Some final thoughts on the CASO

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Some final thoughts on the CASO
Posted by Miningman on Sunday, March 04, 2018 12:34 AM

The Canada Southern Railway was an incredible feat of engineering. It was designed and built in the Victorian period, when science and engineering were at a pinnacle and the people of the day truly thought there was nothing that man could not accomplish. It was an age of optimism and enlightenment, of experimentation and confidence.

The line was built virtually flat as a pancake keeping grades below 1% and long stretches of straight track with easy gentle high speed curves. It was a racetrack built for high speed operation all the way from Detroit/Windsor to Fort Erie/Niagara/Buffalo. They went under the Detroit River with a tunnel and over the Niagara Gorge with a suspension bridge. Magnificent stations were built in Detroit and Buffalo. Extensive shops, capable of building steam locomotives were built in St. Thomas, about half way. 63 full crews operated the trains from St. Thomas to the borders. There were 6 branch lines off the mainline. 

I'm not sure if there is anywhere else on the planet, or a time, where 2 countries managed to pull this off. The New York Central lived up to and fulfilled their obligations to insure the Canada Southern Railway be a work for the general advantage of Canada and did so admirably. The free enterprise system and a common language and culture were key reasons for its success. Its role in WWII was remarkable, as it was throughout all the railroads in our countries.

It had a long and agonizing decline starting in the mid '50's, a familiar story in all of railroading. 

Rather than let this super engineered railway and its assets, the shortest and quickest route between Michigan and New York, fall into the hands of an ambitious competitor ( there were some great proposals), it's final owners CN and CP ( Conrail sold it off in its rationalization plan) tore it up and it vanished. They had full confidence in their own lines in Southern Ontario, it was not needed, but it could not fall into any competitors hands. 

Here is a fantasy fun scenario, that has happened in a quantum universe somewhere out there. The Pennsy realized the T1's were all wrong for their needs now and were offering them for sale. No takers. That part is not fantasy but is real.

So Paul Kiefer comes along and picks them up at a bargoon price knowing full well the CASO is custom built for these speed demons. The  great steel fleet is shifted to the CASO with remarkable success. The Hudson guys treat them well, Kiefer soups them up a bit more, fixes more bugs,  they are coated in a glorious shade of grey with blue pin stripes. They become legendary and the favourites of generations. 

For years I walked along either the seldom used right of way or the abandoned right of way, tracks lifted. I remembered the steam and the stations, the smells of coal smoke, the sounds and the busy excitement of it all. I envisioned the early days with the Fontaine, Vanderbilt himself in his private observation going by, 999 flying along, endless trains of Pacifics and Hudsons. Mail trains, Express trains, important people, the war years. It was truly amazing.

Count myself as extremely lucky, that in all the universe, in all the time that exists, for having experienced some of this first hand and to be a knower. 

Bridges over the Niagara Gorge.

Have corrected the description. The bridge in the foreground with the train is the Grand Trunk RR Suspension Bridge

The bridge behind it is the CASO Michigan Central Bridge. 

Many thanks to Wanswheel for repairing history. 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, March 04, 2018 4:28 AM

Interesting you should say this.  Perhaps you know that as of April 1945, Kiefer's "postwar" express locomotive was the C1a, which was essentially a 'proper' piston-valve/Baker-gear duplex with a boiler near-common to the 75"-drivered 4-8-4 "Mohawk upgrade".  Of course the future worked out very differently when Alco found they could easily soup up a Rock Island/D&H size 4-8-4 with lightweight rods to do passenger work as fast as NYC needed it with acceptable augment...

Meanwhile PRR had done all the heavy lifting ... and patented the special aspects of the process ... in converting poppet-valve chests in a cast bed to piston valves.  

What they could not do was revise the undersize firebox. That would mean the continued use of good-quality passenger 'gas' coal in these locomotives, albeit less of it: with the lower effective steam demand of the duplex, NYC expected Harmon-Chicago on 64 tons, and it might be interesting to see what services could be provided on the CASO with a locomotive requiring only NYC turnaround time (with the asbestos CA suits and all) and that much fuel bunkered.  Might be able to cover all the traffic with a smaller number of units...

Of course if Central had built C1a's they would have become obsolescent right along with Niagaras, and the two together might have proven highly useful on a CASO with continued bright traffic-development prospects.  Similar to the Nuckel Plate but on a grander scale... 

I'd just have preferentially shifted all the dual-service 4-8-4s to Canada instead of pretending to blow them up in regular service as Haas says he observed in the late days of their operation here. And wouldn't that have been a show?

