Friday, November 21, 2014

Facebook Groups to Watch

Several years ago, the best way to keep informed of rail happenings was to subscribe to email lists. Those lists are still around, but a lot of the traffic has moved to Facebook groups. I think there are a few reasons for this:

  1. More people are on Facebook now, especially older railfans
  2. You can share photos easily
  3. Mobile access to Facebook is easy so you're informed quickly
  4. They are very interactive and anyone can post*
* one exception, see below

I'm a member of a number of Facebook rail-related groups and I wanted to share those with you.

  • RailsNB covers New Brunswick and is very active with almost 500 members.
  • RailsMBSK covers the Manitoba-Saskatchewan scene and has become very useful to me and other Prairie railfans.
  • RailsAB for the Alberta scene was recently created and is growing quickly.
  • AtlanticRails (covering the Atlantic provinces) is not quite as active but sees pretty good traffic.
  • Canadian Railway Observations is a huge group with a lot of postings per day.
  • Vanishing Sentinels covers the Canadian grain elevator scene and has some great 'vator photos. The dean of Canadian elevators, Jim A Pearson, is frequently present and in fact this group was originally to support his web site.
  • The Canadian HO Yard Sale is a great venue to buy/sell model train equipment in Canada.
These are the ones I follow. There are many, many others that are on Facebook that you could follow. I tend to prefer the more focused groups over generic groups like "All Railroad Photos" but your tastes may vary.

Anyone can start a Facebook group. I started RailsMBSK and cofounded RailsAB.

I hope these groups (or others) prove useful to you. If you like other Facebook rail groups that I haven't listed, please comment and link to them so I and others can have a look at them!

PS - I'd be remiss if I didn't plug my own Facebook site, Traingeek Images. It's up to 130 subscribers and growing. I post a photo a day and sometimes a couple. Please consider "liking" it. Thanks!

* the exception is Canadian Railway Observations where only the host, William Baird, can post. The CRO Facebook group is directly linked to his paid product, the Canadian Railway Observations newsletter, so Mr. Baird is the only poster in the group. That's his choice and I just wanted to mention it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Negotiations and Love Songs

It's a great album.

We had a little family trip to Saskatchewan back at the end of August / beginning of September, 2012. I negotiated a few hours of railfanning on the morning of September 2, so I hit the road at sunrise to get as much railfanning as I could in before my time was up. The sunrise was so awesome that I didn't even reach the end of the driveway before I started taking pictures.

Anyway, I finally did get moving. We were staying in Pense, SK just west of Regina.
Pense, SK
After photographing the grain elevator (again), I decided to head west to Moose Jaw and see what was up in the yard. I didn't see anything moving on the line and I started circling the yard, shooting as I went.

There was the usual collection of SD40-2s, AC4400CWs, and so forth, as well as long-time resident SW1200 CP 1251.
CP 1251 in Moose Jaw, SK

You can view all the engines I saw in Moose Jaw here.

On the west side of the shop buildings, CP 1536 and CP 1554 were shunting some tank cars whilst a CP freight was sitting in the yard.
CP 1536 in Moose Jaw

There was quite a collection of locomotives parked on the west side of the shops. I believe this is where locomotives go to die... or at least wait for repair.

I photographed this odd Viterra elevator in Moose Jaw. I assume the giant concrete structure was built after the wooden annex but I really don't know.

I left the immediate downtown area and started spiraling out, in search of elevators and anything else I hadn't photographed before. I found this Viterra concrete monstrosity west of town.

I found a place where a CP line crosses over CN.

The crossing is mile 42.02 on the CN Central Butte subdivision.

Note the Cargill grain elevator in the distance. That's where the CN line goes, and ends. The CP line is the CP Outlook subdivision.

I started to head back to Pense after that. I had a bit of time and remembered that the Canadian Trackside Guide mentioned a caboose at Pasqua, so I took the time to stop there. Pasqua is where the CP Weyburn subdivision diverges from the CP Indian Head subdivision and heads southeast to the US border.

I found the caboose easily enough - together with a decrepit train station.

I'd say the caboose was in better shape than the station appeared to be. The station is not original to Pasqua but was moved there quite a few years ago.

The caboose is clearly ex-CN as the "wet noodle" is visible under the cupola.

There was another caboose in Pasqua... a maintenance-of-way crummy.
CP 434646 and cars were parked on the beginning of the Weyburn subdivision.

