September
30
Posted on 30-09-2011
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

On my return to Alyth on the Saturday, I phoned the crew clerk in Medicine Hat about arranging a dead head back to the home terminal, he said you may as well stay where you are as you have been placed as the tail end brakeman on the Zone 3 Wayfreight starting Monday morning, this came as a surprise to me, but I can understand why none of the senior men working the spare board wanted this position as it was away from their home in Medicine Hat, and the assignment worked six days a week. That was all right with me being back in my home in Calgary, and would have every night in bed, so on Monday, February 18, 1974 I was called for 06:00 my conductor was Fred Foulston, an old-timer who hired on in 1944, he was a portly man, wore glasses, and was balding with a handlebar mustache. The engineer was Vince Griffiths, who I had worked before with on an Empress Turn in December, we had the 8833 for a lead unit, and the head end brakeman was a spare man deadheaded up from Medicine Hat his name I don’t recall. At the General Yard Office I checked the bulletin book, compared my watch with the standard clock, and got my portable radio and did a radio check outside the building, with this finished we called the crew bus. The CPR had crew buses on duty 24 hours a day, their sole purpose was to taxi train crews to and from their training for departures and arrivals, and to give any other jobs such as take paperwork from the main control tower to trains, and the other control towers in the terminal. Fred and I rode the crew bus down to the tail end of our train in V-4,   in order to find our caboose in this multitude of railway tracks, we had a system on our assigned caboose, sticking up from the cupola in the center one of the crew members had nailed up a wooden grain door, and on top of this year had fastened an empty 5 gallon pail, painted red. In order to find the caboose, all one had to do was climb up the ladder on one of the adjacent tracks near the roadway and look across until he could see the 5 gallon pail sitting above all the other cars in the yard, then we got the crew bus to drive closer and  we cut across through the yard tracks loaded our grip’s onto the caboose after unlocking it, Fred said that he would ride the crew bus up to the head end and give them their orders and paperwork and would probably ride over with them to Shepard the first station east of Calgary.

Fred told me to get things prepared for our trip, this included getting a fire going in the caboose stove, boil a kettle of water, along making a pot of coffee pot, one of the seat bunks nearest to the stove was filled with domestic heating coal, and some scraps of lumber and a hatchet, I cut some of the lumber with a hatchet to make kindling, and shook out the grates in the stove to dump the ashes from the last fire into the ash pan underneath this I took outside and dumped along the tracks, I built up a tee pee of kindling with some bunched up newspaper underneath on the stove’s grates, this I saturated with kerosene from one of the storage lockers, I lit a match to get the fire started, in the meantime I went to the storage locker and pulled out our two kerosene caboose markers, checked their fuel tanks and topped them up with the kerosene, and hung them on the brackets at the tail end of the caboose making sure they displayed red to the rear,  I then checked the fuel level in the kerosene powered CPR Coleman lantern above the conductor’s table, and topped it up, this was our prime source of light in the evening. I swept the floor, and checked to see that the water containers were properly filled, we had three containers, one above the sink, and two others of the floor, as we were gone for three days each trip, it was necessary to have lots of water for cooking, and washing,  I made sure we had enough supplies for the flagging kit, if anything was missing I would radio the Car Department Planner and let them know of any shortages, and a Carmen would soon come along  to rectify the situation. The caboose was supplied with its own radio that was hooked up to an antenna on the roof that gave it a range of about 7 to 8 miles, and I heard the head end coupling on, I did a radio check with them, then went and checked the fire it was burning nicely, so I added some coal which I had to break up from the large lumps that were in the coal locker, using a 3 pound hammer. I watched the air gauges near the conductor’s table and saw that the air pressure was starting to rise, one of the carmen climbed on the caboose to monitor the air pressure, this was different than Swift Current where the brakemen were required to make their own brake tests, as Alyth was classed as an “A” class yard, carmen were required to do all this work. When the air pressure had risen sufficiently the carman called the head end, said there was 75 pounds pressure on the caboose and that it was okay to set up the brakes, he then left the caboose to walk the train, his counterpart on the head end started from that direction, when they met half way he called the engineer and told him to release the brakes, he returned to the caboose and radioed the head end carman to confirm that all the air brakes had released, with this confirmation that we were okay on our brake test in V-4 with 68 cars the head end carman filled out the paperwork for the locomotive engineer showing that we had a No. 1 brake test at Alyth, with this done we are ready to depart East, the head end  contacted me to make sure I was ready to go, and called the Pulldown supervisor asking for a route out of the yard, and contacted 12 Street Tower saying that we were okay to go East, 12 Street Tower said he had a westbound coming in, the Pulldown supervisor told us to go out the New Ogden lead and crossover to P-2 and away we went.