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, March 04, 2018 12:44 PM

The 25 Niagaras would have put on quite a show for certain, and very similiar somewhat to your referencing the Nickel Plate high speed Berks. Those and mythical T1's and C1a's would be a captive island unto themselves, truly high speed between Detroit and Buffalo and serviced in the St. Thomas shops. 

That scenario is maybe 2% or less likely and probably require the actual divine intervention of St. Thomas himself.

Have long wondered if a Niagara wandered over to the CASO for one run...do not think so. If it did it would come over from Buffalo likely, and hauled thru the tunnel with its fire out? and if it did it was kept a big secret and never reported. The PA's did on occasion, FM units did a very few times but rare,  lots of E's of course but mostly FA/ FB's and Geeps, although nice in lightning stripes. 

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, March 04, 2018 2:15 PM

Penn Central round trip, New York-South Bend, September 1968. Perfectly fine westbound via Cleveland on Friday. Unpleasant surprise eastbound via Detroit on Sunday. Club car closed the bar before the tunnel, couldn't sell booze in Canada.

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Posted by Miningman on Monday, March 05, 2018 8:29 AM

That was a provincial law, not countrywide...Province of Ontario only, on Sundays you could only have a drink with a meal, approved restaurants only with special licence. We had some pretty stuffy old British laws, not the case in Quebec or out West. 

You rode just on the cusp of change.

Anyone remember 'Women and Escorts Only' entrances to bars, Men's entrance being seperate and only Province of Ontario Liquor stores where you ordered from a board posted above a stark counter and were not allowed to see anything? 

Man those were some fun days.

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, March 05, 2018 10:08 AM

As to alcoholic berverage service on trains: in 2003, the Vancouver-Seattle train had a real diner, with liquor service--in the U.S.A. We boarded in Vancouver, and went to the diner while we were still in B.C.-and were informed that we could order alcoholic beverages after we crossed the border, for Amtrak was not licensed for such service in Canada.

In 1984, I boarded the train for Washington in Montreal, and ordered wine with my dinner while we were still in Quebec.

Utah had the same kind of ordering system when we moved here in 1974; you went in, looked at the list, wrote your order, and waited tor someone to bring you your request. A few years later the state powers that be at last received permission to have real stores which have the wares on shelves, and you take what you want to the checkout counter. I will not go into the strange laws that still hold here.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 9:34 PM

Miningman

That was a provincial law, not countrywide...Province of Ontario only, on Sundays you could only have a drink with a meal, approved restaurants only with special licence. We had some pretty stuffy old British laws, not the case in Quebec or out West.

Airlines used to stop serving alcohol while over Ontario to comply.

Miningman

Anyone remember 'Women and Escorts Only' entrances to bars, Men's entrance being seperate and only Province of Ontario Liquor stores where you ordered from a board posted above a stark counter and were not allowed to see anything?

Some older school buildings still have separate boys and girls entrances identified by writing cast into the concrete.  The restrictions have been gone for many years now, but they lasted a surprisingly long time in some places. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, March 07, 2018 6:37 AM

The New York Central trains that crossed Ontario were quite popular during prohibition - except maybe on Sundays!

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, March 07, 2018 9:50 AM

The Government of Ontario would sell you a Mickey and they always put it in a brown paper bag so I suppose you could sip away once the conductor was out of sight. But then there is always the hall monitor types! 

Wonder if Al Capone every rode the CASO to arrange things with rye disrubutors and his favouite beer supplier Sleemans? 

Seemans TV ads mention their past with Al Capone and feature trains with stylized Grand Trunk boxcars, and tunnels and how their past made them real bad boys!

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, March 07, 2018 10:09 AM

SD70Dude

Some older school buildings still have separate boys and girls entrances identified by writing cast into the concrete.  The restrictions have been gone for many years now, but they lasted a surprisingly long time in some places. 

 
I've seen similar lettering on some older public school buildings in Chicago.
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by wanswheel on Thursday, March 08, 2018 2:54 PM

Miningman

Wonder if Al Capone 

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, March 08, 2018 4:31 PM

Miningman

Anyone remember 'Women and Escorts Only' entrances to bars, Men's entrance being seperate and only Province of Ontario Liquor stores where you ordered from a board posted above a stark counter and were not allowed to see anything? 