PS - Here's quite a few photos of the near ghost town of Pasqua, by Mike Stobbs.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Disposition of ex-NBEC RS-18 Locomotives

This is what I believe happened to the RS-18 locomotives owned by the New Brunswick East Coast Railway as well as its sister company, the Ottawa Central Railway. After CN purchased the Quebec Railway Corporation's assets in late 2008, the RS-18s were retired and most met the scrapper's torch.

NBEC 1809 - scrapped May 2009
NBEC 1813 - scrapped summer 2009
NBEC 1814 - scrapped summer 2009
OCRR 1815 - scrapped
NBEC 1816 - scrapped summer 2009
NBEC 1818 - scrapped summer 2009
NBEC 1819 - to Gaspé Railway Company
NBEC 1821 - to Le Massif de Charlevoix
OCRR 1828 - scrapped
NBEC 1830 - scrapped June 2009
NBEC 1834 - scrapped June 2009
NBEC 1835 - to Chemin de fer Charlevoix, then to Adirondack Scenic RR
NBEC 1840 - scrapped summer 2009
NBEC 1841 - ??
OCRR 1842 - to Trillium Railway
NBEC 1845 - to Adirondack Scenic RR
OCRR 1846 - scrapped
NBEC 1849 - to l'Amiral cruise train
NBEC 1851 - scrapped summer 2009
NBEC 1853 - ??
NBEC 1854 - scrapped summer 2009
NBEC 1855 - scrapped June 2009
NBEC 1856 - to Gaspé Railway Company
NBEC 1857 - ??
NBEC 1858 - scrapped
NBEC 1859 - to Trillium Railway (out of service)
OCRR 1865 - to Gaspé Railway Company
NBEC 1866 - scrapped?
NBEC 1867 - scrapped fall 2009
NBEC 1868 - to Le Massif de Charlevoix
CFQC 3000 - to Compagnie du chemin de fer Lanaudière

Please contact me with any updates or corrections.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thoughts on the Sanford Grain Elevator

I put a call out for guest posts on my mailing list, and Glen aka "The Busman" offered up his post on the Sanford grain elevator. I appreciated that, but since it's not a new post, I decided to quote from it and offer up my own commentary and photos in addition to Glen's.

Glen lives near Sanford and observed the sad state of Sanford's single grain elevator back in the spring of 2011.
I was driving aimlessly around our town today, small little town that it is, when I looked at our lone grain elevator and saw what sad shape it is in. Did this just happen over the winter, or has it been like this for years. Like this elevator aged 30 years overnight. Yet I see it everyday! Sort of like seeing a friend that you haven't seen in ages and your first glance makes you do a double take, " Man has that guy gotten older or what.?"
He wrote a great post on it showing the deterioration of the exterior of the elevator, plus a few glimpses of the interior as it was open to the elements.

Well, I'm not one to refuse an open door invitation as it were, so a quick look over the shoulder, all's clear, and in I went. Spooky is the first thing that comes to mind. Even though it is daylight and bright sunshine outside....eery shadows and diffused sunlight combine to set the stage for a Stephen King Horror flick. Old grain lying about, spider webs hung just right, real good movie scene props in here.
There are some great interior views on his blog. I found it very interesting that the elevator has two elevating legs.
Glen's photo

The Sanford elevator was built by the Manitoba Pool in 1948.

I photographed the elevator for the first time in January 2010 when chasing a CEMR train. At the time I didn't realize there was an elevator in Sanford so I shot the train north of Sanford. After seeing the elevator in the distance, I rushed to Sanford and photographed the train by the elevator.

You can see that a lot of the aluminum siding was missing at that time.

Fast forward to 2014... Glen emailed me to warn me that the elevator might be torn down, so I drove out to take my photos when I could.

This side didn't look so bad...

Check out the other side, though.

That's quite a large hole in the annex. Also note how much more of the siding had fallen off in the 4 years since I last photographed it.

Glen contacted me later to say that the elevator was being repaired, not torn down! I was so glad to hear that. I took the kids out and we had a look at the work in progress. Glen updated his post as well to show the work.

You might recall I chased a CEMR train to Sanford at the end of last month.

In these days of elevators being torn down (Carey came down recently, and the elevator row in Warner AB was reduced by two last week) it is gratifying to see some elevators are being maintained and repaired.

