Thursday, December 28, 2006

December 29, 2002

I would post this tomorrow but I won't be near a computer.

Tomorrow, December 29, marks four years since my father, my son and I went to Cantor, N.B. to look at a railway bridge.

My dad had been looking at a contour map of the area and noticed that there must be a bridge at the west end of Cantor siding, near Hardwood Ridge, just north of Minto. He asked me if I was interested in going to look at it, and of course I was. We tried a few different dates, but finally went on December 29. My wife was 8 months pregnant with my daughter, so she stayed home with my mother while my dad, my son and I went out on a cool December day.

We parked near the highway and made the long walk through the snow to the west end of the siding. The siding itself has a gentle curve near the east end.

It was 8150 feet long, according to the 1980/06/08 CN timetable. I remember it being a long walk!

Finally we reached the west end and saw the bridge. It was worth the trip.

According to the builder's plate, it was built in 1909 by the Structural Steel Company Ltd. of Montreal. Of course it was part of the National Transcontinental Railway, before that was acquired by CN.

After taking numerous photos, we were ready to head back when we heard a hum in the distance. We quickly decided an eastbound train was coming, so we waited to see it. Those of you more observant than I was would have noted the green signal facing west we were standing beside.

At 15:30 what I believe was CN 308 came through with SD50s CN 5446 and 5439 on the point with 50 cars. I taped them going by and I remember the wind of their passage buffeting me as they roared by at track speed. My dad took a few snapshots; I'll have to post them when I scan them in.

The video is here.

All too soon, it was gone:

I still remember that trip very fondly.

See you in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

VIA photos by Kevin Gaudet

Kevin Gaudet was kind enough to pass along a few VIA photos he took of the Ocean on a recent chase. I'll share two, which I believe were taken at Amherst, NS.

VIA 6409 at the head of VIA 15

Renaissance cars

Thanks, Kevin!

Comments on Canon S3 IS

I purchased my Canon S3 IS camera back in September and I've thoroughly enjoyed using it. It's fast and easy to use and the pictures it takes are a few steps above the old 3-megapixel Fuji point-and-shoot I was using. The image stabilization allows me to shoot hand-held in situations I'd never dream of shooting before, and I can tweak the camera to get shots I couldn't do before.

I stumbled across a site with S3 tips: Bagelturf. I can't tell who the blogger actually is but he has a Mac and he has an S3 like I do. Check out his tips on things like focusing on tricky subjects and focus bracketing are especially good.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Best of the holidays

I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and the best in 2007 and beyond. This has been a good train-watching year for me, but personally a very mixed year. My newest son was born in April, but my father passed away in July and my grandmother passed in November.

I will probably post once or twice more this year, then nothing for a few weeks until mid-January.

I'll leave you with this shot of VIA 15 arriving at Amherst in a blizzard on January 20, 2005.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

NBEC railfanning Wednesday

After checking out of my hotel in Campbellton Wednesday morning, I drove over to the yard to see what was going on. At 07:30 CFQC 4202, NBEC 4210, and CFMG 690x were shunting as train 591 (Dalhousie shunter). I'm not sure why they were using that train number.

I hit the road and finished my work. On my way south toward Bathurst I stopped at Jacquet River to get a few photos of the VIA station there.

There was nothing in the Bathurst yard at 11:00 except for a ballast regulator.

I was wondering where southbound freight NBEC 402 was. I would have expected it to be in Bathurst at 11:00. I assumed that since it didn't have to wait for VIA 14 (it being Wednesday) it went early and was already on the way to Miramichi.

When I arrived in Miramichi shortly after noon, I heard NBEC train 578 (shunter) doing some shunting somewhere. NBEC 402 was nowhere to be found, CFMG 6903 was idling away, and a worker was doing some work on a switch.

I then realized that I was ahead of 402 and it would not be in for a while. I didn't have time to hang around, so I headed out. On my way out of town I saw NBEC 1854 and 1866 shunting at UPM at 12:38.

That was it!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Northern New Brunswick railfanning

I was late leaving the Fredericton area, but while I was there I bagged this shot of a runaway caboose:

While approaching Miramichi at noon, I noticed NBEC 1854 and 1866 (RS-18s) shunting the UPM mill. As usual for UPM there was no angle for a photo. I took a quick look through the NBEC yard on my way through, and saw CFMG 6903 idling away and poor old NBEC 4219 and 4243 still rusting away in the back of the yard.

I don't condone graffiti, but this one on CN 598211 amused me.

