Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Trains 202 & 203

In the 1960's, Canadian Pacific Railway's efforts to exit the passenger business did not spare the Megantic Subdivision. Daily passenger trains 202 and 203 were casualties missing from the October 1964 schedules. Loss of these trains eliminated passenger service to the small communities between Sherbrooke and Megantic.

Whether it was political pressure, public pressure or a combination of both, trains 202 and 203 were reinstated and appeared again in the April 1965 schedules. Indeed a rare occurrence. Very few Canadian Pacific passenger trains ever made a comeback after they were discontinued.

CPR's Milan train station as seen from looking west at the road crossing. The final week of December 1965 saw train 202 from Montreal arriving in Milan at about noon. The consist was an unidentified F unit, a baggage car and four coaches instead of the usual single rail diesel car. Every train nut has to start with a first train photograph and this was the author's first.

Within the following twelve months, the Milan train station was demolished and was replaced by a corrugated galvanized steel shelter. 

On the same date in December 1965, Train 202 was leaving town and heading eastward toward Nantes and final destination, Megantic, Quebec. In that open area in the foreground once stood one of the CPR section homes. Demolition had occurred in early 1961.

By the end of April 1966, trains 202 and 203 had permanently passed into railway history. Passenger train services to stations between Sherbrooke and Megantic did continue though, handled by trains 206 and 201 which had their schedules adjusted to operate between Montreal and Megantic instead of Montreal and Sherbrooke as previously. 

The following abstracts from CPR's public timetables reveal the end result; one less daily round-trip train between Montreal and Sherbrooke.

Abstract from Canadian Pacific Railway public timetable issued October 31,1965

Abstract from Canadian Pacific Railway public timetable issued April 24, 1966

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum October 04, 2013

An unexpected find from the internet.

CP9112 in Train 203 at Megantic, Quebec. No date given but would appear to have been late 1950's or very early 1960's. (Bill Linley photo)

Addendum September 01, 2017 

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree something...

Caption verbatim as originally published: The last day for the "Megantic Budd" was March 27, 1966. Here we see 9107 leading a two-car train, at Megantic station on the last day. (photo Fred Angus)

The two-car train was not identified, however, given that 9107 was leading and unmistakably the direction was eastbound, this would have been Train 202 completing its journey from Montreal.

As the above abstract from the April, 24, 1966, Canadian Pacific Railway public timetable shows, trains 201 and 206 were operated daily between Montreal and Megantic after this March 27, 1966, arrival of 202 was recorded.

The train shown was definitely not the last "Megantic Budd" but may have been the last trip for Train 202. These 51 years later one can only wonder if a service suspension occurred between March 27 and April 24, 1966, or if trains 201 and 206 began operating through to and from Megantic the following date. 

As an added footnote, I made my first ever solo train trip on train 206 from Windsor Station to Milan, Quebec, on May 21, 1966, returning two days later on counterpart 201. The round-trip tickets were a birthday gift (I begged for) from my parents.

Caption verbatim as originally published: 9109 at Westmount station about to depart for Megantic at 7:20 A.M. on September 26, 1964. (photo: Fred Angus)

This was Train 202; the number too is barely discernible on the sign. About a month after Fred Angus recorded this scene, Train 202 disappeared for six months. Hibernation maybe??

From the Verandah

During the 1960's and into the 1970's, Canadian Pacific Railway's daily eastbound freight, Train 952, could almost always be depended upon to put in an appearance through Milan, Quebec, at some time in the morning. This gray winter day was no exception.

In 1968, Canadian Pacific Railway changed its corporate image to CP Rail. Soon afterwards, rail cars freshly painted in the new colour schemes started appearing in train consists.

Taken from the verandah of my grandparents' home, this photograph of a temperature-controlled box car in the new CP Rail image also captured another facet of the railway industry in transition. The CP Rail box car has short ladders and no roof-walk whereas the older car to the left still has the rook-walk in place.

The Oddblock Station Agent

CPR 4068

By summer 1969 and no longer needed for surviving passenger services, Canadian Pacific FP7A 4068 had been relegated to the railway's money-making freight hauling assignments.

In this scene, 4068 was leading CP Rail's Train 952 eastward through Milan, Quebec, toward Megantic and ultimately, Saint John, New Brunswick.

