Saturday, February 27, 2021

Harrowsmith, ON Part 3 - The Diesel Era

CN freights and CP wayfreights still passed through Harrowsmith in the 1970's. On the morning of October 28, 1977 CP 6591 has traversed CP's Belleville Subdivision from Smiths Falls to Tichborne, now heading south on the Kingston Subdivision to Kingston with two tank cars, a flat car and a boxcar visible. By this time, CP had lost access to its customers in downtown Kingston that were increasingly switched by CN, though still making use of their interchange with CN.

An earlier down-and-back trip on April 25, 1969 a few years after the steam era ended, included a CP gon, two CP covered gons, a coal car and combination CP script 50-foot boxcar pulled by 8045 and a script end-cupola van 436741, returning with a CP gon, ice reefer, CP gon with a container, and two tank cars.

A 1971 CN track schematic depicted the joint section at Harrowsmith Mi. 85.0:
"CPR Main Track Switches owned and maintained by CNR. Siding 1165 feet and shorter siding 480 feet, owned and maintained by CPR"

Passenger train times at Smiths Falls (shown as 24-hour clock):

CN 1966 "Capital" Daily Ex.Saturday, reportedly operating with GMD-1's!
  • 0015 No 213 arriving Toronto 0615
  • 0505 No 214 arriving Ottawa 0640
Oct. 1977 VIA system timetable (the year before the overnight service changed to Montreal-Toronto, with two-car Ottawa section operating Brockville-Ottawa):
  • 0100 No 49 Ottawa-Napanee-Toronto
  • 0730 No 48 Toronto-Napanee-Ottawa

As a prolific photographer, the late Keith Hansen stopped in Harrowsmith a few times among his wide-ranging and well-photographed travels. He kindly shared with me, and now you, five of the photos he took there. On July 19, 1977 a westbound CN freight behind 3207 and a Geep heads through Harrowsmith on its way from Smiths Falls to Napanee, here crossing Highway 38 near Meeks Lumber. CP's main track, siding and back track are in the foreground:
Three months later, CN 3239 heads a single-unit eastbound splitting the semaphores on the joint section, carrying on the CN for Sydenham and points east. The white-painted station is visible at far left:
This photo (below) is from an online auction photo site, but is likely a version of Keith's photo of the tail-end of the same train as above. A curious crew member looks back at the photographer from Hawker-Siddeley caboose 79219, with the CP track parallel but soon to veer southward visible at right. Passing through a curving rock-cut toward Murvale, the CP track was sometimes covered in caterpillars early in the year, then leaves later in the year. Because of this seasonal phenomenon, my father-in-law mentioned that the CP often had to back up and take another run at it!
The same day, Keith caught the northbound CP train returning behind S-3 6591, seen southbound in the top photo. The head-end trainman is on the front steps to throw the joint section switch, with at least five CP boxcars on the pin:
Tail-end trainman on the van steps to re-line switches for CN use. Meeks Lumber shed is visible in distance at left, and notice the interesting load in that CP gondola:
As early as 1976, I was interested in catching CP on their sporadic schedule serving Kingston. As the Superintendent noted in this letter, there was no schedule!
Topographic map of Harrowsmith. The road to Sydenham has been straightened, and the CP station is no longer shown north of the tracks, having been moved across the tracks to Meeks Lumber. Based on photos taken 1976; map date 1979.
In April 1974, the Bytown Railway Society's Bruch Chapman planned an Ottawa-Kingston and return, excursion with CP RDC-1 9072 including several run-bys. Photo courtesy Jakob Mueller. Enthusiasts are trackside for a photo run-by:
And this photo via Bruce Chapman/Colin Churcher, with semaphore on CN in the Proceed position. Look at that clean CP ballast! The fantrippers are re-boarding as the white-flagged Dayliner prepares to head south for another photo stop at Murvale at its former station dwelling.
In October, 1974 the Bytown Railway Society operated a well-photographed Ottawa-Napanee excursion with GM-MLW cab units.  Note interlocking rods and joint section.
The excursion train is on the CN at Highway 38 and once again, fantrippers are on the sunny side of the train for another photo-op. (Both photos from CSTM Collection). CP's main track and weed-grown siding are at left, just west of the joint section.
Bob Meldrum kindly shared this nice colour photo of the fantrip:
My Dad sometimes crossed the tracks at Harrowsmith on his way to Sydenham High School, where he taught English for 15 years. On a summer trip, maybe driving up to prepare for the upcoming school year, he snapped an eastward view at Highway 38. L.C. Gagnon photo, August 1975:
On July 16, 1984, Sperry Rail Service car 129 attempted to test the rails on CP Kingston Sub. Testing was abandoned due to rust on rails. The semaphores were dismantled and taken to the Smiths Falls Railway Museum in May, 1986 by members of the museum, Bytown Railway Society and a local electrical contractor with a boom truck.
A similar angle (above) begins a series of photos taken by CN S&C Signal Maintainer Gene Burles, undated. This view shows the switches lined for the weed-grown CN:

West of Highway 38:
East of Highway 38 looking west:
Looking east with weed-grown CN:
The last revenue movement on the CP Kingston Sub was a military train northward from Kingston - 1 Canadian Signals Regiment heading to RV 85 (below - photo by Wilf Coombe, just east of Division St.) and its eventual return. This was in turn followed by the train of empties heading northbound. Following the abandonment of the CP line into Kingston, the 1CSR move from Kingston to the next biennial Canadian Forces joint exercise, RV87 was handled by CN.
The entire Canadian field army went west from across Canada for those exercises. The Canadian Forces traffic technicians were used to moving Canadian Forces armoured vehicles around Germany for years before! Paul Hunter kindly shared this screenshotted photo of CP 1816-875x leading the northbound movement of empties at Harrowsmith on June 25, 1985 (below). By 1986, the right-of-way was purchased by Bell Canada for fibre-optic communications.
During an April 20, 1986 visit to my future in-laws, whose house was just west of the CN steel girder bridge over the Harrowsmith-Sydenham line, I noted some track details. The bridge was built by Dominion Bridge, Montreal in 1965. Tie plates were dated 1928 and 1929, bracketed by old-style rail anchors. Rail was 85-100 lb/yard, dating as far back as 1921, some stamped Algoma Steel. A 6x12-foot washout punctured the roadbed, later to become the Cataraqui Trail just west of the bridge along Wilson Road. (South Frontenac municipal photo):
Harrowsmith station was moved off its foundations and across the tracks by 1969 and painted grey, owned by Meeks Lumber and used for storage, shown here in 2000:

This is the longest multi-part post in Trackside Treasure's short history. Even the Sceneramic sceries was only four parts, 'tiny lettering' mystery solved and all. Thanks for being along for the ride! We usually hopscotch around between posts but this series is being presented in chronological order for easier future scrolling, with all posts linked. In the fourth post, we follow the line east from Harrowsmith across that bridge, extended to Sydenham.

Running extra...

Recommended reading: Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. The book and its author were profiled recently on CBS Sunday Morning. Diagnosis, treatment, journey. Music by Jon Batiste. 
James Hilton's two-track shelf layout portraying PEI is visually appealing in the less-is-more category.
Here's a World War I postcard addressed to Violet Sigsworth in Harrowsmith, 1916: 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Harrowsmith, ON Part 2 - The Steam Era

This wintry east-looking view shows the interlocking tower that governed the short joint section described in the first post in this series, shared by CN and CP trains in the steam era and thereafter (top photo - CNLines Yahoogroups files). Originally interlocked in 1919 and governed by a 15 mph speed limit, CN was responsible for staffing the tower, as junior partner through Harrowsmith, and my father-in-law remembered a man named Hodgson being the tower operator.  He also recalled the tower being staffed in two day shifts in earlier years, as well as the tower being the 'tuscan' colour. The tower's demolition was in the late 1940's, after which CN trains lined themselves through the interlocking. In later years, CN had more trains per day, though the single CP train ran for several years after CN discontinued regular service. CN retained the option to use the Smiths Falls Sub as an alternate detour route for their Kingston Subdivision.
Operation of the interlocking was usually mentioned in CN Smiths Falls Subdivision and CP Kingston Subdivision employees' timetable footnotes. (1938 Plan above via Colin Churcher/Ottawa Railway History Circle) 

1925 CP employees' timetable notes:
Trains will be governed as follows through Harrowsmith interlocker. Northbound CPR trains will be governed by a mechanical Home signal situated 515 feet south of South Junction switch. The Home signal has three arms or blades on the one pole. Top arm governs the CPR main line and operates form the horizontal to ninety degrees above horizontal position. Middle arm governs movement from CPR main track to CNR main track. Bottom arm governs movement from CPR main track to CPR or CNR passing tracks. 
* * * * *
1931 CN employees' timetable notes: 
CN Ry. trains must not occupy main track of CP Ry. at Harrowsmith until permission has been obtained from Operator on duty, or until such movement has been protected. The switch on the CNR at crossover west of station is locked with an electric switch lock controlled by the Signalman. There is also a switch indicator at this switch. Trainmen desiring to use the crossover will press the button locate under indicator. 

