Here are some brief paragraphs of different things that I happen to remember from the time I worked for the ACR....and they are true as far as I can remember!
I worked there from October 1971 (at the age of 22) through November 1983 first as a car checker (hired for a “temporary 6 week job” that lasted over 11 years!). I also worked 3 days as a labourer in the car shops, but was quickly called back to the Yard Office for another car checking position. I wanted to go engineering (lokie driving), but at that time in Canada, if you wore glasses, you could not start as an engineer. It was ok to wear them afterwards, so I always thought that was rather hypocritical, like most things to do with the government. So I worked as a car checker, moving up to a train order operator, and then as an agent-operator. I did complete the Dispatching Training Course (and on my last day of training, learned how to dispatch wreck trains when No. 5 took the bush just south of Franz!), but the Company cut off 8 jobs the following week, so I made plans to move to Arizona, where I am today. I’m getting old and senile now <!!>, so I thought that maybe writing down a few memories of the good ol’ days on the Algoma Central would be a good thing, and maybe someone in the future might actually be interested in reading this stuff….. ;).
<for southbound freight trains>: “If you aren’t pulling hard (or are in Run 8) by the second bridge, you won’t make the hill”. I have heard this about both “second bridges”, one set just south of Hawk Jct. and the other just south of Ogidaki. Right out of Hawk Jct. there is a good climb southbound up to Limer, and another stiff climb south out of Ogidaki up towards Achigan, and both places have 2 short steel bridges past the south switch. The southbound freights were the tonnage trains, usually No. 10 with 6-8000 tons of sinter, and No. 12 with everything else, usually export wood products (chips, logs, woodpulp, rough and peeled pulpwood) and empty cars for steel loading.
When the SD40’s first arrived in late 1971, I heard a sectionman make the comment “we are using a boxcar full of gauge rods a month”. The ACR (All Curves Rail) is really curvy and hilly on the southend of the line, from Mile 2 north to 116. North of there it does level out somewhat, but both Agawa (Jakey Hill) and Tabor have decent southbound climbs.
Once when riding a southbound freight from Hawk to Frater back in the late ‘70’s when I was working the Frater/Hawk swing, as the engineer widened out the throttle for a run at Agawa/Jakey Hill, suddenly the units all lurched ahead about 4 feet, and they thought they’d gotten a drawbar, but the air held and we kept on going. This was because they were still using a lot of the old 50 and 70 ton 2 bay hoppers, and they were falling apart rather quickly. Apparently one or more of our cars suddenly gained a foot or so in length! (I heard they were bought in the late ‘40’s for $400 US each from coal roads in West Virginia and Kentucky, and track had to be built to get to the cars that had been stored for some time. I do remember seeing builders dates on some of them from 1919 and early ‘20’s, and one I could see “Clinchfield”. Because hot sinter was dumped into the cars at the plant in Wawa, the paint soon burned/rusted off). However, by this time, quite a few of the new 100 ton Ortner cars were in use, so that made the slack action harder and made the old hoppers bounce all over the place!
More to come sometime, maybe, etc. :)
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