Slow Train To Yesterday, Published 2 May 1960The End of an Era
ORANGEVILLE, Ont. - The Slow Train to Yesterday nearly arrived tomorrow, as what was advertised as the last steam passenger train to run in Ontario took 10 hours to do about 100 miles from Toronto to Orangeville.
"You are invited," read the appealing billing, "to come on a sentimental journey for the final run of the oldest locomotive." So, on Sunday, I did just that.
The further come-on was that the 14-coach special was to be hauled by three (count them, three!) locomotives. These were little CPR 136, which is almost a Confederation father among the engines, then a 55 year old ten wheeler; 815, and another ten wheeler 1057. Combined age of the locomotives was 172 years. With a crowd of more than 1,000 railway fans who had come from such far off places as Syracuse, N.Y., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and even Ottawa, the triple-headed special started from Toronto Union on time. That was the last time it was on time all day!
Little No. 136 could not digest the coal, and the 14 cars had to halt at three stations beginning with Streetsville, to clean out the digestive tract of this Father of Confederation.
The highlight of the day was to be the "run past" at Forks of Credit. Here civilisation has but faintly left its impact after two centuries.
It was a real thrill when the three engines, belching from their stacks sky high, panted round the curve and up the three per cent, drawing a wide red arc with the coaches as the train cracked the whip at the Forks of Credit.
That was the end of an epoch. Never again, I felt, will we ever see these mighty ancients striving against and beating gravity, as they poured out their smoke like three synchronized volcanoes.
A band met us at Orangeville when we finally got there. Mayor J. A. Maude welcomed the visitors and spoke briefly. Then Norm Brocklebank swept me into his courtesy car and the town tour was on.
This community of 4,600 is probably the biggest place at so high in altitude in Ontario -1,500 feet