Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Ticket to Ride!"

Smithers Division, Skeena Subdivision, 1958 - 1959. I had just turned 15, and by now had it down to a science riding in the cabs of freight and log trains between Prince Rupert and Terrace.

I had the choice of riding the 1st Class 196 or the Log Train from Prince Rupert to Terrace. Since the varnish was always double headed, I’d ride the second unit. I preferred to ride the Log Train, since it was always more interesting.

We’d leave Prince Rupert with a dozen or so freight cars, stopping at the Columbia Cellulose paper mill at Port Edward, picking up a string of empty log flats, destined for the re-load at Kitsumkalum Reload, just west of Terrace.

Kallum Re-load had 3.5 miles of track with a moderate car capacity of 279 cars with only a single west end connection.

The drill was if two Geeps were assigned on the Log Train from Prince Rupert to Terrace, I’d ride solo in the trailing unit. 

If, on the other hand, a single Geep were assigned, I’d ride the caboose out to Kwinitsa, where a mandatory walking inspection of the consist was performed. 

And in the process, do an end-for-end switch with the head end brakeman. I rode his seat in the cab, whilst the displaced brakeman rode in the caboose with the rear end train trainman and conductor, the remaining 50 miles to Terrace.

We tied up at the Terrace Station and walk into the village for lunch.

After lunch, we'd switch the empty log cars we had picked up at Port Edward, for loaded cars at the Kallum Log Spur, and return to Prince Rupert in late afternoon.


If I rode the passenger train to Terrace, I had a connection problem getting home.

Fortunately, one of my high school buddies, Ron Dolphin, had moved to Terrace.  So I had a place to stay Saturday night, but there was no Log Train on Sunday.

(Ed Note: I recall with glee, the first time I went to Terrace to stay with Ron, I told him I'd be riding in the cab of the passenger train. But as we arrived at the station, Ron kept looking back toward the passenger cars. As I approached him, he said "you weren't kidding!")

To get me home, log train conductor, Stan Wozney, gave me a “Ticket to Ride!,” redeemable on the Sunday evening run back to Prince Rupert aboard 1st Class 195 – in the passenger section.