Sunday, March 29, 2020

Three shots, lots of history

I am always aware that many readers of this blog come across it accidentally and read these postings long after I posted them. So rather than expounding on the state of the world as it stands on March 29th, 2020, as I write this, let's just enjoy what we came here for. Let's explore our passion for railways together for a few minutes and consider ourselves lucky to be able to do so.

With that in mind, I recently came across some images I captured this past summer in Southwestern Ontario when I was visiting family in the Sarnia area. Those who are regular visitors here know I post a lot from this area, since it is where I grew up and it remains a spot I visit semi-regularly.

One day near the end of my last visit, I took my nephew and my daughters to the Sarnia CN rail yard on our way home from a visit to a museum in the downtown. We were treated to the sight of a tunnel train marshalling its load together in front of the Sarnia Via rail station. You can read all about that train here.

But as I was looking for other items of interest in the yard, I turned my attention to the old Sarnia roundhouse, where Lambton Diesel operates as a repair and refurbishment facility for many railways. That means you are often treated to the sight of rare or odd units in the yard, depending on the day you visit.

Take this image below. You can clearly see the long hood of an old CP geep in its action scheme It's most likely an old GP9, which was one of the last of the railway's GP series that was rostered on the railway in recent years. My guess is this hood was from a geep that was sold off to a shortline or industrial operation before it reached the end of its lifespan and was sold for scrap or parts.

You can also see the old Novacor SW series switcher, which appeared to be in for servicing. I have shot that unit at the Nova Corunna plant a few times in recent years, where it still operates alongside what appears to be a genset. And old CN warhorse GP9 is peaking out from behind the shell of the old CP geep hood.

Here's another shot with no shortage of interesting material. You can the see the exposed engine of an old CN SW1200 switcher in the centre of the frame. To its left, the old Esso SW switcher, which likely was in for servicing. As Imperial Oil still has a very large presence in the Chemical Valley, I'm sure that switcher is kept busy

Look to the left of the Esso unit and you can see a grey shell of another geep unit. The grey could be primer or possibly it's an old CSX livery. I am guessing it's been taken down to primer. Just a hunch. Looking to the right of the frame, you can see another grew SW unit behind the old CN unit. To the right of the frame, CSX has one of its GP38s in for servicing as well.

I almost missed this unit, but saw it at the last second, sandwiched in between a tank car and an NCIX covered hopper. I don't know how many of this GATX units are still in use on the CN system, but I'm guessing few, if any, especially given the dearth of business right now.

So there's a brief distraction for you. Lots of 1960s-1970s heritage units, all in a few shots. I always make sure to get a shot of these old locomotives when I see them in Sarnia because you never know which ones are destined to become parts for another engine.

Catch the history while you can.


Brandon D said...

Pretty sure I have seen the CN engine from the first photo and the GATX in the last photo make their way through Ottawa on the way out to Arnprior in the last 12 months. Haven't seen those engines around here lately.

Michael said...

You're right Brandon. We had a GATX unit prowling around Ottawa last year. And the old GP9s are a pretty common sight. That is, when you actually spot a freight train in the city these days...

AJ said...

Hey Michael

Hope your keeping safe!
Wanted to give you a heads up about some rail related news in the city. There was an interesting post on the Facebook group "Ottawa Found" the other day about city crews working along the parkway around Britannia (for the LRT construction). They apparently were digging up and moving out the rock wall barrier along the river and dug up several sections of the old trackage. Would be worth checking out as I suspect they're likely digging up more rail related items.

I can't send you a link (not sure if it would work outside of FB), but if you check out Ottawa Found (Apr 12 @ 10:37 AM)or Lost Ottawa (around 9:30 AM this morning), it has been shared on both.

Chris vanderHeide said...

With the GP9s getting rather old and slowly dropping off the roster, CN has had a bunch of the GMTX engines on lease for over a year now to replace them. One or two of them have been working the Sarnia yard and local jobs since last spring along with some remaining old CN GP9Rms, GP38-2s, GP40-2Ls, GTW GP38-2s and GP40-2s, and even a couple of GMD-1s have cycled through here.

Michael said...

True, Chris. I saw a few pics of the GMD-1s in Sarnia. Catch 'em while you can.