I radioed my head end when we were clear of the crossover on P-2 at Ogden, and Vince opened the throttle to get up to track speed and get over to Shepard our first stop. We entered the CTC siding at Shepard and went down to the east end, where we had some work to do, there was a second siding that held 32 cars, and the elevator track about the same length, the head end brakeman had cut off five empty boxcars for spotting at the Alberta Wheat Pool elevators, by the time he was backing up, I had walked up to spot three cars at the west end elevator, he put on the hand brake while I did the spotting, we then pulled ahead to the east end elevator made the spot, then lifted some empty sulfur tank cars from the second siding, Fred was on the phone in the tool house on the north side talking to the dispatcher telling him we were ready to leave for the Strathmore Subdivision that started at Mile 45.2, we received a signal and pulled our train across the level crossing and about 10 cars east was the junction switch, Fred and I stood by the switch on each side watching our train as it pulled by I gave Vince car lengths and slowed him down enough for Fred to board the caboose I realigned the main track switch and ran to catch the caboose, and away we went at 30 miles an hour to our next stop at Langdon Mile 34.8 a distance of 10 miles, there was a storage track at Bennett halfway at Mile 38.9 that had 50 open top hopper cars stored there awaiting to be repaired at Ogden. The Strathmore Subdivision was part of the original CPR mainline from Medicine Hat to Calgary, General R.B. Langdon of Minneapolis and D.C. Shepard of St. Paul, Minnesota were contractors who built the original mainline between Winnipeg and Calgary in 1882, on July 28, 1883 the two contractors laid 6.38 miles of track in one day near Strathmore a record for the building of the railway, and the two communities were named after them, westbound passenger and second-class freight trains used to run on the subdivision until 1963 when it wants then downgraded to a branch line operation. We arrived at Langdon and had a bit of switching to do, we have five empties to spot in the elevator track, but the problem was the siding was filled with storage cars, so in order to get into the elevator track the head end brakeman had to stop short at the east end, go in to the siding and pick up about 30 storage cards in order to access the elevator track he then had to couple back onto our train and grab five empties for spotting, by that time I had walked up to make the spot, and coupled storage cars back onto the siding, we walked up to the locomotives, and coupled back onto our train, I was going to ride the head end to help do some of the spotting on our next destination the Langdon Subdivision.

The junction switch for the Langdon Subdivision is located just east of Langdon at Mile 33.60 and our timetable special instructions read “Position of the junction switch mileage 33.60 Strathmore Subdivision where Langdon Subdivision joins at Langdon is normal when lined for the Langdon Subdivision” this was implemented when the Strathmore Sub. was relegated as a branch line, and more traffic ran up the Langdon subdivision then the Strathmore line as that portion was seldom used, and the track was closed due to engineering problems of a sinkhole 6 miles west of Gleichen we proceeded northward across the Trans-Canada Highway that was pretty scary as there was lots of traffic and only bells and lights to alert drivers of this sparsely ran railway operation. We then approached an Automatic Interlocking at Grade Mile 9.1 this was where the CNR Drumheller Subdivision crossed our track traffic was governed by whatever train arrived first, there was an approach signal about 1 mile from the crossing would turn yellow if another train was approaching, and we would have to stop at a red signal adjacent to the crossing, that was also called a diamond due to the shape of where the two tracks crossed, at mile 12.4 Delroy an elevator track with an abandoned Alberta Wheat Pool elevator, next stop was Mile 18.5 Keoma where we spotted 7 cars at the single Alberta Wheat Pool elevator Mile 26.2, next up was Irricana Mile 31.5 here there was a long siding filled with storage cars, CPR at that time had many cars that were surplus, automobile carrying boxcars that we’re obsolete, replaced with newer bi-level and tri-levels, hundreds of grain box cars that the CPR had no intention of repairing as there was no money to be made due to the obsolete Crowsnest Agreement made in the early 1900′s, and other cars waiting disposition for repair or scrapping, as I was to find out, every siding and unused yard track on this subdivision was used for their storage there must’ve been 1200 cars, we spotted 6 cars at the two elevators, there was also another elevator west side of our track, it was serviced by the CNR on their Three Hills Subdivision they also serviced our next stop at Beiseker Mile 39.8 on the east side of the community, they crossed over top of our track halfway between Irricana and Beiseker, we had, a fertilizer business, two Alberta Wheat Pool, and a Parrish & Heimbeker elevator on the south end, along with a platform for unloading farm machinery. Last stop was Mile 39.5 Acme that had 6 elevators three Alberta Wheat Pool, two Pioneer, and a United Grain Growers, along with a 40 car siding that was always kept clear for switching, when we finished servicing the elevator track we stopped for an hour to have lunch, we went down Main Street to a restaurant called Lucy’s, where a jovial elderly lady who ran the place served really good home cooked meals. After lunch we marshalled our train and left northward for Mile 41.7 Cosway a junction with the Acme Subdivision, here there was a wye to turn cars and locomotives, and the register station for the conductor to enter the time we left the Langdon and entered the Acme Subdivision.

