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Let's describe the route as seen by the TNVR locomotive engineer. We'll join him at the Thurso Car Shop where we find the road power waiting on the Shop Track. The yard crew started work at seven o'clock and have been busy collecting empty log cars for our train with #10. We have a big train today and all three road locomotives are included in this morning's lash up. There's some muttering from the yard crew about having to use #10 which is only pressed into service when nothing else is available. The 70 ton road locomotives are set up to run long hood forward but are normally run with the cab leading in order to keep the cab ahead of the exhaust. Technically the trains are run with the lead locomotive running backwards all the time. This doesn't cause any problems although the engineer runs the locomotive from the left hand side of the train. It may cause some confusion to the uninitiated, however, because when the Thurso engineer says "reculez" (back up) he may want the train to go forward. Similarly when he says "avancez" (go ahead) this may mean to back the train.

 Today, #7 is the leading engine with #11 following elephant style and #12 bringing up the rear with the cab facing back for the return trip. These units all have fancy four digit numbers stencilled on the cab sides to satisfy the accountants but to the railway they are just 7, 11 and 12. #7 was bought new while the other two came second hand from the Canadian National Prince Edward Island operation. The only external difference between them is in the placing of the bells, the CN units having the bell above the hood while the Thurso locomotive has its bell under the running board on the right hand side.

 Promptly on time, our engineer, Jean-Louis Blais, arrives on his battered bicycle which he props up against the support for the sand hopper in the Car Shop. There is some dispute over who actually owns the Car Shop and today the resident swallows resent the human intervention into their nesting habitat. With birds circling around his head the engineer makes a dash for his locomotive, puts his lunch bucket on the running board and swings into the cab. The locomotive is best described as well used. There are no frills and everything is very functional. The body work carries a number of scars and the "racing stripes" do not coincide because the louvred engine compartment doors have been replaced incorrectly. A huge cable is slung along the running board while wooden blocking and steel bars are out ready for instant use.

Three Caterpillar engines burst into life with a lot of black smoke. Our brakeman, Yves Boivin, joins us, and blows down the air reservoirs. Before leaving there is a conference with the rest of the Thurso crew so that everybody knows exactly what is being done today.

 Rounding the curve from the shop, we reach the yard throat, open the gates for Galipeau Street and back into the siding for the first part of our train. This siding is so steep that the cars are left chained to the rails. We ease up enough to release the chain and then double across the road to pick up the rest of the train that #10 has assembled for us. We have 45 cars today - a full house.

 There is a ridge of high ground skirting the northern boundary of the mill complex. Many houses have been built here because of the excellent view across the Ottawa River valley. Gaetan Lafleur, the Railway Superintendent, lives here, not only for the view towards the Ontario shore, but also so that he can keep an eye on his railway. His house is easily distinguished by the radio tower on the roof. Not much can be done on the railway without Gaetan either seeing or hearing about it! He knows we are on board today and climbs up as we leave the yard to point out some of the more interesting features of the line. His comments are shown in bold print.

    "There was many a touching scene acted out right here at the crossing with Galipeau Street. In the early days it was just a track but one Monday morning early in September every year all of the woodsmen would gather here for transport by rail into the bush for the entire winter. They would have old beaten up suitcases, blankets, cardboard boxes bound round with rope, in fact everything they would need to last them through the winter. Their wives and families would come to see them off knowing that they would not see them until April. The train of passenger cars would start off and stop at many of the farms along the way to pick up more workers. My father, Damien Lafleur, knew everybody and he knew where to stop to pick up.

     "The return in April was a happy event. The exact date was never known for certain. Some winters the railway would not run and it took time to reopen it depending upon snow conditions. Word would spread like wildfire and the families would come to meet the train. Sometimes the wife would have a young baby born since the man left for the bush. In spite of the occasion they were very orderly and there was very little drunkenness.

     "Many had farms in the area and there was only just time for seeding and harvest before they had to return to the bush for the winter.

