Thursday, August 14, 2014

Caboose survivors

It's an increasingly rare sight to see cabooses in regular service on today's freight railways. I've been lucky since starting this blog to see a few in service here in Ottawa. You might remember my earlier posts, which featured images of CN's former Devco caboose. Then there is the ever popular so-ugly-it's-interesting Millennium caboose. Both of these can be found in Walkley Yard most mornings, before the CN local leaves for the day.

Last fall, I caught up with two CSX bay-window cabooses on the end of the CSX Sarnia Subdivision and mentioned them fleetingly in a post. Going through my work from last year, I realized that I hadn't really delved into the story of these two bay window survivors much.

This was the site Oct. 13 of last year when I was taking photos at the end of the Sarnia Subdivision. At the end of a string of tank cars and covered hoppers, two CSX bay window cabooses were hitched together. One of them, CSXT 900027, I had never seen. It was painted in a safety scheme. The other caboose, which still wears its Chessie colours, was a little more interesting, since its side windows were still largely visible, even though they had been welded shut. Here's a closer look at the Chessie caboose. These crew cars have been a fixture on this subdivision for decades.

It was hard to make out the car's numbers, since the numbering had faded and I didn't want to venture off the access road. Both of these units are obviously used for shoving moves when the caboose leads the train. This requires a crew member to be posted on the caboose platform to keep an eye on the route ahead. You will notice in the above photos how the doors to each caboose are blocked, with No Trespassing signs posted. I've seen some railfan photos from this yard with people inside these old cabooses, posing for photos out the windows. That would explain the windows now being welded shut, although it's hard to tell from this image of the Chessie caboose whether the bay window is indeed boarded up, welded, or simply dirty.

Here's a shot, below, of a bay window in its prime, travelling through Corunna in 1991. It is hitched to an ex-Louisville & Nashville high-cube boxcar.

The CSX caboose in the yard was no doubt a former Chessie caboose, but finding earlier photos of it were tough. Here's a shot of another CSX caboose with the same livery, in regular revenue service. I searched through a few sites, but found only a few shots of this particular caboose. This shot shows this unit in service as the last CSX train out of Wallaceburg makes its way north toward Sombra.

The CSX Sarnia Subdivision has hosted both cupola-style and bay window cabooses over the years. They were used in revenue service into the early 1990s, well after CN stopped using its cabooses in the area. Up to the end of the caboose era, the Sarnia Sub featured Chessie System-painted cabooses, which makes the appearance of a CSX-caboose on the line a bit of a rarity. For more on these cars, check out my post, Cabooses on the CSX Sarnia Sub.

Just for fun, I thought I'd add in a shot of two CSX GP38-2s making their way into the yard, with a crew man watching from the end of the long hood. I caught these two at the end of my short visit to this yard in October. These two units came hustling into the yard at quite a clip before screeching to a stop amid a collection of other geeps.

The Bedell Saga: As I mentioned last week, I am delaying the final post in my Bedell, Ontario series, due to computer issues, which are being resolved as we speak. I have all the photos from my Bedell adventure on my ailing computer. Unfortunately, I was unable to transfer copies the images to my back-up drive in time. I am told that it's a video card issue, and have been told my files should be safe.

Attention Ottawa train watchers: I have noticed that several Ottawa train watchers have been curious about when they could possibly catch elusive CN freight action in and around Ottawa. There's particular interest in the Arnpior local, which passes through Bells Corners. Thanks to some observant readers and other contacts, I have pieced together a schedule of CN freight assignments around Ottawa, which I will share in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.

Passing siding: I will be parking this blog on a passing siding next week, as I will be visiting family in southern Ontario. I hope to return to Ottawa with lots of new photos to share in the coming months. I plan on shooting CN, CSX and Goderich-Exeter action.


AJ said...

If you are sitting on a dead video card, not only should that be an easy fix (assuming you have a desktop), but you should be good to go once it is replaced.
I am one of those eager locals looking to catch something on my neck of the city so I'll be eagerly awaiting you schedule!
Have a good one

Eric said...

Enjoyed this post, Michael. Have a good vacation. Notice how many railroaders are seen on working vans in this post:

at meets or coming in to pick up train orders. Definitely made railroading more human.