I especially like how the reflectors have been applied over the graffiti.

I heard the ore train working at Belledune as I drove past.

This being Tuesday, there was no VIA 15 tonight. I figured my best chance was to maybe catch NBEC 403 returning to Campbellton in the dark. I left work at about 19:00 and proceeded toward Campbellton. As I approached Dalhousie Junction I heard NBEC 403 on the radio counting down cars. "15 cars, 403." "15 cars" I figured I was hearing them shunt in Campbellton, so I got off highway 134 and onto highway 11. Imagine my surprise when I passed over the tracks at the Junction and saw CFMG 6910 slowly rolling toward me.

I turned around and exited at Blair Malcolm Road/Dalhousie Junction. They were blocking a crossing south of the highway. I saw the conductor kicking snow on the wheels of one of the CN covered gondolas, and looking around underneath. I guess it must have tripped the hotbox detector. I tried a few shots in the dark but this is the best I could get, with a flash:

The best I can say about that poor shot was that the reflectors definitely work.

I mucked around the Junction trying to decide where to set up, and I finally decided to go to Blair Lane a little past where the rail line crosses highway 134. I set my camera on the tripod, with my car's headlights illuminating the crossing. At 19:42 they slowly rolled past, with the conductor giving me a wave.

The consist was CFMG 6910, NBEC 4214, CFQC 4202 and NBEC 6901 leading a 97 car train. The train included 5? woodchip cars, 8 loaded log cars (mostly CFMG), the usual collection of boxcars and tank cars, four cars loaded with Chaleur Lumber, a bunch of CN covered gondolas, and the usual Ultramar 17-car ram on the tail end. One really unusual pair of cars were two beat-up CN gondolas with an odd load in them - they almost looked like dumpsters or containers, 3 to a gondola.

I caught up with the head end and got to the VIA station before they did. Here I tried a few more stills in the dark and this was the best I got, by panning with the engine movement:

For comparison, here's what happens when you don't pan and you don't use a tripod:

Clearly I have a LOT to learn about using my still camera in the dark.

It appears the NBEC crew just cut the power off and left the entire train there, as it was still in one piece at 22:50 with the FRED still forlornly blinking at the end of the train.

With any luck, I might actually see something in daylight tomorrow.

Monday, December 18, 2006


I was amused to find an eBay listing for a St. Martin's railway pass featuring prose stolen from my web site. From here, actually.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, it is nice that someone found it useful, if even to make $35.00 on a piece of paper. On the other hand, some acknowledgement would be nice.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

NB Southern units in pieces

As reported earlier, GP38-3 NBSR 9803 will be receiving the prime mover from GP9 NBSR 3700. Dwayne Porter very kindly passed along a few excellent photos of the two units in the NB Southern Dever Road yard from a day or two ago.

9803 with not much left up top

Gutted 3700. Both engines are on flatcar NBSR 421009 behind 3700.

3700 with 9803's hood next to it

Thanks for the photos!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New NB Southern units...

I understand they should be on the move soon. They are just being checked out now before shipping. I believe they are CIC 110 and 112.

Link to Railpictures photo of CIC 110

Beta version of Rail History site

I've been working on a new version of my Rail History section. Please check it out and offer your comments. This version is based on a "wiki" (like WikiPedia) and it is very easy to update.

I appreciate any feedback you can offer.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Groupe-TRAQ mention

I was pleased to see a link to a section of my web site (CP timetables) was published in Groupe-TRAQ's latest email newsletter. Groupe-TRAQ "is a non-profit association dedicated to supporting rail transportation and industry interests in the Quebec province." They put out a fine newsletter.

Return of the Atlantic?

A group has emerged that advocates the return of the Atlantic passenger train between Saint John, NB and Montreal, Quebec. Their web site is It appears to be a private venture out of Quebec at present. There's not a lot of information available on the site, but it's a start. I wish them luck.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Maine Operation Lifesaver

I was approached a while ago by a member of Maine Operation Lifesaver to provide a photo of a yellow NB Southern engine for a project they were doing. They printed up a set of 12 "trading cards" featuring all the railways operational in Maine - the MM&A, Amtrak, Guilford (now Pan Am), St. Lawrence & Atlantic, Maine Eastern, and Eastern Maine (NBSR). I provided them with several and they selected a shot of NBSR 2317 at the McAdam station.

I received the set of 12 yesterday and I think they're great. The front of each card has a photo of an engine... oh heck, just look.

