Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A Few Scenes from the 1201 Adventures

In the latter part of the 1980's the Bytown Railway Society organized several passenger train excursions with former Canadian Pacific Railway steam locomotive 1201 assigned to hauling the trains. The 1201 was the star attraction and the raison d'etre behind organizing the trains.

Kie and I were fortunate enough to have been passengers on most of those special adventure journeys that operated, however, as is often the case, the first trip was the most memorable.

The first trip we rode was from Ottawa to Pembroke return over CNR's former Beachburg Subdivision. Autumn colours were at their best on that first weekend of October. A cool, clear and cloudless day only added to everyone's excitement and enjoyment. 

The excursion was an all day event that started in Ottawa at daybreak and ended in the same place at sunset. For us, before and after also included drives to and from Ottawa from Montreal's West Island.

Perhaps the most unusual event of the day was the one that had not been planned. As the train neared Pembroke an elderly man became ill and passed away. An ambulance was waiting as the train pulled into the station. Later in the day I overheard a crew member remark that the passenger had died doing what he had wanted and went as he would have wished.

Not too far beyond the western outskirts of Ottawa, a CTC signal informs the head-end crew of clear track ahead.

Nothing attracts a crowd like an operating steam engine! Some were train passengers and many were from the cars parked along the parallel road. Regardless of subsequent decades of changing technologies, steam engines do not run very far without water. The first stop was made at Bristol, Quebec. Although CNR's steam-age infrastructure was long gone when this stop was made, a fire-truck at a small crossing was used to supply and pump water to the 1201

With the tender refilled and a few straggling passengers remaining to be boarded, (photographer included) the 1201 and train are waiting for the signal to proceed.

Beachburg, Ontario. With most passengers already on the ground and staking out locations from which to take their pictures, the 1201 has just been given the okay to back the train to prepare for the "run-by."

Although the train was actually moving backward when this scene was recorded, people are lined up and grabbing pictures. One constant challenge in these events is to keep things safe and orderly so that people are not in the way of each other and, of course, off the track.

No one was in the way when Kie took this picture after the train had charged by the excited spectators...literally under a full head of steam. A TV camera crew was on top of that water tower in the background recording the run-by.

In looking back, these unique railway excursion adventures were genuinely well planed and carried out by the Bytown Railway Society and the host railway. Again these many years later, I can only say thank you to those who worked tirelessly to make these events happen.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum August 18, 2013

Railfans, and others along just for the ride, doing what they love when a revived steam engine is involved. Kie took this photo on the first of the 1201 trips to Pembroke, Ontario, when the train made its first stop; in Bristol, Quebec. I have always thought this was the best photo out of all the ones we both took that day.

One more look at 1201

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