Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Snapshot - November 2014

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." 
Peter and Luc's Excellent Northern Ontario Railfan Adventure 
Photos and Narrative by Peter Mumby

By 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.
After 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 advertised 17:40. 

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.

CN #631 at mile 165, Hawk Jct. 9.
CN #632 at Hearst. April 04, 2014.
ONR 1801/2200 waiting to return to Cochran later that morning.

Sault Ste Marie Ontario as viewed from the American side. Steelton yard would be located at about 11:00 in this view.
CN 5415N with 5420 and BCOL 4609 head north into the yard at Capreol. April 05, 2014.
Leased power on the OVR at North Bay. April 06, 2014.
ONR 2101,2103 outside the North Bay shops.
TNO 701 at the Englehart station. This view has been greatly improved with the elimination of the tall pine tree that used to stand right in front of the locomotive's pilot.
GEXR outside the ONR shops in North Bay. ONR solicits a fair bit of contract work at this site.

CN 2254N/5263 at Washago. April 07, 2014.
A couple of weeks later the snow is gone and HCRY 802 and DESX 107 are visible at the shops in Sudbury. April 20, 2014.

As 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?

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