket coverage available from online sources today. Most as-it-happens information had to be gleaned from newspaper clippings or short TV news clips. And if they were missed at the time, the information was unretrievable. 

In fact, the photo by Stephen C. Bradley, showing a nose-to-roadbed view,  didn't make it into TRAINS' Railroad News Photos section until the December 1979 issue. The derailment took place on June 3, 1979 at Illecillewaet, at Mi. 98 of CP's Mountain Subdivision, leaving VIA 1405 to be photogaphed in a rather undignified position! Interestingly, neither photo shows the rest of the train, so photographers must have had no access until after the initial clean-up.

From the Golden Star newspaper (Golden, BC), June 6, 1979, page 24.

Passenger Train Derailed

On Sunday, June 3rd, at 1:30 a.m. a VIA passenger train was derailed 60 miles west of Golden. The cause of the derailment was a mudslide across the tracks. While there were no injuries, it took crews until 7:00 p.m. to clean up the mess. Passengers were bussed to Kamloops and from there they were flown to Vancouver at the expense of the VIA.

The front page has a photo of CP 200-ton crane 414478 and another crane righting a baggage car with the rear of 1405 visible in the right of the picture. And the picture accompanying the article on page 24 has a photograph from the other direction with 1405's number clearly visible. No 1's train was 11 cars long, with a CP Geep as the second unit behind VIA 1405. The Geep, baggage car and trailing coach derailed but remained on the right-of-way. There were 240 passengers on board.  The mudslide was cleared and the line was reopened at 1845 hours the same day.

VIA 1405 was outshopped from Calgary's Ogden Shops with its VIA paint on December 15, 1978. Here it is in March, 1979 at Vancouver. I only observed 1405 twice. Here, photographed leading VIA No 2 at Portage la Prairie, MB on June 11, 1982. Ex-CP 1405-1961-1402 and 15 cars arrive out of the glare of the afternoon sun at 1634 for the late-afternoon station stop:

Now, to hunt up the story of that flaming CP Rail 4062, ex-1420 at Franz, Ontario - you've seen it - July 5th, 1975 on CP Train  No. 955!

Running extra...

Kingston does not have a co-ordinated trail system. It's mostly 'trail' in name only, compared to others we've encountered in our travels: Quebec City, the Rockies, Orillia and other places where a trail is really a trail, not just streets, sidewalks and occasional real trails stitched together for the sake of signage. Kingston is making progress though, with improvements to our walking route through Lake Ontario Park.

On Thursday's walk, the Canadian Coast Guard's Cape Hearne leisurely left Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. A few minutes later, an RCAF 424 Squadron rescue Griffon helicopter arrived from CFB Trenton. An interested fellow walker asked if it was a real rescue - reassuringly, it was only a drill.

This is Trackside Treasure's 699th post. We, as humans, like round numbers, so the 700th post should be a big deal. In terms of marketing, $1.99 is perceived as being a better value than a price of $2.00, so perhaps this post is actually more valuable than the 700th one will be. As your humble blogger, I can't say, because at this point, what will appear as #700 is a mystery, even to me!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Kingston-Portage aboard VIA, 1982 - Part 2

Portage railfanning that year did not include the one-two of the westbound Canadian and Super Continental each afternoon as in the year before. However, the mid-afternoon arrival of the westbound Canadian was preceded by the noontime arrival of the Prairie Rocket, No 109 with its diminutive consist. On some days, I was able to photograph the eastbound Canadian just before supper. A car trip to Regina included seeing the Canadian farther west, once each at Regina and Indian Head behind VIA 6507-6607-6611 westbound at 2105 (below):
The same three units powered a substantial 15-car VIA No 1 that I photographed during the station stop at Portage on June 11 (top photo). A friendly hogger invited me up into the cab on 6507, taking in the track he faced ahead. View from ground level (below)

In Part 1, I made my way west to enjoy some Portage railfanning and now it was time to head home. Before departing forty minutes late from Portage la Prairie at 1711 on June 24, No 2 made two station stops – one for the coach passengers and one me and two other passengers who had booked sleeper space. I was in roomette 4 of Chateau Rouville. The porter mentioned that the train had been three-and-a-half hours late in Saskatchewan. The fellow in roomette 3 was telling the porter about water seeping from his toilet. The porter assured him it would be looked at once we reached Winnipeg. 

