Thursday, 3 November 2016

Throwback Thursday #29 - Bayview Memories (by Keith)

A while back I had a Throwback Thursday about the changes over the years at CN's Bayview Jct, in Hamilton ON. Turns out I 'scooped' my dad who was coincidentally writing a similar article at the same time. So today is part II of our Bayview documentary, written by my dad Keith. 

'Til next time,

Bayview Flashback

On a clear mid spring evening freshly painted Canadian Pacific SD40's 5541 and 5514 are about to duck under the Royal Botanical Garden's Laking Gardens pedestrian bridge as they pass through Bayview Jct. and lead the ‘Starlite’ mixed freight towards Burlington, Ontario. The named freight is a carryover from the days of the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway, by this date a fallen flag having been fully absorbed by co-parent CP two years previously. Decades-old trackage rights permitted the competitor movement along Canadian National's historic Oakville Subdivision. However, nothing lasts forever and CP's trackage rights would expire approximately twenty years hence.

The right of way that the train is traversing was originally that of the Great Western Railway and dates from the mid 1800’s. In the distant background directly above the lead locomotive is the Desjardins Canal, sadly the scene of one of Canada’s first passenger train tragedies. On the evening of March 12th 1857, as a Great Western passenger train approached the canal  swing bridge, a broken axle on the locomotive caused the consist to plummet some six stories to the frozen waters below. Some fifty nine souls were lost in the calamity, including renowned railway contractor and banker Samuel Zimmerman. A fixed replacement rail bridge replaced the destroyed movable span, preventing the passage of ocean-going schooners through the canal. In time, a consequence of that decision would be the reversal of Dundas’ industrial prominence over Hamilton in the Great Lakes shipping trade. The four-posted highway bridge in the background, known locally as the High Level bridge, was constructed in 1932 by the city of Hamilton as part of a western entrance beautification/depression era unemployment relief program.

In order to accommodate the extra mainline track the width of the supporting berm was increased and then stabilized with a series of piles along the base of the embankment at the water line. Note that the cantilevered signal mast near the cross-overs has been removed in the interim.

While the overall harbor view remains relatively unchanged decades on, the area's railway infrastructure has been substantially enhanced. In 2006 a third main track, extending westward to the junction was added to the harbor side of the existing double track right of way. Currently, in conjunction with expanded GO Train service to Hamilton and beyond, the third main is being extended further westward. Ongoing activity at the moment is focused upon an addition to the bridge structure spanning the historic Desjardins Canal.

As for the locomotives in the lead photo, CP SD40 5514 was built by GMD London in 1966. The unit was upgraded to SD40-2 specifications and equipped with Q-Tron electronics (to enhance tractive effort) prior to sale to the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad, becoming DME 6081. The new owner would subsequently upgrade the venerable unit to -3 electronics. In something of an ironic twist, CP would re-acquire the survivor, included in its acquisition of the regional road. Likewise, CP 5541 was also built at the London facility, in 1967. Similarly upgraded to SD40-2 specifications the unit’s fate would be far less auspicious; retired in 2001 and subsequently sold for scrap in 2005.

- Keith.

Mission accomplished. To further stabilize the man made addition, the geographical feature was immediately hydro-seeded. Note the substantial pile structure along the water line. Note also the natural grown in appearance of the vegetation shown in the photo below. Over time, the view (possible photo angles) on one side of the junction has improved, while the other (west side) view has been obliterated all together by the vegetation.

Note the start of some low-level vegetation on the hillside at left - how long until those trees obscure the view again?

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