Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Two More Days at Portage, 1978

Following two previous days at Portage la Prairie, MB on August 17 and 18, 1978, here are the results of two more days' train-watching on August 20 and 21. Among my travels west aboard VIA Rail, this trip was made on CN rails on the Super Continental. My malfunctioning Kodak Instamatic from home was about to be replaced thanks to my aunt and uncle. Without their donation of a Kodak Hawkeye they obtained as a premium, none of these photos would have been taken!

No trains were photographed on the 18th and 19th of August due to a trip to Winnipeg to take in the Rainbow Stage, staying overnight Friday-Saturday at the Holiday Inn. Breakfast there on the 19th, lunch at The Bay department store and supper at the Old Spaghetti Factory, all in Winnipeg. On Sunday the 20th, we went to a flea market and visited family, though a couple of hours at the station were part of the day's activities! On Monday the 21st, I was trackside for two hours prior to lunchtime, then again 1600-1730.

The trains I observed each day are listed by time, direction, motive power and caboose numbers.

August 20, 1978 

1059 W CN 5134-5194-5182 79766 (top photo) The first train of the day left its consist in the yard, and 'yard-switched' CN covered hopper CN 378624 back to its train from the station team track at 1125. The covered hopper had been loaded with a cargo of corn two days earlier.

1111 E CN 5228-9430-5549 79660. Passing the variously verdant verge of the CN station:
Right after that CN eastbound passed, it was a quick jog over to the CP side for this eastbound  manifest. 1116 E CP 5726-5529-8652-8686-4038 (What the F-unit...just out of the frame!) and van 434310. Portage's cylindrical water tower is just visible at right, later painted like a Coke can and moved west of the city:
1152 W CP 5522-4556-4571 434507. These next two photos show how susceptible the Hawkeye was to camera-shake in the hands of an excited young railfan! 
1215 E CP 5695-5540 434356-434007(end cupola). My uncle is at left, and a local mini-railfan who was let loose around the tracks and seemed to want to follow us around:
2028 W CN 9621-9624-9460 79577 (unphotographed). On an evening drive, I captured a trackside sunset shot of welded rail into the sunset at Newton, MB:

August 21, 1978

1001 W CN 4206-4122-4118 lumber empties 79216. A morning of first-generation locomotive consists. An eastbound, whose trailing propane tank car denotes the end fo the consist parted for the crossing is on the yard lead.
1009 W CN 1052-1025 79435. Certainly the catch of the day, at the time I didn't realize how unusual it was to have an olive-and-yellow CN GMD-1 still in service. But I did take three photos, at a time when film was precious. With a CN insulated boxcar from the CP interchange in tow, the power pulls up to the station. Interestingly, another original-scheme CN 1063 retained the classic colours well into 1980.

I backed up onto Fisher Avenue to try to get a pole-free broadside of this relic! Don't believe every caption you read! When I saw CN 1052 next on August 28, 1981 - again at Portage - she was wearing the current orange-nosed scheme.
1036 E CN 1367-1369-4129 79754 pound across the station crossing with grain boxcars and the middle unit still in the original CN switcher scheme. CN engineer Mark Perry has noted that the Geep was often included in these multi-day 'grain peddler' locomotive consists to provide toilet facilities in the short hood.
1125 E CN 9570-9548-9573. That's nine-thousand striped horses on this intermodal hotshot as the overcast parts a little bit:
1135 W CP 5750-5501 bathtub gondolas 434619. It's bicyclists and bathtubs as local kids on the Skyline Bridge feel the rumble of  CP and Procor empties heading west, perhaps from Thunder Bay. I'm on the loading dock of the CP Express building:
One of two CP Geep-led consists that met at supppertime: 1623 E CP 8619-8708-4443 leading an eastbound past the Engro spur car stops. The head-end trainman stands silhouetted against 8617's striped nose. Angus van 434343 trails.
1626 W CP 8677-8671-8808 437143(end cupola)-434518 getting started out of the yard was this boarding outfit train. CP's wooden station platform is still in foreground, though it would be removed later that year once all VIA trains began using CN tracks west of Portage.
CP 437143-434518 trail the work train over the Third Street N.E. crossing at the east side of the CP station. The gang aboard was definitely in its busy season of trackwork and much in demand.
1714 E CP 5522-4556-5516-4571 434371 was the last freight of the day. I stayed in the CN station parking lot for two reasons. It was time to head 'home' for supper, and the eastbound Super Continental was coming!
1725 E VIA No 4 Engs 6515-6607-6502 and 17 cars, with the oil-unloading spur in foreground.
The consist of No 4: 9643-5474-5618-5467-5653-762-5700-5710-Englee-Entwistle-Greenwood-Bonsoir-1367-Erickson-Ellerslie-Enfield-Invermay-CN business car Bonaventure.

