Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Glass Attic

Canadian Pacific Railway introduced Budd-built dome cars in their trains in 1954 as the equipment was delivered from the Budd Company in the lead up to CPR’s introduction of ‘The Canadian’ the following summer.

In the late 1950’s the CPR passenger train network withered. Service cut-backs and equipment down-grades on the transcontinental route freed up the stainless steel dome cars for use in other trains. In 1960, the dome cars were introduced into off-season regular service on the Atlantic Limited. By the late 1960’s the dome cars were assigned all year round.

My inside introduction to the dome car came in August 1971, on the Atlantic Limited of course, and dome cars have been my favourite place to ride on trains ever since.

Right seat, front of the dome; it’s the best seat in the house!

Come on up and take a look!

These two views of inside the glass attic were captured by Donald Haskel on CP Rail’s Train 40, The Atlantic Limited on its summer schedule. Thank you Mr. Haskel for taking these photographs.

The scene above was recorded just moments prior to the 18:05 departure from Windsor Station in Montreal on July 07, 1977. This photo is the best I have found that illustrates what the inside of the upstairs of a CPR dome car looked like.

The view also captures the general malaise of CPR passenger trains in the 1970’s…few or no passengers. The photographer mentioned that he was the only upstairs passenger when the train departed from Montreal that Thursday evening. 

About an hour and a half later near Foster, Quebec, the photographer captured the following scene. Mountains are visible in the distance and Maine is a few hours beyond. Right seat, front of the dome; it’s the best seat in the house!  

In the 1970's I spent quite a few hours seated in this same spot on The Atlantic Limited,  enthralled by the views of fading daylight from this unique perspective.

The CPR stainless steel equipment long out-lived the railway’s passenger service. Fifty-eight years later those former CPR dome cars are still in regular passenger train service from coast to coast, except for that 335 mile gap between Montreal and Toronto. Today the dome cars are reliably working in Via Rail trains running on CNR tracks.

I have a feeling that the Budd-built dome cars will probably outlast me; I too came into the world in 1954.

The term ‘glass attic’ came from some of the CPR conductors who worked on the passenger trains.

The Oddblock Station Agent

One more look upstairs in the glass attic.

Heading westward across a rainy Nova Scotia in April 1985. Don't you want to look and see where we are going?

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Late 1960's Railway scenes from Summers in Milan

In summer 1969 even CP Rail had no inkling that twenty-five years later the railway would be pushing for abandonment of its eastern main line.

That summer, the Megantic Subdivision was undergoing major track rehabilitation. Machinery was removing ballast from beneath the track, sorting the displaced material and simultaneously replacing it or dumping the unwanted trailings beside the right-of-way. Following tie replacement, train loads of new ballast from the granite quarry near Scotstown were being spread over the track. Later still, more machines lifted and settled the track on top of the new stones.

The following photographs captured the activity of a three-way meet at Milan, Quebec, during the work in progress.

With the siding track in the foreground, eastbound second class train, 952, with RS-10s number 8575 in the motive power lash-up, is creeping along at a snail's pace. Freshly spread stones are visible beneath the trucks of CP8575. The Bytown Railway Society's Canadian Trackside Guide 1993 indicates that CP Rail's 32 RS-10s units numbered 8569-8600, built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1956, were all retired between 1976 and 1984.

With the work machinery safely waiting in the western end of the siding, westbound passenger train, 201, cleared the main line at the eastern end of the siding and waited there. Moments later, eastbound freight train, 952, carefully crawled by over the newly spread stones.

Box car CP81085. Canadian Pacific Railway's 80000series box cars were built for newsprint service; a newer rail car in the former green paint scheme. Notice the short ladders and the absence of a roof-walk. Also note the old-style open-rack, 3-tiered auto carrier trailing the box car. These open cars quickly gave way to the familiar closed autoracks we see today, owing mainly to the constant damage vehicles suffered from stones and other forms of vandalism.

After 952's caboose passed the eastern end of Milan, train 201 backed out of the siding over the eastern connection and then resumed its westward journey. Shortly after 201's departure and clear of the western end of the siding, the machinery exited the western end of the siding and returned to the work location.

With eastbound train 952 finally out of the way, train 201, a single rail diesel car and most likely CP9111, proceeds westward on the main line approaching the west end of Milan siding. The following summer, trains 201 and 206 would pass into history.

