Freight Car Friday #14 – QGRY 80188


This old QGRY (Quebec-Gatineau Railway) boxcar was originally built in 1964 by Hawker-Siddeley for Canadian Pacific and amazingly enough in 2004 still carries its original as-delivered paint job, when the majority of these cars were repainted CP Rail throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Photographed in the former ACR Steelton yard in August 2004, this car was probably loaded with pulp or paper from the pulp mill at Espanola on the Huron Central Railway (Huron Central and Quebec Gatineau are both subsidiaries of Genesee Rail One Canada), interchanged to CN to travel to destinations in the midwest United States.

Freight Car Friday #13 – CPAA 207289


CP (ex-CPAA) 207289 50′ boxcar in the former ACR Steelton yard, August 19, 2004.

Most likely loaded with paper or woodpulp from the pulp mill at Espanola, interchanged to CN to head into the midwest United States, or possibly provided to the St. Marys Paper mill in Sault Ste. Marie.

Cars like this were previously also a common sight hauling baled pulp from mills on the north shore of Lake Superior south over the ACR from Franz.

Atlas 2014 Catalog and Announcements – HO AC GP38-2

Earlier this week, Atlas Model Railroad Co. posted their 2014 All-Scales Catalog. Inside the HO Scale Announcements section is an interesting item for Algoma Central fans: Algoma Central is one of the roadnames in the next upcoming release of their TrainMan series GP38-2.


AC 201 at Sault Ste. Marie in September 1982. Francis J. Wiener photo, Chris van der Heide collection.

Several years ago, Canadian Hobbycraft had sponsored a custom run of GP38-2s in various Canadian paint schemes including less common shortlines like RaiLink and Algoma Central. These were produced using the Life-Like Proto2000 GP38-2. Of course this limited run has long been out of production, and while one or two might pop up on the secondhand market occasionally, new ones just aren’t available anymore.

The new Atlas model is in the TrainMan series, which is Atlas’s more “entry level” line; the model will have the same proven drive train as Atlas’s higher end “Master Series” but the body may have less of the fine detail, and it most likely won’t have the road-specific details like snowplow, nose headlight, cab front bell, single rear headlight, Canadian-style vertical steps etc. However this will still be a good enough stand in for most, and a good starting point for detailing for many others.

They currently list road numbers 200 and 202, although this could potentially still change before production. The prototype locomotives were built in 1981 by General Motors Diesel Division in London, ON as series AC 200-205. Most or all of them are still operating today (just not in ACR colours) as WC 2001-2006.

ACR From Blair 007

WC 2001 (ex-AC 200) at Steelton Yard before repainting into WC colours. Blair Smith photo.

Part of the ad copy in the catalog indicates matching cabooses will be available, and indeed, further down is a section with new paint schemes on the TrainMan series “steel cupola caboose”, including Algoma Central. Of course this model is based on a small north-eastern US prototype that isn’t remotely similar to any ACR cabooses. The catalog outline artwork shows a caboose numbered AC 9607; this number would correspond to one of the three ex-CP vans acquired in 1992-93. Rapido Trains produced a model of this caboose several years ago. Highball Graphics also has some ACR caboose decals that can be used to custom paint something a bit better than the TrainMan caboose into ACR colours.

One other announcement in the catalog which will be of significant interest to most Canadian modelers is not too much of a surprise: a new version of their 50′ NSC boxcar matching the features of cars owned by Canadian Pacific and Ontario Northland. (Previously they have run Canadian National and British Columbia Railway versions.)


CP (ex-CPI) 85718 newsprint service boxcar. Jurgen Kleylein photo.

The first run of this version contains three paint schemes: Ontario Northland (7700-7799 series), Canadian Pacific (CPI 85635-85734 series) and Quebec Central/CP* (QC 75100-75299 series). All of the paint schemes represent original factory paint jobs, and future releases of other CP repainted cars are likely in subsequent runs.

