Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End of Movember

OK, one last appeal... please consider donating to Movember to help research for prostate cancer and help raise awareness of the problem.

Also... ask your doctor about getting tested!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dave Has a New Camera

Dave Dineen has a new camera. He bought a Sony HDR-CX110 Handycam. This baby shoots full HD video (1080p), 3 megapixel stills, and has a nice 25X optical zoom. It records to Sony's proprietary Memory Stick PRO Duo, which is a bit of a bummer compared to the far more common SD cards, but that's not a huge minus. It looks like a great camera.

But... the proof is in the pudding. Check this out.

When looking for a sharp picture or video, I always look at the number boards on the locomotive. For pictures, zoom in on the number boards and see if they are still sharp when enlarged. For videos like Dave's, look at how sharp the number boards are. This is a nice camera.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gerdau Ameristeel Switcher

Gerdau Ameristeel switcher. Photo by Jeff Keddy
Jeff Keddy took a trip up to Selkirk, MB and photographed the plant switcher at the Gerdau Ameristeel steel mill there. The Selkirk location is a steel mill and also recycles metal.

The switcher is an SW900. I looked in Colin Churcher's excellent list of Canadian industrial locomotives but I did not see any SW900s there except for a former Midland Railway engine that went to British Columbia. My Trackside Guides are all packed away, so I can't look it up there either.

The locomotive is remote controlled. Here is the operator on board.
Gerdau Ameristeel switcher. Photo by Jeff Keddy
Thanks for the photos, Jeff!

Laws on Photography

This is a great resource on Canadian federal laws, provincial laws, bylaws and statutes relating to photography in Canada. Well worth a read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Transcona Trains

CN often stops their long-distance trains in their Transcona yard in Winnipeg. These trains are bypassing Symington Yard and are merely stopping for new crew, refueling, or both.

The yard is located east of Beach Junction (the top entrance to Symington Yard) and west of Dugald, the first siding east of Winnipeg. The yard is also home to the sprawling (and mostly unused) Transcona Shops. There was an announcement back in 2003 that CN was building 100 boxcars at the Shops. I don't know what activities still take place at the shops. I believe they do rolling stock repair and I know there is always a lot of MOW equipment around.
CN Transcona Yard
Transcona is a convenient place to park trains because the main line and siding is about 10,000' between crossings, so there is enough room for most trains to stop here.

Often you can shoot the power for an eastbound train from Ravenhurst Street with a telephoto lens. I shot IC 2704 and BCOL 4626 from there on November 18.
IC 2704 in Winnipeg

I shot this train back in October. I still love the lighting in this picture.

Shots are also possible from Dugald but you have to contend with the pole line there.

The shops were built by the Grand Trunk Pacific as part of their transcontinental railway effort, and became part of the Canadian National Railways when the GTP went under. More information about Transcona here. Of course, there is also the Transcona Museum that I should visit at some point.

TRIVIA: Did you know Transcona is named for the TRANS-continental railway, and Lord StrathCONA?

ASIDE: Back to November 18, when I was going south on Plessis Drive I saw headlights on the GWWD track to the west. I stopped and waited, and it turned out to be a GWWD maintenance truck on the rails.
GWWD truck

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just the Fax, Ma'am

This has very little to do with trains.

Atlantic Gypsum's tug Spanish Mist is up for sale. Atlantic Gypsum mines gypsum near Hantsport and exports it via ship at Hantsport. With the downturn in the US housing market, and the long-term outlook for gypsum looking poor, it appears that Atlantic Gypsum will not be shipping very much product. They have a tricky loading situation that does require tugs, and it appears that a company out of Saint John will handle that work from now on.

The train-related portion of this post is that Atlantic Gypsum uses the Windsor & Hantsport Railway to ship gypsum from their mines to Hantsport.

Jeff Keddy told me about this blog post talking about the Spanish Mist. That belongs to the blog TugFax, a blog about tugs in and near Halifax, NS.

The blog owner also has other, related blogs: Armchair Captain; ShipFax; and TruckFax. All of them appear to be quite active.