We scooped a 110-car CN grain train led by a trio of Geeps: 4317-4326-4318 which had arrived at Portage when No 2 should have! A CN boxcar of lumber was being unloaded at Newton, and six CN 40-foot grain boxcars were spotted at the Manitoba Pool elevator at Elie. The mileboards showed a steady 60 mph gait that was hard to gauge as the fields bordering the tracks were so large! Nine grain cars were spotted at the Mile 10.6 elevator. Long-stored CN equipment at Fort Rouge, with olive & black CN 10664 at centre:

Piggypackers were at work as we passed CN’s Winnipeg intermodal terminal as were CN switchers 7176, 7157, 7177 and 1252 as we neared the station. BNML Geep 2 had about 15 cars in tow at Portage Junction before our arrival 25 minutes late at 1825. Our consist at Portage, Winnipeg and Kingston:

A two-hour layover in Winnipeg included a change of locomotives and train servicing. The amount of food loaded on board the two diners was truly amazing! All windows were cleaned by a four-man crew. VIA needs to know that clean windows make happy passengers. We departed 20 minutes late at 2029 and dinner was served immediately upon departure. We were soon passing Terminal Cut-Off at 2033, a ‘Prairie Rocket’ consist being wyed, then orders hooped up to us by a female operator at Manson. We were running left-main on double track near Molson. 

We met three CP westbounds before reaching Kenora: a three-Century freight of empty lumber cars, an autorack train and another westbound freight. The lights of Kenora glimmered as moonlight silhouetted Husky the Muskie along Kenora Bay. We arrived fifteen minutes early but left on time. Thunder Bay on the morning of June 25 was a slow go as CP’s yard switchers went to work: 6563, 6580, 6567, 6606, 8120, 8114, 8122 and chop-nosed Geeps 1529, 1530 and 1542. Vessels Lake Manitoba, Algosea and Ontario Power were in the harbour, the latter being sent off the lakes that year before scrapping in Taiwan in 1987. CN GMD-1’s 1914, 1900, 1906 also shepherded grain cars around, turning them into empties for return to western elevators. Our train on a curve east of Terrace Bay, possibly near Moberley Bay:

We reached Schreiber on time at 1105, where switcher 6549 and end-cupola van 437147 were on duty. The Dayliner was still there! We passed an eastbound roadswitcher led by Century 4557 at Steel, a hi-rail crane in the siding at Coldwell, and a bay full of logs near Marathon at 1228 before the track swung away from the lake. 

We stopped briefly at Mobert before reaching White River at 1412, where a new siding was being installed. CP road units 4501-5755 were switching and I walked up to the head-end but was not granted a cab ride - train orders would have to suffice! Algoma Central gondolas but no trains awaited our passage through Franz at 1540. We met a westbound four-unit CP piggyback freight at Missanabie, where a metal water tower had a bricked-in shaft and an old station building set back from the tracks was being used as a hardware store. Supper was Pork Chops Polynesian. Could I possibly have digested eight dinner rolls, as my notes seem to suggest? Reaching Chapleau fourteen minutes early, a CP westbound behind 5938-4705-5745 was setting out CP business car 7. I took this photo from a few steps behind No 2’s Park car at Chapleau, on June 25:

An easy 55 mph out of Chapleau included an entire field of sawdust from a trackside mill at Kormak easily 20 feet high, seen from the dome of Prince Albert Park. We took the siding waiting for a westbound hotshot freight with 5973-4553 and 64 cars at Sultan. CP work trains were in back tracks at Ramsey and Roberts on this stretch of CP’s Nemegos Subdivision. 

A vestibule visit while waiting for an eastbound 2 miles from Stralak brought evening sounds of white-throated sparrows serenading us beside a very still lake. The fast freight passed at 2123 behind 5534-5548-4710- 4713 trailed by van 434564. No big wins came my way at the after-dinner bingo. I returned to my roomette at Azilda at 2230 but stayed awake to visit the head-end for train orders and a view of our train from the Paris Street overpass at Sudbury during our 2240-2335 servicing stop. Bedding down for the night with CP 7107, 7108 and 8158 outside my window, I awoke to CN 3150 and VIA 6917 completing the view at Toronto, on June 26! 

During my two-hour layover, I made my way to Spadina to add to my train-order collection, observing an Amtrak train led by ATK 347 and tailed by short baggage 1370 (above). Quebec, North Shore & Labrador Geeps 147, 167, 157, 169 and 133 were at CP’s John Street facilities (below), along with CP business cars Ontario and Lacombe. Spadina hosted VIA RDC-9 6004 with yellow ends but a black letterboard. 

