When branch lines mattered

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When branch lines mattered
Posted by Miningman on Saturday, January 26, 2019 11:02 AM

Along the CPR Elora subdivision---For many years the biggest industry had been the Beatty Bros. (washing machines) plant which was built 1912 in Fergus (Pop. 6,000), which also had access to the CNR. Little else was located along the line other than typical rural freight of farm country. Note: By 1929 Beatty's was the largest manufacturer of washing machines in Canada out selling all other manufacturers combined! By this time they had 500 employees at the plant which the brothers had continued to expand rather than leave Fergus for Hamilton or Toronto. 

Extra 547 East a special train of 27 cars of Beatty Bros. appliances. August 31, 1931 
One of several publicity trains operated over the years including the Depression. 

Beatty Brothers 

This is a staged publicity shot at the Fergus Station right by the factory spur, from 1931. 
It took many months of manufacture to come up with 'a full train load' for the postcard shot. What Beatty would do is store boxcars full of appliances on side spurs until photo day. 

"On the morning of August 31 1931, a locomotive with 6 CPR officials and a staff photographer in a business car arrived early in the morning. The locomotive spent about 3 hours gathering all the cars from various sidings and assembled them in to a train with the business car bringing up the rear. 

Prior to the 2PM departure, the 27-car train was backed west out of town toward Elora so that photographers could snap the photo in front of the Fergus Station. 
There was an embarrassing incident when the train began to leave...the locomotive stalled under the weight on the slight grade west of the Beatty Line. Crews quickly uncoupled half the train and moved the front half to the siding by the station, then retrieved the other half with the business car and steamed triumphantly east out of town toward Toronto..." 

In the future two steam Locomotives would be used to prevent this happening again. 

The publicity photo op was staged annually from 1924 to 1928, then 1931, 1934 and 1936. Due to the War there was only one more Beatty Trainload of 57 cars in 1956, pulled by the single 1948 1200-series steamer, one of the last built in Canada. 

Getting back to the vacuum question, the consist of the 1931 train shown below was as follows: 

~600 tons of...Washing machines (3217 electric, 162 gasoline powered, 136 hand-cranked), 455 cylinder ironers, 234 vacuum cleaners, 160 floor polishers, 74 ironing tables, 474 electric irons, 352 clothes racks, and 637 clothes hampers. There was also plenty of Barn Equipment...2352 steel stock stalls, 3211 tanks, 760 ladders, 50 hay carriers, 36 manure spreaders with track, 819 pumps, 30 windmills, plus cartons of spare parts. 
8 of the cars were for export to England, 2 for New Zealand, underlining the success of the Beatty firm in developing foreign markets. 

And today... all gone gone gone 

The Elora Subdivision lost most of its freight traffic until by 1987 traffic had declined from an average of less than one car per week to less than two per month. Rail was a mixture of 72, 80, 85 and 100 pound, in poor condition as were the ties and gravel ballast. It had a 15 mph maximum speed with a number of restrictions of 5 and 10mph. and a weight restriction of only 220,000 pounds. Ruling grades were eastward 1.63% at Mile 26.5 and westward 1.49% at Mile 0.21, Cataract. It was all abandoned (Mile 0.0 to 29.5) by NTA Decision issued December 21, 1987. The right-of-way has since become a trail. 

Abandonded right-of-way across the Shand Dam. Norm Conway 

Abandoned Elora Sub. right-of-way in Fergus. Eugene D. Burles 
Gartshore Street looking east. Looking west. GSW station grounds now parking lot.

 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, January 26, 2019 11:44 AM

Such an interesting way to promote their product! The branch line is gone but the Beatty washer is still can be found on YouTube. CoffeeLaugh

https://wcma.pastperfectonline.com/archive/642AC4E1-393C-4669-A451-214794270731

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, January 26, 2019 12:45 PM

Thanks Jones.. Love how those 2 pictures show the doubling of the motive power after the initial embarassement os stalling when using only one. Last 'photo train' was 1956, that after a long lapse, but still steam powered. 

That is still a beautiful area, rural and Mennonite country with their horse and buggies. 

Rails lasted well over a hundred years. I can imagine the tales and stories. Zero left.

Line opened Dec 1879, granted abondonment Dec 1987.

The turntable remained serviceable but little used like everything else including the tracks themselves
since trains seldom ventured beyond Fergus in the last years of the Elora Sub. July 1962 R.L.Kennedy

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, January 26, 2019 1:48 PM

Fergus home of the Scottish Festival, games and pipe band competitions. Tossing those log poles around! 

The Elora gorge is beautiful.

From Mike:

Vince, thanks for Fergus, never heard of it, glad to finally have. 

 
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, January 26, 2019 3:53 PM

I knew I shouldn't have listened to those pipes.

Now I'm fighting the urge to get Brown Bess down from over the fireplace and assault some enemy position!   Lightning

Bayonet's already fixed, so I don't have to bother looking for it!  

PS:  I watched the video of the Beatty washing machine.  How old is it?  80, 90, maybe 100 years old?  And it still works!  No "planned obsolesence" there!   They sure built 'em good!