I'll let Glen have the last word. Thanks for the article, Glen! Please go read his blog at - it's good!
Word has it they are returning next year to complete the work and rebuild a gaping structural hole on the east side and then re skin as well. Someone suggested they should turn this elevator into a museum and community space, similar to what they did to the elevator in the town of Plum Coulee in southern Manitoba. Either way, I'm glad the elevator will continue to stand guard over our little town for years to come.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

CP Combined Holiday Train Passed Through Winnipeg

As you probably know, the CP Holiday Train runs each year to raise food and funds for local food banks across Canada and the USA. I've seen it twice here in Winnipeg and I hope to see it again on December 3rd when it passes through.

The equipment is kept in Calgary and needs to be moved to Montreal to begin the journey. A little birdie told me on Friday, November 14th that the combined Canada-USA train was outside Portage la Prairie at noon waiting for CN 302 to pass before it could proceed east. I had some time so I jumped in the car and headed for the CP main line to try to catch it.

I knew it was probably an hour's travel from Portage to Winnipeg and I ended up approaching the CP Carberry subdivision at 1 PM, so I was cutting it fairly close. As it happened, there was a CP container train rolling east so I photographed that.
One locomotive? No problem!

I was a bit concerned that I had already missed the Holiday Train. I waited a few minutes then proceeded westward toward Meadows. I sighted the grain elevator at Meadows and noted a headlight beside it. As the train and I converged, it was clear that this was in fact the Holiday Train. I pulled over and photographed it.

The first 10 cars and the first 4 passenger cars are the US train, and the rest are the Canadian train. The train was pulled by two of CP's shiny "new" GP20C-ECO engines, CP 2246 and CP 2249. I understand one will power each train, although there is some question of whether one GP20 will be able to haul the train through the Rockies by itself.

You can see that the locomotives are already decorated with the lights. I assume they will have a wreath on the nose like CP 9815 always did.

After photographing them once, I sped off to try to get them again. I captured this long-distance shot of the whole train just west of Rosser.

Thank goodness for the wide open views of the Prairies!

I got ahead of them east of Rosser and photographed them again, this time shooting every car to be sure of the consist.

I think this next car is a generator car to provide power for the train and especially all the lights.

Here's a little photo showing the connection between cars. You can see a power cable in addition to the usual brake hose connection.

The next car is one of the stage cars. Musicians perform at every stop. The giant silver door folds down and becomes the stage. The musicians stay on the train between stops, which is why the passenger cars are required.

The ERNEST "SMOKY" SMITH, VC car. You should read up on "Smoky" or "Smokey". He was the last living Canadian to be awarded a Victoria Cross. He died in 2005.

The MOUNT ROYAL, a sleeper, I believe.


The VAN HORNE brought up the rear.

Just for reference, here's what the VAN HORNE looked like in 2011 when lit up at night.

I decided to get them one more time before giving up the chase, so I positioned myself east of the Viterra grain elevator at CP Makwa and also set up my "video camera" aka Canon S3. Here I switched to my wider-angle lens to get a broader view of the train.

That was it for the Holiday Train for now. I hope you enjoyed the photos!

PS here is the full consist.
CP 2246
CP 2249
CP 220305
CP 220009
CP 220592
CP 220219
CP 220127
CP 220300
CP 424959
CP 424977
CP 401754
CP 401750
CP 220031
CP 220332
CP 220037
CP 220476
CP 220225
CP 220451
CP 220458
CP 220508
CP 42901

Friday, November 14, 2014

NBEC 1821

In my recent survey, someone posted they liked MLW locomotives and would like to see more. For those who don't know, MLW was the Montreal Locomotive Works, originally a subsidiary of the American Alco company and later owned by Bombardier. Alco/MLW engines are revered by many railfans for the smoke they produced as well as a certain sound the diesel engines made.

My personal exposure to MLW engines comes from two main sources: the former New Brunswick East Coast Railway's extensive roster of MLW locomotives and the Salem and Hillsborough Railroad's pair of MLW locomotives.

I've decided to feature NBEC 1821 in this post, as it was the NBEC RS-18 locomotive I happened to see the most, and also one of the two NBEC locomotives I saw first.

I first saw NBEC 1821 on July 5, 1999 in Miramichi (Chatham) paired up with NBEC 1866. I took some truly bad photos of the pair of them at sunset.
Well before I learned how to pan
These were the among the very first railfan photos I ever took. The very first ones I took were on May 3, 1999 I believe.
The best of the lot
If you're familiar with the area, you can see that the latter photo shows them crossing Water Street in Chatham in front of the Lafarge facility.

I didn't see 1821 again until January 9, 2001 when she was paired up with 1840 and 1864 for local switching. By then I think my film camera was broken so I really had nothing to photograph with.

