Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Prairie Dog Central Railway


The Prairie Dog Central Railway is a tourist railroad located near Winnipeg, Manitoba. The train leaves from Inkster Junction, on Inkster Boulevard in the northwest part of Winnipeg, and travels almost 30 km through the community of Grosse Isle to Warren, Manitoba. At Warren, the engine runs around the train while the passengers disembark to enjoy the local community market.


I took this train on July 24, 2004 with my son and my father-in-law. We arrived at Inkster Boulevard a little early so we could look around before boarding the train. I saw two CN locomotives in a field near the station, so we drove over to photograph them. A crew member came out and invited us into the engines. It turns out that they were going to switch the nearby grain elevator, after the rest of the crew returned from lunch. We chatted for a few minutes, then the rest of the crew arrived. The engineer invited my son to sit in his seat and drive the loco up to the Prairie Dog station! Nick was thrilled to push the throttle to notch 1 then 2, and blow the horn when we crossed Inkster. The engineer applied the brakes and we hopped out of the engine onto the station platform, just like it was a normal way to arrive. My son still talks about this experience.

We got our tickets from the smart little station and boarded the train. It left pretty much on time, for a slow and rocking journey down the line. The area is pretty much flat and open, and we were fortunate to have a very nice day for a train ride.


The power for the train was diesel 4138. The railway has a steam engine but it has been under repair for quite a while.

There were five cars and a caboose on the train. I think four of the five passenger cars are essentially the same, with the head-end car being a combine.


The train stops briefly in Grosse Isle, where some local people sell items out of their car trunks. I think we had an ice cream there. At Warren, the train stops for about half an hour while the engine runs down the line to a wye, turns, then runs around the train and couples onto the rear. There is a little market there with some performers and food - very enjoyable.


Once the train returned to the Inkster Junction station, the engine was uncoupled and turned on the wye before running around the passenger cars. I was fortunate to be in the cab for this operation... very interesting.

I intend to chase the train the next time I'm in Winnipeg. I think it will be quite simple, as Highway 6 parallels the track quite closely all the way from the station to Warren.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience and I recommend it highly for anyone visiting Winnipeg.

All photos

Visit the Prairie Dog Central web site

Monday, December 29, 2008

NBEC SD40s Still At Work

NBEC69 taped three ex-QRC SD40 units leading the train through Rimouski, Quebec in the morning of Saturday December 27. NBEC 6901, CFMG 6906 and NBEC 6905 provided the power.


In the afternoon at mile 124.62 near Rimouski, with very dramatic noise:

Night Video of NBSR

Dave Dineen got out to tape NBSR 2317 West in the dark and wet last night. It had 2317, 2610, 2318, and 9801 pulling 58 cars.

Friday, December 26, 2008

NB Southern Vacation


Just for your information, the New Brunswick Southern Railway is not running any mainline freight trains until Sunday night, and they will have another break from Wednesday afternoon until Friday night next week. I'm glad they get to have a break to spend with their families.

A CP Christmas Card

Brian Barchard sent along this very nice winter photo of CP 1848 and 1832 in South Devon, Fredericton. Thanks, Brian!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Christmas TreeBest wishes to you and your families over the holiday season. Keep safe and warm and surround yourself with those you love.

I will be back with a "year in review" post and all the rail news you've come to expect. Thank you for reading and commenting. I really appreciate the support.

This post was pre-recorded. I expect I will be watching the kids open presents when this post is sent.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chaleur Turning

As has become usual, the Chaleur's route is shortened due to track conditions. The train is apparently operating between Matapedia and New Carlisle with busing from there to Gaspe. VIA Rail Release

Chipman

There's a nice little article on the Chipman railway station / library in the Daily Gleaner. The library is on the site of the former CP station. I wish I had a photo of it! Maybe next time I'm in Chipman...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

MLWs in Ontario

Dan D caught the five ex-NBEC C424 units and NBEC 1840 on CN 149 through Brampton, Ontario on December 17.

See the video

The consist of the head end was CN 5769, 2273, and 2401 with NBEC 4214, SFEX 4204, SFEX 4203, NBEC 4210, SFEX 4202 and NBEC 1840. As I reported, they left Campbellton on December 10.

