Thursday, September 22, 2016

North to Muskoka, September 2016

In early September, we journeyed north to meet with my wife's cousin whom she had never met, but had 'found' through ancestryDOTca. While heading north on Durham Road 12 at Brechin East, I glimpsed what appeared to be a standing cut of autoracks just to the west. Then, at the next crossing, we found VIA No 2 stopped, with headlight and ditchlights extinguished! The long train was hours behind schedule due to the freight (immediately ahead with the autoracks) being in emergency.
Their loss was my gain. Fellow railfans wait trackside for hours and days at a time waiting for the Canadian, and here it was sitting right in front of me! If I was on Facebook right now, I would be looking for the 'Feeling Blessed' icon right now!
After our get-together and leisurely meal at the harbourfront Gravenhurst Boston Pizza, the next day took me trackside to beautiful downtown Torrance, ON. Located on CN's Bala Sub, I found a quiet spot just north of Highway 169. Looking south: 
Torrance is the site of a wayside detector:
An airhorn announced a southbound at noon. Was it CN or CP, since CP was just west at Bala...nope, this was a southbound intermodal behind CN 2871-2949, likely CN No 104:
These are video captures, passing the detector and backtrack:
Feeling reflective (is that another Facebook icon, perchance?) I captured the train in one of the Muskoka region's many bodies of water:
Disappearing toward the Big Smoke, about to discharge its cargoes to a waiting host of dollar stores:
After a lunch break with the cousins, I returned to Torrance to find this brushcutter had returned to the backtrack after a morning of weed-whacking.
In the afternoon there were CP airhorns in Bala, but only a lone northbound at 1420 behind CN 2888:
A mix of paper boxcars, covered hoppers, a few auto racks and empty oil tank cars on the tailend:
TRGX 854559 trails a couple of patched BAEX boxcars. Remember that grain magnate Richardson began his empire in Kingston, and the adjacent Queen's University building to our hospital wing is still named Richardson Laboratories 
All I found in Bala was a pair of CP track machines:
And a lone ballast hopper:
We toured the Port Carling-Bracebridge area on a rainy Thursday, stopping by Gravenhurst station on CN's Newmarket Spur. Reports from fellow VIAphile and travellin' man Matt Soknacki indicated that CN Nos 450/451 were still nocturnal, so I thought chances of spotting one of them here were 'Slim to Nil'. (And Slim just left town).
But upon completion of a visit to the beery Sawdust City brewery, my wife craftily pointed out the siren song of a first-generation Geep. Could we make it to the tracks in time? Throw in the beer, throw 'er in gear and put the coal to 'er! Yes we can!
Especially when it's running at 5 mph and it's Canada's shortest train! CN 4132 running light back to its base in Huntsville from an industry in Longford Mills:
Into the Woods in a couple more bideo captures.
With that it was a Friday return to Kingston. Watch for an upcoming post on a gravy-laden Gravenhurst famous fast food flashback to 1979!

Running extra...

Meanwhile, my friend Reg Aitken aka The Explorer was exploring the area of Townline Road east of Napanee, returning from the Picton Train Show. While there he photographed CN No 149 charging west:
This location looks familiar. Future blogger with now-vintage crossbucks, 1976. D J Gagnon photo: 
 Westbound CN No 518 among the bullrushes:
 and an eastbound baggage car-toting VIA train at speed. Thanks for sharing these, Reg!
Graphics guru Randy O'Brien shared this cool graphic. It's based on a photo of the Plasticville Factory I picked up at the Picton show. World's Largest coupler since eharmony:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hi-Cube Boxcars Haul Peat Moss

