The train was significant from a number of points. The choice of steam locomotives had drastically dwindled as steam operations out of Toronto had officially ended in December 1959. Also, the choice of locomotives was restricted by the weight restrictions on the Orangeville Subdivision.
Two Class D10 4-6-Os were selected, Nos. 815 and 1057. Both were old (dating from 1908 and 1912) but typifying different eras of steam. No. 1057 represented the final years of steam with a Pyle National headlight centred on the smokebox door and a standard tender. No. 815 was typical of earlier years with its old style headlight with built-in number light mounted atop the smokebox, and a square cut tender which was designed for better visibility when backing up. (No. 815 was supposed to have been marshalled as the third engine with its tender affording better visibility for the backup movement from Lambton roundhouse to Union Station, but she ended up as the second locomotive).
No. 815 also sported a backup headlight and fire hose under the tender - a give away that this engine was equipped for yard service. She had been brought to Toronto from Trenton Yard. No. 815, my favourite of the three locomotives selected, had also been the yard engine at Peterborough for many years. (This trip was to be 815's last fling as her boiler was condemned on her return).
Special makes its way northward up the branch having left the double
track mainline behind at Streetsville.
The star of the show was tiny No. 136, an ancient 4-4-0 built by Rogers in 1883, two years before the completion of the CPR. No. 136 was the oldest engine in service on any common carrier railway in North America, and she only had six more days to go. Although heavily rebuilt, she was basically a 1914 engine. The 136, along with 4-4-0 Nos. 29 and 144, had seen service into 1959 between Norton and Chipman, New Brunswick, thanks to a bridge that could not accommodate the weight of CP's smallest diesels, that is until the advent of the light-weight CLC-built diesel hydraulic. Nos. 29 and 144 were already stored unserviceable and with 136's time on the boiler counted in days, the trip was operated early in the season. No. 136 was typical of the hundreds of 4-4-0s that ran on railways across the continent for years. Now she was going out in a blaze of glory that was to result in her becoming one of the most famous steam locomotives in Canada.
The addition of the third engine enabled the train to haul more tonnage up the steep grade through the very scenic Forks of the Credit to Cataract, thus two more coaches were added, rounding out the consist at 14 cars.
Here the quarter-mile long length of the 14 car train is evident as the Special travels through the open countryside before making its way up the rugged Forks of the Credit to Cataract grade. Full size picture click here.
Although little 136 had her troubles due to the smokebox filling up with cinders (a common thing with light engines, made worse by too heavy a hand on the throttle for such a little engine), there is clear proof she contributed to hauling the train on the steep grade. A long playing record titled "Sentimental Journey, The Last Run" has preserved the sounds of the tripleheader and all three engines are clearly heard as they battle for the grade, steam against steel, while the melodic whistle of 136 echoes off the hills and down the valley, telling all that the Special was coming!
The CPR was well known for having clean steam locomotives, especially those utilized in passenger service. John Street roundhouse in Toronto and the Glen in Montreal were famous for their spotless passenger engines. I worked at John Street Roundhouse in steam engine days and those engines were spotless. John Street had a reputation for its clean engines and even the shop floor was clean enough to eat your lunch off. The difference was obvious when compared to Lambton Roundhouse (where I also worked) and its freight engines. There was a paint scheme and level of cleanliness specification for freight service and another specification for passenger service. Then there was "Passenger Special" where all stops were pulled out, putting on extra detail. The CPR accorded "Passenger Special" care to all three engines used on the tripleheader. They were completely repainted with passenger trim which included white tyres on engine and tender wheels, silver armoured electric cables to the headlight and classification lights, red inside the bell, red trim on air hoses, red valve handles, etc. Rods were polished! Brass was shined like new on gauges in the cabs, and other brass fittings in the cabs, freshly repainted black, had to be removed with hand files late the night before the trip. New white canvas side curtains were applied to the cabs, new white flags were provided, and even new white bell ropes were applied. Everything shone and gleamed!
The passenger equipment was likewise chosen for various reasons. The baggage car was a modern lightweight car equipped with an electric generator for tape recording equipment (older cars were the wrong voltage). It had open barricaded doors for those who wished to get the most sound and sights.Next came two modern 2200-series lightweight air conditioned coaches to blend with the style of the baggage car. (Four 2200s had been lined up, but in an effort to accommodate the never ending demand for seats, two were replaced with higher capacity heavyweight coaches). To keep some matching coaches for the baggage car, the substitution was stopped. Eight heavyweight coaches and a heavyweight diner followed. Bringing up the rear were wooden coaches 1595 and 1596, not seen in Toronto in 1960 and brought from Montreal especially for the trip to give a flavour of the real old days. [A third coach, No. 1583, was on hand as a spare to ensure that two would be available].
On to: Tripleheader Page 3
Back to: Tripleheader Page 1