Railway Preservation News

Unknown Ontario Train
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Author:  Old Smokey [ Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

Well done and thank you Mr. Hick's.

Absolutely right on the money.
It is where the main line from Montreal cross's the Rouge as it heads into Toronto.

It has stumped a lot of people since I got it in the mid 70's.

Also thanks to those who suggested it was Grand Trunk on the Montreal/Windsor corridor.
That also proved correct....and was a great help in further research into the Loco.

Here's a present day overview....borrowed from the Ontario Conservation Society web site.

Still in use...many times a day.

Comments about "fresh fill" took on a new meaning after looking at this shot where the Rouge River flows into Lake Ontario.

The east end of the bridge is on high ground.
But the west end...where Sgt. Johnston must have stood to take his photo...is one gigantic fill.

Looks like they bottled-up a major river with a giant earth dam...so the bridge would be shorter...and less expensive to build.

Gives you some idea just how powerful the Grand Trunk was.


Unknown Ont. train early 1900's.jpg
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Rouge River railbridge..jpg
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Author:  Old Smokey [ Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train


Thanks for that Chippewa link.
Most useful and interesting...especially that it called in at American ports.

Judging by his photo's...the Sgt. enjoyed regular lake cruises.

Here's a superb shot of steamer Toronto. Location and date unknown.

And a post card found in his collection... with an American date stamp of 1913
Steamer Aroyle of Picton at Olcott NY.
Do you know anything about her..?

Hard to make out the name ...I think I got it right.

Also, may I ask... any idea which railroad the boxcars in the background might have belonged to...?


Steamer Aroyle  of Picton.jpg
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Steamer   Toronto.jpg
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Author:  Peter Nicholson [ Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

Old Smokey wrote:
Also, may I ask... any idea which railroad the boxcars in the background might have belonged to...?

Probably the Buffalo, Lockport and Olcott Beach Ry., an electric interurban line that was one of six making up the International Railway Co. A map of the IRC is here:


Author:  Old Smokey [ Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

Peter N.
re. the Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad Link you sent.

An electric interurban railway constructed between Rochester and Lockport...
connecting to the International Railway Co. at Lockport for service into Buffalo.

In 1905, the new owners of the company were predominantly Canadian, and it was rumored that a connection to Toronto would soon be considered.

The BL&R ran for 54 miles from a connection with the International Railway Co. in Lockport to a connection with the Rochester Railways

In 1911...service was extended to Olcott Beach over the tracks of International Railway Co. connecting to a leased steamship providing ferry service to Toronto.

This service came to an end after the close of the 1914 sailing season..

So the U.S. Postal Service date stamp of 1913 fits right in.. and the map link 'heavenrich' sent us...perfectly explains the post card.

Thanks to all.


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Steamer Aroyle  of Picton.jpg
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Author:  Overmod [ Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

We were discussing this over on the Trains forum, and one of the contributors provided links to modern high-resolution views of the bridge, including this one
I think it fair to think of the structure as if it were a through truss of usual form that has been 'dropped' and added deck panels provided to span the gap from abutment line to top chord, and the bottom chord then bowstring-curved because no track needs to follow it. (Anyone with a less convoluted engineering description, feel free to provide it or advise me how to edit here). This gives a better view of the construction detail for the area in question noted by arrow above.

The line was originally constructed 'through' in 1856, and that almost certainly reflects the era of the little piers under the new structure. It is interesting to me that the new bridge, and the approach fill leading to it, appears to be almost perfectly centered over the line of that old bridge, indicating perhaps that it is as heavy as it is because it was constructed to be lifted and 'slid into position' laterally as a complete replacement for the original line and not built side-by-side with the original as in the arch replacement for the Big Sister Creek truss bridge that -- this being Halloween season -- was the site of the Angola Horror in 1867.

Who has dates and perhaps some construction detail for this specific bridge and its line improvements? It very, very likely represents the double-tracking of this section of the line, based on the 'forensic' evidence present.

Author:  Dennis Storzek [ Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

You know, you may be on to something. Looking at the original photo, I'm not seeing a center truss. Now, supporting two tracks on two trusses makes both the trusses and floor beams heavier, but would allow the new bridge to be constructed AROUND the existing single track bridge... and the form of the abutments seems to bear that out, if you consider the top of the retaining walls to be the old track level. That would have also allowed the old line to be used to haul fill to widen the embankment. It would be interesting if there were some construction photos of the new bridge.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

No luck yet on past, but found a future:

http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalpla ... ridge.aspx

Author:  Old Smokey [ Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

When you start looking at the loco...it has several interesting, even distinctive features .

Such as the placement of the domes...with the bell directly in front of the cab...
( the crew would have loved that )....and their unusually simple rounded shape.

Is it fair to say the bell tends to be mounted much farther forward..and the domes in this time period were much more ornate ?

The horizontal slats of the "cow catcher" also stand out.

Based on the original photo...and some shots from the Canadian Science and Technology Museum..

I'm guessing it's a product of the Portland Loco Works in Portland Maine..?

The three shot's contain obvious discrepancy's in terms of the placement of the bell/domes...and the shape of the cab windows..(arched vs square).
But there is certainly a strong family resemblance.

However research has turned up that Portland build very large numbers of 4-4-0's for the Grand Trunk....when they were converting the entire railway
from the original 5' 6" Canadian broad-gauge to our present day North American standard of 4' 8 1/2 inches..