    "In later years the woodsmen would be brought home for the Christmas holiday. Around 1950 the arrangement was changed to bring the men out on Saturday morning and take them back on Sunday evening. This was much better for the men but the Company could not guarantee that it would have enough men in the bush because many would decide to miss a week or so. There are now fewer men working in the bush and they drive in from their homes every day."

The first mile out of Thurso is difficult for the outbound trains which face a climb of well over 100 feet. The sharp reverse curves, coupled with the grade, can present problems and it is under these circumstances that #10 will venture out on to the main line.

 With whistle blasting, we cross Galipeau Street and attack the grade with #10 clanking away at the rear. Running eastwards at first, a curve to the north east marks a short respite in the climb. But there's little time to admire the beautiful, expansive views, across the Ottawa valley because a slip here would be very difficult to recover from. A second, more severe, curve points the flat front of the locomotive due north and we have crested the grade. With a sigh of relief, Jean-Louis can turn off the sand and relax in anticipation of the pleasant valley of the Ruisseau Blanche. Yves lights his pipe, wipes his generous moustache and stretches out as far as it is possible to stretch in the cab of a 70 ton locomotive.

    "You must really have the train under control on the down trip into the yard. All the ballast for the yard at Thurso was brought in with those old side dump cars. There was no brake at all on those cars, it was dangerous. You had to come to a stop at least four times from mile 0.75. Sometimes they were coming in the yard and, boy, you were lucky the switch was lined and the gate was open. They lost a couple of cars down here a long time ago. They piled up against one of the steam engines that was being coaled in front of the engine house.

    "My father's house caused a problem one day. It was built in such a position that it obstructed the view of the yard for southbound trains. One day I was shunting in the yard and the train was coming in. The first thing we knew, we saw the engines coming around the curve. Bang! They weren't coming too fast, maybe ten miles an hour, but the tool box changed from one colour to another. Later on my father's house was taken down, but not to improve the view."

Engineer Seguin uncouples #10 on the fly at the top of the grade by hooking his foot around the uncoupling lever, having made enough slack by the simple expedient of leaving the throttle open wide. The pusher will then be reversed and will drift noisily back to the safety of the mill sidings. These main line forays are kept to a minimum because of the possibility of the engines overheating.

Back on the main line, there are two dirt roads to whistle for before we cross highway 317. The familiar rule 14L whistle echoes across the valley. The Thurso engineers are familiar with the universal signal although they are hardly likely to know it by that name. After crossing highway 317 at mile 3 there is a pleasant roller coaster stretch along the base of a cliff  on the western side. The throttle is kept open here to keep the train stretched out and to get a run up to the next highway crossing at mile 5. The road runs parallel to the railway before gradually moving further to the east and we must watch out for fallen rocks in this area because in July 1975 there was a rock slide at mile 3.5. Luckily it took place at 18:00 on a Sunday evening when no trains were running but 1000 feet of roadbed dropped between fifteen and thirty five feet into the ravine on the east side. This was likely caused by work that was being done on the adjacent road at the time but we keep a sharp watch out in any case.

The Department of Natural Resources has attached a number of nesting boxes to the right of way fence posts to encourage the swallows to breed. This has been successful and the new tenants hardly take any notice of the passing trains. However, it hasn't reduced the swallow population at the Thurso Car Shop!

Mile 4 marks the site of the TNVR graveyard for it is here that can be found the last mortal remains of many a railway car that grew too old or too infirm to be of any further use. This is quite a private area because the railway likes to conduct its last rites alone, but one can find the inevitable discarded refrigerator along with the more exotic remains of Hart cars that were used to build the line.

The valley is becoming quite narrow as the train disappears into a pleasant copse, crosses a stream, passes an artificial lake in a wooded garden and turns north east. The Caterpillar engines are given another couple of notches for the climb to the second crossing with highway 317. There are some difficult curves here and southbound engineers must beware of slack action which has been known to pop a car completely out of a train in this area. From the crossing there are some splendid views of the train as it appears to be coming out of a tunnel of trees.  This is even more intriguing in winter when the locomotives, with shining headlights, are moving out of a white snow cave.  This is one of several magic places on the line.

