Railroading The Snow Sometimes Is Not Slow, Published 28 March 1950The way the railroads run trains on time in the snow is worth watching. I have just come back from Toronto. The day I left here, we were blessed and burdened with about a foot of snow. Since the 3.30 p.m. train for Toronto has a close connection to make at Brockville, where the Canadian Pacific delivers its train over to the Canadian National, I was watching to see how they would do it.
We ran in slow motion through Hull, travelling much more restrictedly than usual as we crossed the Aylmer Road. Engine 1230 gave the whistle a busy time. Then, after the statutory stop at Ottawa West, we started to go.
Once up the long hill to Stittsvllle, we made a mile a minute or better through the wet snow. We went cautiously through Ashton, where a mantle of white was scattered charitably over the recent wreck; what is left of Ashton station is definitely air conditioned.
At Carleton Place, they held us for half an hour, and I had visions of missing the connection, of being on a lumbering second section. But once we started to move, we started going places. However, we only crawled through Paul, which is the name of the siding south of Carleton Place station. There were not fewer than two freight trains lying in wait there, and It seemed to me that there was some snow fighting equipment as well. The train from Toronto, No. 562 was already there before we left, although we normally pass her, a mile a minute, while she waits for us on the first station siding south of Carleton Place.
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I do not think I ever travelled so fast from Carleton Place to Smiths Falls. Snow obscured the view, as far as the landscape was concerned, while the half frozen snow on' the window made it hard to see what was going on. But we arrived in Smiths Falls somewhat late. I had supposed that we'd stop long enough to handle our passengers, then hustle on. But we stayed there at least five minutes, maybe more. Finally, the loud speaker droned our departure, and we were off.
Still quite late, we had only 27.5 miles to make up time.
The engine really put her ears back and ran like a startled fawn. There were quite a few miles we did in less than a minute, I am sure. As the stations flashed by, I tried to find out where we were. I figured that we must be getting near Brockville. To see the spires which usually appear out of the left hand window was impossible Instead, I watched for the abandoned army huts, and when I saw these, I knew we were just a minute away from the station.
Then came the most exciting moment of all. For as we streaked toward the station, there, roaring out of nowhere, was our connection, the International Limited. To look at this scene, as the long train from Montreal paced us, while we seemed to be going with equal speed, we seemed to be some gigantic geometric problem going some place to be settled. We were two lines going to converge on a point. Now we were abreast, with the engines almost pointing at each other. I watched the day coaches, the diner, the parlors of the other train flash by. I watched how close we were getting. Then the ancient brick of the old CNR station flashed between us, and we ended up parallel to each other.
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The CNR shunter was behind us, in a flash. He dropped one coach and a baggage car, and managed to pick up a diner in doing so. Up the yard -we went, then down. Then up. Then a soft click, and we were now on the main line, coupled onto our Toronto section. Suddenly the parlor car started to empty. That meant that the old hands knew the diner had been coupled up, and they could eat.
Our two trains In one rolled slowly out of Brockville, not much behind time, if Indeed at all. We made a brief pause at absurdly named Manitoba Yard. Then the big CNR engine 6215 got the green light, and started to run. If he had any trouble after that, I didn't notice it. Our International Limited polished off the miles around those ellpses between Brockville and Kingston as if it was all a lot of fun. He straightened out after the crazy curve at Kingston station, passed Napanee, half below us, half alongside us.
By now, the snow seemed to be disappearing outside, headlights reflected water on the highways, not snow. Finally, we passed Danforth as If it were not there, and rolled by those myriads of 25 cycle lights which are Toronto, just as if we were racing through the country. In a final burst of smart operating, our engineer rolled us ir.to Toronto Union, a few seconds early. That's railroading in the snow, all right.