Smurfit Stone Plow

Chris Mears sent me some photos of the snowplow that Smurfit Stone used to own in Bathurst. These were taken back in August 2006, when the mill was shut down but before the plow was taken away. Thanks, Chris!

The snowplow is ex-CN 55121, built in 1916 by CC&F as CGR 295542.











Here's a photo I took of it back in July 2002.

Friday, December 19, 2008

CP 1814

Brian Barchard, another Alco-MLW fan, sent along this photo of CP 1814: "Here is a photo I shot of 1814, April 29th, 1989, at MP 37 of the Gibson Sub., near Stone Ridge, leading 1842, with 21 cars.......9 for Florenceville and 12 for Nackawic."
CP 1814, Stone Ridge, NB. Photo by Brian Barchard

Compare that to this Greg Brewer photo of CP 1814 in Devon on the north side of Fredericton, in January 1984.
CP 1814, Devon. Photo by Greg Brewer

1814 eventually joined the NBEC, becoming NBEC 1814. Who knows what it will become now that NBEC has been purchased by CN?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

NBEC-CN Videos

The NBEC/CFMG SD40 units are still running on the mainline freights on the former Quebec Railway Corporation territories. Here are two videos from NBEC69 and one from David Chiasson. First, NBEC69's videos.

On Sunday December 7, CFMG 6903, NBEC 6905 and CN 5260 ran through Rimouski.


The same units again, in a different location.


Finally, because I love them so much, here's David's video showing NBEC RS-18s 1866 and 1814 powering the ore train through Nepisiguit Junction back on May 6, 2007. Listen to the squeal of metal on metal as they go through the curve!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Old Gaspé Ad

I won an old Canadian National Railways (CNR) ad on eBay recently, and it arrived yesterday. The ad is for "French Canada's romantic Gaspé - Just like a trip abroad"
Gaspé Ad
The ad copy reads:
Towering cliffs thrusting into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Fishing hamlets tucked into snug harbors. Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island, famed bird sanctuary, rising sheer from the sea (above)... Let us arrange your 550-mile conducted motor tour around the Gaspé Peninsula. You'll discover why people return to this magic spot year after year. Plan your trip now; ask your nearest Canadian National office or Travel Agent about this, or the other Top Vacations listed. "We'll tell you where and take you there."

Just for interest's sake, "Canada's 10 Top Maple Leaf Vacations" were:
1. Across Canada
2. Alaska Cruise
3. British Columbia
4. Eastern Cities and Laurentians
5. Hudson Bay
6. Jasper in the Canadian Rockies
7. Minaki (Lake of the Woods)
8. Ontario Highlands
9. Provinces by the Sea
10. Romantic French Canada

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interview

I was interviewed by CBC New Brunswick today about our Fredericton train station. You can read more about it here on the Fredericton Station blog. There is a video link there that is active until tomorrow evening.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

CN Near Edmundston

Reader Yan Bosse sent in some photos of a westbound CN train yesterday (Saturday Dec. 13) at Siegas, NB (near St. Leonard) and at Rivière-Verte nearing Edmundston. The train had CN 2276, 5683 and 2632. I would guess by the time (around 13:30) and the freight cars that it was CN 305.

First, near Siegas.


Next, at Rivière-Verte.


Thanks for sending those!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Salmon River Trestle in Winter


Al in Vancouver sent me a couple of winter photos of CN's Salmon River trestle in New Denmark, near Grand Falls. Here is his description.

My Visit to NB's Most Impressive Railway Site



I grew up in Saint John, Campbellton and Fredericton during the 1960's and 1970's then moved away to the west coast. I thought I knew something about trains in NB but then I discovered Steve's site and have been hooked ever since. One thing that surprised me was the Salmon River trestle - I saw a photo and could not believe it was in NB !!

I return to NB occasionally to visit family in Fredericton, so I have been looking for a chance to go see this structure. Earlier this month, the opportunity arose and I saw it in person for the first time. Let me tell you... photos cannot portray the scale of this trestle! You need to see it in person!

