Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grain Elevator at Meadows Print Special

Hi, I'm running a special on my Fine Art America page. This image of the grain elevator at Meadows, Manitoba at sunset is on sale. This is a stretched canvas print, ready to hang with all mounting hardware included.
Grain Elevator at Meadows

You can also have a look at the other prints I have for sale there. Thanks!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My First Trains of 2013

The first trains I saw in 2013 were on January 1, in the morning. I was returning from taking someone to the airport and stopped at the CN Rivers subdivision to see if anything was coming.

I went out to Diamond, and the west-facing lights were lit. TRAIN! I went out to the curve west of Diamond and it was not long before headlights were visible to the west. They turned out to be on CN 8920 leading an eastbound intermodal (with IC 2699 and CN 2242). I took a few shots on the curve and then hit the road.
CN 8920 in Winnipeg
Fortunately they had a LIMITED TO CLEAR signal to cross over to the north track, so that slowed them enough for me to get ahead of them after Diamond. I took a few shots from the side and then leap-frogged them again.
CN 8920 in Winnipeg
Note the heavy frost on these engines, on the nose and on the louvres.

Once more I got ahead of them and saw they were meeting a westbound. I tried to gauge the meet as best I could and hopped out to get the shot.
CN 2336 meets CN 8920 in Winnipeg
The westbound was another intermodal train, with CN 2336, CN 2537 and pusher CN 8811 on the rear. I processed this in black and white to show the frost.

I sped ahead of the westbound to get this shot right at mile 7. Nice wave from the conductor!
CN 2336 in Winnipeg

Again I was able to get ahead of the train, just before Diamond.
CN 2336 in Winnipeg

Much to my surprise I saw an eastbound freight west of Diamond. I "shot the meet".
CN 2291 and CN 2537

The intermodal had CN 8811 on the rear. Check out what is written in the grime between the engine numbers on 8811.
CN 8811 in Winnipeg
Yes, I'm 12 for noticing that and posting it. ;)

The eastbound freight sat there west of Diamond for quite a while, waiting for their light. I think it might have been CN 198 but I don't know for sure. The second unit was BCOL 4641 (in CN colours). After maybe half an hour they started up and crossed over to the north track.
CN 2291

I gave chase as usual. I got the next shot under the transmission line towers. I had been meaning to get a train here, and since I had shot CN 2291 a couple of times already I figured I could "waste" a shot to frame this up.
CN 2291 under transmission towers
Right after that I was again surprised by another meet. A westbound intermodal met them near the Perimeter. The westbound was probably CN 101 and had CN 2296 on the head end, CN 8876 in the middle and IC 2709 pushing on the rear. I grabbed a quick shot of CN 2296 but I was able to get a better shot of the middle unit CN 8876 near mile 10.
CN 8876 as DPU

Finally, here's IC 2709 heading west (left) and CN 2291 heading east (right).
CN 2291 and IC 2709 meet

So many meets!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Andy Morin's Train Pictures 1942-1959

Check out this treasure trove of train photos from 1942-1959, taken by Andy Morin and apparently posted by Pierre Morin.

Amazing stuff. It appears to be all Western photos (Alberta and British Columbia) but there are some great passenger and freight trains shown.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Seven Train Day

I saw a fair number of trains on Thursday, January 17... seven, I think.

It started in the morning when I was driving to work. A local CN train was working the cement plant off route 90, in what is known as Fort Whyte. Remanufactured GP9 CN 7254 and slug CN 200 were paired up and working via remote control. I ended up standing on a snowbank to shoot over the fence for this shot.
CN 7254 and CN 200 in Winnipeg

Note how the sun was just barely high enough to light them up!

EDIT: I was wondering what the "T" on the side of CN 7254 was for. Gord Hilderman of kindly told me that "The T stands for Trimmer locomotive, shims are placed between the top of the trucks and the bolster so the pilots and fuel tank don't hit and get caught up in the group retarders at the hump." He went on to point out that there can be an "H" instead like CN 7211 (photo, blog post). Thanks, Gord!

