Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Ontario Southland Railway Woodstock Job - Part 2

On August 17, 2017 I chased an Ontario Southland Railway from Ingersoll to Woodstock. In part 1 I followed the train from their shops in Salford to Ingersoll, where I promptly lost the train and eventually found it again. Here I describe the chase to Woodstock and the switching operations in Woodstock.

The Chase to Woodstock

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere was a song and a celebration
- Joni Mitchell
When I had driven into Ingersoll earlier in the chase, I had noted a spot along highway 9 where the Ingersoll railway sign was located indicating 1 mile to the station sign. I thought that would be a good location for a photo. Now that I was racing east, this was the time to stop there.

I pulled off the road and walked across the road, in the rain, and waited by the guard rail for the train to come. I was about 90% sure I was in the right spot, but the other 10% of my brain said, "you're standing by the wrong tracks, and nothing will come."

It didn't help that I heard the roar of a train going by while I was waiting. It must have been a CN train on the Dundas sub, but my confidence was diminished a bit more.

Fortunately, I was by the right tracks and OSRX 1820 came around the bend.

I took a few photos as the train approached. I'm not sure which of the following two photos I like more, so I'm sharing both of them.
Two Ingersoll signs, one photo
One Ingersoll line, a closer crop
That Ontario Southland paint scheme is pretty sharp. I know it's inspired by the old Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo scheme but it looks nice no matter where it came from.

The light was low so I was using a low shutter speed, and I did a pan of the locomotives as they went by. I really like how this photo of 1400 turned out.
Pan photo of OSRX 1400
I don't know what the speed limit on the St. Thomas subdivision is, but they were not crawling - nor were they doing 60 MPH.

I hopped in my rental car and gave chase.

Next Spot?

OSRX 1620 leading the way
Not knowing the area, I wasn't sure where to catch them next. I thought about the highway #6 crossing - easily accessible as it's just off highway 9 - but as I approached it I saw there was construction in the area and I didn't want to get involved in that. I took the next left, which turned out to be Domtar Line.

I liked seeing the train come through the foliage, but in retrospect, I probably should have been on the other side of the tracks. I used my "long lens" (70-200mm) and on the side I was on, I couldn't get a really long view without standing in the crossing, which is not safe.

As I waited for the train to pass so I could get back to my car, I noted a railway bridge in the underbrush nearby that still has rails on it.

I think this was part of the track that used to connect the nearby Domtar facility to the CP line. There is still track near the CN line but I don't think the facility that's there now gets any rail service.
Abandoned bridge off Domtar Road
I shot video at the next two spots. The first was a very quick clip and at the second location, I made sure I got enough ahead of the train that I could get into position to record the entire train. The video's at the bottom of this post.

Crossing CN

After the two video spots, we were approaching Woodstock, another town I had never been in. I knew that CN and CP/OSRX crossed and the highway goes right by the diamond. I decided I had enough time to grab a quick shot, so I crossed CN then quickly parked and ran over to get the shot.

Ontario Southland crossing the diamond at CN Carew
I've seen photos of the OSR at CN Carew by many railfan photographers. Now I have my own!

As I wrote above, I had never been to Woodstock so I didn't know where to go. My vague memories of looking at the map told me that the Ontario Southland went north-northeast along the west edge of town. I followed the train as best I could and caught it at Dundas Street / highway 2.
Ontario Southland in Woodstock
After the train passed, I kept going and got to the CP yard in Woodstock at the corner of Ingersoll Avenue and Tecumseh Street.

They pulled up beside the (ex?) CP station there.
OSRX 1620 and 1400 by the CP station in Woodstock

Switching in Woodstock

Without much of a pause, they started to do some switching. There are a series of tracks south of Ingersoll Avenue and they started drilling those tracks, putting autoracks away.

Drilling for autoracks
A longer distance photo of them at work. The CP main line curves off to the right. There are a few storage tracks behind the locomotive that they were stuffing cars into.
Switching autoracks
The photo below might give a better indication of the operation.
Stuffing autoracks into storage tracks
I took a lot of photos - probably too many - of the switching operations. That's probably enough to give you a flavour of the operation.

After watching them switch for half an hour, I decided to duck out to see the VIA Rail station in Woodstock.

Exploring Woodstock

I asked my phone to take me to the VIA Rail station, and it did so with no fuss or misdirection. Thank you!

Woodstock has a very unique looking VIA Rail train station.

This station was built by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1885. Unlike the Ingersoll station, the Woodstock station is protected by the federal Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act.

There are three boxcars across from the station that are supposed to depict the past, present and future of railways in Woodstock. They are faded and have been defaced by the usual vandals so their message is a little unclear.
Three boxcars in Woodstock
There is an overpass near the station which would be a great place to view passing trains on the CN line.

If you'd like to see a map of Woodstock, there's one in this Trains article about Woodstock from 2014.

The Video

Here's a little video I put together - a bit at the Salford shop, two clips between Ingersoll and Woodstock, and some switching action in Woodstock.

Wrapping Up

I went back to the CP station / Ontario Southland track and they were wrapping up shunting for a bit. I took this one last photo and then they tied the train down.
My last Ontario Southland photo... this visit
The conductor said they needed to get a clearance from CP before they could go on the main and continue their work. I had to clear out to meet my son, so we shook hands and I went on my way.

It was a great little chase and the Ontario Southland Railway is a great shortline with a great reputation, both with customers and with railfans. Highly recommended. As always, be safe and respect private property.

Back to part 1 of this series

A darn good burger
PS - I met up with my son and his girlfriend in Waterloo and we went to an early supper at The WORKS "Gourmet Burger Bistro". They make fantastic burgers - definitely worth visiting one of their many restaurants in Ontario.

See Also


Eric said...

There is definitely something to be said for having 'your' photo of a well-known site. Been there - photographed that!

Great chase, Steve.
Thanks for sharing,

Michael said...

Ah man, the OSR. This is on my to-do list. Thanks for sharing shots of this shortline. You're right that it is popular with just about everyone. I've never heard anything bad about this railway.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Eric, BW and Michael! :)

Anonymous said...

CP station in Woodstock is still open (or was recently) as a crew office. CP actually just rebuilt the overhanging roof structure as it was badly sagging. Too bad the entire facility won't get a complete facelift, but at least they're keeping it in decent condition.

Unknown said...

OSR is a class act for sure! VP Brad Jolliffe took time of his busy day to inform us of train locations to help us have a successful day of train watching.

Canadian Train Geek said...

hi Unknown, I'm glad you had a good day of train watching!

Anonymous said...

I have seen a 1400 painted in Ontario Southland colours in Ingersoll hauling cars out of Cami on the tracks near the Independent Grocery store.