Slow Train

I recently came across an interesting item in The Equity of Shawville, QC., of 6 November 1913:

The removal of a locomotive from the station here to the line of the C.N.R. near Portage du Fort, is the task which Messrs. Lynch, Peckham and Gorman have in hand this week, and the work is certainly not of the lightning express variety, considering that the "iron horse" only moves one rail length in between breathing spells, and very slowly and carefully at that.  The locomotive is a good deal smaller than the ordinary type, and is designed exclusively for railroad construction.  She is to be used presently to haul material to make the embankment required between the Bryson road and the approach to the big bridge across the Ottawa, now almost completed.  A number of small gravel trucks and a steam shovel complete the outfit.  These will be dismembered at the railway yard here and hauled by team to the point where the operations are to be carried on.”

The railway line being constructed is now known as the Beachburg subdivision and the reference to “C.N.R.” is, in fact, “Canadian Northern Railway”, which later became part of Canadian National Railways.  The “big bridge across the Ottawa” is the bridge near Portage du Fort.

The distance between Shawville and Portage du Fort would be almost 20 km over very indifferent roads in those days so the movement of even a small locomotive using rails laid ahead of it would have taken a lot of time and a lot of effort.

This had me thinking about two photographs in my own collection which are illustrated hear.  The first one (Public Archives PA- 206790) is a delightful shot of a small contractor’s locomotive being moved to the Hydro Electric Power Commission (HEPC) Eugenia Falls dam project near Markdale in the Bruce Peninsular, Ontario.  In this case, a six wheeled dolly was used to move the locomotive along the road, using teams of horses.  This picture was taken in 1914 and the second one, taken on 28 September the same year shows the locomotive in use on this project.

I am not suggesting that these pictures are of the same locomotive referred to in the news clipping.  However, it does serve to point out, that small locomotives and equipment were moved around the country outside or away from the main line railway network.

The locomotive in these pictures was a 36 inch gauge 0-4-0 tank engine built by the Montreal Locomotive Works (serial no. 46039) in February 1909 for the contractor M.G. Henninger of Smiths Falls.  It worked originally on a project at Brantford, Ontario, and after the Eugenia Falls work it became Johnson Brothers #2 and was eventually scrapped in April 1936.  M.G. Henninger also worked on the Canadian Northern line between Ottawa and Sydenham and operated quarries in the area.  He had another locomotive no. 1 which was an Alco 0-4-0 tank engine built at the Dickson works, in 1909, serial no. 42534.  I do not know where this locomotive was used.

In any case this is a good opportunity to share two delightful pictures illustrating how the railway was used to build the Canadian infrastructure before the rubber-tyred internal combustion engine had conquered all.

Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, May 2006.

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