A Gushing Farewell to Steam, Published 6 September 1960
Steam died on Sunday in Ottawa.
The last steam locomotive to operate into the Union Station on the Canadian National Railway tracks arrived about 12.30 (DST) on Sunday, hauling eight passenger coaches and a baggage car, and conveying over 500 rail fans from Montreal to Ottawa and back. The trip was organized by the Canadian Railroad Historical Association, the president of which is Dr. Robert V. V. Nicholls, of Montreal.
Pulling ths train was a big, powerful, fast, rugged "Northern" type engine, of a class that has been running in and out of Ottawa both on passenger and freight service for the last quarter century. It was CNR 6153.
Like most rail-fan trips, the train started late. Like most rail-fan trips, the train stayed late, got later. But, thanks to Engineer A. Honsinger, of Montreal, the 30-year-old 6153 put on a magnificent burst of speed after she had shaken herself clear of the crowd-cluttered, half-hour stop at Alexandria, and made up enough time to be only an hour and a quarter late.
The scene was one of organized chaos at Montreal's Central Station on a sad Sunday morning. Even nature was seemingly weeping over the death of steam. First, the CRHA were throwing off all who wanted to ride the cab of 6153. Even the representative of Train Magazine got the boot.
While many might expect the train to be full of misty-eyed steam rail buffs, there were, instead, many from the rock 'n' roll set. To show how keen these kids were, one boy asked another where Lorne Perry was.
"Lorne did not come" sneered the boy. "Just because he's on his honeymoon; what a weak excuse!"
One of the real old timers aboard was W. G. Cole, Ottawa, 80, and a Canada Atlantic Railway Old Boy. He fired an engine over the same tracks he was travelling from 1897-1900.
Another strange thing about the passenger list was the number of women travelling this zany special. Younger ones obviously took the trip to hold hands with their boy friends.
But there were not a few plus-forty ladies who seem to be lady buffs. So, instead it being a near-stag special, It was as mixed up as to sexes as you might expect at a picnic.
Hot cinders and tears
By Norman Avery Citizen Saff Writer Nostalgia and fascination came to town Sunday chugging black smoke and hissing steam.
The last stesm locomotive of the CNR brought tears to many a retired railroader's eye, left . the kids wide-eyed and, just for the record, dropped a sharp cinder in many of those same eyes.
The CNR "bent over backwards" in this brief visit to the past. Where railway police would have sent trespassers packing by the hundreds at the roundhouse yards, they turned their backs on the inquisitive throng turned out to see the giant engine.
"If the CNR prosecuted every trespasser today," observed one onlooker, "they could write off their deficit with no trouble at all."
But even the CNR people were caught by surprise at the interest. Cameras clicked while the engineer waved. He blew off steam and hooted the powerful whistle. He smiled warmly as the general public crawled through his engine cab and asked a million questions. For movie makers the crew swung the giant around several times on the roundhouse turntable. Seeing the train was only one of the sensory thrills. Steam engines even smell good after an absence, and that whistle has an authority head and shoulders above the diesel horn.
Railroaders, real and amateur, old and young, had a great collection of opinions on what the end of steam really means. Apart from the whistle, which all agreed is thrilling, there will be a good deal less black smoke poured into the air. The cinders that get into the hair and make the eyes water are gone. And the white pebbles beside the track will lose their distinctive polish. The wives of engineers and firemen won't have grimy husbands coming home from work. And so on.
Whatever was going through the minds of the thousands who lined the route and brought their children to see the steam engine, little doubt was left that the "iron horse" has left its indelible mark on the memories of many people.