Friday, August 27, 2021

Summertime at the Station, August 2021

At least once per season, I venture the two miles east to Kingston's VIA station. On August 19, I made that non-epic journey with additional motivation - the completed John Counter Boulevard overpass. Kingston's newest grade separation was finished in November, 2020 and the pandemic did not present a good opportunity for me to check it out - until now! Fortunately, local photographer Paul Wash documented construction on the project here. Work on the Kingston station renewal had also been underway, as the completed and still-unused east parking lot shows (top photo). I parked in the only in-use parking lot (signage indicates a cell-phone/Uber lot) just west of the station and started walking towards the overpass. 
A new intersection allows traffic from the station and the three apartments buildings on Old Mill Road on John Counter Boulevard. The former Counter Street alignment is now a paved path along the current John Counter (above), over and south of the two-track CN Kingston Sub. Strangely, only the north track still has crossing timbers in place. This photo (below) is taken from the north embankment, looking west to the crossing. It's still in place to provide checked baggage truck service to the south track. If checked baggage service returns, that is. There was also a plan for a VIA access road off Princess Street, just south of the tracks. Charts and graphs!
This is the last completed grade separation within the city. Only Coronation Boulevard, Collins Bay Road and the Frontenac Secondary School pedestrian crossings still have whistle signs in the west end. Here is an image showing completed (O)verpasses, (L)evel crossings, (U)nderpass, and (P)edestrian crossings and the date of completion:
Interestingly, Kingston City Council is taking one more 'kick at the can' at a whistling ban in the city. This would involve studying the cost of fencing the right-of-way from Gardiners Road to Division Street to control trespassing. Also of interest, during my visit to the new overpass, VIA trains continued to whistle at the old Counter Street crossing, while freight trains did not seem to. This view from atop the overpass shows the parking now, expanded to the east end, painted and lit:
Speaking of trespassing, a dude and his dog (see tarp, below) were living alongside the fenced right-of-way under the overpass. This grade separation has been a multi-year project - one year elapsed while the limestone was allowed to settle into the swamp. The east side girders and interlocking for Queens West are shown in this view from the north side:
Having risked my life to cross the four traffic lanes, I snapped this picture on the south side of the right-of-way, looking east. To reduce construction costs, Council opted for a sidewalk only on the west side. A bike lane runs along the outside of the traffic lanes on both sides. Litter has already started to accumulate along the fence, with CN's access road between fence and tracks. Had CN seen fit to send a westbound along, it would appear here:
CN did, however, send an eastbound. Here's CN No 376 at 1021. CN 2319-5745 lead, with a surprise DPU...notice how the crossing gates are still activated. Platform-walkers were busy this morning, though the rain clouds were not, thankfully:
What passes for old power on CN these days, built in 1997 (below). CN's right-of-way brush control is non-existent:
CP 8827 seems to have made a wrong turn at made a run west from Montreal on CN No 377, now eastbound on 376, then to Halifax on CN No 120, and west to Toronto on CN No 321 trailing CP 8902 on August 27!
Scrap tie cars CN 56003 and BLE 50007 in this view still on the north side:
Taken from the south side, VIA No 643 arrived at 1038 behind 6409 with 5 LRC cars. The sidewalk is shown at right, with bollards indicating the bike lane and the proximity of traffic just evident. In centre distance, the intersection with Old Mill and station access, then the curve up to Princess Street. You know, the overpass Jason Shron is currently modelling on his KingstonSub layout.
Making my way down the north embankment during 643's station stop, the 'native species' planted along the embankment are in bloom, including sunflowers. No grass will be cut in the making of this overpass!
A visitor from Watertown, picking up a fare. Border-restriction much?
The usual lengthy Montreal-Chicago CN No 149 hit the station at 1055. CN 3857-3010 in the lead, also on the south track. VIA No 62/52, soon to appear, would make a north side station stop before heading back to the south at Queens West after No 149 passed.

Looking east (above) toward John Counter and west (below) toward Princess Street, likely two of the closest overpasses on the Kingston Sub!
These white boxes, from various container lines, contain temperature-controlled shipments, normally grouped around a CN generator container (far left) with plug logo on it:
VIA No 62/52: 901-3466-3338Future-3312Ren-3329F-6410-3458-3328R-3301R-3345R-3332R-6412 (below). The least car-filled photo I've ever taken at Kingston! Not sure about that large concrete block on the platform, though - it's not the only one. Between the two on-board personnel, a gap in the guardrail exists where one spot was taken up with a short platform in the past, now gone.
Continuing east under John Counter Boulevard, VIA 6412 bids Kingston goodbye:

Running extra...