Ex-QNS&L 147 (above) and 157 (below):

Our consist changed in Toronto: new power, the addition of four Corridor cars and the removal of I-series crew sleeper, second diner and four E-series sleepers. Departing from Toronto, we passed the Toronto Transit Commission shops at 0911, Danforth at 0914, GO Scarborough at 0917, GO Eglinton at 0919, GO Guildwood at 0923 and GO Pickering at 0932. Switchers at Oshawa included CN 1211, 1351, and 7173. 

Chop-nosed CN Geep 4005, just rebuilt from GP9 4468, was leading an 88-car westbound freight which we scooped at Mi 277 of CN’s Kingston Subdivision. We had been running left-main since leaving Toronto. Belleville brought lots of US-road boxcars, including Southern, Family Lines and Seaboard Coast Line. The new underpass just west of Napanee station had been completed - when the ribbon cutting was photographed for the local paper, the Corridor Canadian was obligingly in the background! 

Arriving on time at Kingston, our Corridor Canadian consist: 6786-6866-6613-601-Union Club-5647-3225-5541-118-122-517-5738-1368-Chateau Rouville (my car Roomette 4)-Chateau Dollard-Jarvis Manor-Prince Albert Park. Our eastbound was greeted by the passage of westbound VIA No 43/53: 6533-6630-9643-3033- 5611-5622-3221-5585-Club de la Garnison.

The end of another enjoyable trip west aboard VIA, on CP rails.

Running extra...
I can see the ocean from my front porch! Probably sold by now, renowned Canadian painter Alex Colville's cabin in Northport, NS is for sale for a cool $249,000. It's likely that the shoreline will erode before housing prices do, however! Built by the painter himself, it features a plug-in hotplate and perhaps the inspiration for his unfinished painting, The Frigid Trip to the Outhouse.

Instead of a waterfront cottage, many Canadians are working on their backyard resorts. This is my 'benchwork' for what I hope to be the Siegfried Line of Squirrel-proof Veggie Gardens. These four enclosures replace our porous bunny-fenced perimeter with these chicken-wired raised bets that sit within the garden plot. All materials were repurposed, with the exception of four 1x3's bought and six 2x4's donated by a neighbour! Other neighbours might report me for operating an illegal ferret farm, but rest assured, that's now what they're fur, and I'll be able to weasel out of it.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Kingston-Portage aboard VIA, 1982 - Part 1

In 1982, from June 8 to June 26, I travelled from Kingston to Portage la Prairie, MB for what was becoming my annual summer visit to see relatives. Fortunately for me, they lived in the railfanning capital of Manitoba! Travel both ways aboard VIA’s Canadian cost $365. Meeting multiple eastbounds (top photo) while ‘in the hole’ east of Biscotasing mid-morning on June 9, 1982. I leaned way out of Chateau Salaberry’s Dutch-door to capture our train, trackage and tree-lined right-of-way on CP Rail’s Nemegos Sub. But how did I get here?

Arriving at Kingston station early, there were four VIA trains through the station in the half-hour before departure: long and short LRC trains, a short blue & yellow consist, and my Corridor Canadian. This was my first ride aboard the Corridor version of this train, which had begun operating Montreal-Toronto-Vancouver the previous November. Our twelve-car consist arrived five minutes late at 1935: 6775-6864-6789-601-5642-5647-118-112-503-5752- Frontenac - Chateau Salaberry - Chateau Lauzon - Laird Manor - Assiniboine Park. I was travelling in roomette 2 of Chateau Salaberry. 

Twenty minutes after departure, I was already making my way back to the dome of Assiniboine Park to enjoy CN’s Kingston Sub from this lofty vantage point. The downstairs lounge was empty, though the attendant was stocking the car for the journey west with beer, newspapers, magazines, VIA postcards and literature, and board games for the kiddies. Some nice folks from Montreal heading to Saskatoon were already upstairs. Our three matched MLW units had our train pegged at 75 mph east of Cobourg. At Cobourg, the parallel CP tracks hosted a work train including Esquimalt & Nanaimo boxcar 292593, and we had a rough start out of the station. Around Port Hope, the conductor arrived in the dome carrying his radio. At Oshawa, a host of CN switchers were tied up: 1384, 7167, 7169, 7243, 1326 and cabooses 76647, 79867 and 79456. Passing GO Transit stations and GO trains, we passed Scott Street tower at 2222 and arrived at Toronto Union Station fourteen minutes late at 2224. 