Who ever thought you could fill a boxcar with peat moss? Sure, you can! You might think auto parts but you'd be wrong. As the use of 86-foot high cube boxcars waned, replaced by parts built closer to auto assembly plants, use of containers and trucking, these cars found other cargos, such as NADX 7018 (ex-Ann Arbor) on CN No 309 at Rigney St in Kingston on March 11, 2006 (top photo). Peat moss shipments originated at Bathurst NB - big business on Caraquet Peninsula and one of the few ladings originating on CN's Caraquet Subdivision! Also in Miramichi at the transload facility west of the yard and handled west on CN No 403 and east on CN No 402. Interestingly, peat moss 'cubes out' before it 'tares out' due to its low density, so the larger the car carrying it, the better. I observed these cars  on CN's Kingston Sub between 2001 and 2008.
Ex-CP Rail WHCX 86011 is on CN No 309 at Rigney Street in Kingston on June 3, 2006 (above). WHCX reporting marks represent Western Hay Corporation (above). HLMX 86183 (Helm Financial Corporation) is shown at Collins Bay, ON on CN No 309 March 28, 2005:
HLMX 86179-NADX xxxx-HLMX 86042-HLMX 86011 on CN No 309 at Rigney St. on April 30, 2006:
In 2006, Darrell Sawyer kindly shared some 86-footer sightings on the other side of the country, in Huntington and Chilliwack, BC:
  • CPAA 206026 red
  • CPAA 206200 brown
  • HCSX 8031 (ex-CR class RR34, brown)
  • HLMX 86037 (ex C&O 493337 blue)
  • MILW 4799 brown
  • NADX 7009 brown
  • PHRX 26608 and 26620 (ex DT&I light blue)
  • WHCX 86008 (ex-CPAA 206210)
I received this interesting input from Stuart Thomson: in the late 1980's, he consulted on shipping peat moss from New Brunswick in 40-foot boxcars. In an attempt to increase the amount of lading, an open stock car was used. After a rainstorm passed through, the car weighed in excess of 300,000 lbs and barely made it over a bridge in Kenneth Square, PA - the mushroom CAPITAL of the U.S.A.! Perhaps the peat moss shipments to Chilliwack were also for mushroom farming, since BC is Canada's second-largest mushroom-producing province. Business is indeed mushrooming! I've also read reports of 86-footers being used in paper towel service, such as Scott Paper in Washington state.

Here are a few photo links of some peat moss boxcars I observed:
And here are my peat moss boxcar observations by date, reporting marks, colour and CN train on:
Jun 30/01 HCSX 8001 blue on No 309
May 27/02 NADX 7011 brown on No 309
Aug 3/02 HCSX xxxx westbound
Aug 24/02 HCSX 8020 plus three others on No 308
Sep 21/02 HCSX 8001 
Sep 7/03 HLMX 86062 on No 309
Nov 2/03 HCSX 8028 on No 306
Apr 17/04 HCSX 8040
Jun 6/04 NADX and HCSX 86-footers on No 309
Jul 5/04 HCSX xxxx on No 306
Jul 11/04 four HCSX on No 309
Jul 15/04 HLMX and HCSX on No 309
Aug 7/04 HCSX 8036 blue on No 309
Nov 19/04 HLMX on No 309
Nov 25/04 HCSX on No 306
Feb 3/05 HCSX and ex-CP on No 309
Mar 11/05 HCSX 8029 on No 309
Apr 3/05 NADX 7014 orange, HLMX 86179 green, HCSX 8023 blue, HCSX 8027 blue, NADX 7020 orange, HLMX 86062 blue
Sep 3/05 HLMX green on No 309
Sep 9/05 WHCX 86016 ex-CP and four HCSX on No 309
Oct 1/05 HCSX 8039 blue, HLMX? 86177 on No 309
Oct 23/05 NADX 7005 and two others on No 309
Nov 6/05 HCSX 8015-8017 blue, HLMX 86089 on No 309
Nov 7/05 WHCX 86014 ex-CP
Mar 11/06 NADX 7018-7019 ex-AA, HLMX 86114 ex-L&N on No 309
Mar 24/06 HCSX 8043 red, WHCX 86005, HCSX 8003 blue on No 308 and HLMX 86173 blue, HCSX 8012 blue on No 309
Mar 25/06 HLMX 86072 blue on No 308
May 22/06 HCSX 8025 blue, HLMX 86186-86174 blue and NADX 7005 brown on No 309
Jun 3/06 HLMX 86011 red-HLMX 86136 blue on No 309
Jul 1/06 HCSX 8010 ex-B&O! blue 'Cushion Underframe' on No 309 
Jul 19/06 HLMX 86174 blue eastbound
Jan 28/07 HCSX 8014 blue, NADX 7011 red on No 309
Mar 4/07 NADX 7014 red, NADX 7013 brown, HLMX? 86036 blue on No 309
Sep 22/07 NADX 7009 brown, HCSX 8029 blue on No 309
Jan 11/08 HLMX 86181 orange on No 309
Mar 14/08 HCSX 8015-8017 blue on No 368
May 3/08 HLMX 86153 blue on No 309
Nov 4/08 HCSX xxxx on No 369

Nowadays the same car type is in use 2016 by Premier Horticulture in Carrot River, SK also for peat moss shipping. Saskatchewan Railways FB photo posted July 2016 showing PHRX 4794 (ex-Milwaukee Road) and 4787 there. Mark David Zulkoskey photo. Thanks, Mark! Interestingly, Dan Dell'Unto had photographed then-MILW 4794 at the north end of CP's Toronto yard in May, 2008 with other MILW and HLCX hi-cubes! PHRX 4792 is out there, too!

Running extra...