We're having an election. Vote early and often! Some say, why an election now, while the corollary to that statement is...why not now? Democracy waits for no man, or woman. Clearly, the Prime Minister wants to reach the age of majority. Government.

I need to head back to the lake country again. Whizzing between Harrowsmith and Sydenham, the south side of Rutledge Road seems to host this former CP Service car, shown in this Flickr photo while still at Memory Junction in Brighton:

In the September issue of Our Lakes e-magazine, my third 'Rails and Lakes' article is coming down the track. Forget taking a Ride on the Reading, let's take a ride on the Kick & Push! 

Friday, August 20, 2021

CN's London Reclamation Yard


Scrap that! Rolling stock was re-purposed until it either wore out or could no longer be re-used and was only fit for scrapping. Commonly, revenue equipment became work equipment. CN had reclamation yards at Transcona (Winnipeg), London ON, Moncton NB, Pointe St. Charles (Montreal), Battle Creek, MI and St. Albans, VT. Long-term storage yards were maintained at Southwark south of Montreal; Stratford, Scarboro and Paris West in Ontario. CN got into the reclamation business in earnest in 1928. 

In this post, I look into CN's reclamation operations, specifically the London Reclamation Yard. The place has long fascinated me - a railway's dinosaur boneyard. Prolific bloggers of the White River Division, George Dutka and Peter Mumby, have only whetted my appetite for more scrap. Since I have no photos to share, having only been to London briefly once on CN, check out the links at the end of this post for George and Peter's excellent coverage of the London site over time.


CN Vice-President, Western Region J.R. McMillan initiated a drive to collect iron and steel scrap. The Transcona reclamation yard covered 50 acres. It was the collecting point for all scrap from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North-western Ontario. Iin 1951, over 50,000 tons of scrap came in, at a rate of 150 tons per day: rolling stock, locomotives, work equipment, rail, draft gear and even pot-bellied stoves. Most of the outgoing scrap went to furnaces at Sault Ste. Marie, Montreal, Hamilton, as well as Selkirk, St. Boniface and Flin Flon, in Manitoba.

LONDON - 1957

The London Reclamation Yard earned CN over $5,000,000 in recovered scrap in 1957.  System-wide, scrapped 2,664 cars and 207 locomotives were reclaimed that year. The 106 workers at the London yard were divided into two groups: burners and labourers. Burners were the acetylene cutting-torch operators, and labourers assisted and sorted the resulting scrap. The yard had two cranes, one equipped with a 52-inch electro-magnet that could lift 30 tons. The yard classified 21 types of ferrous metals (those containing some form of iron) and 13 types of non-ferrous metals. Wooden cars were still being burned at this time, before cooling off and cutting up took place.

As diesel power replaced steam, the CN steam fleet was sidelined, stacks capped, rods removed to running boards, appurtenances removed and coupled in long lines awaiting scrapping. Steam engines took 5-6 days for scrapping, requiring both cranes and four men.


There were actually two reclamation yards in London at different times. The first dated back to 1880, as a car shop scrap yard adjacent to the GTW/GTR/CN car shops on Egerton Street, extending along Brydges Street to Ashland Avenue between CN's Dundas and Thorndale Subdivisions. Reclamation operations were phased out here by 1960. 

The 'Sand Pit' became the reclamation yard in the 1950's. Located east of the CN's main yard and east of Hale Street at Trafalgar Street south of the double-track Dundas Sub, the stub-ended yard tracks extended east to an embankment overlooking Potter's Creek ravine. The Fairmont subdivision was developed there in the 1950's and 1960's, and some of its houses overlooked the yard's north side. 'Burning' operations were transferred to Paris West, while wood and metal reclamation operations stayed. There was increased security at the sight due to the ongoing problem of pilferage.

London East yard became a virtual rolling stock museum. Cars for scrapping were moved to the south tracks there prior to scrapping, with their air lines cut to prevent use. Such cars received the D-453 classification by stencil or spray paint, meaning pending Destruction -  Form 453 filled out (top photo).

The London reclamation yard was phased out circa 1991, though the local Engingeering forces still use the site for material storage. Some scrapping for CN is still carried out at John Zubick & Sons nearby. Zubick is rail-served and, interestingly, the scrapyard contains well over 100 surplus Canadian Forces armoured patrol vehicles.