Still climbing, the train turns north again to follow the road out of this valley. The first siding, at mile 5, with the switch facing south, is used by southbound trains that must double the grade to the summit at mile 6. With a final glimpse of the valley with its many ruminating cows and rustic buildings, the train crests the grade and makes its way through woodland turning eastwards.

The locomotives are given a rest as the train gathers speed down into the valley of the Rivière Ste-Sixte. A bump from the train tells us that the slack has been taken up. To arrest the log racks Jean-Louis makes a five pound brake reduction but kicks off the independent brake. There is now the prospect of the pleasant stretch as far as Ripon. This is literally seat of the pants railroading as a slight tug from the rear, felt through the pants, indicates that the K triple brake valves are checking our progress. If you feel the tug through your back you know that you have been too hard on the old cars. The line is some way from the road in this area but long distance views can be had from the dirt road that follows the other side of the valley. It is here in winter that the engineer unwittingly performs a second piece of magic for the observer. The white hills and grey sky show up the black train as the engineer silently draws a thin black horizontal line across the winter landscape.

    "This section is one of the worse for water problems. We built a new culvert at mile 8 in 1951 yet with the spring run off in April 1955 the water rose two inches above the rails. It was worse in 1960 when the water was nine inches above the rails. We had an unusual winter in 1981 with six days of non stop rain in February. We had eighteen inches of water over the rails and had to stop hauling for seven days. In earlier times I remember the water was so high at mile 8 that it stalled the Buick motor car. All we could do was to take a pole and push the car through like a punt."
At mile 10 we pass the remains of a log loader, now used as a hut, the graceful curve of the roof being the only clue to its former use. The train makes a sudden left hand turn to skirt a low hill and avoid going through the middle of a farmyard. Passing over a stream which is followed by a signalled road crossing at mile 12.3,  we are now in gently rolling farming country. Just north of here, and clearly visible from the road, is a short maintenance of way (MOW) siding on the east side without any switch of any kind. This is used to clear work equipment when trains are running during the day, a short stretch of temporary rail being laid over the track to get the light work equipment out of the way.

We cross highway 317 for the last time and a second road crossing marks the closest that we will come to Ripon. A second MOW siding with portable points is just north of the crossing at mile 15.6. The line begins to climb with tree covered hills all around us. This part is readily viewed from the road and the backdrop of colours in the fall is almost enough to hurt one's eyes. Turning from northwest to northeast the locomotives are opened flat out as we climb through a colourful rock cut. Power is quickly cut back as we drop down into a small, wild, valley but we soon have to climb up the northbound ruling grade at mile 17. This up and down section can cause train handling problems, particularly on the southbound runs, because the train can be on several different grades at the same time.

The next valley is wilder, more spectacular and quite bleak. A snow storm in December 1928 caused a problem at mile 18.7 when #2 became stuck in a snowdrift for fifteen hours. Apart from digging the steam engine out by hand, some effort had to be diverted to shovelling snow into the tender to avoid having the locomotive run out of water.

At the bottom of the dip we run across a high fill which was originally the seventy foot high Jasmin Trestle. By 1939 it had deteriorated to such an extent that the railway decided to build a culvert and fill in the trestle with gravel. This was an enormous task, bearing in mind that the line was still being extended northwards at that time, but it was completed in the short period of 43 days. The work was carried on for 15 to 18 hours a day with the TNVR's 24 ballast cars. A total of 89,000 cubic yards of gravel were moved to complete the fill up to the level of the ties. For a six day week the steam shovel operator, Park Smith, who loaded the cars, was paid the princely sum of $25.00!

    "In 1981 we wondered whether we had done the right thing to fill in the trestle in the first place. We replaced the 1939 culvert with a pipe in 1966 but in February 1981 the water level rose to six inches above the top of the pipe and it looked as if the fill would be damaged. Luckily the water level went down without any problems."
The summit of this segment is reached at a dirt road crossing close to a pleasant, well maintained, farm  that has some photogenic rustic cedar rail fences against a beautiful backdrop of tree covered hills.