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, January 26, 2019 5:44 PM

Easy Flintlock... I know the pipes can be stirring, international in scope, knows no boundaries! Even way up here we get piped onto the ice for the playoffs in curling. It's quite enthralling 

The original picture begs the question, How about all the manufacturing we have lost in small and mid size towns and cities? All that independence and pride, jobs and skills, replaced by what? .. welfare cheques and drugs. We used to make things here, same in the USA, I suppose we still make a few things. $1,000 trendy parkas come to mind. We just managed to cheese off the Chinese market though and the flagship store in Beijing is stillborn. 

The myriad of rail north of London, Ont up to Lake Huron was astounding, criss crossing everywhere. It is all gone, 100%, all of it. It was a bastion of steam right up to the end in 1959-60. At least they had that. With the Diesels the rails just faded away, as did all the manufacturing. 

A familiar story I guess. Oh well we still have the pipes and those caber tossers are really something. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, January 26, 2019 8:17 PM

Yes Vince, we still have the pipes, and the pipes remember, especially when they're in capable hands. Maybe Brown Bess remembers, but if she does she doesn't say very much.

It took a genius like Rudyard Kipling to make her "speak."

https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/brown_bess.html  

 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Sunday, January 27, 2019 4:13 AM

Bagpipes play an important role in my childhood memories. When my parent took me to the British army or navy base or watching the police marching, I always feel excited when I hear the sound of pipes. 

CoffeeSmile, Wink & Grin

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, January 27, 2019 6:49 PM

There is no doubt the widespread loss of manufacturing in small and mid size towns goes hand in hand with the loss of branch lines. Perhaps they would have gone to trucks anyway even if they were not wiped out. Societal change on a massive scale, the consequences of which we are dealing with now. 

I don't believe that all those folks in the pictures were fools or backwards. They had paradise, we lost it, hidden behind twisted rationization, maybe something folks are waking up to. That's a big discussion for a different kind of Forum. 

Beatty made irons and ironing boards in addition to washing machines. Do young people iron anything? Is our generation the last? Suppose you don't have to iron sweat pants and hoodies, blue jeans and t shirts.

With the loss of the Beatty plant the Elora subdivision went down to less than 2 cars a month. Gone, and soon totally forgotten. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, January 27, 2019 7:34 PM

Miningman
There is no doubt the widespread loss of manufacturing in small and mid size towns goes hand in hand with the loss of branch lines. Perhaps they would have gone to trucks anyway even if they were not wiped out. Societal change on a massive scale, the consequences of which we are dealing with now. 

I don't believe that all those folks in the pictures were fools or backwards. They had paradise, we lost it, hidden behind twisted rationization, maybe something folks are waking up to. That's a big discussion for a different kind of Forum. 

Beatty made irons and ironing boards in addition to washing machines. Do young people iron anything? Is our generation the last? Suppose you don't have to iron sweat pants and hoodies, blue jeans and t shirts.

With the loss of the Beatty plant the Elora subdivision went down to less than 2 cars a month. Gone, and soon totally forgotten. 

As manufacturing progressed from the early 20th Century through WW II and into the 21 Century of today - to be profitable the manufacturing had to be done on a scale that was far beyond anything that could be accomplished with 'mom & pop' manufacturers such as Beatty - thousands of similar companies on both sides of the border were done in by the march of financial efficiency....some of those that went under were names that were recognized worldwide...never to be.

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, January 27, 2019 8:56 PM

Thanks Balt-- Full well expected a response like that. That is the ultimate failing of capitalism and it's wrong. I think you are starting to see the results today. Accelerated by those who wish to keep it all in their favour. If in the end it comes down to 5 individuals owning the bulk of wealth and the means of control and production, along with their smallish circles of minions and the rest of us simply ' a keep' barely struggling by and burdened by debts then what do you have? It already exists with the control of what you see and are told on the internet by maybe 4 individuals. 

Cynicism, extreme radical behaviour, angry mindless mobs. 

Keep smaller business alive and well, make smaller cities and towns viable. That is the model of a successful and proud society and good capitalism. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, January 27, 2019 9:23 PM

You said it Miningman!  That's the reason I support my local hobby shop.  Sure, I could probably buy the O gauge trains I enjoy a lot cheaper on line, but I'm keeping a local small business alive  by doing otherwise, even though it costs me a few bucks more.  It's worth it.  

Support your local small businesses folks, as much as you can.  Once places like "Pops Hardware", "Harrys Drug Store", "Joes Appliances", "Big Bills Burgers", or "Moms Ice Cream" are gone, no power on Earth will bring them back. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, January 27, 2019 9:25 PM

You said it Miningman!  That's the reason I support my local hobby shop and other local businesses.  Sure, I could probably buy the O gauge trains I enjoy a lot cheaper on line, but I'm keeping a local small business alive  by doing otherwise, even though it costs me a few bucks more.  It's worth it, at least to me.  