I liked some of the recent posts on the Armchair Captain blog, because of their military content. I used to live just outside CFB Shearwater in the military quarters, and I was a navy ship geek for a while. From my house on Barracuda Drive, I could often see American naval ships and submarines dock at the jetty in Shearwater. They (used to?) dock there because Halifax banned any ships potentially carrying nuclear weapons from docking in Halifax, and since the USA has a policy of not divulging whether ships are carrying nukes... they went to Shearwater. I am not sure how the few miles of open water really protected Halifax...

I have fond memories of touring US ballistic missile and attack subs with my dad, as well as the occasional guided missile cruiser or destroyer. I remember being woken up one morning by a cruiser blaring the Star Spangled Banner, complete with the crew moving the missile launchers to the tune. I think they got in trouble for that. I also remember looking at my house through a periscope - good optics on those things.

Anyway, if you like ships, go check out those blogs.

Busy Times on the Rivers Sub

Thanks to a tip about VIA 692 having a refurbished unit trailing, I decided to head out Saturday afternoon (Nov. 20) to shoot it. As I was getting ready, I heard the RTC say that there would be FOUR eastbounds in a row shortly after 3 PM. I tossed the kids in the car and headed to Wilkes Avenue. Couldn't miss that!

When I arrived, an eastbound was rolling past on the north track. I tried to get ahead of it to shoot the 2 units, only to find a westbound coming on the south track. I turned around and chased that toward Diamond but couldn't catch it. It was CN #837 with CN 2637 and 2511? trailing.

As CN 837 approached Diamond, I saw an eastbound train on the other side of the diamond coming on the north track. I stopped to wait for 837 to pass so I could shoot the eastbound... CN #302 with IC 2716 and CN 5563.
IC 2716 in Winnipeg

After that madness, things settled down for a few minutes. I heard 837 get a rollby from another train, so another eastbound was coming. It turned out to be CN #304 on the north track. I saw the multitude of ditch lights on the lead unit and couldn't figure out what it was, until it came closer and I saw it was BCOL 4607 with CN 2450 trailing. Four ditch lights!?
Ex BC Rail 4607 near Winnipeg

Soon enough, the next eastbound came along. They slowed as they approached Diamond because they had a Clear to Stop indication, which turned Clear soon enough. I guess things were starting to back up farther east. This was CN #114 with CN 2504 and BCOL 4603 on the south track.
CN 2504 near Winnipeg

Almost on the heels of 114 came VIA 692 on the north track. They stopped at Diamond, then stopped again at Carman Junction, so I shot them in both places. 692 had VIA 6438 and 6437 with the usual five cars.
VIA 6438 and 6437 near Winnipeg

After those six trains, the kids and I had had enough and we left. Not a bad afternoon! List of sightings and times

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2011 Calendar Available

I have made a 2011 calendar on Lulu.com available for your viewing enjoyment. It features 12 of my photographs from New Brunswick (and one from Quebec), each from the appropriate month.

I have discounted the calendar 10% until the end of November!

Alco Withdrawal

I sure miss those MLWs. The smoke, that distinctive chug-chug-chug.. they were unique.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunday Trains in Calgary

As I mentioned, I was in Calgary last weekend while my wife attended a conference. After seeing some interesting CN units and varnish power, I went back out Sunday to see what I could see. There was a rumour that the CPR Holiday Train was heading out from Ogden at noon.

I decided to go up on the 50th Street overpass over Ogden Road (here) and see how the view was from there. You can only face south from there since the Deerfoot Trail is in the way to the north, and there's no walkway on the north side anyway.

Unfortunately there are some wires in the way to the south, but I did what I could to get around them. CP 6058 and 5853 were doing some shunting in Alyth Yard and they stuck out quite a way on the yard lead. While I filmed them, a potash train arrived from the south with CP 9529 and 9614 on the head end, CP 9597 in the middle and CP 9682 pushing on the end. Just as they cleared out, CP 9589 and CP 9734 ran light from Alyth to Ogden. Here they are, all in one video.