The Acme Sub. ran 27.3 miles to the town Wimborne, this was the last branch line built by the CPR in 1932, originally it was supposed to run to Red Deer, Alberta but with the Great Depression track laying stop at Wimborne, with the petrochemical business growing in the 1950s a 2.72 spur of track was built  this was called the Meers Spur after a local rancher Jim Meers whose land the track ran on  The petrochemical industry in Alberta produces natural gas, propane, and butane, these gases have many impurities including sulfur, this is extracted and stock piled in solid form at many plants around the province. Some of the product is shipped in bulk by railway in special open top hopper cars, and some of the sulfur is liquefied, its melting point is 115.21°C or 239.38°F at this temperature it can be loaded into special tank cars manufactured by CGTX which stands for Canadian General Transit Co.Ltd. it also owns GATX  the Rail Canada Corp. UTLX is the reporting mark for the Union Tank Car Company based in Chicago Illinois, where it has been in business hundred and 20 years these companies specialize in the manufacturing, repairing, and leasing of tank cars to the railway industry. The liquefied sulfur loading cars weigh 35 tons empty, and are loaded with 100 tons of liquid sulfur, the cars are heavily insulated, and contain coils of piping that steam can be circulated through to melt any of the product that solidifies in transit.  The Shell plant loaded tank cars of liquid sulfur, and we switched them twice a week. Leaving Cosway our first stop was at Mile 5.8 town of Linden, this was a Mennonite community where they had a thriving business building farm machinery, there was one Alberta Wheat Pool elevator where we spotted 3 cars, next stop was Mile 10.5 Sunnyslope, with 2 Alberta Wheat Pool elevators where we dropped off 4 cars, one on the south end, and 3 at the elevator on the north end. we then carried on to Mile 14.4 Allingham were we spotted 1 car at the lone Alberta Wheat Pool elevator, then it was onto Mile 20.8 Torrington with its elevator row of 6, three Alberta Wheat Pool, two Pioneer, and one United Grain Growers, we gave them 10 cars, we arrived at our terminus Wimborne at 16:35, we spotted cars into the elevator track, and picked up the tanks we needed, leaving our caboose at Wimborne, then proceeded to the spur to give the Shell  Petrochemical Plant a switch, this was a typical setup for switching petroleum plants, there was a runaround track below the plants gates, we cut-off our empties,  and proceeded to the gate and got our switch list out of the bill box attached to the gate, we open the gates and took off to derail, checked for blue flags, and coupled the to the loads of liquid sulfur that were sitting on the Tank loading track to our left was the North bulk loading spur, where there were some empties, and loads waiting disposition, our list told us what cars that were released to go, and the ones from the loading track that were to hold as they had No bills, we were also asked to spot first out any CGTX  on the Tank loading track. We spent half an hour switching these out, then lined ourselves for the runaround track going down to the south end lining the switch, and coupling onto our empties, we then coupled on to the cars remaining in the loading track, and shoved them up to a spot where the loaders could access the first two cars from their loading platforms, there was quite a grade southwards, so the loaders have no problem rolling them down towards the derail using gravity, and securing the loads with a handbrake, with this work finished we headed back to Wimborne, shoved the loads into the siding and retired to the caboose for an evening’s rest, Fred, the head end brakeman, and I stayed in the caboose, Fred used the bed beside his table, the mattresses and bedding for us was piled on top of the other fold down bench seat by the door. The bedding was first class linen sheets, and warm CPR wool blankets, that became surplus when CPR discontinued many passenger trains in 1967, and we received freshly laundered bedding every week. We folded down the seat back beside the stove along the outer wall, and placed the head end brakeman’s mattress and bedding on top, being the senior man on the crew I slept closer to the door, while the junior man was closer to the stove, which was pretty hot at night. I had prepared kindling for the fire in the morning, filled the coal scuttle, and had banked the fire to keep us warm through most of the night. Vince the engineer had a small bunkhouse the same as a sectionmen’s accommodations, with two-bedrooms, from the days when there was a fireman, a small kitchen and living area with an oil heater, it was located between the legs of the wye, and had an outhouse about 30 feet behind it, it also had a telephone that the conductor would use to call car control in Medicine Hat when we tied up, for any additional instructions.