The second NBSR card has a shot of 9802 leaving the bridge at.. Mattawamkeag, I think. It's credited to Carl Dentremont. Each card has different text on the back.

You can see the complete set on their web site.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

CN 1955/09/25 public timetable online

In response to an email inquiry, I scanned the rest of the September 25, 1955 CN public timetable and put it online. A gentleman was looking for information on the CN passenger equipment of the time, and also information on the Sorel Subdivision where his father worked. If anyone has any employee timetables mentioning the Sorel sub, I'd appreciate a scan or photocopy of the relevant pages to pass along.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A bit more scanning

Now I have Canadian Atlantic Railway (CAR) timetables 16 and 18 online. I didn't scan much of 16 because it is almost the same as 15, but timetable 18 (1993/05/02) is quite a bit different.

Friday, December 01, 2006

January 8 and 9, 2004

I found this old post I made on the AtlanticRails mailing list and thought I'd share it with you.

Not a bad couple of days for watching trains, except for the cold!

2004/01/08 08:25, Location: Miramichi - UPM Outside Yard
Saw UPM 711 moving about.

2004/01/08 08:30, Location: Miramichi - NBEC Yard
In yard: NBEC 6905

Since the normal two RS-18s weren't there, I went looking. I found them down on the wharf spur:

2004/01/08 08:48, Location: Miramichi - Newcastle Port
-- (Train #578) Leaving port area: NBEC 1814, NBEC 1821, BCOL 100247, BCOL 100394, CNA 404833, CNA 404831
-- Left at port: CV 50062, CV 50016, BCOL 850261, BCOL 80311

I shot them leaving the port, crossing Pleasant Street and then after they crossed highway 430. It's pretty easy to keep ahead of them as they have to stop for the crossings to let the brakeman out to flag. It was a beautiful day for video, except for the bitter cold.

2004/01/08 18:30, Location: Miramichi - NBEC Yard
The night switcher (train 580) was shunting with NBEC 1814, NBEC 1821. As I said in a previous post, they were having brake problems due to the cold. I chatted with the brakeman for a bit but he was pretty busy fixing problems.

2004/01/08 19:43, Location: Miramichi - NBEC Yard
VIA 15 arrived at 19:30 and left at 19:43.
VIA 6424 / 6410 / 8619 / 8141 / 8139 / 8130 / 8511 / LOUISE / LEMOYNE / CADILAC / LAVAL / PAPINEAU / MARQUETTE / DOLLIER / BAYFIELD / YOHO PARK

Right after VIA left, the night switcher left. I shot them leaving the yard.

2004/01/08 19:50, Location: Miramichi - NBEC Yard
-- (Train #580) Left with work for UPM and Weyerhauser.: NBEC 1814, NBEC 1821, UTLX 646047, LW 50115, CN 598166, TILX 16254, ENGX 15149, ACFX 45971, ENGX 15232, ENGX 15255

I zoomed ahead of them to the bridge over the highway outside UPM and thought I'd catch them there. Due to the new intersection there, there's a nice little "parking lot" just up from the bridge where you can stand trackside. I waited there in the bitter cold for a few minutes, then figured they must have beat me to UPM. Of course, they rolled by just as I was waiting at the lights. Darn it!

They left a few tankers at UPM then continued on. I shot them from the other end of the bridge.

2004/01/08 20:19, Location: Miramichi - Repap Outside Yard
-- (Train #580) Leaving Repap for Weyerhauser: NBEC 1814, NBEC 1821, UTLX 646047, LW 50115, CN 598166

Not much happening in the yard in the morning of the 9th.

2004/01/09 07:40, Location: Miramichi - NBEC Yard
-- In yard: NBEC 6905
-- (Train #578) Idling: NBEC 1814, NBEC 1821

I stopped by the yard around 12:45 and a friendly brakeman informed me that #402 from Campbellton would be arriving soon. I set up outside the VIA station and waited. Sure enough, they showed up with three SD40s as power. I happened to be just in the right spot as the last car stopped right beside me. They had spotted the head end at the NBEC shack.

2004/01/09 13:06, Location: Miramichi - NBEC Yard
-- (Train #402) Arriving: NBEC 6900, NBEC 6901, CFMG 6906, 32 cars
-- In yard: NBEC 6905
-- (Train #578) Idling: NBEC 1814, NBEC 1821

On my way out of Miramichi, I saw UPM 711 going onto the main line. Unfortunately, I was out of time and couldn't stop to watch.

