Sunday, December 11, 2016

An Unplanned Chase

A foggy and overcast November 21st began with a plan to drop the girlfriend off at work in Spruce Grove, and then head back into Edmonton to shoot around the city. Having said goodbye and started back east, I took the 16A.

The 16A Passes over the CN Edson Sub just out side of Spruce Grove and here I saw a a headlight coming west. So, I quickly pulled off at the next crossing to get a shot. As the gates came down, I brought the camera up to shoot a side on shot. The train rushed by, and I saw IC 1001 leading CN 2574.

As the train continued to roll by me, I stopped for a second to make sure that the shots had turned out ok. Of course I had forgotten the focus was set to manual from a previous day! Not wanting to miss out on a decent picture, the chase was on!

Failed attempt at shooting IC 1001
Hopping back on the 16A westbound, I heard the train get a clearance through a foreman's limits in Spruce Grove. This clearance also told me that the train number was CN 301.

I made sure to get far enough ahead to be able to set up, and decided to pull into a road that dead-ends at the tracks between Carvel, and Duffield to shoot some pictures, and video (watch the video here).

As the train approached, I did some practice shots to make sure things were focused. They came closer, and closer, and.... oh crap my camera won't shoot now! A quick off and back on, and it was too late. They were by me.

Too late!
Once again determined not to be denied, I jumped in the car and headed west. This time I got to the trestle over the Trans Canada west of Gainford and set up for a shot of an eastbound train 102, which would be meeting 301, and 199 at Gainford.

After 102 had passed, I went to the next crossing to the west to get 301. Before long, I heard 301 give 102 the old "looking good on both sides" and call a clear signal at Gainford. Meaning they were once again coming west.

Soon enough they were within sight again, and I snapped some pictures without any problems this time.

Finally, I had what I wanted.

As the tail-end passed, I was back in the car heading east to shoot 199 beside the stopped 102.

I like the low down angle in this one.

After that I decided to head into Wabamun to try a few different angles there as well, but they didn't turn out how I had hoped and I decided that was the end of the day for me trackside.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Shortline Profile, Episode 3: Southern Rails Co-operative

Episode 3 of the Shortline Profile series bring us to the Southern Rails Co-Operative (SRC) south of Moose Jaw.

The SRC began operations in 1989 running over the former CN Avonlea Sub from Moose Jaw to Parry, as well as the former CP Colony from Rockglen to Killdeer. Today however, SRC operates only on the Avonlea Sub from Moose Jaw to Truax where the rails end.

We begin our journey along the shortline in Moose Jaw where the interchange with CN is located.

The photo to the right is looking at CN trackage. The tracks to the left are CN's interchange with CP, and straight is back to their own operations. Directly behind me would be the beginning of SRC tracks.

As you can tell from the first picture, it was a dreary, overcast day. Luckily the rain held off until I was finished for the day, so lets continue southbound.

The next stop was the trestle just on the outskirts on Moose Jaw. While from the below angle the bridge looks to be in a bit of disrepair, it does in fact still get used by the SRC. The low speed at which the line is operated makes this track ok for the SRC to pull their mainly grain trains over. I say mainly because they also pull a few tank cars, and on this visit they were storing potash cars

Not much farther south was another trestle which I stopped to snap a side shot of. This one is also quite impressive with its wooden support.

Our first village stop was at Briercrest, which is about a 47km drive from Moose Jaw. This little village was incorporated in 1912 housing approximately 100 people. Today, there are only a handful more people living in the village, but it is still home to two old grain elevators.

Both elevators here wear Briercrest Grain Limited marks, which according to their site moves Alpine Fertilizer, and Agrimaxx products.

The elevator pictured to the left is an ex Federal elevator, but did not appear to be in use anymore. Or at least not in a while.

The other elevator here was definitely still in use, but no one was around on this day, so I rolled down the service road to grab a few shots of it, and the equipment.

This elevator is an ex Sask Pool which, as you can tell from the picture below, has had a number of modifications made to it in order to move different products.

Continuing southeast now, we come to Avonlea. This small community is home to a number interesting items, including the Avonlea Heritage Museum.

Housed in an old railway station, this small museum is home to a number of railway related items, including an old caboose. As you may see in the picture to the right, the museum itself was closed on the day of my visit, so I quickly looked around before moving on.