Illustrations, 1.)CPR 1973 timetable system map shows the Brooks Subdivision as No.4, Strathmore Subdivision as No.20, Langdon Subdivision as No.13, and Acme Subdivision as No.1. And h. the Meers spur. 2.) Photo of interior of caboose showing coal stove, water tanks and sink, aluminum dipper hanging on wall for getting washing water out of the water tanks on the floor, a kerosene lantern for light at night, and storage cupboard for groceries, my parka hanging on the left-hand side.also visible is the red chord for the emergency brake valve that runs along the roof to the cupola.  3.) Photo of our caboose CP 437169, with markers hung out, notice 5 gallon pail sitting on top of grain door board, an aide to finding caboose in the sea of railway cars in the yard. 4.) Photo taken from caboose crossing Bow River leaving Alyth yard CNR Highline trestle visible past telephone pole. 5.) Elevator track at Shepard empty grain loading hopper cars in second siding, CTC eastbound signal on the left, two sectionmen’s tool houses on right, Conductor Foulston used the closest one to phone Brooks Sub dispatcher. 6.) Shepard elevators, level crossing, and junction switch to the Strathmore Subdivision on the right-hand side. 7.) CNR train approaching Automatic Interlocking at Mile 9.1 Langdon subdivision. 8.) One empty grain box car spotted at Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator at Allingham on the Acme Subdivision. 9.) Shell sulfur plant at sunset on Meers spur. 10.) Photo of typical liquid sulphur loading facility, pile of solid sulphur in background, with bulk loading gondola railcars behind tank cars, 11.) View of other end of caboose showing conductors table, with Coleman lamp, and bed, the fold-down bunk in front of the other brakemen’s bedding, this bunk held the coal for the  caboose stove’s fire, also visible above the conductor’s bed is his parka and towels, there is a red cord running along the roof to the outside platform of the caboose, this also runs down to the other platform, and it’s tied to to the conductor’s emergency valve in the cupola, this is an safety feature so the train could be placed into emergency braking from any position in the caboose by a crew member pulling on the cord. Above the brakemen’s bedding is a black metal first aid kit, and a red flagging kit, above the right window is an emergency stretcher folded up. 12.) View taken from rear window of caboose showing where the CNR Three Hills subdivision crossed over the Langdon subdivision south of Beiseker


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September
05
Posted on 05-09-2011
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

Trip two on the Zone 2 Wayfreight February 15, 1974, we were ordered out of Alyth at 08:45 with Charlie Mock as the conductor, as John was off for miles, we had a spare brakeman who I let work the tailend, as I preferred working on the headend, the day went much the same as Wednesday’s trip east, spotting elevators and, switching cars at Shepard, Bassano, and Brooks we worked a little longer that day having to make a quick trip 14 miles east to Mile 52.9 at Tilly to service the Alberta Wheat Pool elevators not tieing up until 21:45, Saturday was a different situation, this assignment worked six days a week and Saturday was the day to get home as early as we could as the weekend at home were short enough as it was. We went to work at 06:45 after a quick breakfast we did the necessary switching at Brooks and were out of their by 08:30 we were traveling very light with just a small train and were back at Alyth and off duty at 11:45

I enjoyed my four days working this assignment, it was quite exciting and more fast-paced than working the branch lines in Saskatchewan, where there were only two trains involved, this was high-speed mainline railroading, you really have to be on your toes watching out for the schedule’s of the many priority trains and passengers on this busy fast subdivision, with all its work to do between the 104.3 miles from Ogden to Brooks, of course the idea of having these mainline Wayfreight’s was to alleviate through freights from having to do these tasks and delaying operations on the subdivision, the pay was very good, we were paid for the actual miles run, plus all time spent switching at junctions, and turnaround points at a rate of 12.5 mph, so all time at Shepard which was a junction with the Strathmore Sub, Gleichen where the Strathmore Subdivision joined the Brooks Sub, Bassano that was a junction with the Irricana, and Bassano Subdivisions, and Brooks that was our home away terminal, and Tilly that was a turnaround point.