Our train’s almost-two-hour layover gave the unseen CN switcher time to add a cut of blue & yellow cars behind the Dayniter: Irondale-1368-Elnora-Entwistle Elmira. We received new power: 6533-6632-6634. Also in the trainshed were sleepers Fortune Bay, Equity, Terra Nova River, Grand Codroy River and Greenway. Just before departure at 2359, a GO single-level consist pulled in. Moving slowly out of downtown, we passed the new GO North Bathurst yard and the nearly-complete flyunder. We stopped at 0033-0039 just before my last note of the night - crossing a diamond at 0041. Until 0436 that is, when a stop-and start meant we were backing onto the CP Parry Sound Subdivision in the fog. Had I been awake, I might have heard the passing of No 2 somewhere around Washago before leaving CN tracks. 

I was awake on June 9 just in time for our arrival in Sudbury. CP switchers 8153-8147 were shunting (above), and my stop at the Skyline included a 60-cent carton of milk for my in-roomette breakfast cereal during our one-hour stop. The well-known mining operations of the Sudbury area were in evidence: CP shortie ore cars 375680-375601-375929, the Levack Spur and Hardy Mine spurs.  VIA 6533-6632-6634 have just been fuelled west of the station at 0800 on June 9:

Those taking breakfast in the dining car had their last call at 0920, during our stop at Cartier, ON. A long line of CPR and CP Rail-lettered boxcars were white-lined with WA designation, perhaps for in-house conversion to roofless wood-chip cars. At a siding just east of Biscotasing, likely Drefal at Mi. 52 CP Nemegos Subdivision, we had a four-train meet. A five-unit CP eastbound behind 5743 was followed by an eastbound 13-car work train behind 8758. With the work train still moving through the siding, another eastbound freight with 5551-5508 (below) followed close behind, also on the move. We waited on the mainline for all three trains to pass, heading west again as the final freight’s van 434463 passed us. 

We were doing 55 mph on west of Biscotasing, passing the hexagonal concrete base of a former water tower at Ramsey. Four of us shared a table for lunch in diner Frontenac: me, two Americans heading to Hawaii via Vancouver and Seattle, and a fellow heading to Prince George. Food from my notes was ‘quite good but selection down a bit’ but I must have enjoyed the hamburger, ice cream sundae and a Sprite for $5.15. Another cut of seventy 40-foot boxcars near sitting in an old gravel pit near Devon hinted at their potential future as wood-chip cars - some were without doors. We were 10 minutes early arriving at Chapleau, where passengers banter with a white-smocked crew member during our servicing stop:

CP power included 7044, 7091, 8743, 8765 and 4702 near vans 434649, 434136, 434528, 434573 and end-cupola 434040, plus allready-converted, loaded roofless woodchip boxcars CP 31387, 31464, 31411 and 31440. There was another hexagonal concrete water tower foundation at Musk, 18 miles west of Chapleau on CP’s White River Subdivision. Napping until Franz, we waited two minutes for a signal to cross the Algoma Central line. We waited a further 16 minutes before No 2 passed by. I could only get a partial consist: 6624, Indigo, Excelsior, Chateau Lasalle, Chateau Varennes. A three-Century freight was in the yard at White River behind 4561- 4567-4555. 

Back in the dining car for supper, due to the limited selection I had the very same meal, substituting lemon pie instead of a strawberry sundae, all for $6.15! After supper, it was back to dome seating in the Park car for the overcast evening trip around the shoreline of Lake Superior, with some ice remnants still visible in inlets. Rock fences, tunnels and gravel pits dotted the line, reportedly one of the toughest segments to build on CP’s way west. A cryptic quoted conversation may have pertained to switching operations at Schreiber at 2015: ‘That was seven or eight cars. This was only four. Four!! Seemed like forty-four!’ CP 5519 and Dayliner 91 reposed at Schreiber, ON as did roofless woodchip boxcars CP 31181 and 31199, the latter with International of Maine lettering. Near Selim, our train backed up about a third of a mile before meeting an eastbound CP freight. West of Cavers, we were travelling at exactly 60 mph, with several speed reductions through slow orders. Rain and wind accompanied bingo in the diner, and our train was now running 30 minutes late. Little of Thunder Bay was visible just after midnight, though I was able to make out new Saskatchewan covered hoppers SKPX 625133, 625155, 625286, 625294 and new Alberta covered hoppers ALPX 628073 and 628106. 