At noon, I went out to try to catch the Canadian. Since it doesn't run on Saturdays during the winter any more, Monday or Thursday are the only days to catch VIA 1. I went down to St. James Junction to wait for them. Soon enough a headlight showed to the east, but it was CN 101, not VIA, coming at me. I stood on another handy mound of snow to shoot CN 2257 leading the train.
CN 2257 in Winnipeg

That was the sole engine on the head end, and there was no more power until CN 8963 brought up the rear.
CN 8963 in Winnipeg, MB

Right after that, a CP local came rolling north on the La Riviere subdivision. The light is always wrong for a northbound here, but I did the best I could.
CP 1127 in Winnipeg

It didn't seem like VIA was coming, so I headed out, but not before catching a glimpse of the CEMR train heading to Carman Junction. It had CEMR 4001 leading and CEMR 5396 trailing.

On my way home from work, I caught a glimpse of a CP local heading south on the La Riviere subdivision at route 90. It had CP 1590 and CP 8205 leading some tank cars for the gas facility near the Perimeter. A few minutes later, I spied CN 2549 East rolling along the Rivers subdivision, so I picked a spot to stop and I snapped this photo.
CN 2549 in Winnipeg
It had a lot of potash cars on the head end, but the rear was mixed freight. The second engine was CN 2106 and the third was BCOL 4644.

I heard that VIA 1 was coming... very exciting! I headed down to Carman Junction to wait for it. In the past few days a CN maintenance gang has been replacing rail on the south track around miles 8-10 and they were just heading to the stub track just west of the Perimeter Highway. It was interesting to hear the hotbox go off over and over. "CN detector. Rivers sub. South track. No alarms. Speed. 8 miles per hour. Temperature. Minus 19 Celsius."

Soon enough the Canadian's headlights were visible in the distance. They approached, and in a flash they were past on the north track and heading out of town.
VIA 6446 in Winnipeg

It's getting down to the winter consist!
VIA's Canadian leaving Winnipeg

I didn't hear why it was delayed, but I suppose it was held up in Ontario due to the blockades that were held on Wednesday.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Silo Update

Fort Distributors tanks in Winnipeg
There has been an update on the mysterious silos that appeared in BNSF Manitoba's yard.

Winnipeg ordered Fort Distributors to remove the tanks in mid-November. Fort appealed, apparently to council, and on Tuesday the city council's Property and Development Committee voted to uphold the order to remove them. (earlier article)

Fort's lawyer, former councilor Gord Steeves (he was my councilor and my kids' soccer coach, actually), says they will probably appeal. To whom, I am not sure. It seems likely this will go to court.

I drove by the site on January 16th and I see there is a small building at the base of the tanks now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rail Blockades by First Nations People

A movement called "Idle No More" has sprung up in Canada, with First Nations people demonstrating over a variety of concerns - land claims, environmental stewardship, and more. I'm not going to get into the politics of it. I am mentioning it because one of their tactics to attract attention has been to blockade rail and road routes. I am not listing every blockade, just the ones that interest me.

On December 27 protesters blockaded the rail line at Pointe-à-la-Croix ("Cross Point" in English) in Quebec. This is the line from Matapedia to Gaspé which is now owned by the Société des chemins de fer de la Gaspésie (SFG, aka the local municipalities). I believe that trapped the VIA train (formerly known as the Chaleur) on the Gaspé side, so passengers were bused along the route. I understand the protesters contacted CN in advance to warn them the track would be blockaded, unaware that CN no longer owned the line.

The blockade was lifted on January 3 after having little effect. I am guessing they didn't realize how little traffic is left on that line.

