ProtoFile: Perry Pit

At mile 150.9, one mile north of Perry siding, is a spur into the Algoma Central Railway’s former ballast pit. While today this location is abandoned, traces still remain.

At mile 150.9, the mainline switch to the spur. The switch has been completely removed some time ago, but the rails beyond the switch still exist.


Looking down the spur into the ballast pit. Note just past the private road crossing that a switch is still in place in the weeds, although the switchstand has been salvaged and removed from these abandoned tracks:


Abandoned rails in the old pit:


This March 1981 photo of the same location shows that at least for a time this spur was actually used to load pulpwood logs. It’s not clear whether even then the ACR was still actually sourcing any ballast from this pit, or if they obtained it from other sources (slag from various types of smelting operations was also popular on many railways to use for ballast), although the embankments in the background don’t show any signs of fresh excavation:


A bit farther south and upgrade from the switch to the spur, we find a dragging equipment detector (DED). This installation consists of a relay box and a set of paddles between the rails that will trigger an alarm if a piece of hanging or dragging equipment off a railcar hits one of the paddles (the paddles between the rails may be difficult to see in the smaller image, click on the image for a larger view). The gravel road descending to the right travels through the ballast pit area as seen above:


Just to the south of the DED, the road crosses over to the west side of the tracks and passes a pair of small structures. Unsure if these are former railway related maintance buildings or something else (private camp/cabins, railway or lumber company bunkhouses?)


Just a little bit farther down, and on the opposite side of the tracks, is this little collection of small structures. This appears likely to have been a private cabin. The bordered area between the main cabin and the smaller sheds looks like it could have once been a garden. And while you can’t see it in the smaller image, in the original large image I found the handle of an abandoned push lawn mower sitting in the weeds behind the sheds:


At this point we’re only a couple hundred meters north of the Perry section house, with the trees closing in on both sides forming a nice separation between these scenes and the railway structures at the north end of Perry siding.

ProtoFile: Perry Siding

Perry (mile 149.9) is located 15 miles south of Hawk Junction. Perry was the location of a passing siding, the railway’s ballast pit, and one of the old regularly spaced track section bunkhouses. While the proximity of the spur to the old ballast pit adds some interest, Perry is a good example of a pretty typical location along the Algoma Central Railway, although while many such locations along the ACR are completely inaccessible except via the the railway, Perry is accessible (at least today) via an unimproved logging road.

Of course operationally the key feature of Perry is the passing siding, as a meeting point for trains. Here we see a pair of freights meeting at Perry in March of 1981:


The lack of lit classification lights or flags on 180 South indicates that this is regular Hawk Junction to Steelton (Sault Ste Marie) southbound freight No. 10; our train is most certainly a slightly late running No. 9. As the northward direction is inferior by timetable, No. 9 takes the siding to clear the main for No. 10.

Having cleared the passage of No. 10, No. 9 now pulls out of Perry siding. The Perry section house is visible ahead, beyond the north switch of the siding.


Here’s a close view of the Perry sectionhouse as it appears today (photographed on my trip in October 2013).

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Today the section house is a privately owned cabin. Originally, the purpose of this building was as a bunkhouse for railway track maintenance workers. Various small sheds nearby served as storage for various supplies and materiel required for the track worker’s trade.

This structure is pretty typical of the ACR’s standard section house design, although the rough stone chimney is a unique feature and a result of remodelling by the new owner. The metal plate in the centre of the roof along the ridge line indicates where the original chimney for the wood stove would have been located.

Looking north at the section house we can see the shed beyond the section house near the edge of the clearing which would have once housed the track foreman’s “speeder” (motorcar) used for conducting track inspections of the section:


Travelling back south along the siding, looking out the back of a southbound passenger train, we see the north siding switch at Perry. The house track at Perry also starts immediately at the north end of the siding:


After travelling through a sweeping curve, the siding straightens out. Here there is a cleared area along the house track; it’s possible this area may have at one time been used for loading pulpwood, like many such sidings along the ACR:


The house track at Perry runs along a sizeable portion of the siding. The timetable indicates the siding’s capacity (in 50′ car equivalents) at 82 cars, and the house track is listed at 39 cars capacity. Factoring in the clearance points of the track and the length of the switches, the house track runs along at least half the length of the siding itself:


The south switch of Perry siding. The conductor of the passenger train is throwing the switch so that the short train can back into the siding so we can meet a northbound freight:



In order not to make this post too large, I will post several views of the ballast pit and area to the north of Perry siding in a separate later post.