Northern Ontario 2003!


This year's trip was a 2 1/2 week expedition to Northern Ontario, with the main objective the Ontario Northland Railway. We wanted to get it on film before any mergers happened, or the passenger train services discontinued, like what happened to the BCR. We also wanted to get the last of the Chicago Metra F40C's and also the last of the Wisconsin Central's SD45's. Unlike all other previous trips to Northern Ontario that I have made since moving here 20+ years ago, the Algoma Central would be low on the priority list, simply because there is little to nothing left of the ACR as I knew it when working there over twenty years ago. While the weather wasn't the best (essentially it sucked!), it was still a lot of fun, and I finally got some decent Ontario Northland slides in the collection.

After a 3 1/2 hour flight from Phoenix to Chicago, we got the rental car and then highballed to Bensenville to get the Metra F40C's. Here is one of the westbound trains at the Bensenville station, with the type of weather we could expect for the next 2 weeks. July 17, 2003.
Here is one of the rare F40C's, making a quick stop at the Bensenville station. July 17, 2003.
Some of the trains did not stop at all of the stations, and this train is really scorching the ballast, with one of the new engines on the point. It was getting so dark by now I was shooting at 1/60th with K64 film. July 17, 2003.
Another F40C at Bensenville. We then headed to Fond du Lac for the night.  July 17, 2003.
The next day was sunny, but Byron Hill was dead for about 5 hours, but then we got a few trains with good light. Those CNR units are sure looking pretty bad! July 18, 2003.
Here is another target: a Wisconsin Central SD45! Doubtful that they will be around a whole lot longer. Byron Hill, Wisconsin on July 18, 2003.
Another treat was this one unit train, with a SD45 running long hood forward! Byron Hill, July 18, 2003.
The last train for us was this late afternoon train. Byron Hill, Wisconsin, July 18, 2003.
Late afternoon is a good time to get a few roster shots at the North Fond du Lac yard. Here a CNR unit is next to one of the ex Algoma Central GP7's. July 18, 2003.
Another view of the ACR and CNR yard engines at North Fond du Lac. July 18, 2003. We then drove on up to Marinette, Wisconsin.
The next morning we got this "SOGB" train just north of Menominee, Michigan. July 19, 2003.
In Escanaba near the ore docks we got this set of SD45's on the "SORE1" train. July 19, 2003.
In the former Soo Line yard at Gladstone we got another SD45. July 19, 2003.
Here is a view of the sand tower and remote control van (I think it may be an ex ACR (nee CPR) van). July 19, 2003.
In Trout Lake we got the Newberry Turn arriving back in town around 2pm July 19, 2003. We then drove on over to the Canadian Soo for the night. There was nothing in the Huron Central yard and not much at all in the former ACR yard, but we did watch some boats going through the locks, as well as getting the photo of No. 2 below.
Late that afternoon we got Train No. 2 just arriving in the Sault. It certainly looks strange to see the CNR units on the ACR's passenger trains. July 19, 2003.
The next day was what was soon to become the normal cloudy and rainy day. Here is the Algoma Central Agawa Canyon Tour near Northland, Ontario on July 20, 2003.
For some reason there were a lot of people getting on the Tour Train at Searchmont, and there was even a TV crew there. It is raining quite hard by now. July 20, 2003.
Back to the Soo to find out what was going on with the Huron Central, and here is 911 arriving just after we got there. July 20, 2003.
We then left the Soo headed east towards Sudbury, where we had planned to stop that night. But account it was still raining hard, we decided to skip Sudbury and stay that night in North Bay, which also gave us an extra day for the ONR. Here is the Ottawa Valley Railway just getting started for the day's work around 6pm. July 20, 2003.
The next morning again was cloudy, but at least it wasn't raining. Here is the southbound Northlander at Feronia (just north of North Bay). July 21, 2003.
Here is the Ottawa Valley Railway's train switching near the Ontario Northland's yard. July 21, 2003.
Here is a photo of one of the SD40-2's, and for whatever reason, a lot of sand had spilled, and here are the shop people shoving it over the side. July 21, 2003.
It finally cleared up a bit by the time we got to Englehart, and we got this GP9 switching cars late in the afternoon. July 21, 2003.
Here is the same GP9 shoving a cut of cars into the wafer board plant in Englehart. It had been a while since I'd heard a 567 in Run 8 (but it was to get even better!).  July 21, 2003.
The next morning it was partly clear and we are chasing the Noranda turn, here running northbound near Swastika, Ontario on July 22, 2003.
It was raining quite hard (again) by the time we got to Noranda, and here the train is on its return to Englehart. Shown here near Aldermac, Quebec on July 22, 2003.
The next day it actually was sunny, and we got this shot of the southbound "Northlander" just north of Englehart. July 23, 2003.
Here one of the SD75I's is being turned on the wye in Englehart. July 23, 2003.
At Matheson I got this photo of a SD40-2 with rather "well-worn" paint! July 23, 2003.
This bridge is near a prison and they are paranoid about anyone hanging around here. We were asked why and what we were doing here, and with those Kentucky plates on the rental car, and we being from Arizona, they were somewhat skeptical ... but then the train showed up and they left us alone. Best bet is to just follow the train until nearby, and then "run and gun" the photos and be on your way. This is taken with a 35mm lens. July 23, 2003.
A southbound freight was also shot with a 35mm lens. July 23, 2003.
A better bridge, I think, is this one near Val Gagne, just south of the above photos. Here I used a 80mm lens, and it is taken from the road bridge. No one around to hassle you here either! July 23, 2003.
We then headed to Cochrane for the day. When we got there in the mid afternoon, this GP9 was switching the yard. While I thought the GP9 in Englehart was making a lot of sound, that didn't compare to the way this unit was working! It was in Run 8, barely moving a long cut of cars, and smoke was pouring out all over...certainly helped to keep down the mosquitoes! July 23, 2003.
Here it is around 830 pm and the sun is still high enough for some decent photos! GP9 1605 is switching the yard. July 23, 2003.
Here is a late afternoon "glint" shot of GP9 No. 1605. July 23, 2003.
The next morning actually dawned bright and clear, and we got this classic shot of the Polar Bear Express from the little hill at Mile 5 that seems to get used a lot by railfans! July 24, 2003.
After getting the Polar Bear Express, we then highballed west to catch the Cochrane-Kapuskasing turn. Here they are switching the mill in Smooth Rock. July 24, 2003.
The main line is just a mile or so south of the mill, and here they are getting back towards the yard and wye at the junction. July 24, 2003.

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