Once they passed, I headed out to Indus to try to catch some mainline action at speed. I set up at the crossing at the south end of town and soon enough, CP 103 rolled by at 11 AM with CP 8739 and CEFX 1050.

25 minutes later, another north / westbound rolled through. Red SOO 6044 had quite a wimpy horn on it!

CP 9803 was trailing on this train.

I went back to Ogden to see if the Holiday Train would come out. There was no sign of life in the yard so it was clear that nothing was going to happen. I checked out the CN yard but not much was going on there and there was no mainline power around. Back on CP, I saw CP 110 pull up to Ogden to do a crew change. The train had CP 8776 and 9627 on the head end.
CP 8776 in Calgary Alberta
That was clearly not THIS CP 8776:
CP 8776 in McAdam, 1981
I talked with the conductor for a few minutes before they did a crew change. I then went down the line a few hundred feet to set up the video camera and wait for them to start rolling. I wanted to capture the rumble of the engines bringing the train up to speed.
CP 8776 in Calgary
There was some discussion with the RTC about when they could leave. They had a yellow over red signal (Clear to Stop) indication. Since train 110 was just under 9700 feet long and "over siding" (meaning it would not fit into any sidings) it could not meet any trains en route. The decision was made to allow it to proceed to Shepard (the next siding) and hang out the back of the siding. Presumably the train it was meeting would hold the main between siding switches, and 110 would go around it.

With that decided, the signal indication changed to green over red, and 110 left Calgary.

CP 8747 was mid-train and CP 8767 was on the end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Last Spiderman Unit

VIA 6408 in Winnipeg March 1, 2010
According to this list at Myrailfan.com there is only one Spiderman 2 VIA unit left, VIA 6408. The rest of the Spiderman units, as well as the CBC and Telus units, have been refurbished (or are being refurbished) and repainted. I think even the Loto-Quebec unit (6414) is now being refurbished.

I've seen VIA 6408 quite a few times, most recently in March 2010 here in Winnipeg.

So, if you see it, get your shots now!
VIA 6408 at Diamond

Railways of New Brunswick

I hear a new book has been released, entitled "Railways of New Brunswick", by Dan Soucoup. This is not to be confused with the excellent David Nason book Railways of New Brunswick. I haven't read Dan's book yet but I hope to get a copy soon. In the meantime, if you don't have David Nason's book, try to get it on Amazon or borrow it from a a New Brunswick public library. It's worth a read.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grunt Work

After Saturday's catch of an ex-UP Dash-8, I thought my day was complete. I headed back down to the CP main in Ogden to wait until my wife was done with her conference for the day, expecting the usual AC4400 "toasters" and perhaps a few switching moves.

After a few minutes, I heard the familiar rumble of engines. Behind the fence in Ogden I saw the silhouette of a couple of units moving. Was one of them in MAROON?

Sure enough, after a few minutes, maroon CP 3084 and red CP 3101 came out towing a gondola.
CP 3084 in Calgary

You can see that it attracted other railfans. There were two others that I saw.

CP 3084 is painted in the heritage CP maroon scheme for use on the Royal Canadian Pacific train. Normally CP 4106 and 4107 are leaders but 3084 seems to lead the train now and then.

They went back and forth a few times, bringing out gondolas and taking others back. I believe this is where CN interchanges with CP in Calgary.

It was a little surprising to see such a lovely unit being used for grunt work. I guess since the Royal Canadian Pacific is shut down for the season, CP might as well get some use out of 3084.

Catch of the Day?

I was in Calgary with my wife this past weekend. She was attending a conference, so while she was there, I went railfanning. I went over to check out the Ogden shops and Alyth Yard. There was nothing truly special at Ogden. Alyth had quite a few units around, including one of the units from the Royal Canadian Pacific. CP 4106 looked a bit out of place surrounded by more modern units.

I stopped to watch some shunting at the north end of Alyth, where two sets of engines were both pushing back into the yard at the same time.

I resolved to go find the CN yard in Calgary. As luck would have it, it is not far away from Ogden Road. There I found two CN remote control GP9s (7077 and 7078) working the yard. Too bad the sun was on the wrong side.

