Engineering at a Young Age

When I was REALLY young in the mid-1950s, the conductor of the Sussex Street transfer in Ottawa used to take me with him from Ottawa West to Sussex Street in the van on a Sunday. Sometimes his son would come too. There were seldom officials around on Sunday.

8682 with 8506 at Edmonton on 15 May 1973.
Often we'd have ancient 2-8-0 3426, but one day we got brand new GP9, 8682, just out of the GM plant in London. You could still smell the fresh paint. It had come in on #90, the freight from Smiths Falls that morning, so it made a run to Sussex Street. The engineer seemed happy to get this new unit. He asked me if I wanted to ride the cab instead of the van, so I accepted. We were climbing through the city dump (now Carleton University) towards the bridge over the Rideau River, and he said to me, sitting in the brakeman's seat, (both the tail end guys were in the van, as we only had about 10 cars), "OK, Chappy, want to run it!" I think that the fireman almost fell off his seat.

The train order issued by Steve Thibault for the run in question.

The engineer put me in the seat, and I took the 8682 almost to Ellwood Station where we had to stop to throw the switch and go around the wye to the Sussex Street Subdivision. (This is where the O-Train now runs). There was only one level crossing that I had to ring the bell and blow the horn for, Walkley Road, which was a two-lane cowpath in the late-1950s, and the crossing was down a sag in the road....very slippery for cars in the winter.

1607 (formerly 8682) at Montreal, St.Luc on 12 November 1985.
This 8682 still exists as a yard unit 1607 in Montreal. Whenever I see it in St. Luc working, I'm surprised that it has lasted into the 21st century after I manhandled it when it was almost brand new.

Bytown Railway Society,  Branchline, January 2008, page 18.

Home    Circle    Articles