Saturday, April 25, 2009

Transport: Rare Miles on the Guelph Junction

An unusual combination of an Ontario Southland RS-18u and RS-23 led the special excursion organized by the Guelph Historical Railway Association at Corwhin, Ontario on 25-April-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - I have to admit that I'm a bit of a rare mileage buff when it comes to riding trains. I ended up riding two of the Amtrak Coast Starlight detours over Tehachapi Pass last year mostly because each used a different route down the San Joaquin Valley to reach Tehachapi Pass. To me, though, it's not about the rare miles per se, but about the new sights to be seen. Sure, I log the miles in a ledger, but I'm not in any hurry to ride the "GO Subdivision" locally here around Toronto, even though that would be easy miles to rack up, because it parallels the VIA Rail Canada route and thus doesn't offer any new scenery.

So, had I previously seen the Guelph Junction Railway, operated under contract by the Ontario Southland Railway, then today's "rare miles" excursion probably would not have been that attractive. The special event, organized by the Guelph Historical Railway Association, took the standard "Guelph Junction Express" route and added the industrial leads and wye tracks operated by the railway, along with photo run-bys, to create an event attractive enough to railroad enthusiasts that it sold out in advance, even in the depressed economy.

The rare views on the excursion mostly consisted of industrial scenes like this one taken as the train ran down the North Lead in Guelph, Ontario on 25-April-2009

Industrial leads don't exactly have compelling scenery, as shown by the view above. While it was certainly interesting to see the businesses still connected to the tracks in Guelph, including a major rail contractor and a coatings facility that had a long-retired tank car, it wasn't exactly the kind of thing one would want to highlight in a photo album.

Some of the train load of railroad enthusiasts watched as the train backed up toward their location after a photo run-by near Corwhin, Ontario on 25-April-2009

The normal route of the Guelph Junction Express, including sections along the Speed River and along the Eramosa River as well as farms and limestone outcroppings provided plenty of scenic interest to the day. Plus, the stop at Guelph Junction with a chance to look at the Ontario Southland's fleet of equipment added quite a bit of railroad enthusiast interest.

While the "rare miles" may not have been that much of a draw, the "Tour of the Guelph Junction Railway" had plenty to recommend it as an enthusiast's excursion.

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