The next photo I have of NBEC 1821 dates from July 22, 2003 when I was using the 1 megapixel digital camera in my Sony DCR-TRV25 video camera. I still hadn't learned to stand on the sun side of the train.

I'll take a moment to explain what type of locomotive NBEC 1821 was. MLW produced a series of locomotives designated RS-18 (Road Switcher 1800 horsepower). It was essentially the Canadian version of the Alco RS-11. CN bought the vast majority of the RS-18s (225) and ran them long-hood forward, while CP bought 72 and ran them short-hood forward. The PG and E (which became BC Rail) bought 29 and various resource railways bought a few each. All of these were delivered with high short hoods like CP 8743 here (Greg Brewer slide):
CP 8743 in Fredericton, slide by Greg Brewer
NBEC 1821 was built as CP 8741 in April 1957. It soldiered on for years until 1984 when it was rebuilt, the short hood was cut down, and it was renumbered to CP 1821. It continued in service on CP until the New Brunswick East Coast Railway bought it in April 1998.

OK, moving on. My next photo of NBEC 1821 was from October 6, 2003 in the Miramichi yard. 1821 was paired up with NBEC 1849 and was nicely parked in the sun.
Still only a 1 megapixel photo
I next photographed it down at the port of Miramichi on January 8, 2004, doing some switching with leading engine NBEC 1814.

Note the long string of BCOL and CN boxcars. This was after the CN-BC Rail deal was announced...

Later that month I photographed it and 1814 in the Miramichi yard on January 28, 2004. I was taking some detail photos, I guess.

Note the class lights above the number boards, the bell mounted right in the middle, the red safety stripes (some of NBEC's engines had black stripes) and the "NBEC" painted over the CP in "CP Rail".

On February 18, 2004 she was paired up with NBEC 1867 as yard power in Miramichi. The yard power tended to change fairly frequently as they went back to Campbellton for servicing and reassignment. The only constant seemed to be that black NBEC 1857 stayed close to Campbellton most of the time.
Hadn't really mastered night photography...
My next photograph of NBEC 1821 was taken on March 29, 2006 and here I have a different camera! The Fuji FinePix A210 was/is a 3 megapixel camera and takes decent photos as long as nothing is moving.. kind of like today's smartphone cameras.
So much better quality
Here 1821 was coupled up to derelict NBEC 4219 and 4243, locomotives used for parts. They were apparently moved to Miramichi for final scrapping and languished in the back of the yard for months before finally meeting their doom.

Next we fast forward to May 28, 2007 with NBEC 1821 at the head of an empty ore train in Bathurst, NB. You'll note yard power NBEC 1845 to the left and a string of blue ore cars to the right.
Finally, NOT Miramichi!
By this time I was using my Canon S3.

Here's a video from 2007 featuring three RS-18s including 1821 in Bathurst, pushing some ore cars back across Golf Road.

A few months later I was photographing the loaded ore train in Bathurst from the St. Anne Street overpass on September 14, 2007.
Ready to roll!
I took video of this train leaving. THIS is why people love Alcos... that chugging noise.

I chased this train... I caught it on a curve at Madran on its way to the smelter in Belledune.

A little pop of fall colours..
My next photo of NBEC 1821 was at Belledune on February 21, 2008.. apparently it was cold as there is some fog on the lens.

Note the black box behind the cab. This is new and I believe NBEC 1821 was one of the engines to get retrofitted with smart start but I could be wrong. 1821 was behind two SD40 engines on the main line train. For some reason I was back to using the Fuji camera on this trip so the resolution is not as good.

I saw 1821 again the next day (February 22) in Bathurst by the station.

I didn't know it but NBEC 1821 had less than a year of operation before she would no longer grace these rails. In fact, I would see it only for three more months.

Here's a Bathurst video from the spring of 2008 featuring NBEC 1821 and 1819.

Here it was on May 26, 2008, the last time I saw it. It was on the empty ore train, heading out of Bathurst toward Brunswick Mines.

But 1821's story doesn't end there. My friend David Morris photographed it in Gaspe meeting the Chaleur on December 2008, after CN bought the NBEC and its sister railways back.
Photo by David Morris
Michel Boudreau caught it in Bathurst, NB on February 7, 2009, paired up with a CN GP40, presumably on the ore train.
Photo by Michel Boudreau
But that still isn't the end of 1821.

It was purchased by the railroad of Le Massif de Charlevoix (together with NBEC 1868) and pulls the tourist train in Quebec.

Still operating, after 57 years. Not too shabby.