Friday, January 23, 2009

Kitsumkalum - Revisited

Kitsumkalum Log Spur, Mile Post 28.3, Skeena Subdivision, April 9, 1959. Running under white flags, white classification lights, and a set of train orders, Extra East 4201 has arrived at the Kitsumkalum Log Spur 3.5 miles west of Terrace BC.

Canadian National Railways 4201, a doughty GMD GP9 was the power pack on this particular trip, leaving Prince Rupert at 930k with 10 loaded boxcars and several tank cars full of chemicals. A few of the box cars and chemical tanks were dropped off at the Columbia Cellulose Mill at Port Edward, and a cut of 40 empty log bunks were spiced in just ahead of the caboose.

This was my favored train to hitch a ride on, I was comfortable with the crew, and I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to ride “the log train” as it was informally known. And it returned the same day, so I wasn’t stressed about where to stay in Terrace, some 100 miles up the line.

On most occasions, I’d ride with the Conductor up to the mandatory (within first 50 miles) train inspection at Kwinitsa. (type “Kwinitsa” into the Google search engine for other commentary about this location.)

I’d walk up to the power pack and ride the remaining distance to Terrace. The crew would tie up for lunch, and then perform whatever switching needed to be done at the Terrace yard, then shuffle back to the Kitsumkalum Log Spur.

Kitsumkalum is the First Nations tribe that covered roughly from Terrace down the Skeena River and a few miles up and down the outer coast islands and islets. They have a tremendous history, and I would encourage you to grab a cup of coffee and spend a few minutes learning about their history.

I go into more detail about the Log Spur in this blog entry, so I won’t repeat it here.

Kitsumkalum was shortened by the Canadian National Railways, on both the public and employee time tables, to “Kallum.” I’m sure the operators appreciated that!

The photo shows Hugh Macintosh, the fireman, watching for hand signals from the trainman helping us make up the loaded log train to be delivered back to Port Edward.

Bill Gedes, engineer, is sitting off to the side, letting his fireman run the power pack as we make up the loaded log train. These fellows had a bunch of rhymes they quoted for calling out hand signals from the trainman on the ground. Like “One – Two - that’ll do!)

And once the air was pumped we’d wait for our train order clearance time to head back to Port Edward and Prince Rupert as “Extra West 4201.

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