Had the Milan water tower still existed, it would have been directly behind the 4068.

The Bytown Railway Society's Canadian Trackside Guides 1988 and 1993 both report that 4068 was built in 1952 by the Diesel Division of General Motors in London, Ontario, was sold to Via Rail in 1978, renumbered in 1979 as VIA 1424 and finally retired in 1983.

The Oddblock Station Agent

CPR Scotstown

When Via Rail reinstated the Atlantic in 1985, this was not one of the station stops restored to the schedule.

Scotstown, Quebec.

Today the station name boards are no longer on the building. The planked platform has disappeared. All doors have been padlocked and most windows have been covered with plywood. Windows and frames not protected have been smashed with stones. Much of the wooden structure is severely deteriorated from a desperate need of a coat of paint. The building appears to have been deliberately ignored for at least the last twenty-five years. How much longer can this railway station survive? Will it crumble from neglect before CP Rail, or successor, has the opportunity to demolish it?

Scotstown has the distinction of being the only train station I ever spent the night in while waiting for a train... and this was by choice. In the early 1970's, one way for me to link two favourite pastimes, train travelling and hiking, was to ride on CP Rail's "Atlantic Limited" to Scotstown and then hike into the MacKenzie camp at Mountain Brook after getting off the train. For those of you who know the locations or read old CP Rail schedules: the answer is yes, we did our hiking in the dead of night, up that big hill and passing by the gates of Riverview Cemetery overlooking the town. All was quiet.

Near the end of one particular weekend trip we made, the skies clouded over in the late afternoon. Rather than risk the prospect of having to hike in the rain during the night, Ted and I decided to pack up early. We headed to Scotstown in the evening to wait out the dawn (04:37) arrival of the westbound "Atlantic Limited" in the station. The station was no longer manned but the waiting area was open for passengers.

The benches inside were too short to use as bunks so we spread our sleeping bags out on the floor of the waiting room. Hard as the floor was, sleep came eventually. After what had seemed like only a short while, I was awakened by the blast of a train's horn. The eastbound "Atlantic Limited" did not stop and the stainless-steel four-car consist flashed by the windows. I got up for a minute, unrolled the green and white flag and hung it outside to signal a stop for tomorrow's westbound passenger train.

Sleep had just returned when I was awakened again, certain the floor was vibrating. It was. A westbound freight, probably 981, was approaching. The motive power thundered by, rattling the windows and shaking the entire structure. Each car in succession pounded out its distinctive bang-bang as the wheels rolled over the nearest rail joint. Only then did the thought occur to me that we were as close as possible to sleeping on the track without actually being on the track. The pounding ceased and quickly faded. Even more amazing was that my brother appeared to be sound asleep and oblivious to the fact that a lengthy freight train had just passed.

The next morning as we waited for a late Train 41, I asked Ted how he had managed to sleep through the noise and shaking caused by that passing freight train. 

His reply was, "Is that what it was? I thought someone was snoring."

(Written autumn 1992)
 The Oddblock Station Agent

Addtional photos of CPR Scotstown

CPR Scotstown - the east end of the building as seen from the north side of the track.

CPR Scotstown seen from the rear. As both the foundation and the newer wood siding on the eastern end reveals, years earlier a part of the structure was dismantled with removal of what was serving as the freight shed.

 A footnote uncovered in November 2017...

No doubt this addition was the same section later dismantled.

Addendum October 21, 2014

1862 westbound at Scotstown, Quebec. This scene was recorded in July 1992 when the railway shown was still part of CP Rail's Montreal - Saint John route. If this image seems remotely familiar to anyone, perhaps the reason is because it was the cover photo on the January 1993 issue of Branchline.

October 2014 with with the camera facing eastward at Scotstown, Quebec. 

Although twenty-two years later, this image was taken at the exact same location as the previous one starring 1862 westbound. 

Recently operated as the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway and now operating as the Central Maine & Quebec Railway, the former CP Rail right of way here (my opinion) is worn looking with mud oozing up through the ballast.

Although not shown on this MM&A map, Scotstown is located between Bury and Nantes.

October 2014 with the camera facing westward at Scotstown, Quebec. The former station building at Mile 25.0 was located immediately across Highway 214 and on the south side of the track; directly behind the Oddblock Station Agent.