Awakened at Vermilion Bay at 0530 on June 10, our train was left-hand running on the double-track mainline. An eastbound 2-unit drag of 90 cars passed at 0550, just west of Edison. We also met a 3-unit, 110-car freight and a 3-unit TOFC/COFC hotshot after 0800. Passing the wooden water tower at Whitemouth, we were six minutes late. There were 20 grain cars in the siding at Molson, with a CP SD40 switching others. Five cars were spotted for loading at the Cloverleaf grain elevator. Passing over the Red River floodway at 0931, we stopped at Midpoint interlocking, now on CN at 0935, passing Beach Junction at 0950, and entering the Depot at 1000. In one way, I'd come home....the James Richardson & Sons building at Portage and Main was the 34-storey home of a company that had its roots in good ol' Kingston!

I broke out a new note-pad for the three-and-a-half hour layover in Winnipeg, in order to take a coach yard census. E-series, Capes, Greens, lounges, diners and Sceneramics Athabasca and Fraser were noteable. New ‘western’ power was added for the trip along CN’s Rivers Subdivision west of Winnipeg: 6501-6610-6603. Burlington Northern Manitoba Limited’s engine 2 was out of camera range as we headed west at 1335, at a leisurely 25 mph for the first 15 miles out of Winnipeg. We met an eastbound freight behind two CN GMD-1’s at 1350. Soon after, we sped up to 70 mph. Stacks of concrete ties were at Benard, MB at 1423, and there were 19 grain cars spotted at the Manitoba Pool and United Grain Growers grain elevators at Oakville. Just before arriving at ‘Portage’, we met an eastbound three-unit CN freight with priority traffic: piggybacks and auto racks. My No 1 pulls west out of Portage on June 10, 1982. Luggage in the car trunk, we leap-frogged ahead to photograph and review the consist one more time: 

In Part 2, I book-end my Portage train-watching with my return trip east from Portage aboard VIA No 2. 

Here's the East Yard coachyard census I captured at Winnipeg on June 10:

Running extra...

Last weekend's Academy Awards broadcast was the most 'woke' and issue-driven one yet. I wasn't as 'woke' and I think I may have got the Oscar for Best Trying To Stay Awake During An Awards Broadcast. The Red Carpet was slimmed down to a Red Hall Runner Held Down With Duct Tape. It was like a docudrama. It was like Downton Abbey on sedation. Forget winning the EGOT. I give it an EGAD!

Jon Batiste won an Oscar for the score for Pixar's 'Soul'. Jon thanked Suleika Jaouad in the socially-distanced audience. No slouch herself, I've read Suleika's 'Between Two Kingdoms'. Jon has a part in this weekend's American Idol Live. Dude oozes music.

The Railroad Modellers Meet of British Columbia by Zoom is on, beginning today and for the next four Thursdays. Registration is free. In the opening session, I enjoyed seeing three decks of BC Rail by Timothy Horton, all in a spare room in N scale. There are clinics, layout tours and meet-the-modeller sessions.

Friday, April 23, 2021

VIA Ex-CP Cars East to Montreal - Part 3

VIA's Canadian has been suspended in 2020 east of Winnipeg due to the pandemic. Boo. Operation of VIA Nos 1/2 Winnipeg to Vancouver resumed in December. Now, Toronto to Vancouver operation is planned for May 2021. Part 2 covered deadhead movements up to the end of 2020 but it got too big, and it was time to add this Part 3. No longer can deadheading cars be sent east or west - the train's not currently operating! And CN requires VIA to use its own power on these deadhead moves. The era of CN or CP co-operating and providing rescue power to VIA for their trains ended years ago!

MARCH 2021 UPDATE - There was an increased frequency of stainless steel car movements on the CN Kingston Sub. I observed 6446, Chateau Closse, Bell Manor, 81x4, 6443, 8110, 86xx heading to Toronto, with diner Emerald heading the other way. On March 21, VIA No 7 left Toronto with 6446, 6435, 6443, 6457 and 6440 are the power. There were no domes in the 11-car consist and it appeared coaches 8112 and 8113 are refurbished.

APRIL 2021 UPDATE: VIA No 2 ex Vancouver on April 2 was really two 11-car trains in one. The 'normal' pandemic consist plus 11 deadhead cars, deadheading to Jasper, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. The consist: 6427(L)-6442-6426-6428-86xx-8100/8109/8110 (all "D&H")-8509-Imperial-Lorne Manor-Carleton Manor-Laird Manor-Allan Manor-Glacier Park (Prestige). The following cars deadheading: Cornwall Manor-1721-8122-8613-Banff Park-8516-8133-Abbot Manor-Amherst Manor-Yoho Park-8103. VIA No 8 arrived in Toronto on April 13 with four 6400's and 12 cars.