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September
04
Posted on 04-09-2011
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

After enjoying 13 days rest, after that gruelling month of January on the Grain Train in Saskatchewan, I booked back on and waited for my turn to come up and on Tuesday, February 12, 1974 I was ordered to deadhead to Calgary to man a new assignment the Zone 2 Brooks Wayfreight. Arriving early in the afternoon I stayed at my parents home in district of South Calgary, and was called at 06:00 for 08:00 as the head end brakeman for this assignment, after a quick breakfast I walk three blocks and caught the South Calgary trolley bus that ran down 14th St. to the Beltline district to downtown Calgary where I got off at 1st St., West and 8th Avenue in front of the Hudson Bay Co. store, crossed the street and besides The of Bank of Montréal  transferred to the East Calgary diesel bus that took me down 9th Ave., Southeast through the Inglewood district in Southeast Calgary to the bus loop that was a few blocks from the Alyth General Yard Office where walked over to meet the crew, and check the bulletins and my pocket watch. The conductor was John Mandzies, and the tail end brakeman was Charlie Mock, who I had worked with in November on the Burstall Wayfreight. I picked up my portable radio and did a check to see if it was functioning okay, found out what track in the yard our train was in, and made my way over to the Alyth Diesel Shops to meet the locomotive engineer, and bring the power over to the head end of the train. At the booking out room in the diesel shops I met the engineer George Brassard, our locomotives were still inside the building and we waited 15 minutes before they were outside and ready on the departure track they were 8654, and 8836 facing back-to-back. I did my usual duties checking to see we had all our supplies, a flagging kit, a broom and shovel for sweeping and shovelling snow out of switches, spare air hoses, and wrench. George did his preparatory inspection of the locomotives walking around to make sure the other locomotive was properly supplied, and the walkabout the outside to check the running gear, and make sure the sanders were working okay, one wasn’t so he called the diesel shop where on the locomotive radio, and some shop staff came out to remedy the situation. After about 20 minutes we were ready to go, I walked back to the trailing locomotive got up on the point, checking my radio again with George to see we were communicating okay, and instructed him to back up, using hand signals to take us off the shop track onto N-14, line the switch and we proceeded toward the east end of the yard, reaching the East End of N-14 I communicated by radio to the Pulldown Supervisor for instructions, and the route to our train that was over in track V-2. He said it was okay to come out and line ourselves down N-14 lead along the tower and crossover to the Old Ogden lead and back onto our train, with this accomplished I radioed the Car Department Planner and asked for permission to couple onto our train, he instructed me that he would send a carman to take down the blue flag protection and that we could couple on and cut in the air. Using hand signals I directed George back lighting switches along the way until we were lined up for V-2, and seeing the carman dropping the blue flag, signalled George to back up five car lengths to a coupling, making a stretch to be sure we were tied on, I called the CD Planner and told them we were on our train, I then proceeded to take off the hand brakes on the first eight cars of the train, walking back an additional four car lengths to make sure there was no other brakes, I then returned to the locomotive were we waited for our conductor. John arrived by crew bus, a company owned van operated by a CPR clerk 24 hours a day to convey train crews around Calgary terminal, and brought us our train orders, and switch lists, after carefully reading over the train orders, we compared our railway grade watches, we discussed the switching we had 105 grain empties to be spotted along the line, and five empty sulphur tank cars to be set off at Shephard for the Zone 3 Wayfreight. We were running as an Extra East, so I put up the white flags on the front nose of the locomotive cab, and George put on the white classification lights from this control stand. The carman called and said that he had 75 pounds pressure on the caboose, and that it was okay to set the air brakes for our No. 1 brake test, the two carmen walked the train and checked to see that all the air brakes had applied, when this was finished, they radioed us to release the brakes, the CD Planner then called us and said we were okay to depart with 110 cars and no bad orders. I then called the Pulldown Supervisor and told them we were ready to depart eastward out of the V-2, he instructed us to line ourselves towards P-2, we called the operator at 12th St. Tower and he said he would cross us over from P-2 to the mainline on P-1, we called Charlie on the caboose, and he said he was all ready to go. John got off to watch our train go by, and I lined the switches towards P-2, and George started the train slowly, the dwarf signal on the Bonnybrook Bridge turned from red to green indicating slow clear, meaning we can proceed at a speed of 15 miles an hour until the caboose cleared the crossover switch on the bridge, Charlie radioed us that it was about 15 cars until we picked up John, when he was aboard we increased our speed until Charlie told us we were clear of the crossover by then we could see the signal at Ogden was clear and George opened the throttle and got us up to track speed of 55 mph.

