Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Catching up with GEXR in Stratford

Stratford was my destination of choice. I knew it was the headquarters of the Goderich Exeter Railway. This railway has always been a source of fascination for me, which made this opportunity to possibly see it in action as a priority. I was dismayed to learn recently that GEXR no longer has control of the Guelph Subdivision, after CN resumed control of the right-of-way after the GEXR lease was not renewed. These are my thoughts about that from last week. So, as I was visiting family in the countryside about half an hour west of Stratford, I knew that my prospects for seeing something would likely be best in Stratford, since I didn’t want to venture too far afield.

When I arrived, I made sure to stake out a good spot near the historic train station, which was built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Railway. Interestingly, the two-storey station was built in the prairie style, according to the historic plaque. I’m not sure I’ve seen many stations like this in Ontario.

It was a beautiful summer morning, with a few clouds obscuring the rising sun, which turned out to be quite a blessing, as a real, honest-to-goodness GEXR train was readying itself alongside this grain and feed elevator complex. When I first arrived, the train was backing up toward the elevators with a short consist of grain hoppers in tow. I waited for the crew to get its clearance and watched the nearby signal before the short train eased forward.

I was thrilled with some of these shots, which have a few picturesque elements to them, not the least of which is the grain elevator. I often marvel at the grain elevator images on other blogs (hello, Trackside Treasure and Train Geek!) and wonder if I could ever capture something like that here in Ontario. Well, this one below is not quite as majestic, but it’s one of my favourite shots I have taken in years. If there was a better vantage point, I might have moved back a bit but I had to stay on publicly accessible land.

I was still quite happy with these images.

And, unlike a few years ago when I caught some GEXR action in Kitchener, this time I actually caught a fully painted GEXR geep in its Genesee & Wyoming colours. The GEXR unit is the second.

The first unit in the consist was notable too, since it was painted for the Southern Ontario Railway, a Hamilton-Nanticoke area shortline that was also swallowed up into the CN empire once again. So, a good catch all around.

I took a few more shots of the short train as it made its way to the Goderich Sub and northwest toward Lake Huron.

I stuck around to see if possibly a CN freight was going to make its way by the station, but signals at the station remained stubbornly solid red, which meant nothing was imminent, sadly. I have heard different stories as to just how much CN is using this subdivision again, as it doesn’t appear to be a huge priority for the railway.

I did look for some rolling stock in the yard worth shooting and saw this car, which was hard to capture properly due to the angle I had to capture it. It reminded me of a similar yellow hopper I spotted recently in Smiths Falls, but this one did not have the same paint scheme. NMIX 465119 is a Scoular grain hopper, with a grain image on the side. Here's another shot of the car here. The car is owned by NSC Minerals Inc. Anyone know more about these cars? This is the first time I've ever seen one. (Quick update - NSC Minerals is Saskatchewan's biggest provider of rock salt, according to its website. That would make sense for this car to be on a GEXR train headed to Goderich. The car will likely be used to service the salt mine at the end of the GEXR line at Goderich Harbour. Still no info on Scoular)

All in all, it was a brief, but exciting, morning for me in Stratford. I can now cross GEXR off my list officially, as I have captured a GEXR train at the east end of the Goderich Subdivision.


Steve Boyko said...

Hey, I love a good "train elevator" photo, and yours is one! Nicely done. Thanks for the shout-out!

I caught my first Scoular recently! I'm not sure about the history of those cars either, but they are pretty neat.

Michael said...

Steve, why do I feel like an archeologist these days, desperately trying to find old relics on the rails? When I was younger, these types of cars were so easy to spot!

Eric said...

Well, it's never too late to find the old rail relics. Though the elevators are definitely getting harder to catch!

Liked that NMIX Winchester & Western car, Michael!
Thanks for sharing,

Michael said...

The rust on the side of the Winchester and Western car is just begging to be replicated in HO scale, Eric. That is, when I get around to working on my layout in the basement again!