I remember my dad going in to buy beer during one of our annual vacation car trips into Ontario (started in 1967) while me and Mom waited in the car. Maybe 5-6 guys went in ahead of him, and all came out with a six pack of beer with maple leafs like the Canadian flag on them. Then Dad came out with one too. We asked if that was the only thing they sold? He explained how it was like you describe, just a counter with pictures. He had to guess which beer to buy, so he picked the one that looked like the Canadian flag. Unless I'm very mistaken, it was Molson's beer.

Stix
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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, March 08, 2018 4:43 PM

wjstix-- Yeah, that would be Molson Canadian a lager beer.

A lot of the older immigrants and their second generations ( Italians, Greeks, Poles, Dutch and so on) really thought the whole stuffy British thing, "please , no fun" was ridiculous. They brought a lot of pressure. 

Once the Government of Ontario discovered marketing departments they went all out and those days were over. 

Today of course they rather enjoy their monopoly on hard liquor, but the stores are beautiful, have a vintage section of rare and unusual, heck it's like going to IKEA now. They are everywhere!

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, March 08, 2018 5:29 PM

Thanks to Wanswheel I have gone back and corrected the original posting on this thread regarding the 2 bridges over the Niagara Gorge.

The bridge in the foreground wth the train on it is the Grand Trunk Suspension Bridge, a long time ago, way before Canadian National was a thing. 

The Bridge behind it and sort of hidden is the Michigan Central CASO bridge and not a road bridge as was previously shown. 

 https://i.imgur.com/JkT9jZS.png

 

 

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Posted by AgentKid on Friday, March 09, 2018 12:44 AM

Miningman
We had some pretty stuffy old British laws, not the case in Quebec or out West.

Back in the day rules were pretty strict in Alberta too.

All across the west what you could serve and when changed province by province. During the era of Social Credit government here between 1935 and 1971, the rules were very strict.

West of our station at Hatton SK was a now removed siding at Cummings. There was no official sign marking the border with Alberta, so the CPR decided it was the switch stand for the west end switch to the siding, which actually was still a mile or so east of the official boundry. But as all WB passenger trains passed that switch, the engineer would signal with a Morse letter "P" through the signal line, to let the staff know to pick up any drinks. "P" presumably standing for prohibition.

As far as the Liquor Store story goes, my first and only experince with writing an order down was my first time ever legally buying booze in 1972. It was one of the last two stores left in Calgary that hadn't been changed to a regular store after the change in government the year before.

I hadn't thought of that in a long time until I read the stories here.

Bruce

 

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, March 09, 2018 2:16 AM

Miningman

Bridges over the Niagara Gorge.

Have corrected the description. The bridge in the foreground with the train is the Grand Trunk RR Suspension Bridge

The bridge behind it is the CASO Michigan Central Bridge. 

Many thanks to Wanswheel for repairing history. 

It's the Grand Trunk Suspension Bridge Bridge, connecting Niagara Falls, Ontario to the village of Suspension Bridge, N.Y., which was named for a bridge I can't remember the name of.

https://archive.org/stream/1900souvenirofni00jameuoft#page/20/mode/2up

https://www.gettyimages.com/license/74847667

http://www.structuremag.org/?p=9982

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, March 09, 2018 7:58 AM

Comments on provincial laws concerning alcoholic beverages reminded me of crossing West Virginia on the B&O. East of Cumberland, there was a very, very short stretch of Maryland as the track crossed into Maryland and then back; if the passenger were quick enough, he might have been able to order a drink. And, west of Cumberland, on the way to Cincinnati, there was a longer stretch of track in Maryland.

Now, Amtrak pays no attention to dry laws.

Johnny

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, March 09, 2018 2:18 PM

One for the road

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, March 09, 2018 11:15 PM

Is that not amazing? They tore it up in the mid 30's ...the depression and lack of buisness did it in. It operated on both sides of the border, in the US along the bottom of the gorge, in Canada along the top of the gorge. 

You can't tell me that is not a great loss, it would be popular today!

The US side is a hiking trail today in some parts of it anyway. 

Double tracked too! 

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, April 06, 2018 2:27 PM

Miningman

Double tracked too! 

https://mirc.sc.edu/islandora/object/usc%3A44114

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, April 06, 2018 5:36 PM

Think I have that fella's long overcoat...got it at Value Village ( so 'estate' clothing....nice way to say some dead guy owned it) ..the darn thing weighs 40 lbs...think I have his hat too! 

It says 'Genuine SpatanFleece' 'balanced for softness and weight'...tell my neck that when I get home. Man that thing is heavy.  Keeps me warm though and looks as good as new. 

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