Leaving Ogden Mile 171.1 we were now leaving the interlocking territory of the yard, and entering CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) that we would be running on until we reached Gleichen Mile 124.8 A. distance of 46.3 miles, we received an approach signal the intermediate west of Shepherd took the siding there stopping at the East End, a westbound freight went by our train, and we got a signal out of the East End I pulled down 10 cars cut off the cars, and spotted 5 of the grain box cars at the two Alberta Wheat Pool elevator’s 3 at A-3 and 2 at A-1, I then set the five empty sulphur tank cars over to the second siding, coupled on to our train and waited for another signal to proceed eastward, to our next stop Mile 158.8 at Indus  to set off 5 more grain empties, there was no siding at Indus and just two elevators one privately owned by a farmer, and the other an Alberta Wheat Pool, George pulled up the main, I bailed the locomotive at about 8 miles an hour, told him to stop after five cars had gone by, closed the angle cock on our cut of cars, pulled the pin and told him to go ahead 10 cars to the switch, I ran across the backtrack, and unlocked the derail, told George to stop and walked up and lined the main track switch for the elevator track, jumped on the ladder on the leading car, told George to back up 40 cars to a spot, giving him car lengths as we proceeded backwards at about 12 to 15 mph, as we approached the elevator George who was watching me from the locomotive slowed down enough so I could bail off and gave him five car lengths to spot, the cars ran eastward and when the fifth one had gone by I stopped George when the elevator spot was in the middle of the doorway of the first box car. I quickly climbed the ladder and tied a handbrake on the first box car, close the angle cock on the locomotive’s, uncoupled and told George to proceed to the mainline, once clear of the mainline switch, I relined it and back George up five cars to a coupling, when we tied on, I got a stretch and coupled in the air, and cut across to place the derail on and lock it, by the time I returned to the lead locomotive the air had charged up and we left for our next set off at Mile 152.5 Dalemead, there we received an approach signal to take the siding which we did and let an eastbound freight go by us, the elevator track was conveniently located at the East End of the siding, I cut off 8 box cars, and when George got a signal out of the siding we pulled down and back into the elevator track to spot the two Alberta Wheat Pool Elevators, giving them 4 and 4 to load, coupled back onto the train and waited for a signal to proceed eastward, next stop was Mile 144.6 Carseland that had just an elevator track where we peeled off a dozen cars for the three elevators, two Alberta Wheat Pool, and one United Grain Growers. with that work furnished we proceeded eastward and entered the siding at Mile 139.0 Strangmuir where we were meeting a westbound, the old Alberta Wheat Pool elevator painted in mineral red was located halfway down the siding, so we were able to clear the mainline, and cut off 4 cars spot him up before the westbound arrived, and we were ready to go east again to Mile 124.8 Gleichen here we held the mainline and spotted 12 cars, the CTC siding at Gleichen was on the south side of the mainline, and on the north side was the Strathmore Subdivision, second siding, and elevator track. So to get there I had to line the mainline switch, second siding switch, and backtrack switch then take off the derail, a footnote here about the colourful elevators most prairie grain elevator companies painted their elevators mineral brown like the CPR boxcars, until the late 1960s, when one company decided that bright colors would promote their corporate image better. Pioneer Grain painted their elevators bright orange with yellow roofs, Alberta Wheat Pool, used green and black roofs and United Grain Growers used a stylish blue logo on white with black roofs.

