Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Travels of CN 598051

In the previous on CN 598xxx-series boxcars post, I listed my observations of CN 598xxx-series 6348 cu.ft. combination door boxcars, coincident with the Rapido Trains Inc. announcement of producing these cars in HO scale. Shortly thereafter, Rapido was kind enough to share that post on social media. Also coincident with that announcement was David Olsen's sharing of a photo taken in 2000 of but one car from this series: CN 598051 in Cumberland MD, taken September 8, 2000 - photo kindly shared by David Olsen and available on the rrpicturearchives website.

David wrote: Twenty-three years ago, I signed in at Fort Carson, Colorado to start my active duty Army career. On the drive out there, I stopped overnight in Cumberland for my first railfanning experience in that historic railroad town. I checked into the Holiday Inn, which I knew from one of the ancient newsgroups had a great view of the railroad in downtown Cumberland. I was in awe of the parade of trains going by my window and kept taking photos well after the sun had set. [I photographed this train heading] east past American Legion Post 13 into the CSX yard in Cumberland, Maryland on September 8, 2000.

It's interesting how particular memories shape your interests. I was fascinated by these CN cars rolling through Maryland, knowing very little about how Canadian freight cars interchanged and traveled throughout the U.S. I've been waiting for a model of one of those 60' door-and-a-half boxcars ever since, thus my excitement when I saw Rapido's announcement for their new Trenton Works 6348 cu.ft. boxcar model.

When David photographed CN 598051 in Cumberland, it just so happened I was tracing that very car with CN's (and sometimes Conrail's) public car trace system. I became aware of the CN CAR TRAC system in 1997 and used it until public access was denied in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Public access ended one month thereafter. Since I'd been tracking CN 598051 as a sample car of this series for over three years. I needed to see if David's observation tied in with my own - what were the chances we'd seen the same car? Apparently pretty good.

I'd never heard of Waldorf, Maryland. Waldorf salad, yes! Today there are (and probably were in 2000) two lumber yards with rail service in Waldorf. The first is 84 Lumber (Google views):
The second is Builders FirstSource (previously Chopp Lumber at least until 2004 - great name for a wood business!) David passed along an Al Moran photo showing large Conrail units 4704 and 805 sandwiching a CN 598xxx-series boxcar on the curved spur during a switching move there in 2004):
This older webpage has lots of content on the ex-Conrail line serving Waldorf - the Pope's Creek Secondary connecting to Amtrak's Northeast Corridor at Bowie, MD. Formerly operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, it is now served by CSX after the 1999 Conrail split serving Morgantown (they used to operate RS-1's!) and Chalk Point Generating Stations.

So here's the timeline: my tracing research shows that CN 598051 was loaded on CN track EJ31 in Hebertville, QC on August 30, 2000. Reaching Chambord, QC on August 31 at 0037 on CN train No 559, the car thence departed CSX's Selkirk NY yard on September 5, photographed by David on September 8 before being actually placed at Waldorf, MD on September 12. Unloaded and released empty September 14, CN 598051 returned to Chambord on September 24 at 1825 on CN train No 417, completing its 26-day round trip during which David photographed it! I think it would have been loaded, southbound from NY to MD when photographed by David. 

I first observed CN 598051 on CN No 395 through Kingston on July 10, 1997. Interestingly, that was also the first sighting I noted of this class of cars. Why had it taken 3+ years since the first one rolled out of Trenton Works? I noted it as a 'long box'. Here it is, taken from across a field at the time of the 1998 ice storm as CN No 369 pushed its train, CN No 335 up and over the hill near Mi 178 Kingston Sub, just west of the VIA station:
I tracked its 42 round trips from then until February 2001, on 32 map/data pages, reaching 125 destinations (alternating loaded and empty) during those nearly four years. So the sample nearly month-long round trip noted above represented the average turn-around time for such loads. CN 598051 sat in Garneau yard for five days, loaded but not billed to a destination. Often, unloading at lumber yards took up to 6 days. The boxcar was bad-ordered a few times during my tracing:
  • Sep 21/97 at Montreal Taschereau Yard while empty since August 28 - due to doors
  • Nov 10/97 at Chattanooga, TN on NS for 4 days while loaded - due to doors
  • Feb 12/98 at Senneterre loaded for 4 days
  • Mar 6/98 at Toronto MacMillan Yard for 1 day - due to wheel assembly
  • Jun 25/98 at Quevillon for 4 days - due to mechanical inspection
  • Jul 23/99 at Winnipeg Symington Yard (!) for 6 days before being returned east to Longlac for loading (!) - due to body
I had originally thought of transcribing all its traced trips for this post, but instead I'll summarize its loading points, all in Quebec unless otherwise noted, number of times spotted, with CN track designation if known:
  • Chambord FJ10 - 10
  • Senneterre AT46 - 7
  • Chibougamau D146 - 7
  • Quevillon BQ54 - 6
  • Longlac, ON KB47 or KB49 - 4
  • Chapais DO99 - 3
  • Hebertville EJ31 - 2
  • Normandin, Amos EO58, and Englehart, ON (Ontario Northland Rly.) - 1 each
Its destinations when loaded were wide-ranging - mostly in the US but some in Canada. The first ten I tracked: Edwardsburg, MI; Grainger, IN; Fort Erie, ON; Erlanger, KY; Haleyville, AL; St. John, IN; Curtis, VA; Cincinnati, OH; Freehold, NJ; Hagerstown, MD. And the last ten: Cainsville, ON; Agincourt, ON; Fort Erie, ON; Nicholasville, KY; Waldorf, MD; Scarborough, ON; St Nicolas, QC; Elsdon, IL; "BCSpur", UT; MacMillan Yard, ON. Also, twice to Waco, TX on UP; twice to Barretts, MA on NECR; and once to St Petersburg, FL on CSX!

As with most cars I was tracing, once I established a reliable operating pattern, I shifted my tracing time to a different car I wanted to learn more about. Public access was fun while it lasted!

Running extra...

By the numbers: UP 8649, VIA's Set 11, 0845, Mile 180, December 13, video.

Thanks to fellow blogger Michael Hammond for this story on the restoration of the former K&P Clarendon Station, complete with interior shots. Sure it's missing the trains, but the interior restoration and rebuilding of the station looks awesome!

More thanks to loyal Trackside Treasure reader Terry Muirhead for this interesting video showing TransLink Mark V SkyTrains (don't you hate the scourge of CapitalizedWords StuckTogether?) being loaded at Millhaven's Alstom plant on their way to Burnaby, BC. As a long-ago recipient of the Urban Transit Development Corporation scholarship in high school, I'm always looking as I drive by this operation!


Mike Galt said...

Hello Eric, how much would the shipper have been charged for a trip? Thanks Mike

Eric said...

That's a good question, Mike. Not up to date on my freight rates, but I would guess several thousand dollars, depending on distance and based on 3 cents per ton-mile as an average rail freight shipping cost.

Thanks for your question,

Canadian Train Geek said...

I miss the public access to CN car tracing!

Eric said...

It was super handy, CTG!