Turning northwest there is a quick glimpse of the sawmill that provided the ties for the railway for a number of years. There was a siding here on the east side. We pass a ballast loading siding which provided the fill for the Jasmin Trestle. This siding is used to double southbound trains over the grades between mile 20.5 and 20.0 and between mile 22.5 and 22.0. Skirting the west side of Lac Viceroi (mile 20.7), we then pass the Montpellier Golf Course at mile 22.3 and turn northeast.

    "This curve caused us a problem one day in 1952 or 1953. I was brakeman to Park Smith. We came around the curve but forgot that they were loading logs on the main line just beyond. We hit the cars a good bang but didn't do too much damage although we knocked the Marion log loader off the end of the last car! I took a photograph which shows the underside of one of those machines quite well! I don't know how he got out of that one but Park always had a good excuse!"
We are now crossing a swampy area by Baie de l'Ours and then head for Singer at mile 26.
    "This is another area where we have problems during the spring run off. There were two pipes in the subgrade to carry the water but the water came to within 18 inches of the rails in April 1955 so we put in a third pipe that September. Even so we had problems in March 1960 when the three pipes could only just handle the water flow. 1960 was a bad spring. We had seventeen small washouts between Singer and Duhamel."
Around mile 23.2 is where the spur to Baie de l'Ours left the main line. If you are sharp you can just pick out a few ties on the east side and a curious indentation in the right of way fence but very little trace of this line remains.

The next landmark is the bridge over the Rivière Laroche at mile 24.5 which started life as a Canadian Pacific turntable which was installed about 1952. Before this time there was a small wooden trestle, the supports for which can still be seen. At that time Gaetan Lafleur was a brakeman.

    "I was on the engine with Smith, my father was in the caboose at the back and when we passed over we felt something funny. We dropped down maybe two feet. So we stopped and went back to look at the bridge. My father said:

    'We'll go and get the loaded train and we'll see on the way back'.

    "So we stopped on the way back and my father said:

    'Gee, now I'm gonna take a big decision'.

    "He told Smith:

    'We'll go on the other side and you open the throttle a notch or two then jump off. We'll let the train take itself over. But don't forget one thing guys. If something happens we don't know anything about it'.

    "We did as he said and the train passed over that weak bridge. After this the line was closed until a turntable could be brought down from Montréal and lifted into place on two wooden platforms".

Singer marks the transition into the woodlands.  With a service brake application, the second since Thurso, we pass the south siding switch on the east side and the wye trackage on the west side. The train drifts past the remains of a Marion log loader and a CP boxcar that serve as storage. Yves drops off as we run past the section house with its train order signal intact (but only just) and we stop just south of the dirt road under a small rocky hill that has an old cross close to the summit.
    "The Savanne branch continued westward from the tail track of the wye for some twelve miles. One of my earliest recollections was being in a speeder that derailed on that line. I was three, maybe four. There were some fierce grades, at one point 9%. Some 300 feet of this line remain today although only 100 feet are useable because of a weak bridge over a branch of the Rivière Laroche. Just beyond the bridge was where we burnt the passenger cars and the first caboose. The remains of two six wheel trucks are there together with other debris.

    "It seems hard to believe that, at one time, Singer was a busy little place. There were 14 homes, a camp, a post office, a general store and a school. The cross was erected many years ago by Henri Faubert who ran the general store."

