Farewell to Lacolle

On Sunday, January 12, 1986, the last inter-city passenger train departed from CP's Windsor Station. Ironically, as described in the February, 1986 BRANCHLINE, it was not a Canadian train. Perhaps, correctly, it was a stepchild of the last railway to start using Windsor Station - the Delaware and Hudson.

With Amtrak moving the "ADIRONDACK" over to Central Station, several lines with interesting scenery lost their passenger service. No longer will a passenger train cross the Lachine Bridge, next to the Mercier Bridge, rumble past Adirondack Junction, and race over to Delson only to turn slowly onto the Napierville Junction Railway. The beautiful "chateau-style" station at Lacolle will no longer assist in the customs inspection of a passenger train.

Starting with the evening of January 12, the CN side of the Rouses Point yard is traversed until Cantic (Quebec) is reached. There the "ADIRONDACK" joins the path of Amtrak's "MONTREALER" in order to terminate in Montreal.

In order to participate in this historic occasion, four members of your society decided to have dinner in Plattsburg, New York on the evening of January 11. As a result, they were on the last inter-city passenger train to arrive at Windsor Station.

From Ottawa, Doug Smith, Doug Stoltz, and I took VIA Train #32 to Montreal. Much to my surprise, it was a very pleasant journey with good meets with CN freight train #301 at Casselman and VIA's "CANADIAN" at Alexandria. Arrival at Central Station in Montreal was on-time, giving us time for a Souvlaki lunch before heading to Windsor Station.

There we bought tickets and then joined about twenty others before the beautiful iron gates. This scene would be repeated only once more on the following day. The "ADIRONDACK" had its normal consist of an F40 unit and three Amfleet cars. The trip was very pleasant with spectacular views as we crossed the Lachine Bridge. Riding was rough along the first few miles of the Napierville Junction, but things smoothed out later.

Kevin Day of Montreal had joined us and he caused the U.S. immigration lady some raised eyebrows with his answers to her questions! however, when I explained why we were riding the train, she found it most amusing and was very pleasant. We had the same experience with Canadian Customs on our way home.

Plattsburgh came all too soon, and after a visit to its excellent hobbyshop, we adjourned to the "D&H Restaurant" for a fantastic meal. This restaurant occupies the upper floors of the restored D&H Bridge Street Statian. One of the owners is an artist and many of her watercolours with railway scenei adorned the walls. They use the old "D&H" logo on all their advertising. As we ate, two dead-heading diesel units rumbled by. What more could a railfan want?

The return trip was equally pleasant. A few hardy rail fans were at Windsor Station to record the historic arrival, and the Amtrak crew waited while the time exposure captured the train.

On the next day, we braved traffic and gale force winds to go on the Mercier Bridge and record on film the passage of the last passenger train across the St. Lawrence at that point. What a sight!

Maybe it was the wind, but I think there were tears in some of our eyes as we watched the little train accelerate away from Adirondack Junction. So, goodbye Napierville Junction; goodbye, Lacolle!

Bytown Railway Society,  Branchline, March 1986, page 8.

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