Old Engine No. 628 Had Eventful Career, Published 30 August 1954In The Ottawa Citizen the other night, I saw a picture of old Canada Atlantic engine No. 628. Now it just looks like any other engine. But this engine has had a career about as sensational as any movie star's.
It was involved in smuggling, in speed records, and I don't know what else.
The engine was first identified as old Beauharnois Number One. But this No. 1 was on the St. Lawrence and Adirondack Railroad, which in its turn was a subsidiary of the New York Central.
Bought By J. R.
After the engine had toiled for some years on the American side, it was bought by J. R. Booth first, last and only president the long disappeared Canada Atlantic Railway ever had.
No. 1 was put to work on the new branch of the CAR between Lacolle, Que., and Swanton, Vt. This line went through such fascinating places as Noyan Junction, Alburgh Springs and Old Mrs. Badger's Cut
Believe it or not, No. 1 was smuggled into Canada. The Canadian Customs never thought of looking for a smuggled engine. So No. 1 steamed right by the excise men and into Canada.
In due course No, 1 metamorprosed into 24 and then into 28. She ended up her old age as 628.
For some time the government of the day did not get wise to this smuggling job. But finally the Customs minister heard about it - for the Canada Atlantic boys were always a loose lipped lot and so the vengeance was swift and terrible.
The government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier ordered that No. 1, which was now No. 24, be chained to the tracks. That would not have been so bad, except it was done when she was coupled to 40 cars. The whole freight train was impounded, the line blocked, and delivery of the freight delayed until the substantial duty was paid.
But it seems that No. 1 changed to 24 and 23 and 628 had more qualities than smuggling.
This high wheeler had speed to burn. For she was a full sister of the famous engine, Engine 999 running on Chicago line. Old 999 made 112.5 miles an hour on the New York Central between Batavia and. Buffalo in 1893.
Fred Ferguson, a Canada Atlantic engineer now dead, always said he never knew how fast the 628 would go. Once he had her up ,to 109 miles an hour but he knew there was still more speed in her which he could not dare try for.
There are few left now who recall old No. 1 which ended up No. 628. Bill Taylor, 16 McDougall Avenue, and a renowned engineer in his day, knew the 628 well.
As for Tommy Ashe, now retired from the Canadian National and living at 122 Argyle Avenue, he said: "I wish I had a dollar for every shovel full of coal I put into that old baby; I'd be rich today."
Old 628 went the way of all good engines; she landed on the scrap heap.