Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Ontar-eye-O, Part 3
I've previously talked about seeing the Windsor VIA Rail station and the Essex train station at night, and also missing VIA, the abandoned CASO sub and the Essex train station in the evening. This time I'll show the little train station in Leamington, Ontario as well as the VIA train I actually did see.
So, Leamington. It's a nice little city on Lake Erie, kind of midway between Windsor and Chatham in longitude but south of both of them. It has no railway service any more, but it used to be served by the Canada Southern Railway as well as the Pere Marquettte.
I don't claim to be any kind of expert on Ontario railways. From what I've gleaned the Pere Marquette merged with the Chesapeake and Ohio in 1947. The C and O merged into CSX in 1987. The PM's Canadian line ran from Windsor south and then east through Leamington to a point just south of Chatham, then on to St. Thomas where they had their servicing facilities (map). This line was removed in 1997 as far as I can tell. There's lots of good reading at the Pere Marquette Historical Society site. The Pere Marquette station was quite nice.. here's a 1977 photo and a 1987 photo, both taken by Bruce Mercer.
Leamington was also served by a 13.8 mile spur from Comber on the CN Caso sub, completed in 1887 by the Canada Southern Railway. The Canada Southern ended up being acquired by the Michigan Central Railway. At one point it was owned by Penn Central, and eventually it was owned by Conrail. I believe CN and CP ended up buying the Canadian portions of Conrail in 1983. The train station I saw in Leamington was on the Leamington spur, and is quite modest compared to the old Pere Marquette station that no longer exists. The spur used to serve the large Heinz factory in Leamington and I believe it reached past that to Lake Erie.
There's a photo of a Penn Central caboose in front of the station here.
Here's the back side of the station. It's a shame it is fenced in but there are plans to refurbish it. The station is a registered Historic Place.
Other than the station, the only sign of railways I saw in Leamington were a few rails embedded in the pavement near the Heinz factory, complete with crossing signs.
There was apparently also an electric railway from Windsor to Leamington!
On my last day in southern Ontario, I had some time in Windsor before my flight, so I went to the VIA station to shoot VIA #78. I knew that train 73 would have come in and needed to be turned before going back to Toronto as #78. It turns out they turn it somewhere east of Windsor, as I saw the train backing into the station with a crewman protecting the movement.
This was really the first time I was able to see LRC cars in detail.
The consist was VIA 6426, VIA 3465, VIA 3303, VIA 3364, and VIA 3368. VIA 3465 is an LRC club car and the rest are LRC coaches.
I was standing beside the new station when I shot this one.
After I finished taking these shots, then relocated to George Avenue to shoot them at the crossing there. There is lots of evidence that the Chatham subdivision used to be double-track, and there are still many rails in the grass with switches to nowhere. I shot VIA #78 just as it came onto the main line, with the skyscrapers of Detroit looming in the background.
After that I switched lenses and shot video. I had plenty of time because the train wasn't very fast until it entered CTC territory beside me.
That was fun. One more post from Southern Ontario featuring the old steam engine and train station in Windsor.
ADDENDUM: Found this great site listing some old railway timetables in text form. It includes the following Leamington branches: Penn Central, New York Central, Michigan Central, Conrail, Chesapeake and Ohio, and even the electric Windsor, Essex and Lake Shore Railway. Note that many of those listings are for the same piece of track, owned by different rail companies.