This happened between 1872 and 1885.. and they needed a lot of engines in a hurry

Mention is made of the engines being built in batches with minor variations between them

Such as loco's 246 to 272 being constructed with Square cab windows...and similar others in the 300 range.

Given there are three very blurry digits on the smokebox number plate..
I think we're getting closer to figuring out this engine..

What say you..?


GTR  4-4-0 engine #86.jpg
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Author:  Peter Becker [ Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

Railroad History No. 147 published in Autumn 1982 has a complete locomotive roster for the Grand Trunk Railway. Assuming the information is correct, although in the last 35 years more information may have been found, 416 is more likely a Manchester engine built in 1874 and rebuilt by the GTR in 1887. Engine 86 was one of five H-5 class engines, 82-86, built in 1893 by the GTR. Based on the domes, the bell location and the cross head (compare to the photo of 86) I would guess that the mystery engine was built or rebuilt by the GTR and perhaps is an H-5.

One other point, on page 153 of Railroad History 147 there is a photo of 554, originally 83, and later 424 that is very similar to the mystery engine. The tender also appears to be a match. The biggest difference is a steel cab has replaced a wooden cab, but that is not too unusual.

Having said that this is still a lot of guess work. The Grand Trunk rebuilt many engines and some had as many as 6 different numbers in their life so it is hard to keep everything straight.

Author:  Old Smokey [ Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

Peter B.

Yes, it sure is a bit of a puzzle. Thanks for your feedback.

A knowledgeable friend sent this PDF link.


Very germane to this discussion... with some really impressive 1800's Loco photographs

After studying the report ...
I submit our engine could perhaps have been Portland 245....GTR 376...??

Your comments.... about it being GTR built... or rebuilt....
I would say you are right about rebuilding.

The report clearly states that Grand Trunk rebuilt some of their Portland engines
with a very distinctive horizontal slat "cow catcher" ...that we see on our unknown engine.

Also, it has an air reservoir under the cab, not seen on earlier photo's,
and an up-graded headlamp. So would seem a rebuild.

Still too early in the game to make any definitive judgments...

Could some of our headlight collectors tell us what kind of headlamp that was...
that replaced the old Big-Box ...

And approximately when it might have introduced into service. ?.

It will help us date the photo.


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Grand Trunk Loco 1.jpg
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Author:  Overmod [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

As an update: this bridge was completed in 1898, and the double-tracking of the line in 1903. The bad news is that it is scheduled for 'total replacement' in 2018 (with a new truss arrangement as noted, but with room for 'four tracks') - none of the existing structure, as I understand it now, is to remain.

Might be interesting for a GT expert to mention just why these engines were built in Portland, which people unfamiliar with the history might think a somewhat unlikely place to build locomotives... what little I know of the story of the ice-free port is quite interesting.

Author:  Old Smokey [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

Disturbing news.

Looks like we better get photo's while we can.
I believe there is quite a variety of traffic passing over it....beyond endless shots of GO trains..

Will be a nice bit of heavy railway engineering to watch though.
Hopefully someone local will be able to document it for us.

From the look of that aerial view, it seems possible to safely do that
at track level and down at river level.

I plan to be out that way next summer...fingers crossed... not too late.


Author:  Old Smokey [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

Might be interesting for a GT expert to mention just why these engines were built in Portland, which people unfamiliar with the history might think a somewhat unlikely place to build locomotives... what little I know of the story of the ice-free port is quite interesting.[/quote]

For sure I'm no GT expert, and I too wondered why Portland of all places ?

Until I looked at these maps of the Grand Trunk System.

It would seem Portland was Mile Zero.. for the entire Grand Trunk system..... Who knew..

British money financed construction of a rail system, that by 1880 stretched from Maine to Chicago and was one of the World's largest railroads.

Basically it's purpose was linking ice-free Atlantic shipping ports to the interior of North America.

In 1853 the GTR had extensive yards and shop facilities at Portland harbour
and naturally used the local Portland Works to provide loco's for their new system.

Portland Works build hundred's of 4-4-0 engines for the Grand Trunk from 1854 onward.

In both Broad and Standard gauge...in various batches, with only minor variations between them..to around the early 1900's.

Seems the works was a true Yankee enterprise.

Not only built locomotives and rail cars, but paddle-wheel "Battle Ships" for the Civil War Union Navy.

And 0-4-4 Forney's for the famous Sandy River and Rangley Lakes RR.

This is a very simplified version.

Overmod is right....a story well worth looking into.


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Author:  Old Smokey [ Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

Came across this shot taken in 1912.

Shows a very similar engine arriving at Port Perry station.

Port Perry was on a branch line that connected to the GTR main line at Whitby and ran north to Lindsay.

Originally, as this 1875 map shows...the line ended at Lake Scugog where freight was transferred to steamboats.

Whitby junction was only 15 or 20 miles to the east from the Rouge River bridge.

Although very fuzzy...the numbers on both seem to be in the 4?? range.

Probably not the same engine...but pretty close.

This is all new to me.
Would be very interested in what Peter B. can contribute.. and his mention of 424 with a later steel cab.


SS Ogemha Port Perry.jpg
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Port Perry  GTR station 1912 .jpg
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Author:  mldeets [ Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Unknown Ontario Train

And I would offer that to my eye it seems that might be engine #2478 or 2476. It surely looks like a 4 digit number......mld

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