All well and good. Shortly after I arrived, the crew from the GP9s stopped to observe a 3-unit consist coming in. Now THIS was an interesting consist.

OK, fine, CN 5756 is a standard old SD75I. In fact, I saw it just about one year earlier as the lead unit on CN 120 in Aulac, NB. But look at the second unit!
CN 2120 in Calgary Alberta
That's one of the ex-UP Dash 8-40C units that CN bought recently. This was the first that I've seen.

But wait, there's more!
CN 2343 in Calgary Alberta
Brand new ES44DC CN 2343 was the trailing unit. Ooh, shiny!

They parked and were refueled by a tanker truck for a few hours. The truck left but the units sat, so there was no opportunity for me to get on the sun side to get better shots. Ah well - it was great just to see one of the "new" ex-UP units.

There was one more special unit to be seen on Saturday, though...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Elevators of the Carman Subdivision

We went to Morden, MB back in September to see the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre and also just for the drive. The route we took was highway #3 from Winnipeg to Carman, then straight south (still on the #3) to Morden. Looking at a map, you can see that CEMR's Carman subdivision parallels the road all the way to Carman.

I took the opportunity to shoot the grain elevators on the route.

The first elevator encountered was the one at Sanford. I had already shot this one back in January, so I didn't take any more.
Sanford grain elevator

Next up was the Besco Grain elevator in Brunkild. I'm not sure if the elevator uses the rail access, but there is another business in Brunkild that appears to use rail.
Brunkild, Besco

We encountered a massive Pioneer structure next, just south of Brunkild.
Pioneer elevator near Brunkild

I shot the elevator at Sperling from a distance, so the picture isn't great.
Sperling, MB grain elevator

Finally, this is the elevator complex at Homewood, MB, also from a distance.
Homewood, MB grain elevator

By this time, my family was tired of the stops, so I didn't take any photos in Carman itself. Another time!

Monday, November 15, 2010

MM&A Sells Rail to Maine

I'm pretty late reporting this!

The Bangor Daily News reported on October 19 that the State of Maine purchased 233 miles of track (presumably including the land it is on) for $20.1 million dollars. They also received overhead traffic rights to allow a new operator to run traffic through. For example, an operator could have the MM&A carry traffic between Millinocket and Brownville Junction to interchange to NBSR.

The state is now shopping for an operator to run the line: "As the sale is finalized, MaineDOT will issue a Request for Proposals to solicit a private rail operator to provide service over the lines being purchased. MaineDOT has already received numerous expressions of interest from established railroads and expects lively competition for this franchise." Contenders could include the MM&A, NB Southern Railway, or the Pan Am Railway.

The track purchased runs "from Millinocket to Madawaska" and includes "branch lines to Caribou, Presque Isle, Easton, Houlton and Limestone."

The line has become very run down recently, with many portions down to a 10 MPH speed limit. The State of Maine recently received over $10 million in federal TIGER II funds for track improvements.

The MM&A will retain their southern lines, from St Jean., Quebec to Brownville Junction, ME and down to Northern Maine Junction, as well as the branch lines in Quebec and Vermont, and the Millinocket and Searsport, ME branches.

Governor's press release
MM&A Map

CN Lines

I was in Calgary this past weekend and I bought the latest CN Lines magazine (volume 15, number 4) from Trains N Such. On the flight home Sunday night, I read it. As usual it is a quality magazine.

There are two articles of particular interest to Maritimers: "Building the Heath Steele Line" by Ed Freeman, and "Halifax Terminal in Transition" by Jim Simmons.

The Heath Steele line was built to service the new mine in northern New Brunswick, and ran 23.1 miles from the Bartibog siding to the mine site known as Heath Steele. The line was opened in 1957 and was abandoned in 1987.

I invite you to visit your local hobby store and pick up this copy of CN Lines.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I received notice yesterday that my slides are being scanned at ScanCafe. I hope to start posting the scans very soon now...

The Maine Eastern

The Maine Eastern. Photo by David Morris
David Morris was on a railfan trip in October, and he took some time on October 7 to shoot the Maine Eastern passenger train in Maine. He shot it with FL9 #488 on the point.