At Gleichen there was a station and operator on duty 24 hours, the train order board was at 45° and the light was yellow indicating that we had to get train orders in order to proceed eastward into ABS (Automatic Block System) territory where we would be working under train order, timetable authority which was a little more complex than the ease of working CTC. It was 11:30 so we had sufficient time to head over to Mile 116.7 Cluny to take the siding for westbound passenger train No.1 The Canadian where we waited in the clear until he passed by, once again we were fortunate that the three Alberta Wheat Pool elevators were located on the east end of the siding and we spotted them up with 9 empties. Next up was Mile 105.8 Crowfoot siding where we stopped short, and cut off 6 cars and spotted them at the elevator track on the west end of the siding, we then back down to our train and proceeded eastward to our next stop at Mile 97.6 Bassano where we arrived at 13:06 here there was a large yard on the south side of the main track consisting of the following tracks from the mainline No. 1 Storage, No. 1 Passing track, No. 2 Passing track, Track 7, Track 8 a stub track accessible from the West End, Track 9, Track 10, North Shop Track, South Shop Track, and a Wye on the West End of the yard, North of the mainline was the Bassano Subdivision main track, Construction Track, and Elevator track, on the east side of the station were House 1, and House 2, Team 1 and Team 2 tracks, west of the station on the north side was a junction switch for the Irricana Subdivision, totally yard capacity 434 cars, we contacted the operator and he told us to leave our train in the No 1 Storage, we  stopped for a one-hour lunch break, on returning from lunch we went to do some switching in the yard where we set off 30 empty boxcars into track 7, these were for spotting on the Irricana Subdivision, and did some other switching chores given to us from the operator we then waited until 15:42 when No. 965 a second class freight went by us westbound, we were then able to cross over to the north side of the yard to spot the two elevators, with 6 empties, 3 each for the two Alberta Wheat Pool elevators, this chore involved pulling out our train of 14 cars onto them south end of the mainline, backup our train and leave our caboose and 8 empties, going ahead and lining up for the elevator track, that involved crossing over the Bassano Subdivision, construction track, and into the elevator track, with this done we tied back onto our train and proceeded eastward to Mile 66.8 Brooks arriving at 16:55, oilfield development and research around Brooks had created a lot of industrial growth in the town during the 1970s, and new trackage was installed to serve Alberta Tube & Pipe a plant, manufacturing pipe and structural steel for the oil patch industries, there was also a couple of agricultural distributors of frozen produce that needed servicing, along with Bowslope Shippers a busy stock loading company that shipped lots of livestock, this was the reason this new way freight assignment was put on to service these new customers promptly and efficiently. The yard at Brooks had its station on the north side, to the west of it was a spur for the Imperial Oil agent, and east of it was a storage track, and elevator track, with the stock loading racks on the east end, along with a lead that ran up to one of the produce processing plants that produced peas, on the south side of the mainline was the siding with the tube spur lead that ran up a hill to the pipe plant and other industries, on arrival we ran our engines in towards the storage track, and dropped our caboose and empty grain boxes down the main, working in yard limits we could do our work freely, just keeping in touch with the operator by radio who gave us the progress of the next second class freight No. 949 that was due at Brooks around 18:10, through freight trains that set off gondolas of steel for the tube spur in the storage track, we took them up the hill and did the switch setting up the empties, and spotting the loads in the plant, by the time we got back No. 949 was on his way by westward, and we were free to use the mainline again, as the next eastbound train No. 952 wasn’t due at Brooks until 19:45 by this time we had put our empty gondolas away in the storage, and we finished spotting up to two Alberta wheat Pool elevators with the 8 empty boxcars tieing up for the day at 19:30, we then went to town for supper in the Newall Hotel, and had time for a couple of beverages before bedtime.