A voice over the radio tells us to ease up to get the pin and we then drop forward to put some empties in the siding via the north switch. The siding at Singer is double ended and we are quickly back on our train on our way north again. We pass the short spur into the log loading area which has three tracks with the points facing south. There are some loaded cars for Thurso on the spur which will be exchanged for the empties on the way back.
    "To the west of the line you can just make out a dam used for water control. From Singer all the way up to Cairo Lake were a series of four artificial lakes created just to hold the veneer logs that must be kept from drying out. Mr. Bourget had the idea of creating a series of ponds and keeping the logs immersed by weighing them down with other logs. At one time there was well over a million feet of lumber in the lower pond alone."
Now comes the most scenic part of the trip. We enter a narrow vee shaped, defile which becomes narrower until there is hardly room for both the stream and the railway. Still climbing, we discover that the stream is the outflow from Mulet, or Cairo, Lake which we skirt on the east side below an outcropping of rock. The railway is notched into the bottom of the cliff. The clear blue sky is reflected in the lake which is beautiful at any time of the year. It seems particularly special because the area is only accessible by rail.
    "The tender from steam locomotive #1 is supposed to have been tipped into this lake at mileage 27.75. I have not been able to confirm this but I have heard this story from several sources. One day we will have to get some scuba divers to go down and take a look."
As we leave the lake, the landscape is scarred by traces of logging in the form of clearings. In this section, between mile 28.2 and mile 29.2 can be seen the new alignment, prepared in the late 1970s which would have shortened the route and eliminated several sharp curves. The basic groundwork was done but it will never see rails.

The second narrow valley since Singer brings us to the summit of the line at mile 30.5. A pole in a damp sombre cut, marking 875 feet above sea level, indicates the end of the climb from an elevation of below 200 feet at Thurso. The sun rarely penetrates this place. From here it is mostly downhill to the end of the line. Mile 32 marks the junction of the abandoned Lac Iroquois branch. Rounding a curve we come across the switch for Iroquois siding, mile 33, which is used to stand cars that have been doubled up the hill from mile 35. On the west side of the siding can be seen the Iroquois River with its beaver dam. 

And then The Hill comes in sight. What a hill! With a grade of 3.5% it looks even worse from the cab, contrasted as it is with the gently rising end of the siding.

"One time when we were spraying weedkiller with the poison tank we ran out of air. We had the caboose, #4 and the tank ahead of #4. The air was going down so slowly that the engineer didn't feel it because it was hooked up to the train line to make pressure in the poison tank. When they got here they found they had no more air. So the engineer he went from his seat to the caboose to put on the handbrake. They made it around the curve at the bottom at around 60 mph they told me but I don't believe they could have gone that fast. One of them jumped when the engineer yelled:

'No more air'

"My father, he was on the front of the tank and he stayed where he was. It is unbelievable that they made it round the curve at the bottom with no brake at all. They finally stopped past the old wye almost into Duhamel. I am sure Park Smith managed to talk his way out of that one as well. Maybe my father was too scared to do anything about it."
Click here to return to TNVR People, Jean-Paul Blais.

 Checking that we have plenty of air, we ease over the top and on to the grade.

    "Park Smith didn't like to have too many people in the cab with him and devised a good way of keeping them out. He had a full cab one day when he was coming down the hill. He made just one brake application and let the train go at its own speed down the hill. The cab riders climbed down, shaken from the scary ride, and never asked to ride again."
Jean-Louis enjoys this story and grins widely as he makes the first brake application. There are rather a lot of people in the cab today.

As we cross the Iroquois River Falls, the train nudges us to remind us that it is still there and that the slack has been taken up. The falls are beautiful in the dead of winter when the spray coats the trees and turns them into a white forest that sparkles in the sun. Just below the bridge at mile 34 there can be seen the remains of an old ballast car, partly buried in the embankment.

    "We had a washout with a hole about 25 feet below the level of the rail. We decided to take ties and make a kind of a bridge that would be strong enough for the old side dump ballast cars and try to fill it in. We loaded the ballast cars at mile 33 and I was on the first car approaching the hole. I was standing on the end looking forward away from the engine. The guy was going pretty fast so I signalled to slow down but he kept coming on. So I looked behind and the cars were uncoupled - no locomotive.

    "#6 was at the other side of the hole so I yelled to the crew to move because this was a runaway. So I dropped off just before we got to the hole. The first two ballast cars ran over but the third tipped over and fell right into the hole so we left it right there. The other two had slowed up sufficiently that they did not cause any problems for #6."