On April 15, 8516-1721 tagged along on the tail-end of VIA No 68. (Image courtesy RailStream, LLC) at Belleville. A rare visitor to the CN Kingston Sub! 
On April 16, Skyline 8503 trailed No 64. Thanks to Matt Soknacki for the heads-up and noticing that Action Red paint seems to be showing through the blue letterboard stripe, above and to the left of the Canada flag. A nice vista at Vista Drive:
Also on April 16, 6442 and 6427L trailed No 66, having led out of Vancouver on April 2. 

On April 17, an 81xx was eastbound.

On April 18, on VIA No 66, 4114 (D&H) and Skyline 8507 tailed VIA 905L-4 LRC cars-901, seen here at Mi 180 Kingston Sub:
The top line of the Skyline nameplate appears to be black:
Further updates will be posted here. Watch this space!

Running extra...

VIA has released yet another pdf timetable online as it continues to tweak its schedule and add trains back. They've conveniently printed these convenient combined tables for the reference of Kingston railfans:

The good old days. Dorval railfanning 1975-1991 from the video vault!

And today. Here's CN No 518 coming down to the bay from Ernestown on April 21, the Day of Snow, with cars for Kingston Invista. They were running short on time after doing some switching puzzles out at Ernestown, eight miles to the west. Switch brooms in place on GMTX bluebirds 2163-2323. I feel it's my obligation to take photos at this location, since CN was good enough to zap the south-side pole-line!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Train Orders by Mail

Or mail order by train? No, I travelled west from Toronto aboard VIA Rail in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s to visit relatives in Western Canada. I was lucky to see grain trains switching grain cars, ride in RDC’s flashing past grain elevators, and enjoy the view of prairies and mountains from VIA’s dome cars. All in an era when stations were still manned by operators, while first- and second-generation CN and CP diesel locomotives and cabooses ruled the rails. I was able to systematically collect sets of discarded train orders while aboard VIA Rail in 1985. (Also documented in a previously-published two-post series.)

Prior to that, in 1983-84 I decided to send out letters to CN and CP operators at some locations that interested me. Would they have some discarded train orders to augment my collection, all for the asking? Yes!

CP Rail operator Tony Bonogofsky at Gleichen, Alberta responded on May 7, 1984, sending me 60 train orders and 15 clearances, plus 11 stapled sets of C-19’s, putting $1.70 in postage on the envelope (top photo). His note, “As requested, enclosed please find a supply of train orders.” The orders he sent were for CP Rail freights like First 84, Second 84, First 96, Second 96, Nos. 403, 404, 405, 415, 445, 482, First 948, 904 and 940. These trains were led by CP’s ubiquitous, large fleet of SD40-2’s, though GP-9’s were also addressed. VIA Rail’s Canadian, train No 2 is also represented, and I would ride aboard its westward counterpart, VIA No 1 the following year, passing through Gleichen:

CP Rail operator Kathy Todd at Field, British Columbia also sent me orders, on August 20, 1983. In fact, her $1.27 postage on a CP company envelope contained an interesting collection of orders. (below). The clearances were addressed to trains powered by CP’s newest locomotives, like Extra 6003 West and Extra 6033 East. Extra 5835 West received a stack of 17 orders with its clearance. Another clearance was addressed to Pusher Service at Rogers, care of Engineman C.S. Smith. This was the last remote pusher station on CP’s transcontinental punishing mountainous mainline. She wrote an accompanying note, “I hope these orders and clearances are a sufficient addition to your collection. It was good to hear from you. Good luck in your endeavours.”

I enjoy going back to these responses, still in their original envelopes, kindly sent by these operators at their lonely outposts in the mountains and prairies of Canada. This was in an era before e-mail. It was an era in which a letter received was usually responded to as a courtesy. Watch for an upcoming post on letters requesting information sent to railways' headquarters!

Running. Extra.

You didn't read that incorrectly. I've recently become aware of three local advertising slogans using Two Part. Slogans. But they go together. Let me illustrate: Gordon's Downsizing Services - "We Help. You Move On." Bennett's Furniture - "Feel Right. At Home." and they sell mattresses - "Sleep. First Class."

