Mixed Train M716 is standing at Walkerton station, prior
to its 1:00 p.m. departure for Saugeen Junction and Orangeville on August 20,1954.
This is one of the very few branch line photographs that I took, and involved
a drive of about 100 miles to reach Walkerton. I remember being slightly disappointed
when I saw No. 434 on the head end as I had hoped to take a shot of D6b No. 526,
the only surviving D6 then left in service. Unfortunately, this locomotive had
gone to Toronto for some boiler work.
I had a close association with
Train M716 in early 1947, when I fired a couple of trips on that run with Nos.
526 and 536. My first trip on the Walkerton run was a memorable one. It was March
1947, and the countryside around the Lake Huron snow belt was deeply covered in
snow. At Orangeville I was introduced to No. 536 and engineer, Al Coffey. The
trip to Walkerton with M715 and the ensuing events regarding the return trip are
too long to relate here in detail. Suffice to say, No. 536 and crew, myself included,
were marooned in a cut a couple of miles from Walkerton, when the biggest snowstorm
on record, up to that time, swept through the area. We were on a plough Extra
that had been called to clear the line prior to our departure from Walkerton with
M716. After two days in the snow, Coffey and I managed to walk along a partially
cleared country road to the town, and spent the week awaiting the plough from
Orangeville, which arrived with three engines. A few weeks later, I received another
call to fire the Walkerton run. This time we had No. 526 and the trip was relatively
No. 434 was a D4g, built by the CPR in December 1912. Her
last regular service was on the Dranoel to Bobcaygeon Mixed Trains, which she
hauled from at least 1956 through to the end of 1958. On April 22, 1959, she met
her end at Angus. Light engines of the D4 and D6 classes were almost mandatory
on the Walkerton branch because of the bridge over the Saugeen River, a few hundred
feet from the Walkerton station. The bridge could not accommodate anything heavier
and the situation was rectified in 1957 when facilities were moved to the other
side of the river.
The Walkerton branch was originally incorporated as
the Walkerton and Lucknow Railway in 1904. In 1907, the line was leased to the
CPR, which completed it the following year, from Walkerton to Saugeen Junction,
a distance of 37 miles. Passenger service was started a short time later with
four trains a day serving the branch. In 1912, these four trains had their numbers
changed and two became Nos. 715 and 716.
Through the years passenger
numbers declined and by 1932, only trains Nos. 715 and 716 were left and they
were reduced to mixed status. Withdrawn in 1957, they were replaced by two freights,
Nos. 71 and 72, which ran until October 26,1968. The branch only saw irregular
service in its last years. W.H.N.Rossiter