The following link to YouTube shows some photos and video (recorded August 26, 2014 by Andre St-Amant) of an eastbound CM&Q train at Scotstown (MP25.0) again at McLeod's Crossing (MP 18.7) and lastly at Milan, Quebec. (MP14.8)


Addendum November 18, 2017

An undated image of CPR Scotstown I stumbled upon while surfing the net...

No doubt about the time of year but no details were provided where I discovered and copied this scene from.

The train order signals are still in place, the black and white wooden station name is still hanging and a speeder is out of the way on a snow-cleared platform. I shall venture to guess this image dates from the 1970's when the Atlantic limited would flag stop at Scotstown.

The following photo was also discovered while researching something else on the internet...

At first I thought the location of this incident was looking eastward at the eastern connection of the former siding because that out in the woods geography looks much the same, however the telegraph poles are/were located on the south side of the CPR mainline, as the other images in this posting confirm. Thus for this to have been an eastward facing photo, the poles shown here would be on the wrong (north) side of the railway.

The western end of the former main siding is definitely out for the same incongruous reasons, as well as having been situated beside the lumber mills in the town itself.

Therefore the photographer must have been facing west, but try as I might, I haven't been able to identify this location, so I set aside this image for a rainy day. 

A couple of days ago I discovered two footnotes in a totally unrelated source and it just happens that today is raining... but I still haven't identified the location.

The only details provided by the Quebec-based website source, "Train wreck Scotstown, Ontario, Canada." 

I have no idea why Ontario was given because Canada's only Scotstown is indeed in Quebec.

The following footnotes appeared in a completely unrelated on-line publication, and again without accompanying details or link to any website or blog whatsoever.

While neither incident recorded is linked with the wreck shown, those damaged boxcars do appear to match equipment in use during that 1916-1918 time period.

Addendum February 08, 2018

A final trio that need no explanation

Addendum January 10, 2019

This image was recently forwarded to me with no details whatsoever. I'm guessing this photo dates from around 1914 because the Scotstown station looks very much the same as similarly published 1914 photos recording the CPR stations in Milan, Spring Hill (Nantes) and Bury.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Down by the Station

Down by the station...not years ago but in this modern age...and not early in the morning either. 

North Conway, New Hampshire. This location should be familiar to anyone with an interest in railroads and who has visited the Mount Washington Valley area. 

On September 22, 2012, afternoon Kie and I decided to go to the Conway Scenic Railroad's train station situated off the town square in the older part of North Conway. Just as we started toward town via West Side Road I heard a train whistle for the tunnel under Highway 302. I pulled over beside the track to wait and watch the train. Several people with sophisticated looking camera equipment were already lined up track-side and waiting.

Instead of the returning Bartlett train, units 1751 and 1757 trundled by. I was wondering why the two units were running light but thought no more about it and continued toward our planned destination.

Upon arriving at the train station we found steam engine 7470 quietly steaming away and waiting for a train just like the handful of passengers. No doubt the 7470 was waiting for the Bartlett train to arrive.

7470 - one of the railroad's star attractions

Outside the station those with the sophisticated cameras started showing up. Inside the station I heard that two new diesel units (new to the CSRR that is) were being delivered via Whitefield and Crawford Notch and were about to arrive.

Kie was taking the photos and I was instructing her (she called it pestering) where best to stand and how to plan and frame the arrival scene. None of the camera experts were anywhere near where Kie and I were standing when she recorded 1751 and 1757 having just stopped in front of the landmark station. 7470 was quietly smoking away and staying out of the way on the passing track. 

Newly arrived 1751 and 1757Note the New York Central style paint scheme on 1751

Deja vue all over again? No. Not this time. Unlike the 1950's these diesels have not arrived to replace steam.

The not-so-old (left) and the old (right). Perhaps a railroad version of the generation gap

Kie thought I fit in well with this group. I don't know if she meant the old part, or the rusty part, or the puffing part or even the retired part, but I don't think she meant the newly arrived part. None of us were groaning or squeaking that afternoon.

Another shot with the old-timers together.