On January 11 "Idle No More" protesters blockaded the CN main line just east of Truro, Nova Scotia. VIA Rail ran the Ocean out of Halifax early before the blockade went into effect, and bused their passengers to Truro to board the train to continue west. I believe the blockade began at 2 PM local time and ended after several hours.

Portage la Prairie
On January 16 protesters from the American Indian Movement blocked the CN main line west of Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba at the Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) crossing. A CN freight train was seen stopped near the crossing. They also stopped cars and trucks from using the crossing.

CN swiftly obtained a court injunction against all blockades in Manitoba, but local RCMP declined to enforce the injunction. The RCMP re-routed vehicle traffic around the area but of course they couldn't re-route the train. The blockade was supposed to last "72 hours" but was ended later that night.

I did not go out to Portage but I observed a couple of CN trains (401 and 197) stopped at Waverley Street in Winnipeg that evening, with CN 197 heading west around 8 PM. I expect many trains were staged waiting for the blockade to come down. I don't believe any trains were re-routed via the north line through Dauphin but I suppose they would have been, if the blockade had lasted longer.

Many other locations in Canada were blockaded on January 16.

I have no public comment on the movement. If you choose to comment, please be civil.

Friday, January 11, 2013

McCully Aerial Photos From 1931

Check out these amazing aerial photos of Nova Scotia from 1931. The Nova Scotia Archives holds the Richard McCully Aerial Photograph Collection. These photographs were mostly taken by Harold Reid, owner of Reid's Picture and Equipment Ltd., and the plane was flown by Marty Fraser, an ex-RCMP officer and military pilot.

The photographs are fantastic - the detail is incredible for 1931! The best part about this display is that you can zoom into the photographs to see details.

The Archives acquired the 221 glass negatives in the spring of 2012. The negatives were printed and scanned and they look fantastic.

Here's the Truro yard and roundhouse. I can see 4 steam engines, various rolling stock (mostly boxcars), and quite a collection of passenger equipment in the yard.

Here's the Halifax grain elevators area. Lots of outside-braced boxcars are visible. Just to the left of the centre of the photograph are an old passenger car and an outside-braced wooden caboose!

In this photo of the Yarmouth Cotton Mills you can see a yard with some passenger cars, and just to the right is a roundhouse.

There are some nice photos of Amherst, including this one of the Enamel Heating Plant with the train station in the background.

Monday, January 07, 2013

BNSF Unit Oil Train!

The Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick has been receiving oil trains from North Dakota and the surrounding area. These have generally been coming over NB Southern's tracks as 80-car unit trains, although some oil cars have trickled in on CN via CN 406. Railfans were excited to hear that a unit oil train was coming with three BNSF engines on it. The train arrived at Hermon, Maine on December 29 with the BNSF engines, and ended up parked on MM&A rails for a few days, apparently waiting for a crew.

The train finally made it to McAdam this past Saturday (January 5) at 10:30. Jody Robinson reported that it dropped its train in track 28 and made up another train with the oil cars already in McAdam, then hit the road around 16:15. It was reported through Harvey at 17:00.

Jody Robinson and Gary Bowser did great work documenting the train in McAdam.

The train had BNSF 4649 (Dash 9-44CW), BNSF 9723 (SD70AC), BNSF 7589 (Dash 9-44CW) and HLCX 6332 (SD40-2) for power. Here are a couple of Jody's photos.

I think I can safely say that these are the first BNSF engines to ever visit McAdam... given that BNSF did not exist prior to NB Southern's existence.

Here are a few of Gary's photos, as well as a video he took.

Matt (aka Saintjohnrailfan) caught the train rolling through Grand Bay on its way into Saint John.

The power did not stay long in Saint John. It went west on Sunday the 6th with empty oil cars and some miscellaneous freight. This time both Matt and Dave Dineen (aka nbsrfan) caught the train. Here's Matt's video first.

Now Dave's:

Great work, Jody, Gary, Matt and Dave! Special thanks to Jody for keeping the Facebook RailsNB group updated on the train's progress.