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) 
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)

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...


Anonymous said...

Hi Eric. I discovered your blog and have spent many hours of late reading it from the beginning. I love this week's header photo. That little CPR freight trundling through a ridge and out into the open fields - wonderful! I'm always touched by your reminiscences of your dad. His birth year forever in the concrete must be a wistful reminder. By coincidence, my niece teaches (and lives) in Sydenham. I look forward to lots more posts.

John Moore

Eric said...

Great to have you aboard, John, and thanks for your kind words about Trackside Treasure. There is lots of gas (or diesel fuel?) in the tank so you can expect much more to come! You'll be in Harrowsmith for awhile with this series. My Dad drove 20 miles to teach at SHS though we never really explored the CN tracks that would still have been there when he retired in 1984. I'm making up for lost time!

My Dad was a 'chronicler' and instilled the same in my brother and me. You might enjoy my brother Dave's blog Rolly Martin Country, see my sidebar. As you can see, my interests are broad, spanning model and prototype, past and present. There is much more to chronicle!

Thanks for your comment,

Anonymous said...

Hello Eric,
I too am enjoying the 2 recent header photos. CN & CP . Are they going to be in the diesel article? Great scenes

Mike Galt

Eric said...

Yes stay tuned for more diesel photos, Mike. We are slowly making our way through the ensuing decades together. Before his death, the prolific photographer and author Keith Hansen kindly shared these with me, and the photos will appear, duly credited to him, soon.

Thanks for staying aboard on our time-travel train!