Support your local small businesses folks, as much as you can.  Once places like "Pops Hardware", "Harrys Drug Store", "Joes Appliances", "Big Bills Burgers", or "Moms Ice Cream" are gone, no power on Earth will bring them back. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, January 28, 2019 9:51 AM

The Beatty washing machine--it was quite a help to the housewife. My mother had a Kenmore washer, which looked much the same. I do not know just what year she bought it, but I do remember it from about 1939-40 on, and I know she coniinued to use it into the early seventies.

I hope the Beatty had a feature on the wringer that the Kenmore had--a bar on the wringer that, when pushed, released the pressure of the rollers so that if your arm should be caught  (as one of my brothers let his be caught) you could stop the rollers from pulling you through the wringer.

Several times I filled the washer, using a bucket--and let the water out through the drain at the bottom. Once, when I was quite young, my brother (not much older than I) let the used water come out on me--I was unhappy, and our mother then let the water come out on my brother.

Johnny

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, January 28, 2019 12:29 PM

Flintlock76
You said it Miningman!  That's the reason I support my local hobby shop and other local businesses.  Sure, I could probably buy the O gauge trains I enjoy a lot cheaper on line, but I'm keeping a local small business alive  by doing otherwise, even though it costs me a few bucks more.  It's worth it, at least to me.  

Support your local small businesses folks, as much as you can.  Once places like "Pops Hardware", "Harrys Drug Store", "Joes Appliances", "Big Bills Burgers", or "Moms Ice Cream" are gone, no power on Earth will bring them back. 

As time has moved on so has the size of 'Mom & Pop' operations.  The corner stores have been replaced by gas station/convience stores owned for the most part by 'Big Oil'.  The center city 'Department Stores' for the most part all failed during the 20th Century (in Baltimore there were Hutzlers, Hochild Kohn and Stewarts - all gone).  And today we are watching the end of Sears play out, with Montgomery Wards having already been gone for decades.

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Posted by Miningman on Monday, January 28, 2019 1:09 PM

Yes we all know that. That certainly does not make it right. It's getting far too concentrated with the wealth and the power. Then those with it all will start to tell you how to think. That's already in play. 

When the railroads become giant unmanned automated conveyor belts with PSR, PTC and more and more advanced computer control get back to me and tell more how wonderful it is. 

There is a societal cost to lack of competition and variety, massive unemployment and serious concentration of wealth and assets. It is  dangerous not efficient. 

I say we are at the Rubicon. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, January 28, 2019 3:33 PM

It isn't so much the lack of competition - but the costs of competing.  High Tech costs money, how High Tech are you required to be to remain competitive.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 4:03 PM

A hundred years or so ago industry was controlled by Rochefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, and a few others, yet the branchlines were in their hayday.  In my small town in Northern Michigan we have over a dozen small manufactures, mostly jobbing for the auto companies.  Little comes in for them by rail.  Coke for a foundry, lumber for a roof truss builder, propane for whoever.  I don't think any ship out by rail.  Almost all of what goes out is sand for foundries.  It seem every small midwest town with a few hundred people has an industrial park.  Trucks killed branchlines.  I don't see any correlation with the ebb and flow of business consolidation.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 5:09 PM

Midland Mike-- Well ummm, Beatty Washing Machines is no longer in Fergus and the rail line died when they left. They are now GSW, General Steel Wares. 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 6:51 PM

Our small town was home to Acme Trucks, Kysor industries, and other large manufactures.  The Shay engine was invented in our town, but manufacture was soon farmed out to Lima.  All those are gone, but have been replaced by others.  The railroad goes on.  Change is inevitable, the important thing is how you respond.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 9:48 PM

Beyond the scope of this Forum. If you read my comments about the direction, were it is now and result you will see. I do not want to venture into politics and economics.

All those Beatty and CPR officials and employees proudly displaying their train shipments from the 20's to the mid 50's is quite amazing. That tells the story. 

Thanks for your comments and interest in the thread. 

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Posted by Miningman on Monday, April 01, 2019 11:33 PM

Elora Mixed and Teeswater Mixed engines 526 and 492 at Orangeville, August 17/1955.
Robert J. Sandusky ENLARGE

A scene repeated in hundreds of places across the lands. Multiple branch lines, off a larger branch line. Mixed trains. Local freights. The reliability in all kinds of weather of mail, perishables, newspapers and your visiting Aunt Petunia. Many everyday townspeople knew the locomotive numbers just by the sound of the whistle and many knew the railway workers. The folks that worked at the station, the men at the small roundhouse, the track workers and maintenance workers. It was an a vital part of the economy and a solid part of society itself. 

I think we are the lesser for its loss. 

 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, April 02, 2019 11:20 AM

What a sight!  Nowadays it's something you'd only see on a model railroad fantasy land.  Of course, all that smoke would give the environmental activists fainting spells.  On the other hand, maybe not.  Everyone likes steam!  Look at the crowds it brings out!

Oh, we're the lesser for its loss all right.  Other things have taken it's place, some good, some not so good, but it's just not the same.  

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