Monday, February 27, 2017

Goodbye Goderich

This past summer, my family's presence in the Goderich area ended as my in laws packed up their life and moved to Mitchell, Ontario. The bad news for me is that it means I will no longer be able to take in all the railway heritage and GEXR operations in this Lake Huron port town. The good news is Mitchell is still on the GEXR Goderich Sub, so I hope to catch something different this summer when I visit my in laws in their new home.

This shot, which is a scan of a print, is courtesy of my railway colleague in Kingston, Eric Gagnon. You know him by his blog, Trackside Treasure. This shot above shows GEXR GP9 177 (once named Titania) along with three other geeps working the salt mine yard in Goderich Harbour. GEXR continues to serve the Sifto salt mine and the related mining industry in the Goderich, although its traffic is lighter than it once was since the town has lost other industries over the last few decades (the Volvo heavy equipment plant being a prime example). Despite this, there are possibly better times ahead for Goderich as federal money to establish this town as a deepwater port on the lake (the only such port on the Canadian side of the lake) means better prospects could be ahead for the railway.

As you know, this town has quite a rail history. You can read about in these following posts:

Rather than get into the history again, I thought I'd share a few quick picks and memories. The first memory I have is being able to see the results of a massive project to move the old Canadian Pacific station from its original spot to its new beachside locale a few hundred metres away. I wrote about this a fair bit and am happy to share that the owner of the building has faithfully restored this building, despite some nervous locals who weren't sold on this project. The town now has a unique restaurant on the town's beach that is a perfect spot on a summer day. The inside of the building really does look sharp, as many of the original design elements were kept.

It's interesting that I've filled so much space on the blog with musings and photos from Goderich. I was actually never lucky enough to catch trains in action in all my time spent trackside in the town. I did catch some cool still lifes though. This shot below shows the local switcher, GP 4001, tied up for the day while a string of covered hoppers await their next move.

I have shown this shot, below, many times, but I always love showing it again. This is one of those shots where everything comes together. Look at the colours of all the hoppers and the grass growing between the rails. This screams small town short line to me. I was really happy when I caught this site.

Here's another view of the silent rail yard, as seen just beyond the East Street Station platform. You can see the GP9, the hoppers, the old CN station and a slowly crumbling trackside shack. Lots going on.

As much as I will miss this railway town, the silver lining is that I will soon be able to discover another trackside opportunity in Mitchell, hometown of Montreal Canadien great, Howie Morenz.

I am really hopeful that I can catch a shot like this one, possibly alongside a great elevator. That would be a fine addition to my GEXR collection.

Small piece of trivia: Do you know why GEXR once named its GP9s, such as the Titania, above?


Steve Boyko said...

Love these branch line photos - great views of a quiet operation.

Mark Heiden said...

The GP9s were named after Shakespearean characters, as Stratford is home to the Stratford Festival. The locomotives were named Titania (177), Paulina (178), Portia (179), and Falstaff (180).

Michael said...

Thanks for the comments,gents. Correct, Mark! The Shakespearean names were reflective of the fact that the GEXR is headquartered in Stratford, home of the Shakespeare festival.

Eric said...

Nice to see the GEXR getting some airing and sharing in photograph form, Michael!

Naming locomotives after Shakespearean characters would be enjoyable and you would never get 'bard' doing it.