CN S-7 8232 was one of a string of MLW switchers at the 'rec yard' in 1983 (online auction site photo - above and below). In 1982-83, Don McQueen shared some observations as cars and locomotives arrived for scrapping:

July/82: CN 8039 with idlers 146060 and 147318; 8043-8058 with idlers 143237-142906, from Montreal:
Nov/82: CN 8030-8167-8178 
Mar/83: OCS box cars from St. Mary's Junction, most wooden: CN 43606 tool generator; 60322 material; 70988 stores; 64245 stores/fuel; 74370 36-foot; 74680 for crane 800.14; 74909 36-foot; 74298 stores.
Mar/83: five cars from London East Carload Centre: 70046 tool/material; 70852 tool/supply; 70869 36-foot stores; 64309 stores double-door auto; 74318 fuel/stores.
Dec/83: there were 17 S-3, S-4, S-7 and RSC-13 units for scrapping at the Rectory Street yard, 17 more at Castleton Avenue, 8030-8167-8178 dismantled (see above).

George Dutka and Peter Mumby have published several photo-loaded posts on the prolific White River Division blog that they share with Don Janes. Highly recommended for more coverage on the interesting CN reclamation operation! Lots o' links:

Thanks to Don McQueen for additional information in this post.

Running extra...

Many modellers say, "I'm designing a layout that will cover Montreal to Vancouver. I have a 4x8 space available." Yikes. This is not that: a well thought-out plan for the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal (B&OCT). At first, jack-hammering hard red clay to gain another 233 square feet did not seem completely rational, but the results show they were!

Perusing Steve Boyko's list of Canadian Train Books revealed a result that spoke volumes. Literally. The following authors' prolific productivity by the numbers: Ian Wilson (16); Donald C. Lewis (15); Kevin Holland (14); D.M. Bain (13); John Riddell (10); Ron Brown, Robert Turner, Don McQueen and Your Humble Blogger (8). OK, that's it! I'm going for quantity, not quality!

I finally made it up to the John Counter Boulevard overpass just east of Kingston's VIA station. It's been in use since November, 2020. What took me so long? Was I afraid of contracting a VIArus? Was the overpass not VIAble? Watch for an upcoming Trackside Treasure post on my epic journey towards the east end (I really need to get out more)! I have lots to share:

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Postscript: Thirteenth Anniversary Contest

It was interesting to read the entries for Trackside Treasure's Thirteenth Anniversary Contest. As you may recall, in order to win the draw, each entry could include the reader's favourite piece of railway equipment, middle name or favourite colour. A surprising number of entries included all three. Of course, the railway equipment part was the most interesting. Some selected entries:

  • My favorite piece of railway equipment is the former CN Dental Car.  I saw it many years ago in the middle of nowhere when I was traveling in northern Ontario.  I was fascinated by it.  I often thought that would be a great thing for many isolated places.  I often tell people about it and they think I am dreaming.  But I actually saw it.
  • My favourite piece of railway equipment is a CPR Budd RDC-1 Dayliner circa 1960. As a child I lived in what was then Camp Petawawa and would regularly make the train trip to Ottawa with my mother. I can still remember the excitement of climbing aboard at the little station in the village. Wow, the gleaming, stainless steel exterior... the sharp, modern interior... the chilled water dispenser with paper cones! This was at a time when you'd still see steam locomotives hauling freight trains on the subdivision.
  • CNR 6060 because I've seen it in person and have a model of it in my collection. Also, CNR 6213 as I had the pleasure of being part of the team that moved it from The CNE Grounds to the Toronto Railway Museum grounds and CPR 7020 as i have been part of the team that restored it to its as-delivered paint scheme 

  • My favorite is the 4550 cubic foot covered hopper car built by National Steel Car, Hawker Siddley, or Marine Industries. Within this car type, the cars referred to variously as Government Hoppers, Wheat Board Hoppers, Trudeau Hoppers, among other identifiers, are my particular favorites. The railway owned versions of these cars are part of the scene, but are not quite the same. To me, a long train of these hopper cars led by a pair of SD40-2s, or even better, a few of these cars spotted alongside a wood grain elevator is what railroading on the prairies is all about.
    • For my favourite piece of railway equipment, you probably won't be surprised to hear that it is VIA 6765, the Montreal Locomotive Works product that is now on display at Exporail in Delson, Quebec. It's my favourite because I have one of its number boards.
    • I had to think about it before I arrived elegant heavyweight passenger car at the end of the CP Christmas Train. Aside from its aesthetics, I like this car because it would have been the type of rolling stock my grandfather had to repair in Chapleau, Ontario when he worked as a car mechanic there up until the 1960s, when he transferred to Windsor. I like to think he worked on such a cr at one point; that his handprints might be somewhere on this car still. It’s a purely sentimental reason.
    Also anonymized, generously-supplied middle names. Neat list! 
    Some highlights: Lee, Aynesley, Robert, Not Ignatius, David.