We creep down the hill on a ledge high above the Iroquois River and then pass a sign that says:


This is to remind engineers to be on the watch for the effects of this industrious creature. Another sign is to be found at the site of the wreck at mile 49.5. Very soon the signs of beaver can be seen - dying trees with their roots in a swamp. Horseshoe Curve is well named  and then there is a short damp cut which brings us out along the shores of Lac de la Ferme. Formerly known as Bass Lake, this was owned by the Singer Company until it was expropriated by the Québec Government. It is a beautiful lake with its wooded, cottageless shores and quiet clear waters, yet it is difficult to get good pictures of the railway because it skirts a bluff on the southern side which causes the track to be in shadow from mid morning onward. A resident loon family pause in their fishing to watch us pass. A small jetty indicates the site of the old wye where car 27 would bring the guests of the Singer Company for fishing trips. Many times Sir Douglas Alexander and Mr. Davidson would come here in car 27  with Mr. Bourget to fish quietly, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and to contemplate the railway and the logging operation that was the fruit of their labours. Here one can still find the rotting remains of an old combine car which was left by the tail track of the wye. Cedars grow through the old wooden body which is now the home of chipmunks and mosquitoes. Maybe it is waiting for the return of the railway's guests that have forsaken both the lake and the railway. The roof fell in during the winter of 1985 - 86 and soon this once vibrant creation will rot completely away leaving a few rusting remains to mark its passing.

We negotiate an avenue of tall trees, cross the road twice and come to Duhamel, the only settlement that we see on the entire journey. The old two track enginehouse on the west side has been leased to the volunteer fire department while a fuel tank from a 70 ton locomotive is used for fuel storage on the east side. The Duhamel arena, with its colourful advertisements, one of them being for James MacLaren, is on the right. This is the closest we get to the village proper which was once the headquarters of the woodland operation.

    "The people in one of the houses just north of the grade crossing feed the deer in the winter. The deer are very tame and flock around in large numbers. It is a different story in the hunting season, however, when I have a hard job getting anywhere close to them."
Between mile 39.2 and mile 39.8 there is an area of young trees on the west side of the line which was used as a log loading area in the 1960s. We play tag with the road and skirt Lac Gagnon. At times the line is so close to the road that it seems like a roadside tramway. There is another Marion log loader, doing service as a storage hut, at mile 40.5 while at mile 43.3 there is another switchless MOW siding. We turn left away from the road and the lake and pass a switchless siding with a hut placed at the end. This is all that is left of the Long Lake Spur that served the camp for German internees during the war. The spur can be traced for only a few hundred yards before it disappears into dense bush and cottage country bordering the lake. One cannot help but think that this would be quite a good place in which to have been imprisoned, although it must have appeared to have been the end of the world to any Germans who were used to urban life.

We arrive at mile 46, a depressing clearing of dry, but well churned, mud. A call on the radio confirms that #13 is expecting us and so we set off on the last leg in search of #13 and the loads. At mile 48 we enter the Parc Papineau-Labelle, a provincial park. Some 1.5 miles further on, a small, innoffensive stream crosses the railway from our left and joins the main river.

    "This is where we had the wreck in 1958. Who would have thought that this small creek would have torn a hole in the embankment in such a short time?

    "The logging road that goes off to the left generally follows the right of way of the branch to Lac du Sourd. This had a wicked down grade for loaded trains just before they reached the main line. All of the crews were afraid of it. They had to come to a complete stop and fully charge the air line before creeping on to the grade. Everyone was pleased when that line was torn up."

There are a couple of fields of tall grass from which deer peek out at us. We run alongside the Ruisseau Ernest and then past the west side of Lac Ernest which is a long lake made pleasant by the lack of cottages. There are signs of a grade revision between miles 54 and mile 56. This work was easily justified because it eliminated a number of 15 degree curves. Just before mile 56 there is a spring on the east side of the line. It is a hot day so we stop for a drink of pure water with nothing added.

