Thursday, 25 December 2014

Mile Post 17


Mile Post 17. Nothing is significant about this place unless you happened to have been two boys in summer 1968.


Mile board 17 of CP Rail's Sherbrooke Subdivision as it appeared in July 1992. Gone today are the telephone poles, wires and green glass insulators.


I had always wanted one of those green glass insulators that adorned the wooden pins on the cross arms of the railway's telephone poles. As youngsters my brother and I literally walked miles along the railway track in each direction from town. Occasionally we searched around the poles hoping to find an insulator that had been dropped and forgotten. No such luck.

One weekend when visiting Milan, I noticed that several wires had been removed from the lowest cross arm and one pin nearest the pole had an unused insulator on every pole. Being the eldest and usually the instigator or schemes, my brother and I set off westward along the railway looking for the shortest pole we could find. None were as short as we thought when we started looking. 

Near mile board 17 (in 1968 the mile boards were fastened to the telephone poles) we located a reasonably short pole. Too add to our luck, if one can call it that, we spotted a railway tie further along the embankment. We wrestled that tie over rocks and bushes and eventually had it moved to the base of the pole. With all our strength together we just barely managed to prop up the tie against the pole. My brother clambered up the tie while I tried to make certain it did not slip. He could just reach that unused insulator on the bottom cross arm.

In a minute he had the insulator unscrewed from the pin and tossed the insulator down to me. Not just content with one, my brother also unscrewed one of the other unused insulators further out on the cross arm and tossed the glass treasure down also. With our work done we shoved the tie off the pole and quickly headed back with our trophies.

You can probably imagine my reaction, several weeks later during another visit to my grandparents, when I was sent to answer the knock at the front door and found a Canadian Pacific Railway police officer there. While my mother and the CPR police officer talked in French, my brother and I whispered together in the next room trying to figure out how the CPR could have found out about the two missing insulators.

The CPR police officer departed without speaking to Ted and me and Mom carried on as if nothing was amiss. When my brother and I finally had the nerve to ask what the visit from the CPR police was about, we learned that the CPR was investigating incidents of stone throwing at trains several nights earlier. Fortunately for us, we were home in Montreal on the dates the CPR was questioning.

Mile post 17. Again, nothing is significant about this place unless you happened to have been two boys in summer 1968.

Today, all the poles, insulators and wires are gone without a trace. Twenty-five years later this same green glass insulator still sits on my desk.


Dominion Glass - 42


(Written autumn 1992)
The Oddblock Station Agent



Friday, 19 December 2014

A Bridge Tale


Early 1950's - the other railway bridge in Scotstown, Quebec.

I can scarcely believe this railway bridge was actually photographed and the image still exists!

The railway bridge shown crossed over the Salmon River in Scotstown, Quebec, but a bit upstream near the south edge of town going toward LaPatrie. 

My father's Aunt Annie lived in Scotstown. Her home fronted on one of the town's main roads (Highway 257) and the property, which was a former farm, backed all the way down to the river. That's probably why Dad was at the river to take this photo.

In summer 1960 Dad took Ted and me fishing there; our very first time going fishing and we actually caught some yellow perch. We saw the concrete piers in the water and asked about them. Dad told us there was once a railway bridge. 


Scotstown, Quebec, date unknown. The CPR mainline is across the river just beyond that tall chimney. The east end of the former station building is barely visible on the far left of this image. (photo borrowed from the internet)

Anyway, when I was surfing the internet the other day, I found this old photo of Scotstown. Sure enough, a third railway crossing once existed in town and is shown in this photo, and this old photo is what has instigated this essay.
The former Canadian Pacific Railway mainline is on the far side of the river from where this photo was taken. The railway spur shown here went into the veneer mill, (where a park and restaurant are located today) and continued along the river to and across that bridge which Dad photographed in the early 1950's. Dad never told me how far that railway spur went beyond the other side of the river or what it was used for; I never thought to ask.

The former veneer mill (on the right) disappeared in the early 1960's, however the former plywood mill building across the river survived until 1969 or 70; demolished soon after Silva Sol discontinued making chlorinated water in the former mill.

A Megantic Subdivision footnote in the October 27, 1968 CPR employee timetable reveals that Silva Sol was a railway customer.








One more undated but earlier image of Scotstown showing the CPR station building and the mill. Only that brick chimney remains today. (photo borrowed from the internet)

Today, a check on Google Maps shows that a road follows along and then crosses the Salmon River near where the original railway spur and bridge once were.

This is it for today's very trivial railway trivia history lesson from the Department of Useless Information. 


The Oddblock Station Agent







Thursday, 11 December 2014

The D. & H. Trains


D. & H. Train ready for departure from CP Rail's Windsor Station in Montreal. (photo borrowed from internet)

The first time I learned about the D. & H. trains was the day Leslie McLeod gave me my first Canadian Pacific Railway employee timetable. While reading through the schedule and finding the page with the Adirondack Subdivision, I noticed daily passenger trains numbered 220 and 222 southbound and 221 and 223 northbound operating between Montreal and Delson, Quebec, which CPR identified only as D. & H. trains. 


From the Canadian Pacific Railway employee timetable effective October 27, 1968

When I asked Leslie what trains these were, he told me they were the Delaware & Hudson Railroad’s Montreal to New York passenger trains. These trains operated into and out of Montreal via the CPR from the junction with the Napierville Junction Railway at Delson. The origin of the CPR station name is a contraction of Delaware & Hudson.

From the CP Rail public timetable effective October 26, 1969


While I did see the D. & H. trains once in a while, I never had an opportunity to travel on them.

These trains may have been discontinued with Amtrak’s birth in 1971; they disappeared from the CP Rail public timetables that year, however a few years later, Amtrak re-established a daily Montreal-New York passenger train over the D. & H. route which Amtrak named the Adirondack.

In 1981 Kie and I rode Amtrak’s Adirondack from New York to Montreal, however, the Amfleet equipment did not possess the appearance and character of the former D. & H. trains.


The Oddblock Station Agent