A track-work machine proceeds to exit the siding following train 201's departure.Waiting to be lifted and tamped, freshly spread ballast is visible on the main track which is on the other side of the machine.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum April 21, 2014

Hard to believe! 

In summer 1969 someone else recorded a scene of CP9111 in service as Train 201.

Thank you Bill Linley!

Addendum January 2019

A pair of old photos taken in Milan, Quebec, summer 1966 or 67...

Early morning on what was a beautiful sunny summer day saw Train 952 rolling through Milan, Quebec, en route toward Megantic and points east. Five labouring locomotives were cresting the ascent from McLeod's crossing and heading into the sag through miles 14 and 13. Photo location was just east of the railway crossing in town.

Minutes after Train 952 had passed I was standing on the CPR mainline looking eastward toward Megantic.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Around the Bend

In July 1992 and looking eastward near Mile 10 of the former CPR Megantic Subdivision. 
This is also the same location where the Frank Jolin 5026 Westbound photo was taken.

Why the attraction, I do not know, but seeing a railway track curving out of sight always leaves me with these nagging questions, "What is around there at the end of the curve? What does it look like there? What will I see?"

They are questions that demand answers; a curiosity that has to be appeased.

So, what is out of sight at the end of the curve?

After many miles of walking along railway tracks over the years the answer really is quite simple. Always another curve in the track, leading out of sight and again, presenting the same questions demanding answers.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Friday, 14 December 2012

CPR's Engine 8040

If I was asked to choose a favourite engine, the choice would be difficult to make, but if choosing only from freight service locomotives, then I would definitely choose Canadian Pacific Railway’s 8040. CP8040, a 1000 horse-power RS-23, was built in 1959 by the Montreal Locomotive Works.

Throughout the 1960’s, CP8040 was an almost daily fixture on the Sherbrooke-Megantic way-freight. For years the 8040 had the appearance of a new out-of-the-box locomotive because the CPR still took pride in their image. While I can recall steam locomotives on the way-freight in the late 1950’s, the 8040 was one of the perpetrators that supplanted the steamers.

Finding this photograph on the internet was a treat and seeing the 8040 once again stirred up a few memories from the past. Shown, parked in front the of the Megantic train station, the train is waiting for the highball to depart westward to Sherbrooke. This scene is exactly how I remember the way-freight; a clean and shiny engine 8040, a single tuscan-brown boxcar, and a matching caboose. Oh yes, at other times different types of freight cars and various traffic appeared in the train’s consist, but this photographed consist is what I usually saw passing through Milan most of the time.

CPR’s 8040 was also the first freight engine that I was invited on to. In summer 1963, the CPR was busy replacing the main line rails on the Megantic Subdivision. A work-train was parked on the Milan team track for a few weeks while the rail replacement work progressed along the Milan section between Scotstown and Nantes.

On the afternoon that the eastbound way-freight was called upon to lift and move the work train, I just happened to be trackside watching the activities. The engineer called to me, and after asking a few questions, invited me up and into the cab of the 8040. He didn’t have to ask twice. While aboard the locomotive, the engineer and brakeman showed me the break-stand, the throttle, various gauges and explained how the locomotive functioned. They had my undivided attention.

When the departure signal was received, I said thank you and farewell, descended back to the real world, stepped back a very safe distance and then watched the lengthened way-freight depart and disappear out of town. Many years have passed since, but I shall always be grateful for the engine crew’s kindness and their invitation into the cab of the 8040.

During the 1960’s North America’s railways changed drastically and Canadian Pacific Railway was not exempted from those changes. Passenger trains were discontinued, most rural train stations were closed and no longer manned, and the railway gave up handling express and less-than-carload freight shipments. The Sherbrooke-Megantic way-freight was cut back from a Monday through Saturday round-trip service to single trips; eastbound Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays returning westbound Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

CP8040 at Ogden, Calgary AB., in 1973, and little changed from the original maroon, grey and yellow stripes paint scheme, except for the lettering.

Nonetheless, the 8040 and the way-freight survived and plodded on into the 1970’s. I do not know which year CPR’s Sherbrooke-Megantic way-freight service ended. In 1973 I had moved to Vancouver and was not around at the time. 

Perhaps missing the end was a good thing.


Notes : 
CP8040 Retired (9/1995). Sold to Windsor & Hantsport Railway (2/1996). Scrapped at Windsor, NS. (5/2006).

The Oddblock Station Agent