He shot some nice fall colours!
The Maine Eastern. Photo by David Morris

The Maine Eastern. Photo by David Morris

The Maine Eastern. Photo by David Morris

Thanks for passing those along, David!

Friday, November 12, 2010


One of the subscribers to my YouTube videos is a young man who goes by VanBilly1. He lives in Manitoba and has been shooting videos in the Winnipeg area. I thought I'd post a few of his videos. I like the commentary and the little toy van at the beginning of every video. He could certainly use a tripod :) but I like the enthusiasm.

The first video shows a CN westbound container train (CN 199?) at the St. James diamond. CN 8024 and 2309 crossed over from the south to north track just east of the diamond.

This is a CP train at Point Douglas. The leader is CP 9837 but the trailing unit is CP 9010, a SD40-2F "red barn".

Keep up the good work!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dartmouth Model Train Show

Don't forget about the Dartmouth model train show this coming weekend... details here.

We Remember

"Year after year we gather and shout commands in the Square,
Wait for the Governor-General, say a few words of prayer,
Lay our wreaths in order, mothers and big shots first,
In memory of those who have made it to the other side of the worst."
- George Johnston, Canadian poet, Remembrance, 1966

We remember.

Thank you to our veterans, young and old, present and deceased, who have fought and continue to fight for our safety, our freedom and our values.

We remember.

Thank you to those who fight abroad in Afghanistan, who struggle to bring piece to a war-torn land. You are not forgotten.

That's what we do. We stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves
Of fathers, their sons, and war

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NB Southern's Web Site Updated

NBSR 2319 in Harvey
I had a glance at NB Southern's web site today and I was surprised to see that it has greatly expanded! Their initial site was pretty spartan and only had 4 or 5 pages. The new one has a lot more content. Go check it out!

Miss That NB Southern

I see lots of trains here in Winnipeg, and that's great, but I do miss the little green engines of the NB Southern Railway. Here's a few recent videos that were taken of the good ol' NBSR.

Dave Dineen posted this video of NBSR 9802 East from October 30.

Here's Matt's video of an NB Southern transfer train in Saint John a few months ago, also with 9802 and 2612, and 9801 in the middle.

Here's an old one I took, from March 2004, showing NBSR 2317 running light in its old yellow "Sunbury" colours.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Winnipeg Slide Night

A group of railway enthusiasts got together this past Wednesday, November 3, to view slides at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. There were 15 of us and I believe 4 people presented, including me. I presented slides from the "east" (mostly New Brunswick but also Ontario and Nova Scotia), featuring slides from Greg Brewer as well as some I bought on eBay. We all had a good time and we're planning for the next one...

The next show is on Wednesday December 1st, 2010 at the Canadian Mennonite University at 600 Shaftsbury in Winnipeg. It starts at 7 PM and will run to 10 PM. It costs $2/person to pay for the room. NO walk-ins are allowed as we expect it to be full. Expect to see slides, digital photos and/or videos.

If anyone is interested in coming, please contact Mark Perry at maperry@mts.net and let him know you plan on attending.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Rocky Mountaineer Car on the Canadian

RMRX 3217 in Winnipeg
I had a tip from the Canadian Passenger Rail Yahoo! group that there would be a Rocky Mountaineer coach on today's Canadian. RM has been sending coaches east for repainting into their new colour scheme. The cars are always placed between the two engines on the Canadian because they do not have the correct wiring to pass the HEP (Head End Power) cabling through to the rest of the train. The other option would be to put them on the end, but that obscures the view from the trailing Park car.

I went to Waverley Street here in Winnipeg and shot the Canadian right on time at 12:12.
VIA 6441 and a Rocky Mountaineer car
View the full consist.

Isn't the Internet wonderful? I would never have thought to go shoot that train without the tip from a couple of days ago when it departed Toronto.