After the quick stop at the museum, I went to check out the new unit that was on property in Avonlea. GMTX 2674 sat just south of the of the elevator, and had only arrived on the SRC the previous day.

Prior to arriving on SRC, GMTX 2674 had spent some time with the Great Sandhills railway. It didn't last long here either though, as it was seen a few weeks later in Edmonton.

Having shot the museum, and GMTX unit in Avonlea I decided to continue on to the next stop, Truax.

On my way to Truax I came across the potash cars that SCR had been storing. They don't travel south of Avonlea to Truax often (if at all), so these stored cars are out of the way of other operations on the line.

Moving into Truax itself, this small unicorperated community was once home to many businesses, but today is very much a ghost town. Truax may now be much smaller than it once was, but the elevator still stands here. It was built in 1964 and is now a heritage property, which hopefully means with will avoid any wrecking balls for a long time.

The end of track is located just on the southeast edge of Truax, and here I found some old maintenance of way equipment.

This was the end of my shots on the active SRC line, so I began to head home. Luckily for me that meant following the inactive portion of the CN Avonlea Sub southeast a bit more.

The first stop was Parry where the old elevator still stands, and some CN heritage shows on the old Parry sign nearby. Parry was much like many of the other small communities along this journey, in that in its day it would have been a much busier place.

The final stop of the day was Moreland, where the pictures can speak for themselves.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Falling behind!

Apologies to my followers! Since moving, I haven't kept up this page much.

The plan is to try and get things rolling again, and I have a few posts that are about half way to being done. It is just a matter of finishing them up.

For now, I'll share the latest time-lapse compilation that showcases a few different areas of Alberta, as well as some shots from Florida.

For those of you who don't know what a time-lapse entails, it involves taking a picture every few seconds for an extended period of time, and then putting them together. The base for this video was 24 frames per second, which allows us to see the movement in things that would otherwise go unnoticed.

I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Edmonton Bound

Well, I have moved again. This time to Edmonton, Alberta with my girlfriend's job.

We plan to be here for a number of years, so I will be basing the majority of my posts out of the city.

Just before we moved however, I did manage to get in one more day out trackside for another shortline profile. Look for that in the coming weeks!

As for now, here is a shot of IC 1003 acting as the tail DPU on an eastbound CN potash train near Spruce Grove, AB.

Note: The picture says U758, the correct train number is B758.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Soo Line Units

Over the last few months I have seen a number of Soo units rolling over the Weyburn Subdivision. So I thought I would share some pictures with you!

The first of the year came on March 11 and was Soo 6061 rolling north on train 499. 6061 is the last Soo painted SD60M on the CP roster, and I knew that this unit was coming (by checking Heritage Units), but I had to work when it would have been rolling through. Luckily for me though, they had work to do in Weyburn! As soon as I got off work they were heading north, so I raced ahead to get a few shots.

YouTube video

April 30th brought the next unit in the form of Soo 6053. This one I also knew was coming, but this time the source was the RailsAB Facebook group. Below we see 6053 trailing on train 292 near Ralph, SK.

Third, and last (so far) was Soo 6035 on May 12. This unit, I had no idea was coming but was very lucky to have been out fishing within sight of the Weyburn Sub. I spotted the white Soo paint and walked (okay, ran) to the car and chased them north of Weyburn to grab the quick shot below.

YouTube video

Hopefully they keep rolling. Always enjoy seeing them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Shortline Profile, Episode 2: Long Creek Railroad

Long Creek Railroad logo
In this episode, we will take a look at the Long Creek Railroad (LCR) which is a shortline operating in South-Eastern Saskatchewan. The trackage on which the LCR operates is the former Canadian Pacific Bromhead Sub, and a portion of the former Neptune Sub/Spur. In all the LCR stretches 41 miles from Estevan to Tribune.

The LCR began operations in 2012 when a group of about 25 shareholders finally took over the line after years of delay due to a number of different issues. You can read more about those issues here, but they included such issues as flooding, and pricing for a purchase of the line.

The Bromhead Sub was built in 1913 by CP, and was originally known as the Neptune Branch which stretched from Estevan to Neptune. Later, the Bromhead Sub was extended from Southall to Minton, and the section from Southall to Neptune via Tribune became known as the Neptune Spur/Sub.

