Freight Car Friday #54

Earlier this week I received a package in the mail with a collection of new-old stock Atlas tank car models from the very early 2000s that I managed to scare up on eBay. Among other things, included were a few of these ACFX chlorine service tank cars with the orange band that I’ve been looking for for a while, as it’s really something that places a setting as “post-1980 Canadian railway”.

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The car is in a generic ACF lease scheme but that orange band tells a story – a specifically Canadian and ‘eighties one. During the 1980s, there was a short-lived Canadian government regulation requiring pressurized tank cars suitable for carrying hazardous compressed gases (both flammable and toxic inhalation hazards) to be painted with a bright orange horizontal band around the middle of the car as a very visible marker to first responder crews in the event of an incident. Non-pressurized cars did not receive these markings.

Although I can’t find a particular written source at hand, the common telling is that this regulation was one of the measures instituted in the aftermath of the infamous 1979 Mississauga wreck. Several factors however led to the eventual dropping of this requirement after a few years: a lack of universal adoption (as this was not a requirement in the United States, and it takes a number of years to apply the new lettering standards to an entire fleet of existing cars) and the eventual realization that when the paint burned off in a fire the visual cue wasn’t all that useful…

So the orange stripe was dropped, but even today if you’re lucky you can still come across older tank cars built or repainted in the 1980s that haven’t been repainted since and still show the stripe, although 30 years of repaints and retirements have seriously thinned their ranks.

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I photographed the CGTX car above in a CN train at Copetown, Ontario in March of 2007 and the Procor car below was photographed just outside Sarnia in October 2014. Even 10-15 years ago in the early 2000s you could see the orange stripes a fair bit more often still on CGTX, CITX/DCTX and PROX cars and while fewer and farther between now, there are still survivors out there today that make for a splash of interest in a passing train.

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ACR Auxiliary Bunk Cabins

As a final follow-up to my previous posts on the ACR’s standard section houses, I wanted to include a highlight on the extra little bunk cabins that were located near by in certain locations to increase bunk capacity for a larger section crew, as the standard section house only had two bedrooms and was generally the home of the section foreman and his family, if he had one. In some remote locations, the main house was all there was, but in many others, there could be a few of these extra bunks for additional personnel.

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Abandoned bunk cabins at Batchewana, 2012. Photo courtesy Dan Kachur.

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Abandoned bunk cabins at Batchewana, 2012. Photo courtesy Dan Kachur.

This pair of one room cabins are located next to the section house at Batchewana. Other cabins at other locations appeared to be quite similar if not the same, although variations are proven to exist.

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Interior of abandoned bunk cabin at Batchewana. May 2012. Photo courtesy Dan Kachur.

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Interior of abandoned bunk cabin at Batchewana. May 2012. Photo courtesy Dan Kachur.

These shots give a good view of the interior of one of these cabins, and also their current abandoned nature. Check out the massive hole in the back wall.

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Cabin at Canyon. June 2000. My photo.

This cabin at Canyon has been rebuilt with new windows and siding to match some of the other structures at the park but otherwise appears to be a mirror image of the cabins at Batchewana. I’ve found a few 1960s era photos that while not showing a full view of this cabin, do show that it was then present and at the time it was clad in “insul-brick” asphalt shingle siding like the Batchewana cabins.

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Bunk cabins at Frater, September 2013. Now appears to be a private camp. My photo.

These cabins at Frater appear to be a variation. Neither is quite the same as the Batchewana or Canyon cabins. Looks like the new owner has upgraded the larger cabin with a home-made bay window, probably using materials scavanged from the old station when it was torn down. The siding on this building, which appears to be asbestos shingles, could also be found on some other ACR structures including several stations such as Frater, Goudreau, Mosher, and Wawa and similar other small structures.

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Bunk cabin near Perry, September 2013. May have been a private cabin for a time, but looks abandoned now. My photo.

This little cabin at Perry seems to be quite similar to the cabin at Frater, but mirror imaged. The side alongside the rails has obviously been modified and had its siding replaced, but the original siding is still on both gable ends. This structure is currently located a little ways down from the main complex of structures around the old section house, but definitely has the look of an ACR structure. It may have been moved.

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Cabin at Mekatina. July 2014. My photo.

Another cabin at Mekatina, almost identical to the one at Perry (other than the bit to the right that appears to have been added on later). A second similar structure is just out of frame to the right. Mekatina once also boasted a train order office (closed and torn down, but the concrete foundations remain) and one of the standard section houses, but the main section house burned down in the late 1970s.

ACR Standard Design Section Houses – Pt. III

(See also Part 1 and Part 2 for a discussion of the standard ACR section house design and several photos of other examples, and also my scratchbuild of the Franz section house here, here and here.)

Here’s another small handful of mostly abandoned but still standing section houses along the north end of the ACR courtesy of my friend Melody who rode the Tour of the Line with me back in the fall of 2013. She got several that I missed as we were shooting out opposite sides of the vestibule.

All photos Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2013 by Melody Halliday.

Wanda (mile 188.3)

This one appears to be in reasonably good shape still with a metal roof and the grass has been trimmed at least somewhat recently, so someone was probably still maintaining this one as a private cabin.

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Hilda? (mile 207.7)

This one however, is definitely abandoned.

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Akron (Mile 233.4)

This one also doesn’t appear to have been occupied in a while.

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Langdon (Mile 239.1)

Also obviously abandoned, with broken windows and the porch roof is starting to sag.

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Norris (Mile 252.9)

Clearly privately occupied at least at some point, someone has enclosed the porch and left some stuff lying around, but it doesn’t seem to have received any significant upkeep in a while.

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