See Also

Sunday, November 07, 2010

4 Years Since War Brides

It's hard to believe it's been four years since the Fredericton railfan gang chased the VIA War Brides train. That was a good chase. Read all about it.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Through the Window of a Train

The book Through the Window of a Train: A Canadian Railway Anthology was recently published. The book was edited by Barbara Lange, and published by Borealis Press. The editor and some contributors will be doing a reading at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg on November 13 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

The book is a collection of stories about railroaders and their experiences across the country.

Friday, November 05, 2010

This Day, 32 Years Ago

VIA 6765 in Halifax. Slide by Glenn Courtney
Continuing my fascination with CN 6765, later known as VIA 6765, here's another slide I bought on eBay. VIA 6765 was shot in Halifax by Glenn Courtney on November 5, 1978.

EDIT: Yes, it was *32* years ago, not 22. I'd like to say math wasn't my strongest subject in school... but it was.

West Chester 4230 Slide

West Chester engine 4230
One of my eBay searches turned up this interesting slide. It depicts West Chester #4230 in fresh paint. This was NBEC 4230, originally CP 4230 built in 1965. The old girl looks brand new in this paint, even though she's 45 years old.

I shot 4230 in Miramichi in 2002:
NBEC 4230 in Miramichi, 2002.
NBEC 4230 was commonly seen in Miramichi in the early 2000s.

West Chester apparently also painted ex-CP 1803, by this slide.

NOTE: I wrote over the slide image to "ruin" it. I hate when people "borrow" my images and use them without attribution. If you want the image, go buy the slide.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Digital Issue of Railfan and Railroad

Carstens is doing a trial of a free digital edition of Railfan & Railroad Magazine. Visit http://railfan.com/digital to sign up for the digital edition. They will email you a link to view the magazine online. It has the same content as the print magazine, so you're not getting a "reduced" version.

You can always get a subscription to Railfan & Railroad if you still prefer a paper magazine.

Clearly this is the shape of things to come in the publishing industry.

CN 1501 in Winnipeg

CN 1501 in Winnipeg. Jeff Keddy photo
Sharp-eyed Jeff Keddy caught CN 1501 in Winnipeg again, this past Saturday October 30.
CN 1501 in Winnipeg. Jeff Keddy photo
You might remember that Jeff saw it here in February 2010.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


It's Movember again. For those who don't know, Movember is a campaign to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research. Prostate cancer is a disease that affects many men, and in 2010 it is forecast that 4,400 men will die as a direct result of prostate cancer. Please do your part to help this cause.

For Movember, fundraisers shave their faces at the beginning of November, then grow a mustache through the month. This is my third year of participation in the program, and I have my little bit of stubble growing now. If you don't donate, I will get very angry:

Just kidding. Please donate if you can. Thank you.

Gaspé Cab Ride Photos

André Berthelot had a fantastic opportunity to take a cab ride aboard VIA's Chaleur aka the Montreal-Gaspé train. He took many pictures and lots of video. And yes, he had written permission from VIA Rail.

Thank you, André, for sharing this unique video!

Check out André's site for more great video and photos.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Want to Buy a Park Car?

Riding Mountain Park is for sale, for a mere $340,000.

Why not match it up with Edgarton, a blue-and-yellow "E" class sleeper for $39,000 (needs work)? Or maybe a Budd coach car or a couple of blue and yellow coaches (need a lot of work)?

Never mind that, go buy the complete Minnesota Zephyr set for a cool half million.

Buy, buy, buy!


A VIA Chase

David Morris sent along these photos of his chase of VIA 14, the Ocean, from Petit Rocher to Moncton in New Brunswick. The lead engine was VIA 6432 and the date was October 17.

First, Petit Rocher.
VIA 6432 at Petit Rocher. Photo by David Morris.

Next, this great shot of the Ocean crossing the Miramichi River at Nelson Junction.
VIA Ocean at Nelson Junction. Photo by David Morris.

He shot it at the station in Rogersville, NB.
VIA train and station at Rogersville. Photo by David Morris.

Another great shot, a pan near Kent Junction.
 Photo by David Morris.

Finally, the Ocean comes into Moncton amidst a riot of colour.
 Photo by David Morris.

Thanks for the shots, David!

See Also