Thursday, December 18, 2014

Memories of 2014

That's a wrap for 2014. This post closes out my first full year of blogging (I started this blog in the spring of 2013). This past year has been an incredible experience for me. Here is what I am thankful for this year.

The first thing I am thankful for is having a better idea of the schedules of local freights in Ottawa. A big thank you to a few readers who privately reached out and filled me in on the local schedule here. This allowed me to meet up with CN 589 a few times, including this initial meeting in April, on the Smiths Falls subdivision near Moodie Drive. You will notice in the image below that the second hopper car is a former Chicago and Northwestern hopper. I was looking through photos the other night and noticed the faded logo. It just goes to show that there's treasure even in the smallest things (No pun intended, Eric Gagnon of Trackside Treasure!).

The second thing I am thankful for is the continuing light rail drama in Ottawa. Regular readers will know all about the O-Train plans here in the capital. I will not rehash the tale other than to say that the city is on track to have about 8 km of east-west rails in place between Tunney's Pasture and Blair by 2017. This route is the first phase of the project and has not come without a great deal of debate, including why anyone would build a rail line that parallels a bus expressway and has two endpoints in sparsely populated areas. Never mind the fact that existing, and sparsely used, rail lines still exist in the city and are not being considered for transit purposes.

The second phase of this project is off to another dramatic start as the city and the federal National Capital Commission are locked in a stalemate over an extension of the western leg of the railway. The city wants to run about a kilometre of the western line through NCC property, where the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway runs next to the Ottawa River. Of course, the NCC wants no part of a rail line near its precious parkway, even though the city has agreed to dig a trench to make the short span of line less obtrusive. The NCC wants the city to redirect the line through Rochester Field and through city parkland near Richmond Road. The Byron Linear Park is off limits to rail, the city has countered. And on and on it goes. Great fodder for a blog, though!

O-Train approaches Somerset Street in July along the former CP Ellwood Subdivision.

While local railfans resigned themselves to the fact that the Beachburg Subdivision north of Nepean Junction was being torn up, I made sure I tried to focus on existing CN operations in the city, like this local freight that was passing through Twin Elm in late September. I had set out to catch a train in this rural part of the city at the beginning of the year. You can read about this meeting here. I never used this shot below, but I like it because it captures some birds in flight and showcases a harvested hay field. So, you can say I'm thankful to live in a city where these types of images are possible.

This year started with a holiday visit to Sarnia in southwestern Ontario, where I met up with this long container train near Sarnia, in the farming hamlet of Mandaumin. The prairie-like feel of this area is a train watcher's best friend, since the lay of the land makes it possible to capture images such as this one from late last December. You can read about this meet here. I was especially thankful to be able to capture an Illinois Central unit on this train.

This next one may come as a surprise. I am thankful for the preservation conscious town of Petrolia in southwestern Ontario. This small town bills itself as Canada's Victorian Oil Town. Its Victorian charm is evident in its beautifully preserved Grand Trunk railway station, which is now the town's library. I was blown away by how many hits my post about this station garnered. This post has been my most popular one by far. I think I may have picked up a few readers in the area with this post.

Petrolia's former Grand Trunk Railway terminal on Aug. 18, 2014.

I am thankful for luck. In July, I made my way to a new spot, Bedell, Ont. This is a trackside hamlet near Kemptville, Ont., just south of Ottawa. It was here that I stumbled across the final dismantling of the former CP Prescott Subdivision, which once connected Ottawa with the CP's Winchester Subdivision. My timing allowed me to get some final photos of this old line and learn about its history through a series of posts. You can read Part I here, Part II here and Part III here. The shot below shows my meet with a CP mixed freight on its way west. It was the first CP train I have photographed in more than 20 years.

Finally, I am thankful to have been able to catch some final glimpses of the last action on the Beachburg Subdivision. Gone but not forgotten.

One of the last CN trains on the Beachburg Subdivision at Torbolton Ridge Road, on Nov. 11, 2014.

Finally, and most importantly, I am incredibly thankful to everyone who has dropped by to read the blog and especially those who have taken time to leave a message or to educate me when I am off the mark (special thanks to Dave M., my blog's first guest contributor). I never thought the blog would garner as much interest as it has and am thankful for every single page view. We've had some great discussions in the last few months and I'm hoping I can continue to engage everyone in the same way in the new year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone from The Beachburg Sub home office in Bells Corners, Ontario.



Steve Boyko said...

You had a great first year and I look forward to reading much more! All the best of the season to you and your family.

Michael said...

Many thanks Steve! It means a lot.

Eric said...

Thanks for your posts this year, Michael. Also, great to have you as a blog partner. Keep up the good work!


Michael said...

Thanks Eric! Always appreciate your comments.