I think the route I took was a good way to experience it... I took Foley Rd. north off Hwy 108 at New Denmark. Less than a km up the hill, just before the railway crossing, is the Valhalla Restaurant. It serves awesome home cooked food and has some historic photos of the New Denmark station circa 1939 as well as CNR 5527 Type Pacific 4-6-2 Hand Fired Passenger Engine that apparently was used on the Moncton - Edmundston run. The restaurant is in an old building which I believe is shown in another old photo with some rolling stock.

Looking south along the tracks I could see an impressive trestle less than a km from the crossing, which at first glance I thought might be the Salmon River trestle.

I continued north along Foley Rd. It wasn't long before I was greeted with my first vista of the (unmistakeable) Salmon River trestle. A picture is worth a thousand words but I have to say you need to see it in person.

I continued down to the right, then left and across the Salmon River at a single lane army bridge, then left again and eventually passed under the trestle. All along the route are nice vistas - this is beautiful country.

If you have never seen this in person, I draw your attention to the size of the telephone poles in the photos.... this gives an idea of the scale. It is deceptive to judge scale by various buildings in the photos as some are huge barns that look like small houses from a distance.

It is a little off the beaten path (Trans Canada Hwy) but well worth the trip. I'd like to return in summer and stay at a B&B in the area.

My only regret is that I did not spot any trains during my visit. This will be my excuse to go back! I periodically remind Steve to give me a heads up on any Via diversion over the Napadogan sub. I would love to ride over this trestle; adding this to the memories of wigwags in Moncton and Campbellton during the 1960's, my cab ride up the Matapedia Valley in the early 1970's to 8mm movie and my RDC ride into Fredericton station during the early 1980's.

Happy Holidays and all the best for 2009.

Al in Vancouver

PS Steve here - you may wish to read my post Bridges of Victoria County for more information on this and nearby bridges.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Propane for the Gaspe?

I found an article in this morning's Le Soleil about a potential project in the Gaspe peninsula. My French is not good, but it appears that NGL Supply and Gaz Propane Rainville are looking at putting a propane terminal in Sandy Beach. This is basically at the end of the Gaspe rail line in the town of Gaspe, where port facilities already exist.

It looks like it will be headed to an environmental assessment, for implementation in 2010-2011.

The article talks about traffic of about 3,000 rail cars per year, which would be great for the line.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Joel Chases the NB Southern

Joel Scott posted a few videos of his NB Southern chase on Saturday December 6.

First, NBSR 9801 East through Harvey Station with GP38 units 9801, 2319, 2317, and 2610 and 31 cars.


He caught it again near Vespra, west of Tracy.

The C-424s Are Gone

SFEX 4204, Miramichi
Nicolas Kiss reported the five functional MLW C-424s left Campbellton last night on CFMG train 403, for CN's Woodcrest shops in Illinois. Those were CFQC 4202, SFEX 4203, SFEX 4204, NBEC 4210, and NBEC 4214.
CFQC 4202, Miramichi
The dead units are still in place and are to be scrapped where they are. That includes NBEC 4219 and NBEC 4243 in Miramichi, and NBEC 4235 in Campbellton.
NBEC 4214, Miramichi
The end of an era... sigh. I remember that there was often one C424 in Miramichi paired with an RS18, working the yard. 4210 and 4230 in particular were regular workers there, and I saw them many times.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gaspe Line Back in Service

Westbound Chaleur on the Gaspe Peninsula
Radio-Canada article. Since the washout of November 9 the Chaleur has been turning at New Carlisle, I believe. CBC Radio-Canada is reporting the line is back in service all the way to Gaspe. Hopefully it will stay open for quite a while before the next washout. ;)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Spoke Too Soon

I may have spoken a bit too soon, when I said there are no Alcos running on the NBEC any more. This video of NBEC train 403 leaving Bathurst yesterday puts the lie to that.

MLW RS-18 NBEC 1819 and SD40 NBEC 6901 led the train north out of Bathurst.

However, you can see that GP40s have replaced the RS18s on the Belledune-Brunswick Mines run.

CN 9402, 9461 and 9513 provided the power.

So, maybe I should modify my statement - no Alcos are regularly scheduled to run. For now. ;)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Three Hours at McGivney

Matt invited me to go up to McGivney early this morning prior to going to the Fredericton model train show. I thought this was a great idea, and hit the road at the wee hour of 05:41. Precisely 40 minutes later I was pulling up next to Matt's car.

