Saturday, November 4, 2017

Schreiber in June 1993 & Van Horne Writes re: an "Inspired Idiot"

This post centres on Schreiber and Lake Superior and also features some of Van Horne's correspondence about the line along the lake.

Casting about for a series of photos which had definitely never seen the light of day, I found some. 

By June 1993 my job was getting stressful enough that I gave up my ailing hand-fired Yashica in favour of an automatic point and shoot - as my spouse just reminded me - "so that my whole vacation [wouldn't] be spent thinking about photography!!".

... Well, I hope I had a good vacation.

*  *  *

The view below, from Schreiber's east, was probably taken during the mid-1970s (a guess).

from: Geology and Scenery, North Shore of Lake Superior; EG Pye; 1969; Ontario Department of Mines.

We'll be travelling from west to east for this post and the photo below was taken near Dublin with the nearest Lake Superior feature being Mozakama ('Kama') Bay. We are looking timetable west toward the Red Rock and Nipigon area. You can get a very similar (better!) image using Google maps in 2017, but on the internet my 1993 photos would probably be given the prestigious 'vintage' label.

As we pass the map of the area's geology, above, you might note that probably the most challenging running occurs over the purple area - the 'Coldwell alkaline complex' - including the ruling grades in both directions for the Heron Bay subdivision.

Near Dublin - The small plastic fisheye lens darkens the edges of the photos.

Above is my 'big' contribution to Schreiber's local oral history.

During the first few months of 1977, I remember seeing uniformed train crew members (as opposed to engine crew) from The Canadian trudging through the snow to this hotel. The hotel above can be seen to the right of the 'barn shaped' roof of the old arena in the postcard above.

Passenger train crew worked over multiple subdivisions while all engine crews covered one ... as the nature of their duties was quite different. Because Schreiber was the 'home' terminal for most of us, the company didn't maintain a bunkhouse here as it did at our objective terminals at White River and Thunder Bay. So this hotel was the company-designated rest location for just a few employees.

Between 1909 and 1967, a 110 bed ('railroad') YMCA provided accommodation for itinerant railroaders (and other travellers) in Schreiber ... and similar YMCAs performed this function at many other division points across Canada.

After the end of steam, as new technologies displaced workers in many traditional trades and professions, there was less need to house workers from out of town at every division point. The evolution of collective agreements between the company and running trades employees led to standardized company-maintained private room accommodation in special modular buildings at objective terminals.

At Schreiber in the late 1970s, bumped (lower seniority) running trades employees (eg. from Thunder Bay) ... and out of town trainees 'coming on brake' found our own motel rooms from within the local inventory. With an ongoing mill expansion at Terrace Bay, it was a seller's market and weekly rates were priced accordingly. Overlooking Schreiber's scenic wooded gully, and at the far end of the motel's water pipes, I never, ever had hot water in my $306/week (corrected for inflation to 2017 dollars) room.

While I'm at it, neither did my room have a phone. Consequently I participated in a historic, vanishing railway procedure - being called for duty in person by a yard office caller, instead of by phone. I slept quite well during those days, but then came the dreaded knock on the door in the middle of the night, telling me I was ordered for the Paper Train.

Happily, Rolly solicited me as his upstairs tenant after our first memorable round trip together to White River.

Scotia Street, looking 'west'.

To me, this seems to be Schreiber's traditional main commercial street. A modern argument could be made for the Trans-Canada. Considering the importance of the George Stephen's Bank of Montreal in CPR history, you won't be surprised that the Bank of Montreal had branches near the terminals at Schreiber and White River. The blue bank building is just beyond the former medical centre brick building on the corner.

I blew into town at about the same time in the season as Charlie, above.
The view above looks east.
I think smoke jacks of the roundhouse are visible at the right edge of the photo.

Continuing in June 1993 ...
The yard switchers are getting bigger and bigger.
A little Alco did the work in 1977 and it also powered a quick turn to Terrace Bay.
The wooden caboose on the latter job still used kerosene markers.

The car shop above must be very quiet in 1993.

It's not because the carmen are all out of town with
the Thunder Bay auxiliary at another 'affair'.
They are simply gone from Schreiber.

Engineering buildings west of the station are gone now in 2017.

Here are a few views of Schreiber station in 1993.
The impressive communication wire arms are all gone in 2017.
... as are the dispatchers and the divisional staff from the second floor.

I wonder who kept the shoebox-sized container with all the
tiny skeins of yarn for the trainees' colour sense tests?
What colour is this ... ?
What colour is this ... ?
What colour is this ... ?

In 1993, you could still fit a piece of plywood in the back of a pickup truck.

The train inspection light is still there.
The lead for Superintendent Small's business car is gone.
The sputtering of a van generator no longer cues the tailend crew to swing aboard.

*  *  *

Moving east from Schreiber.

I think this is Black Fox Lake - to the north of the highway?
There are countless silent and intriguing lakes shaped by glacial action and erosion.

I think this is Ripple Lake living up to its name.
We had stopped for some stock shots of this favourite location
and a westbound was kind enough to pass by.

*  *  *

A dramatic location to see an eastbound is at the crossing at the top of the hill at Neys.
After my Ripple Lake luck I can't complain that I can only do a study of the track.

The heavy use of rail anchors prevents the rails from being clawed downhill
under the wheels of eastbound power climbing the ruling grade.

Descending trains complying with the permanent 30 mph slow order
on the high curving bridge over the Little Pic River at the foot of this hill,
will also tug on the rail anchors ...

In the 'old days' eight hot wheel treads on each car grasped at the rails.

Today, probably, 'ideally' from the Company Perspective ...
most of the resisting adhesion occurs only at the locomotive wheel treads
and dissipates through the electrical grids of the dynamic brakes.

... less work for the carmen to worry about.

*  *  *

About a century earlier ...

from: Thunder Bay District 1821-1892, A Collection of Documents; ed:Elizabeth Arthur; 1973; University of Toronto Press.

A substitute for masonry is seen below.
When finances permitted, in keeping with pioneer railway practice,
the gap below was filled by dropping stone from cars stopped on the trestle.

The telegraph poles are artfully canted off the south side of the trestle.
Notice how light the rail is.

Inwood (the address above) is near Petrolia in southern Ontario

from: Thunder Bay District 1821-1892, A Collection of Documents; ed:Elizabeth Arthur; 1973; University of Toronto Press.

... later that year ...

from: Thunder Bay District 1821-1892, A Collection of Documents; ed:Elizabeth Arthur; 1973; University of Toronto Press.
*  *  *

Finally, this modern Oakman postcard can be dated with some precision ...

The Schreiber [railway] Underpass (lower left) opened on September 1, 1965.
I was excited to find a commemorative highball glass from this event
at an antique store we visited somewhere.

Action Red was introduced in 1968 and not a trace of it can be seen in the yard,
or on Number 1's equipment.

As a final bit of historical trivia ...
Above: I think Rolly and Theresa's green roof (surrounded by trees)
can be seen beyond the underpass
and immediately beyond the two low Catholic church buildings.

He purchased it from an engineer by the name of A. McCorkill.
In the 1930s Mr McCorkill may have begun his railway career as a telegrapher.

A further enlargement of the station buildings and yard appears below.