Creeking Along On The Buffalo Creek, Published 19 April 1948
Norman Macleod, who is quite competent to give the hawks lessons in eyesight, was the first man to come to me with a tale about the Buffalo Creek Railroad. In one of his shuttlings to Toronto, he happened to notice a Buffalo Creek engine placidly switching cars In Toronto yards. He asked me, when he got back to Parliament Hill, what in the world an engine labelled Buffalo Creek was doing kicking cars in Darkest Toronto.
I explained to him that, during the the war. we ran short of engine power. In the early days of the we found it difficult to get engines of any kind. This was particularly true of steam yard engines. I cannot recall a new yard engine, steam -propelled, being built during the war. The dozens of steam locomotives we did build were all for main line freight and passenger haul.
We did the next best thing. We imported Grand Trunk Western engines by paying the duty on them, which was a simple book-keeping operation for the ubiquitous Canadian National. They also brought in some Central Vermont power. I recall also having glimpsed one Delaware and Hudson goat rattling about a Montreall railway yard, a while back But nor are still short of switching power.
I say we are still short ofswitching power, and I can give you some convincing examples. If you take note of all the diesel power that now exists in Canada you will observe that except for a coupleof experimental units, all the new diesels are yard engines. Thus the 7900 class on the CNR the 7000 class on the CPR are all diesels
This by way of explaining that when we were hard up for yard ensmes. we either hired or bought some steam power from the Buffalo Creek Railway.
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It was only natural then, when I was in Buffalo the other day, that I should attempt to ride the Creek Railway. My host, William Ross, confessed that he had never heard of the Buffalo Creek Railway."
Heck. I do not even know where it is" he said
"That's easy" I told him "Go down to the foot of Main street, turn at the Lackawana Terminal, keep on going, and we'll hit the Buffalo Creek Railway."
He did. and we did.
There, before our very eyes, was diesel engine no. 140.
According to the infallible Railway Guide, the B.C.R. is "a terminal switching line with 5.73 miles of road operated." It connects with all other railways in the Buffalo area. There is now only one steam switcher left, I believe, and all the rest have been sold. The new diesels do the job. I understand that the railway has a few cars, but not of the type that get off the line. If my recollection does not fail me, the Buffalo Creek's one caboose is now being used by a despatcher at the far end of the yard, for an office. The Creek is strictly utililtarian.
I climbed aboard B.C.R. 140 under the kindly auspices of William Jones, and proceeded to ride down the tracks, where we had to pick up a string of cars. Our itinerary was in the midst of Buffalo harbor, in a sector known as "The Island." I had the run down,light, then we came back swith ome switching tonnage. When I had made the round trip, I get off my B.C.R. switcher, waved the crew an adieu, and went on my way.
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It was not the longest ride on a new railway I had ever taken nor was it the shortest. On the other hand I have to take these railways as I find them, and if they do not have much mileage, I can't take much of a ride. In any event, the Buffalo Creek was 126th railway.
I must wam those who get confused easily that the Buffalo Creek Railroad must not be confused with the Buffalo Creek and Gauley Railroad, which operates down in West Virginia between Widen and Dundon.
So I chalk down No. 126. It gets harder and harder to find new railways I can ride. Goodness knows there are still enough of them, since the Railway Guide shows at least 500. But to get them, and then to get on a train, and then to get back from ride, all add a lot of complications.
There are actually no more Class I railroads north of the Rio Grande river that I can think of, on which I have not been. So the next 50 years I shall have to chase down the obscure little lines that lurk in strange cow pastures in remote parts of America.
Meanwhile there is still one in Canada I have never managed to ride, namely the Thousand Island Railway.