Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Postscript: First Visit to Portage, July 1976

About five years ago, I posted some of my Dad's black & white photos from our family trip to visit relatives in the railfan mecca of Portage la Prairie, MB (Portage) in July, 1976. The Fullness of Time is really just that here at Trackside Treasure - sometimes it takes 42 years to get these photos posted and launched into railfan cyberspace. So now it's 47 years later and in this postscript, I'm publishing some additional photos from that trip, both black & white prints as well as boxed slides I scanned. The trip notably included an excursion on Winnipeg's Prairie Dog Central (PDC) on the exact day of the U.S. Bicentennial, July 4! 
My Dad had given me many of the black & white 126-format prints for an album I made on lined paper in a binder. He mounted the others in a family photo album. Now, consolidated. Prior to his discontinuing colour slide photography in 1978, this was a major trip that was preserved for posterity in both formats, with examples of each sometimes captured seconds apart as he changed cameras.
On our first day 'down at the tracks' on July 3, CP 5518-3002 are dropping four cars - two of farm equipment and two insulated boxcars from the head-end of their train into CP's Portage yard at 1000 (top three photos). Your humble blogger posed for photographer L.C. Gagnon at the east end of CP's Portage station (below). The photos show the station train order signal still in use, albeit with different indications showing.
CP 8653-8489-4231-4210 power a priority train eastward also on our first morning. Candy-stripes!
As profiled in the original post and the first volume of my two-book set Trains & Grains, we spent July 3 to 7 in Portage and Winnipeg after travelling from Kingston in our 1970 Volkswagen Beetle. This visit was more than enough to whet my appetite for more trips there over the next ten years! These two 5200's sat across from the CN station idling, providing ample opportunities for a plethora of photo angles:

The train from Churchill, double-exposure effect notwithstanding: CN 9152-9154-15491-633112-11119-11064-222626-8063-9642-3030-5467-5587-5595-1338-Great Slave Lake-Edwardsville-Thunder Bay-Terra Nova River-Greenridge- Bedford (in VIA blue & yellow):
At 1905 on July 4, CN 1074-1068 with 116 cars and caboose 79831 were stopped east of the CN station:

CP switcher 6569 pauses at the station at midday:
From this vantage point in the cool of the Skyline Bridge, various types of CN covered hopper cars are being loaded by United Grain Growers. Their other Portage plant is just visible in the distance at right. Clever composition!
CN 5213-5141 lead lumber east at 1608. Look sharp to see that the second aluminum covered hopper has been loaded in the interim, and rolled down to couple onto its fleetmate:
On July 5, CN 5144 led a westbound at 1500, with orders hooped up to the head-end and tail-end crew aboard caboose 79585:

On our last afternoon in Portage before heading south through Duluth, at 1432 on July 6, eastbound CP 5633-5756 lead a train of prairie grain for Thunder Bay.
Ditch lights on, it's time to get out of town!
Heading south toward the U.S. border on July 7, we parallelled this CN freight powered by two SW1200RS's - the second is 1353:
We crossed several Burlington Northern and Soo Line branches on our way from Manitoba to Michigan. More can be seen of these granger ganders in this post.

Running extra...

Model railroading is fun. Or at least it's supposed to be. So why do so many of us make it into a job, or even worse, dreaded drudgery? The irrepressible Mike Downie's visit to this 1/8th scale, 37-mile, 2200-acre outdoor layout is most definitely fun. They even have 'sectionmen' to rake the twigs and pine cones off the tracks! Welcome to Train Mountain Railroad Museum!

Rio Tinto SW1200MG locomotives 526, 525 and 524 rebuilt in Brookville, PA head east on CN No 306 on July 10. The unique power is headed to the Carol Lake Mine Automatic Train Operation of the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador. (IOC is 58% owned and operated by Rio Tinto.) There, they travel a 13-km line between the main extraction site and the crusher plant, completely crewless, ore, something  about which I was completely clueless!

Walter Reid (not of hospital fame) snapped and shared this photo from the Islington Avenue bridge showing the site of the groundbreaking ceremony this past Monday at VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre. Siemens Venture Set 4 was in the background, having ventured from Montreal west to Toronto the previous day:


Michael said...

Thanks for sharing these precious panoramas from picturesque Portage-la-Prairie. I never was able to get photos of the old high-hood early generation geeps when I was younger. I don't recall many of them operating in the Sarnia area in my younger years. But these old high hoods make me wonder what the engineers thought of them. On one hand, their visibility is quite limited, but I can't imagine they would be much different from the views many of the veteran engineers had while manning steam engines. I can imagine the introduction of the short hoods was quite an improvement.

Elijah/Zartok-35 said...

It’s good to be back at Portage again with my beloved Blackwidows and ThunderCows. I love the shot of the CP Speed with those Geeps and C424s! In all likelihood that’s probably train 976 from Edmonton off the Minnedosa sub. That train was restricted to 4 axle units, though I’m still not sure what part of the north line required it. I suspect the June 11th 1982 and August 5th 1983 captures you have of eastbound Intermodals with Geeps are also the Edmonton train, by that time renumbered to 562.

The only thing missing is some coverage of the Super Continental, which was expanded considerably for the 1976 summer season. There’s record in your first Trackside with Via volume that you encountered it at Portage on July 5th with A-B-A Yellowheads 6509, 6606 and 6506, with GP9 4104 for power, along with 5 coaches; a perfect match to period marshalling documents! It must’ve got past you unphotographed. Easy come easy go, I guess.

Thanks profusely for this great colourful Portage post!

Eric said...

Hi Michael,

I'm sure most of the transition-era engineers were used to looking down a long hood and not seeing much. The high hoods that were set up short-hood first were probably easier, and though CP did some early chop-nosing, as did some US RR's, it took us quite awhile to get Geeps and RS's remanufactured by CN and CP were short hoods.

I can't underestimate, even today, how extremely exciting the esoteric equipment evinced in its environment enlivened me!

Thanks for your comment,

Eric said...

Hi Elijah,

Thanks for the additional information on that CP priority traffic.

My head was swimming so much, and my note-taking so unadvanced that I'm not sure what and where we saw what we saw. This was a major social trip for our family, as we had not been able to travel to my aunt's far-flung previous assignments very often: Jamaica, Trail BC and Halifax (once). However, this visit set the stage for future railfan-oriented trips. My aunt and uncle were always good sports about letting me roam the tracks!

I really have to thank my Dad for preserving the images on this trip. I had not yet entrusted with operation of even the most basic Instamatic technology!


JasonPaulSailer said...

Cool! Thanks for sharing those vintage photos!

Eric said...

Thanks, Jason. Stay tuned for more!