    Also also anonymized, favourite colours. These cry out for a pie graph! 
    Most common was Blue followed by Green, Not Fuchsia,!

    We ended up with two winners! The lucky co-winners are Bill Staiger and John Moore. Trackside Treasure prize packs will be winging their way to you both. Thanks to everyone for your good wishes, your entries and your participation in this annual shmoozefest. 

    A list of past years' anniversary contest winners reads like a who's who of loyal Trackside Treasure readers, modellers, bloggers, railfans, VIAphiles or all of the above: Ian Lisakowski, Bryan Martyniuk, Steve Boyko, Walker Coe, Michael Hammond, Tim Hayman, Bryan Fulsom, Jakob Mueller and Elijah Warner Hall.

    Now, back to some more hard-hitting, gonzo train blogging. This weekend's post will be...."Thomas the Tank Engine - Is He Really Out There Somewhere?"
    "I'm done with shootin' down Stukas. I'm gonna go start my own blog."

    Friday, August 13, 2021

    Trackside Treasure's Thirteenth Anniversary

    My first inclination for this Trackside Treasure aniversary was to skip #13 because it is perceived as unlucky. Think skyscrapers without thirteenth floors! But what about a baker's dozen? Hey another donut is definitely lucky, I'd say! And a great addition to your morning cup of coffee! Which I'd had too much of the day I started this venerable venture back in the dream sequence that was 2008. Hmmmmm, I remember it like it was yesterday.....

    OK, I'm back. Here's what I've been up to: I just finished watching the Olympics. In the post-event interviews, the athletes talk about how it went, their place in the standings and other technical stuff. Then the CBC interviewer asks them who they're thinking about back home. And they get emotional. Anniversaries are sometimes emotional, because they celebrate those things that are near and dear to our hearts.

    I read the obituaries every morning in the local newspaper. They talk about the person's genealogy and list family members and boring dates. Then they get to what the person enjoyed in later life. (I also think obituaries should include what killed the person, but they rarely do. We can only hope.) But those later life interests seem to fulfill them more than any career can. Anniversaries are a reason to look forward, but they also beg us to look back and see what we've done.

    I continue to enjoy seeing new and continuing ventures that my blog partners are sharing. These are my go-to blogs - they seem to closely fit interests that are shared here on Trackside Treasure: a mix of prorotype and model, old and new, overwhelmingly Canadian. Check out the sidebar to get the very latest posts from these fine railway blogs:

    • My brother Dave preserves and propagates document knowledge-base interpretation.
    • Chris Mears has enjoyed building a highly-detailed section of track and producing N-scale vans. He's also co-blogged with James Hilton in the UK.
    • Matthieu Lachance is also experimenting with the "Capricious Process' of 3D printing.
    • Steve Boyko has expanded his Winnipeg railfan blogging to drone flying. 
    • Don, Peter and George are perpetually prolific on their White River Division blog.
    • Marc Simpson is busy weathering and building new prototypes for his car fleet.
    • Bernard Kempinski encounters and solves technical challenges in his modelling.
    • Edd Fuller is back and blogging on The Trackside Photographer. 
    • So is Michael Hammond on The Beachburg Sub.

    I was fortunate to take pandemic time to publish two books on Kingston's waterfront history. Once grimy coalsheds, now glittering condos! Orders are rolling in like waves on Lake Ontario!

    I'm continuing to enjoy retirement. A former colleague has just retired, having won a million dollars. We're able to visit with our grandchildren again - it's just like winning the lottery. As my daughter-in-law sagely said, the days are long but the years are short. 

    Now let's get to the real reason we're all here - Trackside Treasure's annual anniversary contest. This is a yearly 'thank you' to readers for staying engaged and putting up with my blogiosyncracies! I want to make this really easy, fun and to exclude no-one. That would be bad luck! There are three ways to win, and if you win, you'll receive the Trackside Treasure Thirteenth Anniversary Prize Pack!

    • Tell me your favourite piece of railway equipment and why. Be quite specific.
    • If you don't have one, tell me your middle name.
    • If you don't have one, tell me your favourite colour.

