Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Type "E" Mythology

Smithers Division, Skeena Subdivision, 1957 – 1959. The 100-152 Floor Plan. The basic building measured 51’x16’ deep, with a single story extension 14’x12’ enclosing the kitchen area behind the station masters bedroom.

Looking at the station head-on, on the left, there is a 20 foot wide room for either freight or a four or five man bunk room, heated by a “caboose” coal stove. Then the 10-6’ operator/ticket office with bay window, with his bunk room directly behind. Finally, a 10-6’ waiting room, heated by coal fired “radiant stove.”

A narrow stairway from the kitchen area lead up to two dank windowless 15x15’ bedrooms above the main frontal part of the structure.

This was the station of choice for the Grand Trunk, constructing more than 200 of them, at an average cost of around $2400 a copy.

Whenever possible, stations were constructed on the north side of the line, so the 100-152 floor plan could take advantage of the sun to warm the waiting room, at the east end of the station. Some folk refer to this floor plan as the “Type E” station.

In fact, there never was any such thing as a “Type E” station. The Grand Trunk Railroad was very pragmatic, and assigned blue print numbers to the types of stations they deemed necessary to service a given location.

So where did the “Type E” nomenclature come from? It took me a while, but I finally got to the bottom of it. A fellow by the name of Charles Bohi wrote a detailed study of “Canadian National’s Western Depots” published in 1977.

It is in this volume that the designation of “Type E” station first appears. Not unlike the so-called “phases” of General Motor’s locomotives, created by locomotive fans; never acknowledged by GMD, his type designation is self-imposed, to simplify identifying the variations of stations constructed by the Grand Trunk, later known as Canadian National Railway.

But “Type E” was never used nor acknowledged by the railroad. Simply stated, the so-called “Type E” station is correctly identified by its plan number: 100-152.

His highly detailed volume was later updated in “Canadian National’s Western Stations” published in 2002, including never before published information. And the Tables of Stations are organized in a much better format.

I’d highly recommend you get both these books, readily available on the internet, if you are a serious student of this genre of Canadian National’s railroad stations, and because you need both volumes to get all the floor plans.

“Skeena” Mile Post 86.6, built by Grand Trunk as a 100-152 plan in 1912 for approximately $2400, has twin poles supporting a radio antenna. In 1937, exterior stucco and insulation were applied to the station to help block the winter chill. All of the stations on the Skeena Sub of the Smithers Division were adjacent to the Skeena River, cutting through the Coast Range Mountains. Mighty cold winds in the winter!

In the time frame I was living in Prince Rupert (1957 through 1959) the Smithers Division, Skeena Subdivision was 119.4 miles long, beginning at Pacific, terminating at Prince Rupert. There were 20 stations, nine of which (yellow) were of this design, with only a few manned:

1. Pacific
2. Pitman
3. Usk
4. Kitselas
5. Terrace
6. Kallum
7. Amsbury

8. Shames
9. Exstew
10. Salvus
12. Skeena

14. Haysport
15. Sockeye
16. Phelan
17. Port Edward
18. Watson Island
19. Kaien
20. Prince Rupert

Grand Trunk originally built “Salvus” station as a 100-152 floor plan in 1912. Destroyed by fire in 1928, it was rebuilt as a 100-256 variant station, at a cost of $5,200 in service by 1930. Looking carefully, one can spot the ubiquitous radio antenna typically strung between two skinny poles or a pole and a tree. Not for railroad communication, but to bring in distant news and music from distant civilization via the
Kennelly-Heaviside layer nighttime skip signal!

There were a few “miscellaneous” trackside structures not listed as formal stations. For example, Remo, Mile Post 31.9, was a so-call “portable” structure that could be loaded on a flat car for easy transport. But even it was fitted with a “caboose” coal fired stove! Remo was one of several mail exchange points between east and westbound varnish, and if you look carefully, has a simple flag signal. I believe there was a logging camp nearby, but honestly, as a star-stuck teenager, awed by simply riding in the cab of a thundering locomotive, stations were the last things I paid attention to!

Another named feature on the Employee Timetable was “Telegraph Point.” Massive landslides ravaged this area over time, and so the only commitment at this landmark at Mile Post 78.5 was a rudimentary hand crank phone in a small wooden booth. A haven for some of the biggest spiders I’d ever seen!

Sunnyside Cannery had a simple pad constructed of railroad ties for their "platform." Passenger/Freight trackside platforms were located Caspaco Cannery milepost 104.4; Sunnyside Cannery 105.9; North Pacific Cannery at mileage 106.7; and Inverness Cannery mile 108.2. These were all flag stops with a short pole mounted hand operated flag paddle, to enable cannery personnel to go to either Terrace or Prince Rupert for personal visits and shopping. The only other transport available to them was by fishing boats or packers.

Port Edward cannery mile 110.8 had a platform, but also access to Trans Canada 16, as did the Pulp Mill at Watson Island.

With the explosive growth of coal export out of Tumbler Ridge in the late ‘60’s, the Prince Rupert line from Prince George underwent a massive upgrade – heavier steel and winking light Centralized Train Control!

Mercifully, the
North Pacific Cannery was saved and transformed into a living museum. Today, busloads of tourists from the Inside Passage cruise ships, can visit a world-class exhibit celebrating the glorious days of the Skeena River Salmon Fishery.

Kwinitsa Station – Plan 100-152 - was trucked over Highway 16, across the brush and beach onto a barge, and floated down the Skeena River, up Prince Rupert harbor, and landed near the railroad station, where it has become an important
interpretative center for not only the railroad, but also Prince Rupert.

The remaining stations were torched in the 1960’s– a Viking’s end for magnificent structures.

2 Comments - Click here:

LinesWest said...

Super post, great photos. Thanks for sharing as always! -Leland

Ken Newman, Terrace, B.C. said...

Hello Mr. McDonald,

I am doing some research on GTP railway stations and cam across your blog. I work for the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, which is the local government for the rural areas of northwestern B.C. We are beginning a heritage recognition project to recognize the former site of the GTP roundhouse at Pacific and the Dorreen General Store and former site of the Dorreen GTP railway station. I notice in your list that you didn't quite get to the Dorreen Station. It was at mile post 125.5, so just about 6 miles east of Pacific. I was wondering if you have any information about the Dorreen Station. Was it also a 100-152 Floor Plan? I am looking for any information you can provide. Was it burned down in the 1960's like so many others? Do you have any photos of the Dorreen Station. Also, I am wondering if you have any information on the roundhouse at Pacific. By the way before my family moved west my father was a fireman for the CN in the Prairies before he became a pilot and my grandfather retired from the CN as a engineer after 43 years. My Dad still loves to talk about the railway. You have some very interesting information on your site.
Ken Newman, Terrace, B.C.

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