Winnipeg Slide Night by Zoom was this past Tuesday. Presentations by Glenn, Mark the Hoople, Ross, and Brian. Some amazing photography and subject material on display: nocturnal, British, Winnipeg flood of 1950, and interesting freight Loads. And your humble blogger presenting the prototype and model Hanley Spur.

With additional pandemic public health restrictions, I'm proud to announce that sitting on my sofa blogging is, so far, A-OK with our provincial government. It's one thing I can do with people outside my immediate household. And around the world!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Private car GHM-1

Memories have a way of aggrandizing themselves in our minds. One example - I believed that I had recorded several observations of this venerable private car, though I could find only one. It was easing east across Kingston's Counter Street crossing during March break, 1979. The last car on the nocturnal Cavalier, in the days of VIA handling private business cars (PV's).

Differentiate This!

Eric Doubt was a vice-president of a B2B marketing agency specializing in health care in the 1970's. Establishing a Toronto office from Montreal in 1980 was a challenge for the agency as clients and prospects departed down Highway 401 to Toronto. Looking for something to deploy that was dramatic and noticeable, a partner read about the club of private railway car owners in the U.S. Did CN have any passenger cars for sale they could ride into town on? 

CN was selling for price of scrap, in good shape, the former library car on the 1939 Royal Train then Governor-General Georges Vanier's car Metis from CN. The price was not cheap, but was below what was expected. Refurbishing, paint job and basic repairs could be managed. The car boasted a lounge, dining room with glass dining table, fully-equipped stainless-steel kitchen, three private bedrooms and bathrooms and was used for meetings, socializing and travel. Metis was returned to service and put into action for launch in Toronto, while there was still no office nor staff in Toronto. GHM-1 was the only privately-owned car in Canada at the time.

Jacques Pelletier, the former Governor-General's valet and chef came to work on the car. He cooked five-course meals while rolling through towns and villages or on the car's spur beneath the CN Tower. The firm received notice of its Agency of Record status from its first Toronto client while aboard the car. GHM-1 give the firm a foothold and presence in Toronto. Press coverage of the private car unfurled, and the firm the soon transferred its operations to a brick-and-mortar office.

The decision to buy GHM-1 parallels the current situation to beamed-up advertising during the pandemic. One recruiting firm just bought a spacious RV in which to meet and stay safe on highways. Imaginative and attention-getting ways to get to one's destination allows firms to stand out from the competition while making a statement.

-From the podcast by Eric Doubt of CA14 Integrated Marketing & Communications in Georgetown. (Top photo from CA14 website.)

Owners subsequent to CN:

My observation of GHM-1:

Lots o' links:

Running extra...

"My strength and stay", said the Queen referring to her consort and spouse of 73 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Those words also were sung during the 2011 wedding of William and Kate. 

CNN announced changes to its weekday morning and daytime, now taking effect:

Laura Jarrett and Christine Romans will continue to anchor Early Start from 5-6 am.

John Berman and Brianna Keilar will anchor New Day from 6-9 am, weekdays.  Keilar most recently anchored CNN Right Now from 1-3pm weekdays.  Prior to that, she was CNN’s White House correspondent during the Obama Administration.  Berman has been co-anchor of New Day for the last two and a half years.

Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto will continue to anchor CNN Newsroom from 9-11 am.

Kate Bolduan will continue to anchor At this Hour from 11am-noon.

John King will continue to anchor Inside Politics with John King weekdays from noon-1pm.  The network’s Chief National Correspondent, he will also continue to have a key role in all political coverage.

Ana Cabrera, who has anchored CNN’s weekend newscasts for the last four years, will now anchor CNN Newsroom weekdays from 1-2 pm.

Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell will now anchor CNN’s afternoon Newsroom coverage from 2-4 pm.  Camerota has anchored CNN’s morning program, New Day, for the last six years, the longest tenure of any weekday morning show anchor in recent CNN history, and, along with Berman, has led CNN to its largest audiences ever in the morning. Blackwell has anchored CNN’s Weekend New Day for the last nine years. 

With the move of Cabrera and Blackwell to CNN’s weekday lineup, CNN also finalized its new weekend lineup:

Boris Sanchez will join Christi Paul as co-anchor of Weekend New Day on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sanchez previously served as a CNN White House correspondent.

Fredricka Whitfield will continue to anchor CNN Newsroom’s midday coverage on Saturdays and Sundays.

Jim Acosta will anchor CNN Newsroom on Saturdays and Sundays from 3-6pm.   As previously announced, Acosta has also been named the network’s chief domestic correspondent.  Prior to this new role, he covered the White House for CNN for the past seven years, having served as Chief White House Correspondent since 2018. That role is now filled by Kaitlan Collins.