George stayed in the hotel, and we headed back to our caboose, that was spotted on the west end of the backtrack far enough away from the noise of our idling locomotives. Our caboose was a more modern one then the wooden coal burning ones that we used on the branch line’s in Saskatchewan, although similar in appearance, this can was built of steel with better insulation, and had the diesel generator that supplied electric power for the caboose markers, interior lighting, a refrigerator, and electric stove, along with a chemical toilet. A little noisy with a generator, but after we had made up our beds on the fold-down bunks, it did not take long to fall asleep after such a busy day, around 03:30 I was woken by the sound of No 945 as they set of cars for us in the storage track for the tube spur in the morning, it’s a little harder to get a good night’s sleep with freight trains rumbling through 20 yards from your bedroom all through the night, but with time one gets used to it. We were up at 05:45 went into town for breakfast at the hotel, and went back to work with no trains due we were able to work freely in the yard, we picked up a loaded gondolas of steel for the tube spur and went up the hill to switch out the empties they had unloaded, and spotted the loads, coming back to the mainline we left the empties of the hill secured with air and a handbrake, returned to the west end of the storage track, and picked up the other empty gondolas we left there last night, we then coupled them on to the other empties on the hill, and ran our locomotive out to the mainline, Charlie then bled off the air, and rode the cars were the handbrake was applied, I opened the main tracks switch, and gave Charlie a hand signal that all is clear, he released a handbrake and the dozen gondolas rolled out onto the mainline, while I protected the highway crossing and stopped any oncoming traffic. With the cars on the mainline we coupled on and pulled them down to the East End of the storage track and left them there for a eastbound freight to pick up to take them back eastward to the steel mills in Ontario for reloading. When we were finished our switching we were ready to go westward at 08:14 we went into the station asked the operator for our orders, which he was just finishing putting together, we read our orders, one was our running order Form “G”, it read Eng. 8836 run extra Brooks to Bassano, a Form “W” All regular trains due at Brooks before 08:305 Tuesday, February 14th have arrived and left except for No. 96. Form “K” No. 96 due to leave Gleichen 05:05 Tuesday, February 14 is annulled Gleichen to Medicine Hat. Along with the usual slow orders advising us of track conditions, this was always we needed proceed the only train we were concerned with was No. 947 a hot shot that was due through Brooks 10:05, and we had lots of time to keep out of his way. I put up the white flags indicating that we were running as an extra, and with 7 cars of loaded grain, and our caboose we proceeded westward arriving at Bassano at 09:15 we took the siding to the West End of the yard where we kicked our caboose down the lead and put the grain into Track 8, and assembled our train for our trip up the Irricana Subdivision, we switched out some LPG tank cars we needed from track nine and attached them to the caboose, we than grabbed the 30 empty grain cars we have placed into Track 7 yesterday afternoon, we did a brake test, and called the operator asking for permission to back down the mainline from the West and to get our orders and proceed westward on the Irricana Subdivision, he gave us permission and we went out the West End of the yard, and backed down the mainline to the station we had lots of time as the operator told us that No. 947 was running one hour and 30 minutes late out of the Medicine Hat. We picked up our orders including a Form “H” are running order that read Eng. 8836 work extra ten fifteen 10:15 until eighteen thirty 18:30 between Bassano and Standard, along with our slow orders were ready to leave, we proceeded westward 20 car lengths to the Irricana Subdivision junction switch, I lined the switch gave George the go-ahead and we pulled down and Charlie restored the mainline switch and we proceeded on our trip, the subdivision speed limit was 20 miles an hour, our first up was the elevator track at Mile 13.4 Makepeace where we spotted three empty grain boxes at the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator, and sojourned onward to our next destination Mile 21.2 Hussar where we spotted 14 cars at the elevator row of Alberta Wheat Pool, Pioneer, and United Grain Growers, we then went to Mile 29.2 Chancellor here there was a loading track for the LPG we spotted three empty tanks, and pulled out 3 loads, we pulled up further west and spotted 3 empties at the Alberta Wheat Pool elevator, we then reached Mile 36.1 Standard our turnaround point, it was now 12:30 and we stopped for lunch walking up the hill to the local hotel that had a great restaurant that served home-cooked meals, when this was done we fold-down our train to the West End of the yard and spotted our remaining 10 grain empties in the elevator track, pulling the loads first and setting them to the siding along with our loads of LPG, we then turned our engines on the wye, assembled our train and proceeded east stopping at Chancellor, Hussar, and Makepeace lifting loads of grain and arrived at Bassano at 16:15, No. 965 was already out of Bassano, and the operator gave us permission to enter the main line we went to the East End of the and backed our train doing some switching and blocking our loaded cars together, leaving eastbound traffic of LPG, and Thunder Bay Lakehead grain loads in the east and of Track 7, we set our caboose on westbound traffic into a clear track and ran around through the siding to the west of the yard, we then picked up our caboose and train pulled them up to the west end, set our caboose to the lead and doubled on westbound traffic over to the loads we have left in Track 8, with our train assembled we made a quick brake test and backed our train down the siding to the station, to get our train orders to go west, with our clearance, and orders we departed Bassano at 17:45, we lifted westbound traffic at Crowfoot, Cluny, Gleichen, Carseland, Dalemead, and Indus, arriving at Alyth at 20:00.

Illustrations top to bottom:
1.) South Calgary No 7 trolley bus at 30 3rd Ave. SW. 2.) Calgary Transit System diesel bus like the one used on the East Calgary route. 3.) Departing Shepard eastward looking back at Alberta Wheat Pool elevators 4.4a) Elevator tracks at Indus Alberta Wheat Pool elevator, and privately owned elevator in the second view. 5.) Elevator track looking west Dalemead, Alberta Wheat Pool elevators. 6.) Elevators at Gleichen, Strathmore Subdivision on the left side. 7.) Departing Gleichen. 8.) Two views of the grain elevators and elevator track at Cluny. 9.9a) Elevators and elevator track at Crowfoot. 10.) Bassano station, yard tracks, and elevators. 11.) Arriving at Brooks showing station and elevators. 12.) A model of the first-generation steel cabooses, notice the steel roof without running boards, and no ladders to climb on top, also the electric marker lamps. 13.13a) Where we tied up in the Brooks elevator track, and another view of the Brooks Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator, Note the two loading spouts, one is mounted higher on the second elevator to accommodate loading the newer grain hopper cars that were coming out at that time.

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