I believe I’ve mentioned before about the lack of railroading in Ottawa. Let me iterate; there is very little in Ottawa for a railfan/train person to see beyond VIA trains, which are very typical. In fact, most trains in Ottawa are typical and predictable. So one must make the most of what little there is.
I live near the main track that VIARail uses, and passenger trains just don’t do it for me. I like freight trains. Again, there is very little in Ottawa as I mentioned here. Where I work, I do have a limited vantage of the track going up to Arnprior. There is a weekly local that takes some tank cars up there and that really is the only thing to see. From my cubicle, I can hear the train coming and watch it trundle up the line. Its about a five hour turn to come back, and if its a later train, I can make a stop after work and wait for its return. Of course, the camera comes with me every Wednesday, just in case.
Such was my luck last week. It was a late one going up, meaning I could get to a spot to see its return. Being winter and all, I kept to a spot that I knew I could access easily with all the snow (although, not as easy as I’d imagined). After a short wait, I heard the tell-tale horn and got ready for some shots.
I brought my Fuji X100T. Not the best for variable shots, but I like the camera, and I can learn to make do. As it approached the level crossings, the bells and lights went off. As it came around the corner it blew its horn. As it went under the highway bridge, the echoes made it very loud.
And shortly thereafter it came by. It goes at a fairly slow pace, so there is time to get ready for the picture.
The consist is typically three to four tank cars from (and to) the Nylene plant. Again, very predictable. Even the engine is typically the same. Sometimes there is two locomotives, which I suspect is only because one has had some repairs, and it is sent up the line with the other as a backup should the “fixed” one fail.
And within 30 seconds, the train has passed, and I wait another week to possibly see it again.
Fleeting as it is, I look forward to potentially seeing this train each week. As the warmer temperatures approach, I hope to catch it in a few different locations and scenery.
A couple of weeks ago it was a foggy night in Ottawa. I took the opportunity to head over to the VIA rail station. Being the train geek that I am, I knew a train was due, and I was keen to get some foggy light-beam shots. I grabbed my Fuji X-T1 and a tripod and headed to Fallowfield station.
As is typical, the train was a wee bit late, but the end result was worth it.
While waiting, I took a shot of the signal lights. All red. Shortly after, a yellow over green over red appeared, meaning stop at this location, then carry on and proceed with caution to the next signal.
The train did show. And while passengers debarked, I set up this shot. The ditch lights (lower lights on the locomotive) are off at the station. They come on when its set to depart. That’s when I took this shot. The black and white treatment made for a more interesting photo.
After the train had left, I went over to the parking for the bus commuters and got this shot.
All in all, a good set of photos for a last minute decision to see what I could get. Of course, the entire duration was some hour and a half, but it was worth it.
Train watching in Ottawa is, to be kind, limited. This city is definitely not blue collar or industrial in any way. As such, there is very little in the way of rail traffic other than passenger trains. For the railfan, it is a wasteland. Basically, the only freight is local 589 that services a couple of industries, and this is on a weekly basis. Oh, and not on a particular schedule, so to see something is pure luck.
So double-bonus for me! My new job has a view to the railway up to Almonte. The once-a-week delivery to the Nylon plant up there. The window behind my cubicle looks that way, and if I’m at my desk, I hear the horn of the train approaching the level crossing. If I see/hear it, I know six hours later (at the end of the work day) it returns, and I can potentially catch it.
Such was last week. I heard the horn, and looked to see two locomotives pulling five tank cars up the line. I looked at the time, and knew when they would be coming back. The time is random, but the day is not, so I had my X-Pro1 with me to hopefully catch the return. Luckily, I did.
I knew where I wanted to be, so I hung out there a bit early to make sure I’d catch it. When it did come, I got some shots. When I came home and looked, I saw that in my excitement to see the train (remember, nothing much happens here) some shots were not very crisp. The one below looked better with a black and white treatment.
The other shot, though not much better, worked in colour.
As a bonus, this Sunday while I was sweeping up the walkway, I heard a train coming. I’m just across the street from the tracks served mostly by Via Rail. The train sounded different and when I looked, it was the local delivering lumber to the nearby lumber yard. I immediately grabbed my camera and made for the tracks. There is a bike/walk path along the tracks on either side. It was a quick job, and I caught it on its return to Walkley yard.
What the photos don’t show is motion. The locomotive is pushing the box car. As I saw it coming down the tracks, I could see the flashing red light of the End of Train device coming towards me.