Newly arrived 7571 and 1757 are sitting on the main track in front of the station and 7470 is waiting on the only siding. With two southbound passenger trains due into the station within the next 30 minutes, the most pressing question becomes, "Where do we put everything?"

1757 and 1751 entering at the south end of the yard to move them out of the way.

Here is the timeless challenge of new toys arriving on the railroad layout - and these ones here can only stay on the rails. Unlike models which do allow for some cheating, these new units cannot be picked up and placed back in the box to move them out of the way for later.

Everything must be well planned before anything moves. Both safety and the physical plant constraints require these. The first move is to get 1751 and 1757 out of the way and put away until placed into service. The two units were moved south and then yarded.

What about in here? Okay...but will they fit?

The two diesel units were slowly and carefully eased onto and across the turntable and into the roundhouse. When 1751 was finally clear of the roundhouse front doors, the back end of 1757 was poking outside the back doors on the other end of the roundhouse. Maybe not a perfect fit but out of the way for now.

7470 begins puffing and slowly backs up

The two new diesels units have been moved out of the way and the 7470 has been cleared to roll.

The steam engine has entered the main line and is slowly rolling down the hill preparing to stop and wait.

After the train from Bartlett arrives an often performed engine swap-out will occur. The diesel unit will cut off the train and then back into the siding which the 7470 has just vacated. 

When the lone diesel unit is out of the way, the 7470 will come back up the hill from where it has been sitting and then hook up to the waiting passenger cars. This consist will now become the next train departing for Conway

7470 is slowly rolling down the hill to get out of the way of the soon-to-return Bartlett train.

Nothing to do now except wait for the first passenger train which is soon to arrive from Bartlett. So I wonder, "Instead of just watching what is going on why not be a part of the action going on? 

I run (cautiously walk across the tracks actually) into the station and purchase two first class tickets to Conway. Kie and I are going all the way to Conway on the next train!

Train rides? Now you have my undivided attention.

Passenger train arriving from Bartlett

Kie and I are on the station platform watching the Bartlett train arrive. After arriving passengers are discharged, the train will be made ready for its trip to Conway. The engine swap-out will occur while we are waiting to board the train.

After the Conway train departs at 4:30, the returning "Notch" train will arrive about 10 minutes later.

An abstract of the present public timetable. We'll be on the 4:30 p.m. departure to (C)

Can't get very far without this.

The Conway Scenic Railroad's tickets are not as attractive as they used to be but they are still good for travel on the trains...and that's what counts in the end.

CONWAY GE F/C simply means that Kie and I will be riding to Conway in the Gertrude Emma which is the first class parlour car.

Here are two tickets (front and back) from a few years earlier.

The 7470 doing the run-around at Conway. This particular scene (scanned from a print) was captured by Kie six years earlier on the same 4:30 p.m. departure in September 2006. All the other photos in this group were recorded in September 2012. Not much has changed.

At Conway, NH. the 7470 is coupling on to the passenger cars as the train is prepared for the not-so-long journey north through the wilds toward North Conway.

All hooked up and ready to return to North Conway.

While the train was stopped in Conway Station for the engine to run around to the opposite end of the train, Kie stepped off for a few minutes to take a few photos. Just visible behind the engine tender is first class passenger car Gertrude Emma.

More than 100 years old and still going. This plate is on the Gertrude Emma and details a concise history of the passenger car.

The wilds of New Hampshire between Conway and North Conway as seen from the train

Actually the above scene is more pastoral than wild. Visible behind the sumac trees is a cornfield and the Moat Mountains. 

If you really want to see some of the wilds of New Hampshire from the rails, then ride the "Notch" train to Crawford Notch. Well worth the 5 hour trip if you would rather not shop.

Kie's favourite activity in North Conway is not the railroad. She really would have preferred to have been over in Settler's Green doing some shopping...but we did that earlier in the day. 

Usually I drop her off at the stores for a few hours and I ride the trains.

The Oddblock Station Agent


Years cold and literally at the end of the line...the locomotive of course. This scene was recorded in North Conway at the CSRR in summer 1985. David was very reluctant to stand in front of that monstrous black relic.

One more station scene at North Conway in summer 1985

Last call for passengers! 

The 14:30 train for Bartlett about to depart.

October 2014 - not much has changed in the 29 years between these two pictures