If switch indicator stays at Stop, switch must not be moved, as it is an indication that train is approaching within one-half mile from the west on the CPR tracks. 

If switch indicator goes to Clear, Trainmen will unlock the door of the electric switch lock located behind switch stand. Opening of this door rings a buzzer in the Tower. When the indicator in the switch lock clears, handle must be turned to unlock the switch. When through using the switch, return handle to normal position, close and lock door.
Either Crossover Switch open will put eastward Distant Signals at STOP. All trains reduce speed to 10 mph passing Harrowsmith (BRC 44953 Wilton St.)

Train order telegraph office Harrowsmith 8:30 to 4:30 weekdays.
* * * * *
A 1932 Board of Railway Commissioners ruling detailed the hours of operation: 
So long as the character of the traffic over the crossing shown to exist continues, CNR is relieved from maintaining signalmen to operate the crossing during the full 24 hours on Sundays and between 15:00 and 23:00 on weekdays; and that the home and distant signals be set clear for the CNR when the signalmen are not on duty.  Any emergency be protected by calling one of the signalmen to operate the plant if and when required to take care of the passage of CPR trains during the hours the plant is not manned.
* * * * *
1944 CN employees' timetable notes:
Signalman hours of duty 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Sunday. 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily except 9 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday.
* * * * *
1955 CN employees' timetable notes:
Harrowsmith (Mi 84.8) Railway crossing at grade CPR. Automatic interlocking BTC 78902. Junction switches are electrically locked. Normal position of switches and signals are for CNR movements. Switches are equipped with CNR and CPR switch locks. 

Permanent slow order 30 mph. Mi 84.8 Harrowsmith, CPR crossing. Between eastward approach signals No.856 and eastward home signal and westward approach signal No.841 and westward home signal.

There was a collision on June 24, 1948 at the tower, photographed by Kingston Whig-Standard photographer George Lilley. I believe it was a train-car collision - the car ending up on the tracks east of the highway 38 crossing, near the tower. This view looks east down the CN track from Highway 38, based on the pole line in the distance and position of semaphore signals and whistle post just east of the crossing in this photo. The tower's peaked roof and chimney are just visible, dead centre. Is that a reflection of the licence plate on the vehicle that I see?
The remains of the car, near the interlocking tower. Photos reformatted to lessen flash effect and show detail of the scene (above) and the interlocking tower (below). The licence plate reads 448Z3, Ontario 1948, which was a white-lettering-on-blue-plate year, six years before North American plate size was standardized at 6x12 inches with mounting holes also in standardized positions:
Close-up, with the photographer's flash showing interior and levers in the tower:
(Four photos Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Fonds, V25.5-3-452 to 458) 
Next morning with policeman on duty and crossbucks. A distant crossbuck at right shows the presence of three tracks - CN, CP and CP siding. Interestingly, at the crossing, the crossbucks are on the left/driver's side of the road, with the lettering facing the driver. Close-up view, showing the tower beyond the trees at left:                                                                                                                          
Semaphore signals visible on both sides of crossing in this view, slightly more south, with police car alongside road, and Meeks Lumber at right:                                                                             
Harrowsmith schematic, captioned 1954:
Topographic map of Harrowsmith, showing the as-yet unstraightened Harrowsmith-Sydenham road. The Harrowsmith station is still shown in place. Based on photos taken 1948-1954; map date 1960-1963. Strangely, the map shows CN and CP lines joining together well east of the interlocking!  
George Lilley was airborne, photographing numerous towns and villages on September 25, 1948. (Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Fonds, V25.5-6-32, 33, 34) 
Close-up views:

Flying parallel to the tracks. Note the outline of the wye's former location on south side of the tracks. Two stock cars are spotted at the stock pens/cattle loading chute. My father-in-law mentioned the unloading of various feed products that were taken to a fox farm operated by a family member.
Directly over the Wilton Road/railway crossing, with a CP steam-powered mix train obligingly stopped or just starting up from the station. It's consist: steam engine-reefer-empty hopper-empty gondola-empty hopper-boxcar-combine-coach.
K&P/CP trains were necessarily short due to grades and curves on the line. All Kingston cars had to be brought to/from Smiths Falls. CN trains were longer, with a major traffic-generator on the Smiths Falls Sub being the paper mill at Strathcona.
Train pair times through Harrowsmith following World War I (shown as 24-hour clock):
* * * * *
1924 CP Passenger trains all Daily ex.Sunday:
  • 1108 No 611 to Sharbot Lake/1416 No 612
  • 1230 No 613 to Renfrew/1617 No 614
  • 1600 No 73 "CNR train" /1637 No 74
  • 1700 No 615 to Tichborne/1852 No 615
and Mixed Daily ex.Saturday:
  • 2335 No 617 to Sharbot Lake/0620 No 618
and Freight Daily ex.Sunday, shown southbound only:
  • 1108 No 96 Renfrew to Roundhouse (did not proceed to CP station across from City Hall)
* * * * *
1931 CN Passenger train times at Harrowsmith:
  • 1540 No 35 to Ottawa-Napanee-Toronto/1655 No 36
  • 0126 No 7 Ottawa-Napanee-southern line Brighton-Toronto/0331 No 8
  • 1258 No 673 Ottawa-Napanee-Toronto/1712 No 672
and Wayfreights Ottawa-Yarker thrice weekly:
  • 0945 No 510/1430 No 511
and Manifests Ottawa-Belleville:
  • 0239 No 447/2115 No 448
* * * * *
1944 CN Mixed train times at Harrowsmith:
  • 0005 No 445 Ottawa-Napanee six times per week/2335 No 446
  • 1540 No 337 Forfar-Napanee twice per week/ 1045 No 338
* * * * *
1955 CN Freight train times at Harrowsmith Daily ex.Sunday:
  • 2140 No 445 from Ottawa /2359 No 446 to Ottawa
* * * * *
1957 CP Mixed train times at Harrowsmith Daily ex.Sunday:
  • 1115 No 613 to Sharbot Lake/1607 No 612
  • 2025 No 617 to Renfrew/0608 No 618
* * * * *
1958 CP Mixed train times at Harrowsmith Daily ex.Sunday:
  • 1855 No 785 to Sharbot Lake/0550 No 784
George Lilley rode a northbound CP mixed train in June, 1957 snapping these three photos at Harrowsmith. At the tail-end, the brakeman is relining the switch for CP line at right (above). Activity at the station (below). Three photos - (digitized by Queen's University Archives, George Lilley Fonds V25.5-29-1 to 38) Although captioned June 15, other photos from this run show an empty coach, and I can't believe the last run would be so unpopular! So, I'm guessing these photos are a few days in advance of the last run of Nos 612/613.

Mail is handled:
Harrowsmith station in 1960 (Pinterest photo):
June 16, 1957 Kingston & Pembroke Railway Co. passenger service closed down 86 years after its inception. The service was discontinued Saturday following the return to Kingston of the last scheduled train from Sharbot Lake. CPR trains 612 and 613 from Kingston to Sharbot Lake and return made their last runs with freight, express, mail and passenger cars. Conductor George Giff of Smiths Falls had little passenger business to handle. He was kept busy though with waybills, manifests, etc. of mixed cargo. Train 612 pulled into the deserted station platform at Shatbot Lake 46 miles north of Kingston - the train connected with CPR local train from Toronto and Montreal. The passenger service never operated with diesel power.

A 1962 aerial photo of Harrowsmith:
The station was moved across the tracks to Meeks Lumber Yard before 1969. In the next post, we enter the diesel era on CN and CP.

Running extra...

Today would have been my Dad's birthday. Although the K&P was notorious for being built on a shoestring budget, once it passed into CP control, the new owner made significant upgrades to what we'd call 'infrastructure' today. Under-track culverts were poured from concrete, replacing large lineside rocks, and stamped with the date of renewal. In this case, the culvert is just north of Sydenham Road here in Kingston, bearing the year of my Dad's birth. He taught high school English for 15 years in Sydenham, the next village east of Harrowsmith, sometimes passing through Harrowsmith to get there. Time, like an ever-flowing stream...