Thursday 10 March 2016

Throwback Thursday #26 - CN Plow Run at Hamilton, ON March 1984

A late-winter storm has called for a plow extra on the Grimsby sub. Here CN RS-18 #3624 pushes plow #55219 eastbound near Parkdale on March 1, 1984. Reg Button photo, author's collection.

Tonight’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to March 1984. We’re at Hamilton, ON on the first day of the month, where we find an eastbound plow run on the CN Grimsby sub near Parkdale. As if that’s not interesting enough, the power for this plow run is RS-18 #3624. Plow runs on the CN in Ontario were synonymous with CN’s bastion of F7Au’s, some of which specially modified for this purpose. As the F’s aged, however, backup snow-fighting power was facilitated by modifying a number of RS18’s and GP9’s with distinctive “snow shields” which stymied snow incursion into the fans and radiators. Interestingly enough, CN 3624 wasn’t one of them. Even more unusual is a plow run on the Grimsby sub – far more typical on CN’s branchline network north of London, the sight of a snowplow on the double track Grimsby sub mainline is indeed unusual (I wonder if CN had any double-track plows left in 1984?). Hamilton is not typically affected by winter storms to the same degree as the Toronto area or southwestern Ontario, but the Niagara peninsula does have a habit of attracting some pretty major snowfalls. So it was likely that somewhere farther east this unusual movement would encounter a bit more resistance than the trip has already dealt the plow. Any way one looks at it, however, it is quite an interesting occurrence – one of “if it hadn’t been photographed, I wouldn’t believe it” trains! Interestingly, the photographer noted “first time on the Grimsby sub” on the slide mount. I don’t know whether that’s accurate or not, but it almost certainly hasn’t been repeated since. CN 3624 itself had a fairly long career, having been built in 1957 by MLW. Aside from a repaint from the CN noodle scheme to the zebra-stripe scheme, it seems that the unit lead a generally uneventful life, reaching the Moncton deadlines by 1990, and likely scrapped shortly thereafter. But for a least one day, it must have been pretty exciting to have been at the throttle in that engine…

‘Til next time,