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September 2000 - Page 29


The day shift at G ooderham & Worts has begun and the Gra nd River commercial district is coming to l ife a s ten-wheeler 1 303 d rifts past the post office with t he daily wayfreight.

topography. Crews are not fond of work ing this area, with its tight clearances, low visibi l i ty and curves. Flanges are squeal ing as the train snakes between the Scroggins Shoe works, yet another indus try tied to the original l ocal economy, and the s i los of the L i l l & Swain Coal Company, the largest fuel dealer i n Grand R iver. With a brakeman walking ahead, the e ng i ne chugs beneath the massi v e red brick Rosenquist-Wilson piano and organ factory, a behemoth in its dec l i n ing years. Finally arriv i ng at the Wagner & Strang stove & furnace works, a carload of assembled appliances is picked up.

A couple of local children on bicycles are watching the locomotive as it chugs out from the cleft between the b u i ldings. From the service track, there is work remaining at a coupl e more large mi l l s . Both the Galt Flour M i l l s and Grand River Knitting M i l l s employ over 1 00 men working two shifts, and in the vicin ity of the two plants, the air i s dry with dust. With a bang, the engine locks cou plers at the timber platform with a car load of export flour, which is then set on the freight shed siding. A box car load of wool is eased alongside the concrete platform of the knitting m i l l near the

wheel stops, and a cou p l e of dock employees break the seal . Over at the freight shed the way car is retrieved, then the consist i s assembled in front of the station . Orders i n hand, the engineer answers the conductor's signal with a coup l e of bl asts on the whistle, the brakes are released, and the wayfreight i s on i ts way up the branchline. B eyond the i nd ustri al heart of Ontario, the l andscape and economy becomes agricultural i n nature. Typifying the hundreds of communities spread over the vast expanse of southwestern Ontario i s M inessing. Its red frame combination station comes i nto view, with the quin tessential grain elevator and coal dealer at track s ide. A collection of wooden houses and s mall mills make up this quaint v i l lage. Train time is an event in the community, and a half-dozen people are always at the station to watch the activity surrounding the arrival of the dai ly wayfreight. A local contract trucker is waiting on the p latform for the way car as the train brakes to a halt at the order board. While the conductor proceeds to the station, the brakeman coaxes open the large steel door on the box car and assists the trucker with the packages. There is a hopper car of coal in the cons ist for the Dominion Coal bunker, which has taken advantage of summer prices in l aying in a supply of anthracite for the autumn and w i nter. Through tall grass and beneath the dusty canopy of the Tamblyn Grain m i l l , the hopper car is rol led to the unloading bin. Grain , coal, and feed, with the occasional farm i mplement traffic, are staples for this community on the railway l ine, which ships and rece ives about 50 carloads per year. In 1 0 years, the h ighways w i l l have taken most of this business, and in anoth er decade hence these trackside buildings w i l l be gone, along w i th the rails. B ac k at the fron t of the station, the crew prepares for departure, as some children watch from the p latform. The afternoon sun high overhead is blocked by a column of coal smoke as the 63-inch drivers begin to turn . Screaming a warn ing for a farm crossing, the l i ttle train gathers speed and begin s roll ing across the green Southern Ontario meadows. The train slows as the town of Fergus comes i n to view. B rick smokestacks and rooftop water towers speak of the indus trial flavor of this community, nestled on the banks of the Grand River. After the stop at the train order board, the conduc tor walks to the station and enters through the wooden screen door. Inside, the agent/operator is booking the train arrival time as he hands a switch l ist to RAILMODELjOURNAL . SEPTEMBER 2000 29

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