Current LCR operations marked with Aqua. Abandoned CP trackage of the Neptune and Bromhead Subs marked with burgundy. Current CP in red.

Cars stored near the end-of-track.
Anyway, we begin our journey along the LCR at the west-end of the current track near Tribune.

Here we see a number of "cans" in storage just shy of the end of track. These cars are likely here due to the recent downturn in oil prices, and they are not the only ones we would come across, as many more will be shown in pictures below as we move east.

The shot below I included because of the abandoned buildings on the hill. There are many abandoned structures out here that give the area a bit of an eerie feel to it.

Same cars, but from another angle. Those houses on the hill are abandoned.

Moving on into Tribune, we see the loading facility which on this day only has four cars parked further back awaiting to either be picked up, or loaded.

Facility at Tribune.

The next stop on this adventure was Southall, the location of a transloading facility. Prior to the purchase of the line, the LCR's main commodity was expected to be grain, but the increase in the oil industry in the area gave the LCR an extra source of income. Torq Transloading built a transfer site at Southall which was a good location due to the presence of a wye, and a short stretch of track that still continues south-west on the former Bromhead Sub.

Oil cars stretched out at Southall.
Cars on both legs of the Southall wye

The next stop was Bromhead which is visible in the above photo. Although Bromhead was the namesake for the subdivision on which the LCR runs, it is now very much a ghost town. Two fires destroyed much of the town, and it never really recovered.

Bromhead elevators, and cars stored.
When we arrived in town from the west, we found more cars in storage, and two grain elevators still standing, although not in use by the looks of things.

Getting a closer look at the elevators, the two sport the letters A and F which I take to mean that at one point there were at least six that would have stood here. The elevator marked A is a former Saskatchewan Pool elevator, while the other marked F looks to be a former Lake of the Woods Milling Co elevator, but I can't quite make out the words on this photo from the 1950's on SaskHistoryOnline. Also looking at that photo, there are four obvious elevators, and a fifth that is hidden behind one of the Canadian Consolidated elevators. So the thought of six being here at one point isn't necessarily out the question.

Have a look at the photos below of the east and west sides of elevators A, and F.

East side of elevator A

West side of elevator A

East side of elevator F

West side of elevator F

After examining the elevators at Bromhead it was back on the road for our next stop at Troquay.

Arriving at Troquay, we found another two elevators standing, but these two appeared to still be in use. To my surprise (based on info I was given) we also found one of the LCR units parked on the "mainline".

Two elevators, and a LCR unit at Torquay

Of course I had to take a quick walk across a field to get a few close ups of the unit.

LCR 6347 is an ex. Southern Pacific GP35, and was purchased from the Dakota Missouri Valley & Western Railway in 2013.

LCR 6347 sits quietly in Torquay

I also made sure to get a few shots of the elevators in Torquay, both of which were at one point Sask Pool owned. Today however they are owned by Pederson Heritage Farms.

Elevator "A"

Elevator "B"

After Torquay it was a quick drive down the highway to Outram, where we came across our last elevator of the day. And like many of the other on this day, it is a former Sask Pool, but this one is a bit different in that the new owners have actually put their name on it;  Lievaart Farms Ltd.

Notice that we have more tank cars here.

Getting closer to Estevan now, we come to the trestle located just below the Rafferty Dam which holds back the Rafferty  Reservoir. Below we see the trestle, and the Souris River.

Continuing towards Estevan, I made a stop at the LCR shop located down a road behind the KFC. The road in wasn't in great shape, so I parked and walked in.

Here I was hoping to find the LCR's second unit, but it must have been inside.

LCR Shop

Of interest up on the hill was the maintenance of way equipment, seen below.

After the quick stop at the shop, I took my final pictures at the Junction where the LCR meets the Canadian Pacific at mile 137.5 of CP Weyburn Sub.

LCR line at right, CP at left

LCR at left, CP at right

Some extra info I found:

- CP and LCR share up to mile 2 of the Bromhead Sub in order to exchange cars with each other.
- Long Creek also owns about 20 acres of property south of Estevan which was supposedly going to be used for pipe storage/transportation yard. Not sure if that is still planned or not.

That was the end of our adventure on the Long Creek Railroad. Hope you enjoyed!


