Peter and Luc's Excellent Northern Ontario Railfan Adventure
Photos and Narrative by Peter Mumby
|Our first stop was at CN (formerly WC) Soo yard in Sault Ste Marie
Michigan. The sole occupants of the yard were these two former Canyon
Tour Train domes, GBW 901 "Agawa Country" and ex-WP California Zephyr
car "Spirit of Superior." |
early 2014 I was aware that CN intended to terminate its passenger
service on the Soo Sub (Algoma Central) on the last day of March. I
didn't give it a lot of thought until I got a call from my friend Luc
Sabourin in Sarnia. Apparently the Algoma Central "Tour of the Line"
(Sault Ste Marie to Hearst and return) was on his bucket list, and it
was now or never. Did I want to go along? By the time minds were made
up, CN had announced a one month extension, so we settled on the first
week of April.
A room was booked in Hearst for the evening of
April 3 (a necessary pre-condition to reserving a train ticket) and
return tickets were purchased for April 3/4. Cost was $237.65 each. We
planned to go north through Michigan, then return through Ontario with
railfanning stops in the Sudbury and North Bay areas.
|This sign at Soo yard detailed the yard's ownership prior to the CN takeover of Wisconsin Central.|
staying over night in Sault Ste Marie Michigan, we arrived at Steelton
Yard on the Ontario side about 30 minutes before the scheduled 09:00
departure. This gave us time to watch the train of F40PH CN 104,
baggage AC312, coaches AC5654 and 5655, and power car AC78 being
assembled. We departed on time with about ten passengers, a crew of two
in the locomotive, and conductor Kelly Ross with us in coach 5654. By
the time we reached MP 119, all passengers had detrained except for the
four of us who were bound for Hearst. Our only other stop was for two
minutes at Hawk Junction at the request of the railfan passengers! CN
631, scheduled to arrive at Hearst (MP 296) at 18:40, actually arrived
about 1.5 hours late.
We were up early the next morning with CN
632 departing Hearst (the most northerly point on Ontario's highway
system!) at 08:00. We left with four passengers and made no stops until
we arrived at Sault Ste Marie about 30 minutes later than the
The next morning we set off for Sudbury, with
several stops along the Huron Central Railway on the way. Our route to
London was hardly direct, with stops at Capreol, North Bay, Englehart,
Huntsville, and Washago to photograph CN, OVR, ONR, and CN trains and
equipment. I'll let the photos and captions tell the rest of the story.
|All the HCRY and OVR vehicles and structures we saw were nicely maintained and branded.
|Huron Central 3802/802 in the yard at Sault Ste Marie Ont. April 02, 2014.
|Power car AC 78 at Steelton yard in SSM. April 03, 2014.|
|CN 104 has backed onto its train and is ready to take #631 to Hearst.
|The train stopped at mile 96.5 where this interesting sign was located.
The first passenger getting off had snowshoes; the other two ladies
stepped off the coach and sunk into snow up to their hips.|
a postscript, I should mention that CN has subsequently announced that
Algoma Central passenger service has been extended for another year.
Care to make some plans?