I’ll leave out the train-geek reasons for this. But suffice to say, for a very barren train location of Ottawa, I had a pretty good week.
Last week I took a walk near my work at lunch. It was a 10 minute drive to a spot where a path followed a bit of the CN tracks up to Arnprior on the Beachburg subdivision. At one spot, the trail comes very close to the tracks, so I took a little detour up onto the tracks. I knew that the only train through here was on Wednesdays and it was a Tuesday. That and my Spidey senses are always in tune for a train or any train sounds, and the max speed is about 20 mph, so I knew that if something did happen to come, I would hear it well before and have time to get out of the way (and it didn’t stop me from looking over my shoulder constantly…just in case).
At one point there used to be a junction (switch) that would lead up the valley on a different route. A year or so ago, that was ripped out and all that is left is the remnants of where the rails went. I was surprised to see a lot of the track bits still scattered about the location. I figured they would have cleaned it up and sold it for scrap.
Bonus for me, as it made for some fine photo shots with my trusty Fuji X100T. Sad that there is a little less rail traffic in Ottawa. Especially for someone like me who likes trains.
A couple of weeks ago at lunch I drove down to the nearby railway tracks. Like those who like the sounds of the sea or rain that takes them to a calm space, being near railway tracks is mine. Growing up I had the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo railway running near my house, and the CN line wasn’t far away either.
So I went to walk the tracks. These tracks are rarely used – a once a week, up and back run, so its not particularly busy, and the line has a 10 mph max speed. And I have an ear for trains coming, so I wasn’t worried about something coming up behind me.
With my Fuji X100T in hand I wandered up the line, and one picture I grabbed was a spike in the rocks. The contrast of colours and textures made for an interesting composition.
The theme of the month on a Facebook group is “down low”, or “pet perspective”. I placed my Fuji X-Pro1 right on the rail, shooting somewhat blindly as I couldn’t look through the viewfinder or the LCD at the back.
Now, I’m a big train fan. I like trains. I don’t believe in hanging out on the railway tracks, or shooting photos around them. Safety first. I believe in the mantra “anytime is train time”. Even though mostly scheduled trains run through here, there are the odd freight train can come by. I will also point out that this photo was made at a level crossing, which is right behind me. So there was little risk of getting hit by a train. The bells and lights would have alerted me. And even this shot was very quickly done and I moved on.
Anytime is Train Time.
A few weeks ago I as up in Carp visiting my doctor for a check up. As I have mentioned in another post about the local train situation, the changes are slim, but always possible to see a train. Its a very rare event, so I’m always ready with a camera. A few weeks prior, I was in the area, and with a bit of spare time, reconnoitred the area and where the roads and tracks crossed.
After my appointment I was heading to the car when I heard the train horn. Woo hoo! But hearing the train horn, meant it was already at the level crossing in the main part of town, not too far from where I took the pictures mentioned in a previous post. However, thanks to my earlier recon and knowing that the speed is only 10 mph, I went to the new spot to catch it. I wasn’t even in a panic to get to my location, knowing the speed limit. In fact, I had enough time to park, get out the camera (my new Fuji X100T) and take a look down the tracks. The train hadn’t even rounded the corner yet!
I considered affixing the teleconverter but opted to take my time and get the settings right.
A short train, and about as good as it gets in Ottawa for freight trains, sadly.
As it trundled by I took a bunch of shots and watched it carry on down the line. I noted the time, and its roughly the same time as the previous view. I’ll have to make a point of making my appointments at or around that time all the time.
This past weekend we went to the Cumberland Museum in the other end of the city. They had a railroad theme. Most of it was focused more on children, but there was some things I was interested in.
The museum is on a large grounds with many period buildings and structures such as a working sawmill, forge and printing press. The main entrance area is actually an old railroad station. One of the features was sending telegraphs. In the station, one could send a telegraph and pick it up in the caboose elsewhere on the grounds. While my son was composing a message, I grabbed this photo of the old school train tickets.
But the one thing that I was looking forward to was the live steamers club. These guys (and possibly gals) have model steam trains that actually run on steam. All the principles of steam apply. Water, coal and fire. All locomotives are built to scale from milled metal. And to operate them, you ride them!
And they were giving rides. I took advantage and had a couple of rides, soot in the face and all.
There are a number of different models and types from North American and European steamers from various eras.
A good time.
All photos taken with the Fuji X-T1 and the 16-55 f28.