The signals were green over red facing east and we were expecting CN 121 at any moment. We spoke for a few minutes and then we heard the rumble of approaching engines. At 06:30 CN 121 blew through with 4 engines leading 103 cars.


My video camera has a night shot mode. If you look at Matt's video, you can see a slight difference from mine, but I wouldn't say it made a huge difference. It's still dark!

After that, we retired to my car and I bored him with photo albums. ;) At about 07:30 a CN hi-railer pulled up and the crew went into the depot. Normally the MOW crew only works Monday-Friday, but new this winter CN will have 7 days/week MOW coverage. Hopefully that will keep the trains on time!

Matt knew one of the sectionmen, and they were very friendly and told us we should expect CN 305 after 09:00 and nothing after that for quite some time. A big shout out to Tim and Frank!

Sure enough, by 09:00 we were told CN 305 was past Bantalor. Matt and I set up in the field and waited, and at 09:05 they rolled past with CN 2655, 2569 and 5385 for power.


They had a very interesting load right behind 5385.

The crane is owned by Amherst Crane Rentals of Scarborough, Ontario.


I wanted to get a side shot since the sun was still low in the east, and by shooting fairly side-on the sun would not bother the video. I quite liked how it turned out with the glints off the cars.

Matt took a more oblique shot. I think his video is sharper than mine.


After 305 got the rollby inspection, the CN crew got on the rails and headed west.


Matt and I packed up, and headed for the train show. It was a good morning.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Farewell

NBEC 1821 on the Brunswick Mines-Belledune turn in Madran, NB
Nicolas Kiss reported today that NBEC train 402 left Campbellton at 09:30 hrs with CFMG 6903, NBEC 6901, CN 9402, CN 9513, and CN 9461. The CN units are GP40-2L(W), which will replace the RS18s on the Brunswick Mines-Belledune turn, and the Bathurst switcher.

This means there are no Alcos running on the NBEC any more. :(

History-minded railfans will note that GP40s used to be on the Brunswick Mines-Belledune turn, as evidenced by CN 9457 and 9548's presence on the runaway train of March 9, 1987.

CN on the Former CFMG

Young NBEC69 posted a few videos of CN engines on the former CFMG line. Here are CN SD75Is 5705 and 5703 leading the former CFMG freight through Rimouski on November 28.


Same engines, next day.


And for a "blast from the past" (very recent past), here is NBEC 6904 leading the freight through Rimouski on November 15.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

CDAC 40 at McAdam

Danny McCracken was kind enough to pass along a few winter photos of CDAC 40, a GP40 leased by NB Southern back in the late 1990s.

Here it is in McAdam on January 10, 1998 with ex-CP plow 401017.


On May 12, 1998 CDAC 40 was leading NBSR 3700, 3787 and 3735 at McAdam.


According to my records, CDAC 40 went off lease in 2003.

Thanks for sharing those, Danny!

NBEC - CN Update

Nicolas Kiss reports that SD75I units CN 5705 and 5703 have been the power on CFMG 402/403 for the past couple of days. He reported that CN 2660 brought a rail train into Campbellton just after midnight on Dec. 2.

Also, he said GP40-2L(W) CN 9513 was tucked in behind the two SD75Is early yesterday morning. Rumour has it that the GP40s will replace the RS18s on the Brunswick Mines - Belledune run.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Hammond River Bridge

Matt aka Saintjohnrailfan shot a nice video of CN 405 over the Hammond River bridge. I believe that's here in Nauwigewauk (say that 5 times fast).

Monday, December 01, 2008

NBEC Videos

David Chiasson has been posting some NBEC videos... get those Alcos while you can!

Here's NBEC 1835 at Nepisiguit Junction with the Bathurst local train 597.


Next, the ore train 586 at the first highway 430 crossing on the Nepisiguit Subdivision on September 10, 2008. The power was NBEC 1849 and NBEC 1821. The sunset on the side of the train is nice.


Finally, the ore train 586 at the second highway 430 crossing on the Nepisiguit Subdivision. The power was CFQC 3000, NBEC 1819 and NBEC 1849.


There aren't many chances to get video of the MLWs any more. I saw three RS18s in Belledune on Thursday but I didn't have a chance to take any shots.