* Note: The outline graphics in the catalog show the QC cars as an apparent ex-CP patch job; I checked with Atlas and this is not how the actual cars will be decorated. They will properly represent the as-built appearance of the QC cars, which were built new with QC reporting marks and CP colours. (Quebec Central was a CP subsidiary absorbed in the 1930s. CP re-used the marks in the late 1970s as a method to have empty paper service boxcars routed back to eastern Canada by other roads.)

Build dates for the prototype cars represented by the model are as follows:

Series Build Date Qty. Note
CPI 85635-85734 * # 9-10/77 100 re# CP /78-/83
ONT 7600-7629 11/77 30
ONT 7700-7799 * 9/80 100
QC 75000-75099 11-12/79 100
QC 75100-75299 * 7-8/80 200
QGRY 75000-75299 $ 11-12/79, 7-8/80 81 ex-QC /98

* – Series represented by Atlas
# – Previous series CPI 85500-85634 (Built 3-5/75, 135 cars) are similar but have 10′ wide doors (vs. 9′ doors on all of the other above) and non-cushioned underframes
$ – QGRY series is non-inclusive.

Some woodpulp/paper traffic from mills on the CPR line on the north shore of Lake Superior routed over the ACR from the interchange at Franz (that’s a subject I may attempt to cover in more detail sometime in a dedicated post), and there’s evidence that some paper from the Ontario Northland (from mills at Iroquois Falls, and likely from Kapuskasing and Smooth Rock Falls following the takeover of the ex-CN Kapuskasing subdivision) so any of these cars would not be out of place on a period ACR layout. I’ll be getting a couple of these cars for sure to mix into my CP woodpulp/paper fleet.

St. Marys Paper, Then and Now

The old paper mill in Sault Ste. Marie, one of the original industries in town and an ACR customer for over a century, has recently closed down, and when I visited Sault Ste. Marie in July, the mill was in the process of being demolished. Fortunately I have some good photos of the mill from some previous visits to the area, so in this post we’ll look at the last 20 years of the mill’s operation.

All photos below taken by myself unless otherwise noted.

Note: this is the last in a series of posts covering specific locations on the ACR based on photos taken taken on my July trip to the former ACR.


St Marys Paper in 1992 from the International Highway Bridge:


Overhead view, 1992. Nell vanderHeide photo.

Plenty of stockpiles of pulpwood logs fill much of the open ground on the property. Plenty of Wisconsin Central boxcars await paper loading. (This shot is before the WC takeover of the AC, but much of the mill’s output was exported to the US.)

And a few more views from 2000:


Those flatcars in the first photo in this set are most definitely former AC 2301-2373 series 40′ flatcars; these are likely owned by the paper mill and used for moving pulpwood logs around from stockpiles on the property. Note in the foreground of the 1992 photo above a pair of 48′ gondolas with similar home-made end racks.


This photo shows what looks to be the log debarking and chipping machinery. A covered pipe or conveyor brings the chips into the pulping mill. Note the switcher poking out of the building at centre.


We can see from this last photo that the water treatment facility has been expanded since the 1992 shot. The tracks running roughly through the foreground head towards the paper loading warehouse off to the left, out of frame.


And here’s one of the mill switchers resting behind the mill, near the warehouse/shipping building. I wonder what’s become of this engine now? Sold to a new owner when the mill closed, or just scrapped along with any other rail equipment at the mill?


And one last photo from 2004, taken from across the power canal. Compare this last one especially to the photos below.


Closed sometime within the last few years, the mill is now being demolished. Everything but the remaining original sandstone structures has just about been torn down in these July 2013 photos. It appears that the original structures are being deliberately preserved for now due to their heritage nature, as they are over a century old. First three shots taken from across the power canal.






From the front of the mill, we can see that the main mill buildings, except for the remaining original sandstone structures, have been completely torn down, and the modern steel warehouse/shipping building at right is the last structure to go. It’s not obvious from this angle, but the back half of that structure is already gone and it’s definitely in the process of coming down.