Friday, October 21, 2016


It's funny that, no matter how long I've lived elsewhere, I still refer to the Sarnia area as 'home.' It's weird to me to think that my daughters will grow up thinking the same of Ottawa. And yes, Ottawa is where I live and have lived for some time, but I rarely call this city home.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was lucky enough to carve out some time to visit the Sarnia CN Yard, or at least the station. It's always worth reminding everyone to stay where it is legal to watch the action. Sarnia yard is so large that you have lots of choices, but the closest vantage point is the Via Rail station.

What made my time trackside even more special was the fact that I was able to share some time watching trains with my brother and my nephew. My nephew loves trains and wants to be an engineer when he grows up. My brother has also really enjoyed sharing his son's love of the big machines.

So, with that, I thought I'd share some first glimpses of what I saw over the weekend.

When I arrived on Friday, a tunnel train was making its way west toward Port Huron. I didn't catch the front end, but I was happy to catch a long row of flat cars carrying truck chassis to an automaker in Michigan, no doubt. I don't often see this freight other than in Sarnia.

Here's the tail end of the tunnel train making its way below the gantry. I've really come to love the shots of the tail end of long freights. You can see the CN Hobson sign in the distance. More about Hobson in a future post.

There was some shunting going on. I took a couple of quick shots, but the sun was not kind that day and was washing out most of my shots.

Once the shunting cleared away, I had an interesting view of the old roundhouse, where a yard engine and a slug were idling next to one of the Novacor switchers. I've seen this unit before. You can also make out the outline of a few other CN units that are in the old roundhouse for servicing from Lambton Diesel.

I was lucky enough to catch the CSX interchange on Saturday with my brother and nephew. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the weekend. I will devote more space to this in a future post. But this view shows you the front end of the CSX transfer emerging around the old roundhouse with two GP38s pulling what turned out to be a very long consist into Sarnia Yard. You may recall my other meets with this train in this post and this one.

And one final shot of some of CN's heavy hitters putting together a train, likely headed for points west on the other side of the tunnel. I know it may seem strange, but this is the first time I've caught this type of smoke coming out of a diesel. I actually caught a few dramatic smoke shots on the weekend, which I will share in a future post. It was really gratifying to catch this, since it really does capture the essence of what goes on in a rail yard.

So that's a very short primer of some of the things I caught recently in Sarnia. Special thanks to my brother and my nephew for sharing the experience. Thanksgiving is all about family and homecomings, at least to me, so I couldn't think of a better way to spend a little time with some fellow railfans.


Steve Boyko said...

A nice variety of action in Sarnia! That diesel shop looks like an interesting place to look at now and then.

Michael said...

Thanks, Steve. Yes, Lambton Diesel can often provide some interesting railfanning, depending on the units that are shipped there for servicing. It's something local railfans keep a close eye on.