This past March Break, I was lucky enough to be able to visit my family in Southwestern Ontario for a few days, which also meant some time spent trackside doing a little bit of railfanning. In my first post about this trip, I shared some photos of an eastbound CN mixed freight that was waiting in the siding for another train to pass. The weather conditions were less than ideal, as a snow squall off Lake Huron was pelting parts of Lambton County at the time I was finishing up my drive from Ottawa. But it did allow me to get a few winter railroading pictures, which is always a good thing, since I have not been active trackside this winter in Ottawa.
As I mentioned in my last post, I caught a freight train waiting on a siding outside of Watford (at Kingscourt Road) for another train, or so I thought. When I made my way down the Confederation Line, I made sure to make a quick detour down Wyoming's main street, called Broadway Avenue, to see if I was right.
Sure enough, I could see lights coming from Sarnia, which meant there was another eastbound train that was scheduled to overtake the eastbound on the siding near Watford. I quickly made my way to Wyoming's Via Rail station, where I could get some shots of this fast moving train as it hustled east to Toronto. I tried to fit the Wanstead Farmers Co-op grain elevator in the shot, but I didn't get the entire communications tower, as I figured it would not add much to the image.
This shot was actually taken from behind the Via Rail station platform, as that platform was a little too close to the tracks and didn't offer a terribly flattering angle for the train. I decided to pull back. I did get the Via Rail marker in the shot, which was a bonus. In this vantage point, the eastbound is just about to cross Wyoming's main street, Broadway, at speed. The speed restrictions through this town are pretty liberal, as the trains whiz through the downtown at what appears to my eye to be somewhere near 80 km/h. It's a well maintained track with heavy continuous welded rail on a very flat, straight right of way. Perfect for fast freight, in other words.
Given the light dusting of snow and the steady gusts of winds, the train was kicking up quite a cloud, which you can see in the first image. This consist was a straight line of empty autoracks heading back toward Toronto.
This might be my best conventional shot of my first day in Southwestern Ontario. In this shot, a pair of CN SD70M-2s 8896 and 8845 are approaching the Wyoming Via Rail station platform with a full string of empty autoracks in tow. This was the train that necessitated the mixed freight in Watford to take the siding near Watford.
Given the snow cloud that this train was kicking up, the going away shot was a complete wash, but here it is anyway. At least you can see the Via Rail signage.
Given the difficulties the snow presented, I decided to see if I could come up with some compelling images that illustrate the speed of this train. This shot below was my favourite. I took it from a ground level point of view.
After that shot, I decided to see if I could catch a few fallen flag emblems or interesting autoracks. As I have mentioned many times on this blog, railfanning can't just be about catching the engines or the front end of the train. There has to be more to it than that. That's my outlook, anyway.
We'll start with Grand Trunk. It's a personal favourite of mine, given it was the railway across the river from Sarnia for many years prior to CN swallowing its identity whole.
How about the just purchased KCS?
Or some Mexican railways?
This was another car of interest. I haven't seen many of these in person. Note the shared truck in between what looks like two cars, but is one unit. No railway logos on it either. It does carry the COER reporting mark, which belongs to the Illinois-based Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad, although this might be a case of a smaller carrier lending out its reporting marks. The railway itself connects to both UP and BNSF and is owned by Progressive Rail.
So those were the noteworthy items on this seemingly mundane empty autorack train. I was quite happy to have captured the COER cars, as it led me down a path of discovering this tiny railway in Illinois, which just so happens to have its reporting marks on a newer autorack in Ontario.
After that happy meeting with two trains in less than 10 minutes, I completed my journey and spent the day with my sister and her family. Later that day, as I was making my way to my brother's house to close out my day, I happened across more trains. All in all, it was a great day to capture the last few breaths of winter in Ontario.