Running extra:
It's Youtube official! It's been a week since VIA added buffer cars to its HEP1 and HEP2 consists. I'm moving on, with no postscript, with this Manitoba wallowing-in-nostalgia post. As the government agencies and national media outlets are finally covering the story, I felt like my work there was done. I'll still continue to update the original post as updates are released.

If you've read Kalmbach's GMR, MRP, MR or any other of its track planning publications, you've read his articles. Prolific English track planner Iain Rice wrote 400 articles and 20 books. Iain died on October 8. Besides his imaginative depiction of prototypes, what I appreciated most about Iain's work was his ability to 'bend' layouts, to curve track in a unique alternative approach to the conventional North American plan. We can't help outselves - all we want is numerous straight, parallel tracks to fill  our expansive layout spaces. Iain's space-challenged trackplans and colourfully-rendered illustrations were part of his creative approach to track-planning, enabling modellers to 'see' more than just a trackplan. 

My son-in-law caught CN No 518 at the Bath Road crossing this past Monday. The 'hostler's choice' pair of units - CN 4902 and GTW 6425 - is still the local power in Belleville. Trainee in the cab of 6425?



Brian said...

Your post shows how much CN’s and CP’s locomotive rosters would change in just a few years. In 1978 first generation power was quite common. Older paint schemes, such as CN’s noodle scheme and even the green scheme were seen at times. The Dash 2 line of locomotives has been introduced only six years earlier. MLW power still operated in the west.

Go forward to sometime in the mid-1980s. CN and CP would have much larger fleets of Dash 2 locomotives. CN’s stripe scheme would be much more predominant. A little later into the ‘80s and CP would start phasing out the multimark. Also, The rebuild programs for first generation power would be underway. The most notable effect would be the elimination of high short hoods. Cabooses would start to disappear.

Your pictures capture a time before all of that started to happen.

Eric said...

Hi Brian,

You're right on with that summary of changes that were taking place, and frankly that I didn't know I was experiencing at the time!

There were concurrent changes to the grain industry. Everything was getting bigger, newer, and perhaps less interesting or unique.

It was a great time to capture, on good ol' film, what was happening!
Thanks for your comment,

Elijah said...

It’s so good to back at Portage again, what with that gorgeous Green Goblin Gummy bear, and that tantalizing trio of Toronto ninety five hundred Hellcats, with what is probably CN 218. Love the Pups trailed by the light Geep too, and we have my beloved Super Connie making an appearance aswell! Oh joy, oh bliss!

Eric said...

Hi Elijah,

Great to hear your enjoyed this trip back in time. So much good CN power, and even some on the Other Railway. Oh, and of course VIA!

Thanks for your comment,

Jim said...

Hello Mr Gagnon, I am on the cusp of entering the hobby with a vision of modelling some Manitoba boyhood memories, specifically, the CNR's Rossburn sub-divison (ca 1960s or maybe the early 70s) centred on Erickson MB where my mother's family homesteaded in 1887 and where I spent many a summer holiday afternoon looking up at grain elevators and watching the trains come and go ("Serves All Canada" tugged at my patriotic heartstrings). As such, your Portage and other MB blog posts are an inspiration. As for my first locomotive, I am thinking of a EMD GP9 or an EMD 1. Your photos seem to indicate that EMD 1s were used to haul grain. I'm not sure about the GP9 - although I seem to be able to picture it in my mind's eye. Any advice? I'm also pleased to note the CNR's yellow and green paint scheme could still be seen into the 70s. I'm all about nostalgia at this point in my life. ;)

Eric said...

Hi Jim,

I think that is a great idea for a prototype and will be easier when you're using your memories instead of an arbitrary prototype. Serves All Canada logos lasted well into the 1980's - quite long-lived. Yes, an EMD (GMDD) GP9 or GMD1 would be ideal for a CN prototype, and both existed in the yellow/green scheme. It all depended on the maximum weight of locomotives that could be accommodated on each branchline subdivision. This information can often be found in railway employees' timetables.

I'm glad Trackside Treasure is giving you some prototype inspiration. Here on Trackside Treasure, we readily wallow in nostalgia!

Good luck with your modelling and keep me updated!
Thanks for your comment,

Jim said...

Thank you, Eric for your kind encouragement and advice. I will keep you posted.