    Simply reply to the above via email to or comment on this post. Deadline for entries was Wednesday, August 18, 2021 at 1313 hours and the contest is now closed. The winner will be randomly chosen from all entries received and announced in the next post. Thanks for playing!

    To keep the lawyers happy, here's the legal disclaimer:

    Not valid in Nevada, Nebraska or Nunavut. May cause tingling of the extremities, dizziness, and the condition known as hot-dog fingers. If this happens at knight, "It's merely a flesh wound." Do not even think about operating heavy equipment. Ever. Unless you're a heavy equipment operator, then go for it. If interest in Trackside Treasure lasts longer than four hours, it's time to take a break. Get up and walk around a bit. Not to be taken with grapefruit. Or, very seriously. 

    Thursday, August 5, 2021

    CP 40-foot Appliance Boxcars

    CP 41000-41029 comprised a series of thirty rebuilt excess-height, double-door 40-foot boxcars. With an internal height of 13'4", these excess-height cars were distinctive, exceeding Plate F. Built in 1952 by Canadian Car & Foundry in the 299600-299799 series, their second service life extended from about 1980 to 1990, after rebuilding for appliance service. Usually loaded at the Camco West appliance plant in Hamilton, ON. Double doors were six- and eight-foot, for a total opening of 14 feet. Sheet steel was added to achieve extra height on the ends. The sides were cut and spliced with welded steel sheet, and doors were also welded together to gain the required height. These cars operated in CP Rail action red paint, and are one of the few examples of a re-proportioned, non-uniform multimark, scaled vertically to reach the car's excess height. CP 41010 was alone on the Queens CN-CP interchange in 1982 (top photo).

    Camco (Canadian Appliance Manufacturing Company) was incorporated in 1977, and became the largest Canadian manufacturer, marketer, exporter, and service provider of home appliances. The company's brands included GE, Hotpoint, Moffat and McClary. Camco also produced and serviced private brands for major Canadian department stores. The Camco West plant, built in 1913, was formerly owned and operated by Westinghouse, and was served by CP Rail. 

    During a 1981 visit to Bayview Junction, this Hamilton-bound CP run-through train behind CP 5909-5908 at dusk (around 2000 hours on an overcast June 22) had CP 41021 in the consist, sandwiched between script covered gondola and covered hopper:

    These cars were a response to the cube out vs. tare out business model. If a lightweight product is being shipped, a lot of  air is taking up space in the car. Think of woodchips - a big enough car could never be designed to haul the maximum capacity of woodchips due to their light weight. What's inside a clothes dryer or washing machine? Air! Same with a refrigerator, once the compressor, motor, wiring et al is taken into account. So, if we cannot make a heavier cargo, let's build a bigger box to put it in! CP 41012-41011 at Bayview Junction in 1987 (online auction site photo). Note "No Running Board/Excess Height Car" lettering in white-painted patch at end of car:

    CP 41013 at Hamilton in 1984 (Peter Macdonald photo via Liz Reid, Trackside Treasure collection):

    CP 41020 open door (above) and CP 41009 (below) both taken in Winnipeg in 1980 kindly shared by Jim Parker.

    These CP cars must be scratchbuilt by modellers. Tangent Scale Models makes nice appliance boxcars, dedicated prototypes with single doors built years earlier in the Sixties. I have Burlington and BN versions by Athearn that appear at MacCosham Van Lines on my HO scale Hanley Spur layout.

    Lots o' links:
    Running extra...

    Speaking of oddball freight cars, a recent online survey yielded the following results. Respondents have the following oddball cars on their layouts. Not asked - do you have two of the CN billboard rainbow  covered hoppers? (Only one on the prototype!)

    - track-cleaning car: 81
    - CN billboard rainbow cylindrical covered hopper: 52
    - Sclair covered hopper: 22
    - missile car/searchlight car: 7
    Thanks to all those who have ordered my just-released book, Stories on the Waterfront: A Curated Collection of Memories and Photos of Kingston Harbour. One customer even drove all the way from North Carolina for a copy. During a pandemic! Let's hope the only thing infectious was my enthusiasm! Other copies have zinged out to Manitoba, Toronto, Ottawa Delaware and of course the Kingston area.

    Part Two of my Rails & Lakes series on railways on South Frontenac County is now in the August edition of Our Lakes e-magazine. This month's topic (starts on page 32) is the 'other' railway north of Kingston, Canadian Northern then CN, though the more familiar one is the Kingston & Pembroke - the Kick & Push.