2004/01/09 13:30, Location: Miramichi - Repap Outside Yard
-- UPM 711 going onto the main line / bridge

New timetable online

The Canadian Atlantic Railway (CP) timetable #14 for February 25, 1990 is now online. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

November 30

2005: Pittsburgh: After work, I managed to catch a northbound loaded coal train on the Conemaugh subdivision near Harmar, Pennsylvania with NS 9363, 9404, and 1702. My blog entry.

2001: Saint John: CN 5270 and 5798 would be the power for CN 305 out of Saint John that day. CN 7068 was shunting the Island Yard.

Helm leaser HATX 175 and SW1200 NBSR 3702 were shunting the NBSR Dever Road yard, shortly before the eastbound train arrived around 15:30. The eastbound had Helm leasers HLCX 3668 and HLCX 3669 and GP9 3701. 3701 had quite a bit of oil on its side. Right after they arrived, SW1200 3703 started taking cars off the tail end of the train.

2000: Saint John: I saw NB Southern 9801 at the west end of the NBSR Dever Road yard.

Later in the day, as I passed through Fredericton Junction I saw the eastbound freight around supper time, with NBSR 9803 leading chop-nose GP9 3787 and high hood GP9s 3701 and 3700.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I put a few of my videos up on Vimeo, yet another video sharing site. Yesterday I received this comment on my "VIA at Milford" video:

"Well, no offense, bc perhaps you are infatuated by trains & not that there is anything wrong with that, but I honestly do NOT hold that facsination! Not that death & destruction are cool in any realistic sense, but it still would have been kewl as hell to see the train derail.
So, no thank you for wasting 59 seconds of my life.
I'm pissed. "

I don't know what to say after that. :)

Here's the clip, by the way:

VIA 15 at Milford, Nova Scotia 2005/11/19 on Vimeo

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sad news

I have sad news. Don McIver, formerly of Don's H.O. Service, has passed away. R.I.P. Don. My best to his family and friends.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

McAdam today

I decided to take advantage of one of the last nice days of this year, and take some shots at McAdam. Peter Gough accompanied me and my two youngest kids. We left Fredericton at about 11:45 and I was hoping to catch the NB Southern eastbound before it arrived at McAdam. I called my contact and he told me they had a small pickup at Mattawamkeag, so they wouldn't be into McAdam until about 13:45. Perfect.

We did a quick check at the McAdam yard, and found a big surprise - MEC 320. This unit was returning to Woodland, ME via the St. Stephen sub. Apparently about once a month Guilford exchanges the unit there for another one.
Maine Central painted MEC 320 in McAdam, NB, Nov 2006
We also saw these odd loads.
TTGX 141016 with a pole load in McAdam, NB
These are going to Vanceboro and are likely part of the International Power Line being built between New Brunswick and Maine by NB Power and Bangor Hydro.

These loads are separated by spacer flatcars, as the poles are longer than the flatcars. I don't know about the Maine side, but on the New Brunswick side many of the transmission towers are going to be erected laying on their side, then flown by heavy-lift helicopter to the site. This will avoid the need to build roads and therefore reduce environmental damage.

We decided to set up at St. Croix and wait for the eastbound. When we arrived there, we could hear the rumble of engines but it was not getting closer. We set up and waited, and finally the NB Southern eastbound came into view at about 13:25.

NB Southern 2319, 9801, 2318, 9802 and 2317 crossing the St. Croix River
NB Southern 2319, 9801, 2318, 9802 and 2317 led 37 cars, mostly boxcars and autoracks.

We passed the train on the way back to McAdam and I shot him coming into the station, but the light was poor. They did a quick drop and started rolling by 13:55. We drove through the back of the yard to try to get ahead of them for Harvey, when I noticed the train had stopped.

It turns out they hit an ATV. The ATV had become stuck on the track adjacent to the mainline, and when the driver freed the vehicle, she drove across the main line without looking. The NBSR crew put the train into emergency and grazed the ATV, spinning it around. Fortunately, the driver was not injured and the ATV was on its way in minutes. ATVs are a major problem in McAdam.

Back on the road, we decided to shoot the train at Harvey Lake. I had never tried this shot, and in fact didn't even know how to get there. Peter drove and we set up. The train rolled through at 14:40 with 27 cars. I shot video primarly, and blindly shot my still camera - shooting only water. Here's the train going around the bend, once I finally looked at what I was shooting at.
Five locomotives by Harvey Lake, NB
Here's the video I took.

One more photo..
Rounding the bend by Harvey Lake, New Brunswick
Another great trip.

See Also