Saturday, September 16, 2017

CN's Caboose Train

Five cabooses, one train - the CN Family Day train in Winnipeg
CN has a "Family Day" every year where they invite families of CN employees and CN retirees to a local yard for tours, games, food and fun. Often a train ride is involved and that's where my interest lies!

This year the organizers in Winnipeg did something different. In past years CN ran a few passenger cars with locomotives on each end (2016 had two cars, an E unit and two of CN's newest units; 2014's was pretty much the same but only one new CN unit). This year, the CN organizers gathered up five cabooses (cabeese?).

When did you last see five cabooses in a train?

September 9, that's when I did!

First Run

The train was scheduled to start running at 11 AM on the morning of September 9, 2017. I passed Symington Yard shortly before 11 and the train was there along with tents, bouncy castles, and a lot of automobiles going into the yard.

Like other years, the train was to head northwest up the St. Boniface spur to cross Archibald Street, then back into the yard again for the next run.

I had some "favourite spots" but I wanted to try one or two different ones this time. I drove around and decided on some locations. At Marion Street I ran into Taylor "the Cando Railfan", who was waiting there for the train. We chatted for a few minutes before I headed out.

Here are the locations that I photographed from:
My locations

Shot 1

One shot I knew I wanted was the overpass over Lagimodiere Boulevard just outside the yard. I had seen Jack Hykaway's photo from last year and I knew I wanted to get that shot. I parked on Dawson Road and hoofed it over to set up for the shot.

Right on time the train headed out at 11, with CN 2615 leading the five cabeese and CN 3089 on the rear.

Shot 2

After the train passed, I knew I wasn't going to be able to drive to another spot, so I hustled back to Dawson Road and waited by Star Building Materials on the broken asphalt of the former highway 59 road. Fellow Winnipeg railfan Tim Burridge showed up with his daughter to photograph the train.

CN 3089 looked nice and clean leading on the way back.
CN 3089 leading on the return trip

The Consist

Here's the train: CN 3089 / CCGX 200001 / CN 76665 / GWWD 1360 / BN 12580 / PCDR 109 / CN 2615

Freshly painted CCGX 200001 was looking nice. This is an ex CN caboose rebuilt from a boxcar by the Pointe-Saint-Charles (PSC) shops in 1976 as CN 79843.
CCGX 200001
Rumour has it that this caboose is going to be mounted on a section of track at the CEMR shops in north Transcona in Winnipeg.

Next was this rare transfer caboose, CN 76665, another PSC product.
CN 76665
I'm told this is one of only two active CN transfer cabeese.

Another ex CN PSC caboose... former CN 79519...
GWWD 1360
The Greater Winnipeg Water District contributed their sole caboose, GWWD 1360. I've never actually seen that caboose run!

The last two cabooses have no CN heritage. This one is Burlington Northern through and through.
BN 12580
BN 12580 is a familiar sight to Winnipeg railfans, as it runs pretty much every day on the BNSF Manitoba freight train. Another rumour - I hear it's going to be repainted soon.

Finally, an ex CP product from way back, built in 1912...
Prairie Dog Central #109
Prairie Dog Central #109 was easily the oldest caboose on the train... also the only one with friction bearings!

Both locomotive cabs were packed with happy riders!
Fun in CN 2615
After the train passed, I relocated to the Marion Street crossing.

Second Run

The Marion Street crossing is one of the two major crossings on this section of the St. Boniface spur.

Shot 3 was into the sun a bit, but I did the best I could.
Into the sun
The going away shot was much better... except for the wires. sigh

CN 3089 and 5 cabooses
I decided to stay at Marion Street and shoot them coming back. The sun would be nice coming back.

While I was waiting for them to return, I walked around to decide what composition I wanted. I saw this neat billboard and decided to include it in shot #4.
If it's made with Canadian milk...
This might be my favourite photo from the day.

Another going-away shot, showing two of the CN volunteers - Mark and Christopher - on the caboose steps.
One caboose, two cabooses, three cabooses... ah ah ah!

Third Run

I decided to head down to Archibald Street for the third run. I knew some railfans in past years shot the train on the Seine River bridge after they crossed Archibald. I couldn't find any path down to get the shot, so I elected to wait at the crossing.

The train passed by and crossed the bridge entirely. After a quick pause, the reverser was thrown and the train started rolling back.

As the train started rolling, someone on a bicycle came along and stopped to the side, clearly waiting for the train to pass before he could walk across the bridge.

The engineer gave him a couple of toots but he was undeterred.

Some people.

Not safe.

Look. Listen. Live.

Anyway, here's the shot of CN 3089 leading the train back along the St. Boniface spur:
CN 3089 about to cross Archibald Street
So that was the train!

Big thanks to the many CN volunteers for the many hours they put in to organize this and staff it so the extended CN family could have a great day. A special thank you to Mark and Derrick for taking CN 4797 around Winnipeg to gather up all of the Winnipeg cabooses for the train!

A CN volunteer and two happy riders

Lots of waves from the cupolas!

See Also


BWBandy said...

This is an interesting post. Great read. Good to see a variety of cabooses, especially the oldest one.

GP9Rm4108 said...

Very nice!

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, BW! I loved the variety... we're lucky to have so many different types in one city.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks GP9! :)

Unknown said...

Here is the legal way to go from Archibald to the Seine River.

Unknown said...

Oh, and I haven't seen the BN 12580 caboose used on the BNSF Manitoba in ages, with the exception of when it was returned to BN from CN. I don't know what happened, but they don't seem to be using it last time I checked. They just put the locomotive up front at Westview Yard. Last time I saw it legitimately used was July 2016.

Michael said...

Wow. Rare enough to see intact cabooses in service at all, but five on a train? What year is it again? Great work.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks for the detailed map, Taylor! I will have to use that on another year to get a different camera angle. I saw that angle from your excellent video.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Michael! We're lucky to have so many operational cabooses in one city.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Oh, Taylor, I haven't railfanned the BNSF Manitoba job in ages so I wasn't aware that they weren't using the caboose. Thanks for the tip!

Jenn said...

Cool! Nice variety of cabooses! (Cabeese).
I was in Sask this weekend and was beside a train for a bit and pulled into Marshall to take a photo of the elevators, I thought, hey I bet that train will be coming soon.. I heard the whistle right away and wasn't able to get the elevator in the shot with the train coming but I had a taste of trying to time out an oncoming train!!

Unknown said...

You're welcome for everything. My latest video is up, in the St James Industrial.

Ronald jeffery said...
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