As previously announced, Pamela Brown now anchors CNN Newsroom on Saturdays and Sundays from 6-9pm. She also serves as Senior Washington Correspondent for CNN.

[Was this announcement as long as the post it followed? Film at 11!]

Friday, April 2, 2021

Modelling Chalk Marks on Freight Cars

Chalk marks, usually at the end of car sides, was used as a communications device for car routing. Chalk marks indicated marshalling instructions, the car's general destination, setting out, lifting, outbound train number and other miscellaneous messages. This was in the era before paper "journals" or computer-generated train manifests. 

                             CHALK MARKS IN THE STEAM ERA                               

Chalk was bought in quantities by the railway. Canadia Pacific purchased boxes 1x4-inch sticks named Chalkall from Binney & Smith by the gross. Division points were common places for chalk marks to be applied, indicating switching or marshalling instructions for the next division yard, or a particular town on the route - "shorts". Even more specific marks were for individiual tracks on which the car was to be set-out, or the car's commodity.

These marks were not meant to be permanent. They could be 'rubbed out' as if on a blackboard, when no longer relevant or needed. Early graffiti, including hobo marks, was also made with chalk.


There may have been some old heads that still used chalk marks when they were no longer necessary, made obsolete by technology. The advent of ACI labels and the introduction of computers in car routing made these redundant.


Chalk marks are not graffiti. For graffiti, I've done the odd 'Bozo Texino' or 'Pepe', someone's name or a city name. Once rattle cans of spray paint came along, the game changed. Many modern freight cars are nearly covered with graffiti. Modelling 1970, nominally, I don't have to contend with this scourge, ethically, legally or in my modelling. Here's a sample online discussion showing how quickly such discussions devolve, between two guys named Bob and John, "There are no great tags, there's only vandalism/ In your fu opinion/Not an opinion, a fact/Foamer fact, railroader wannabe/You know, it is entirely possible to disagree without being a dick about it. Just sayin'.../For the most part I agree. I hate tagging, especially on an old or fallen flag car. But there ARE some true artists. Technically it’s vandalism but his work is a thing of beauty and shows incredible talent."


I use a white gel pen to make my HO scale chalk marks. The resulting lettering is really vivid and bright. It catches my eye when I bring a car onto the layout. In future, I may weather some of the chalk marks with some dilute craft paint overbrushed to dull them. I also add weathering and ACI labels, and I still have remnants of Consolidated stencils, re-weigh re-stencils and occasional U-1 wheel dots.

Due to frequent car handling on and off the layout, I will probably never be the cut lever and roofwalk replacement kind of modeller. I've found that adding this type of detail enhances the realism of my rolling stock fleet and it's something that I can't dislodge by accident!

Lots o' links:

Running extra...

Speaking of leaving his mark, this reminiscence by the inimitable Bob Fallowfield was so nicely written that I frankly stole it from his social media, because I would like to see it shared even ore widely:

Those Sunday drives. 

My dad was king of the Sunday drive, especially come fall. The routine was predictable. Mom would take me to Sunday School while dad chose to worship in his shed. There’s peace to be found down each of those paths. After a quick lunch, we’d pile into our ‘78 Chev Blazer and head out for the open road. I rarely asked outright to drive by the tracks, yet there is a certain understanding between a father and a son that seldom requires words. More often than not, dad would take us on a circuitous rural route that would somehow manage to bisect every rail line in Oxford County. 

I’m not sure I ever expressed it, but looking back now, I sure appreciated his understanding of my love of trains. As we took in the sights of farms and fields, and bounced over gravel and planked crossings, the hope was always present to see a headlight. Some afternoons were quiet but every so often we’d hit paydirt. Dad would clear the crossing, pull to the shoulder and the back door would spring open. Leaning back against the dusty rear bumper of our blazer, I watched in wide eyed amazement as the show of steel broke the rural calm and thundered by. As the markers faded in the distance, I returned to the backseat, clicked the lap belt and reached for my magazine. “Thanks, dad.”

And here's the visual that accompanies Bob's reminiscence - his newly-backdropped HO scale Galt Sub: 
Sidebar stories. Fellow blogger Steve Boyko added this list to a recent post on his blog. I'm proud to say I share Steve's taste in blogs, though I have to point out one typo. Under Trackside Treasure, the listing should have read "with a vain attempt at humour". Bit of a typo there (!)