Friday, January 8, 2016

A Look Back at the Year of 2015

2015 certainly brought an adventure, and a lots of learning experiences. Let's take a look back at some of the highlights of the year:

January 6:
I started the year still in Eastern Ontario railfanning the CP Winchester, and CN Kingston Subs. Below is my first video of the year in the form of CP 8944 heading east over Kemptville Creek, near station name Bedell.

The same day, I ventured down to the Kingston Sub to get my first CN action of the year, and wasn't disappointed.

VIA 62, and CN 532 pass by me within a minute of each other just east of Brockville. 62 was travelling much quicker than 532, with made "The Tortoise & The Hare" a suiting name.

January 16:
This day brought the opportunity to shoot a train that I had been aiming to get for quite some time. CN 327 is a mixed freight that originates in Montreal, Quebec and terminates in Syracuse, NY. Often times this train sports CSX power, and today I was able to catch some.

January 20:
4 days after catching CN 327, I had the opportunity to catch a Ferromex unit operating in Canada on CP train 143 out of Montreal. I knew that the train had departed Montreal just prior to myself leaving Orleans. Little did I know that I would show up just 5 minutes after they had past through Finch, Ontario. When I realized what had happened, I chased them down. An hour and a half later I was finally ahead of them, and managed to get the shot below. This is the first and only shot I have of a Ferromex unit thus far.

February 28 - March 3:
Near the beginning of February, I learned that my girlfriend and I would be moving to Weyburn, SK. This would be our first big adventure of the year, and I did a few blog posts dedicated to the move which took place on the noted dates above:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

March 7:
Having finally settled down a bit in Weyburn, I ventured out to catch my first train on the Prairies. I quickly learned "holy cow that wind is cold" when shooting CP 8776 south. Of interest to me in this catch was CP 6615 sandwiched between 8776, and 8846.

March 15:
The first trip of the year to Regina yielded my first catch of the Stewart Southern Railway(SSR) near Richardson. Later in the year, the SSR would be the focus of my first episode of "Shortline Profile", which you can read about here.

March 23:
While this may not be a big deal to everyone, March 23 marked my first catch of a Loram Rail Grinder in action.

Seeing this thing in action was pretty cool, and I am glad that I got the opportunity to shoot it.

May 3:
On this day, I published the first instalment of "Abandoned Rails" to the blog. The original focused on CN's abandoned Turtleford Sub, and the second which was published later in the year on CP's Kisbey Sub.

May 8:
May 8th was the day of a journey to Lloydminster by myself. I took thee opportunity to do some railfanning along the way, and did a post about the day, here. Highlights were a CP ballast train, Last Mountain Railway power at Alyesbury, and perfect timing for a meet on CN.

May 17:
The 17th brought me home for the funeral of my Grandfather(Papa). This definitely was not a planned trip home, but another lesson learned in "don't take things to granted."

While sitting in my grandparent backyard, I took advantage of nice quiet morning to shoot CN 120, and 407 rolling through Belmont. There is something about the hills, and the quiet being broken in below shot of 407 that I love. The same can be said about this shot of 120 moments earlier.

May 25:
After the very quick trip home to NS, I had about a day between getting back to Saskatchewan, and heading to California for my Cousin's wedding. On May 25, I got lucky and caught Amtrak 144 heading south passed Kirby Park, CA.

July 1:
On July 1st, I found myself driving a friend home to Lloydminster. Along the way we came across a detoured CN intermodal on the Prairie North Line. The detour was set up due to work blockages on the mainline to the south.

You may also notice in this video that it is quite smoky. This was due to the wildfires burning to the north.

September 16:
This day marked the first release of my Google Earth railway maps. I began by releasing the CP network, and then later the CN network.

In the next few weeks I should be releasing the GWI Canadian Division, as well as a few other railways, so look for those in the coming weeks.

September 20:
On the 20th of September I caught a train near Wilcox, SK on the CP Weyburn Sub. This train, if you were to look at it, you would think was somewhere in the states because of the power it sported. UP 5535 and KCS 4831. You might think "why is this important?" Well it is important to me because catching that KCS unit meant that I had now captured all of the Class I railways on camera.

Have a watch of the video below, and read about where I caught each of the other class I railways here

The rest of the year was relatively quiet for myself, aside from acquiring my Dad's old Canon Rebel which I hope to get a lot of use out of in the next year to come.

Happy New Year to everyone!