Friday, October 1, 2021

Ghost in the Yard, Part II

In the last post, I shared some photos of a Grand Trunk locomotive still sporting its red and blue Grand Trunk scheme in Sarnia Yard. I haven't seen a GT painted unit in person since the 1990s, so I was quite happy to finally see one again in real life.

As I mentioned in that last post, I am not a picky railfan. I will take what I can get, especially considering how little there is to see here in Ottawa. So when I saw two crews switching cars in the Sarnia rail yard back in late July, I was quite happy to stand on the Via Rail station platform and try and get some images. The problem with each consist was that they were quite a way east of the station, so I had either hope they would get close or use my camera's zoom to get something worthwhile. Luckily, both came fairly close, which allowed me to capture a few rare sights (at least for me).

The second yard job I saw was being led by two old warhorse GP9s, one with the strange CN 15 logo that was applied to celebrate the railway's 15th anniversary as a public company. Up until that morning, I had no idea the railway applied this logo to one of these locomotives. Most of the recent photos of this unit show it with the ordinary black long hood with the CN lettering. However, it appears the special scheme was added in the  2010s, judging by this 2013 image taken in Winnipeg. (Update: Steve Boyko at caught up with the CN 15 GP9 in Winnipeg and blogged about it. You can see his post here.)

Sadly, given where I was on the station platform and the angle and distance, I couldn't get a clear shot of 7258, which soon pulled away from a string of carbon black hoppers toward the east end of the yard. Here's my attempt at a closer shot.

I don't know what to think of that special paint scheme. It really doesn't do anything for me and I would imagine it would confuse a lot of people who aren't familiar with the corporate history of CN. Imagine if someone was really observant, but ignorant of railway history. They might see the CN 15 logo one day and the CN 100 logo another day. Which one would make more sense? Thankfully, this scheme was not terribly prominent and isn't all that widespread anymore, from what I can tell. 

While I was watching these two crews do their work in the yard, I met another local railfan, who is the man behind Shortt Rail videos on YouTube. I take it that he's a constant presence here. I spoke with him for a bit and he assured me that both the GT unit and the CN 15 unit had been around Sarnia for a while. I believe him, given that he has close to 800 videos on his YouTube channel. He also had a Shortt Rail logo on back window of his car.

Anyway, before the rain began to fall, I tried to see if there was anything else to capture. I always had a fondness for these carbon black hoppers. When I was a boy, these cars, which were loaded at the Cabot plant in the Chemical Valley, were ribbed and had the Cabot Corp. logo in the upper right hand corner of the cars. You can see an example of that ribbed hopper design on the left. Now, all you get is the CABX reporting mark as a clue as to what these cars are for and where they are heading to or coming from. Still, I'd love to have a few of these on my layout at home.

I did manage a meet photo of the two yard jobs in action. Trying to get them both in one frame in a way that did them both justice was difficult. 

For a train-starved Ottawan, even this short time in the rail yard was a lot of fun. Shortly after this photo, it began to rain. There was a father on the station platform with his two sons, who were enjoying the rail yard with some donuts from Tim Hortons. We were all chatting about trains before the heavens opened and we all dashed for our cars. 

In retrospect, my timing couldn't have been any better. Two rare sightings at the same time in the span of less than half an hour. Talk about great train karma.


Steve Boyko said...

It's funny how those GP9s were commonplace a decade ago, and now they are rare.

I saw 7258 once in Winnipeg, working the hump back in June 2011 when the "15 years" paint was still fresh. It seems pretty random which locomotives got the "15 year" treatment. I wrote a post about them back in 2016.

Michael said...

I'm guessing you got a better photo than I did, as I could not find a good vantage point. But, you're right. The CN 15 paint seemed utterly random, if they were painting it on an old GP9.