You can plant tubers in peat moss or you can be a Youtuber. Here are a few of my Youtube videos made during a recent sojourn to northern Ontario:

Trackside Treasure blog posts are like buses - there's always another one coming along. Ever-helpful Facebook Memories reminded me that I posted a photo of Kingston Transit bus 1253 one year ago. I would only take a bus photo at this location for one reason - I was picking up some pies at Pizza Hut. 
What are the chances that a year later I'd be taking part in Pizza Hut's 5 Bucks offer? This year it was KT's only non-Kingston Express NOVAbus 1502 at the same location at the Gardiners Town Centre transfer point: 
It's been three years since I became a charter daily Kingston Express commuter. The success of this service has led to 2016's debut of 10-minute peak service. And the buses are well-patronized. And 1253 is now advertising Diamond & Diamond injury lawyers in its flat-sided flanks!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Montreal-Vancouver Round Trip Trains, August 1968

Travelling along through time, this is the third post in a three-post series on our family's Montreal-Vancouver round trip aboard CN in August, 1968.  The scenic first post doubled as a Canada Day 2016 Trackside Treasure homage, and part two preserves some family photos of life aboard the train, stopovers and visits made along the route. All slides are taken by my father, L.C. Gagnon (unless you notice he's in a photo!) and scanned by my brother Dave. Some italicized passages are taken from a trip account typed by my mother. Prior to departure at Central Station (top photo) , Capreol (below). Our itinerary was:
  • Aug 5/68 CN No 105 Panorama depart Montreal 2315
  • Aug 6/68 CN No 105 met Toronto section Capreol 1005, meet No 2 1100
  • Aug 7/68 CN No 105 arrive Winnipeg stopover 0900
  • Aug 7/68 CN No 5 Panorama depart Winnipeg 1815
  • Aug 8/68 CN No 5 at Edmonton 0920
  • Aug 8/68 CN No 5 arrive Jasper stopover 1445
  • Aug 9/68 CN No 1 Super Continental depart Jasper 2005
  • Aug 10/68 CN No 1 arrive Vancouver 1210
  • Aug 20/68 CN No 2 Super Continental depart Vancouver 2040
  • Aug 22/68 CN No 2 arrive Winnipeg 1200
  • Aug 23/68 CN No 2 split Toronto section Capreol 1100
  • Aug 23/68 CN No 2 arrive Dorval 2045 
August 6 morning in Capreol. CN 4132-4149 led out of Montreal with steam generator unit:
"At such stops as Capreol, wagons of ice streaming with water on account of the heat, were pulled out by tractors. Oil was waiting by the tracks for lubrication. There was a big sign by the station with a map on it boasting the attractions of Capreol, and noting its distance from Montreal - 425 mi. - and from Winnipeg - 1000+ miles."
CN No 2 arrives (above) and we are passing Winnipeg's Transcona shops the next morning, August 7:
Another early morning arrival, this one in Edmonton August 8:
Express cars at the station (above) and CN 6510 leading two other units during refuelling:
Looking west during station stop at Edmonton:

Edmonton yard switching
The Canadian across the river approaching Vancouver on August 10.
 "The hills became higher and treed - more and bushier evergreens, and what looked like maples with huge leaves. We had a race with the CPR's silver "Canadian" train, on the embankment on the other side of the river."
Vancouver CN yards, likely at Port Mann:
 Car tour of Vancouver. Steam tender, SD, Geep and F plus robot car CPR Drake Street after our arrival on August 10:
"While we were in the dome car, a special coach put on through the mountains from Jasper which had a rounded ceiling made entirely of glass except for a central strip. The steward, waiting in the aisle for the right moment, announced "Hell's Gate" and we saw away down below us the river boiling through a narrow gorge. I have noticed in my book that we passed through six or eight tunnels that morning on our mountain-hugging course."
Stopped Sceneramic at Mount Robson outlook returning east on August 21. This location is still used in VIA promotional material.
"We spent the morning in the dome car but were frustrated in our mountain-viewing by the clouds and fog draping them. The train stopped at Mount Robson, the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies, and Laurie hopped off to take a picture." Refuelling at Jasper on August 21:
A 'breeding pair' of Sceneramics at Jasper - I've never seen a photo of two Sceneramics together before!
Train on curve east of Jasper:
Meeting a CN westbound east of Winnipeg. Steve Lucas wrote rhapsodically about this CN track.

Sioux Lookout servicing stop on August 22 with CN 6531 in lead. We meet the westbound Super led by CN 6521 with icing platform at right:
Meeting westbound freight on curve, northern Ontario August 23:

Running extra...

This concludes our three-part 1968 trip account series. Though my brother scanned many more slides, these are the 'highlights' I selected to share with Trackside Treasure readers. Nearly a full decade before VIA, more than a decade after CN and CP's massive investments in passenger equipment that VIA would inherit, at the tail end of CN promotion of passenger travel. A unique time to travel across our great country. Now we are on the eve of VIA's 49th anniversary.