A switch marks the wye at the end of the line and soon we can see Lac Fascinant. Gaetan takes us around the wye before going into the log loading siding where #13 is hidden in the middle of the loads. The two crews proceed to extricate #13 from the loads and to reinsert it into the empties. Each time he passes us the foreman, Donnio Filion, gives us a huge grin from the cab of the locomotive that sounds like a truck. One wonders whether placing a truck engine in a locomotive has created severe psychological disorders that cause it to shun its brethren by hiding itself in a string of cars.

    "This was another favourite spot for car 27. If the guests were fishing we would spot car 27 on the north leg of the wye. If they were hunting we would leave them on the end of the siding on the north side of the lake. The tail track used to extend north for about half a mile on the west side of the lake. We would load logs directly from the water to the cars. A dam was built to control the water level. Beavers now do just as good a job. The outflow from this lake is the Ruisseau Ernest which the railway has followed nearly all of the way from Lac Gagnon."
As we climb down from the locomotive we glance at the rails. Barrow Steel 1881 and West Cumberland Steel 1879 are still extensively used on the main line. In all probability this 65 pounds per yard rail was used first in the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway! The most curious is the Barrow Steel CPR 1879 which must have quite a history as the CPR was not formed until 1881. There is also some Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway steel near mile 46 and at mile 3 which was acquired in 1943 when the Canadian National line through Algonquin Park was torn up. Our attention is also drawn to a 1935 Canadian Pacific tie date nail in a tie which must have been purchased second hand since this part of the line was not built until about 1947.

By prearrangement Jacques has driven up to take us back to Thurso so that we can get some roadside views of the train. It's now 1 o'clock and the sun will be shining on the front of the train on the way back. We set off and Jacques has immediately to hit the brakes to avoid a cute little bear cub which is wandering on the road. We roll up the windows because wherever cute little cubs are to be found, not so cute large mother bears are always close at hand.

The train can be followed easily from the highway as far as Duhamel but from there we have to make a detour round the east side of Lac Simon to get to Singer. We know there is time to do this because the train will double the hill to mile 33 and there is also work to be done at Singer. From Singer the train is running flat out to get a run at the hill beyond the golf course. We go along the paved highway through Montpellier and catch the train at the small rock cut near mile 17 and then we can play tag to mile 10.4. They are making track speed although the throttle has been closed for several miles. 

From here we decide to go directly to the top of the grade at mile 6 where we can park by the side of the road and watch the train from the hard shoulder. It is a long time before we hear three Caterpillar engines fighting for every inch of the way. They are set back to idle as they crest the grade and just before the train appears at a walking pace around the curve. 

The train is gathering speed as we make a roll by inspection at the crossing at mile 5 and then there is an excellent opportunity for pacing from the highway. This is an attractive setting with the train below the cliff and we can enjoy the spectacle of locomotives that are almost forty years old, helping to settle the insatiable appetite of a paper mill, pulling truss rod cars equipped with K triple brake valves. There is smoke coming from a couple of cars but it is only brakeshoe smoke - nothing to worry about.

After the crossing at mile 3 we go ahead to catch one last glimpse of the train half way down the hill into Thurso, on the outskirts of town. The old cars have completed another days work to bring another load to the mill. As we look down the track, through the gate and into the yard the train comes to a stop wreathed in brakeshoe smoke. #10 quickly comes into the scene through the smoke and the cars are readied for unloading.

We go back to the Car Shop to see the units being brought back to the Shop track. As the three road locomotives come around the curve two have already been shut down to conserve fuel. The lead locomotive is also shut down as it passes the switch and the consist drifts quietly to a halt. The crew are quickly on the ground and the engineer repatriates his bicycle from the swallows. Calm returns to the scene as the 70 ton locomotives are left to the diving ministrations of the swallows. As the sun sets behind the paper mill we make our way off the property happy in the knowledge that the TNVR is now safely put away, ready to bring another load of logs tomorrow.