This message form addressed to the crew of train No. 5 (Hawk Junction to Hearst freight) on April 10, 1970 instructs the northbound train to lift AC 3174 (a 40′ wooden boxcar) from the Newaygo Forest Products camp at Mosher to bring to Hearst.
Mosher was a sizeable logging camp operated by Newaygo Forest Products but very remote, with no road access other than rough logging roads so many supplies were brought in and out by rail via the Algoma Central Express department.
The below 1973 photo courtesy of Ted Ellis shows the main common buildings at Newaygo’s Mosher operation with a similar 40′ wood boxcar again spotted near the main buildings. Loaded pulpwood gondolas fill up the rest of the shed track. Partially visible in the background behind the buildings are the actual “Mosher South” loading spurs.
CGTX 71506 is the first addition to my (hopeful) fleet of tank cars for sulphuric acid service. Sulphuric acid is a common industrial chemical and a by-product of ore smelting operations. I’ve posted prototype photos in previous “Freight Car Friday” themed posts of acid cars running over the former ACR, likely from the operations at Timmins, ON or Rouyn-Noranda, QC via the Ontario Northland Railway through Hearst.
This model is a Tangent Scale Models car which was purchased as an undecorated/lettered but assembled and painted (black) model. The model represents a General American Transportation 8000 gallon car for acid service built in the late 1940s, but is very similar (identical in size and overall profile with only minor detail differences that you’d only notice if doing a direct side by side comparison of the model and prototype photo) to several older CGTX cars as well, so I was able to use it as a nice stand in. I’m unsure of the exact original build date of the CGTX cars but they would be from the same period – late 1940s-early 1950s and with railroad cars having about a 40-year lifespan, it’s plausible to be running out its last miles in the mid 1980s.
I didn’t actually change any details but just lettered the car following a late 1970s prototype photo with an old Herald King CGTX tank car decal set, with some additional detail lettering and COTS, ACI and U-1 decals to bring it up to a 1980s appearance from various Microscale sheets. With a little bit of in-service weathering, this car’s appearance will be completed and it will be ready to haul loads of acid from the smelters to industrial users in the central/mid-west USA.
This message addressed to the local agent at Franz gives some instructions for his daily work handling waybills for cars in the station and preparing switchlists and other information for trains working there.
While the first two notes about making sure cars billed with “south” destinations went to southbound no. 5 and “north” cars went to northbound no. 6 are rather obvious, the rest is interesting and involves the handling of various un-billed empty cars. An empty gondola is to be sent south to Sault Ste. Marie (Steelton yard) and an empty rack (40′ pulpwood flatcar) held in the yard. The “chip boxes” referenced are likely empty Canadian Pacific 40′ boxcars held for wood chip loading at the Dubreuil Brothers sawmill ten miles to the south of Franz at Dubreuilville. Reliable sources indicate that in the 1960s and early 1970s chips were mainly loaded into standard 40′ boxcars supplied by CP. Empty cars delivered by CP for loading would be stored at Franz and Wanda, the next siding to the south until needed. As the sawmill ordered in cars for loading, the local agent would fill the orders from this pool of empty boxcars. The chips were shipped to the James River Pulp and Paper mill in Marathon on the CP line along the north shore of Lake Superior.
This traffic out of Dubreuilville apparently wound down in the mid 1970s as Dubreuil Brothers shifted to shipping most of their product by truck. In the mid 1980s this traffic came back to the railway and around 1986 there were major track changes and the installation of a new chip loader at Dubreuilville. Chip cars would again be provided by CP, this time in the form of a fleet of dedicated high-sided open top gondolas assigned to the Dubreuilville-Marathon chip service. This 1992 switchlist shows a large cut of empty gondolas for chip loading in the interchange track at Franz:
This lasted through the 1990s until the Dubreuil mill closed in 2007.
I’ve been cycling through a few different projects on the workbench lately, including updating a few older projects. One of which is this set of old bunk cars rebuilt from 36′ wooden boxcars from the turn of the century. I started on the first pair last year, building up the bodies, adding basic styrene floors and also adding a third modernized car to the collection. I never finished detailing the underframes though and the project rotated to the side as other projects like Wawa station took the forefront this winter.
As I work through various smaller projects, I decided it was time to finish detailing the brake system on the underframes and move these projects a bit closer to completion. The main underframe is of course scratchbuilt from a floor of .040″ styrene sheet and the bolsters, main sill and braces built up from various sizes of styrene strip. I also scratchbuilt the coupler pockets right into the frame with a styrene strip box and a piece of .125″ O.D. tube for the mounting point, securely welded in place with styrene cement and tapped for a 2-56 mounting screw.
(I ended up locating the mounting point a bit far back, not accounting properly for the full thickness of the end sill on the body, but a long-shank Kadee coupler compensated for that, and having the mounting point a bit farther from the edge of the floor sheet is probably more stable.)
The truck bolsters are also built up from various pieces of strip and sheet, with a solid block formed from a stack of styrene pieces drilled and tapped for a 2-56 to mount the truck.
Brake details were added using a Tichy K brake detail set and brass wire for the rodding. It’s not a “contest-level” brake rigging system, but it gives approximately the right impression and shows an appropriate level of rigging detail for a track-level side view.
Late fall, when all the trees are in full autumn colour display, is always a popular season for riding the Agawa Canyon Tour Train excursion. At this time of year, the length of the tour train swells to capacity as tourists time their trips for the best fall colour viewing.
Private car Agawa brings up the rear on a northbound Agawa Canyon Tour Train at Frater circa 1996, with several rented Ontario Northland coaches in the consist. Blair Smith photo.
In the 1980s and 1990s when the tour train reached full capacity, the railway’s entire coach fleet would be pressed into service on the tour train, and it was common for additional cars rented from Ontario Northland and VIA Rail to cover service on the daily regular train to Hearst as well as overflow cars for the Canyon tour. In addition to nos. 3 and 4 running as the dedicated Tour Train, northbound no. 1, the regular train from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst, would also expand with overflow cars as a sort of “second section” to the tour train. On arrival at Canyon, the overflow tour train cars would be set off in the siding to be picked up later by southbound no. 2, which during this time of year would operate with a 30 minute “run late” order to give the overflow passengers an appropriate amount of time to enjoy the Agawa Canyon Park.