Sunday, May 19, 2019

A New Record On the IPP&W

We believe we have set a new record for the youngest crewmate to run trains on the IPP&W.  Mark just sent me a number of photos to include in our blog, many of which include his young son, Matthew, age 3.

Inspecting the Playmobil Station.  "Hey dad," he calls out, "Don't we have some of these at home?"  Matthew ensures all of the passengers are ready and eager to board the next RP&M train down at Pratt's Bottom.

In Glen Hammond, he and I work the yard before departing for Peter's Pond.

Matthew was kind enough to allow our crew to offer an "assist" to the crew of Train 318 which also required some moves to be made before their departure from the same yard.

Matthew in all his glory!  Down in Peter's Pond, he multitasks as he dictates the moves required for our meet with the opposing passenger train.

Matthew is our van inspector/conductor ensuring all is well with our train movements.  We had earlier arrived Firgrove aboard Train 327 and are now running opposite as Train 304.  We pass our earlier consist.  Thanks to George, the yard master in Firgrove, our new train has been readied in advance for our crew!

Matthew's eyes broaden immensely when he notices this beast of a locomotive at the crossing to the west of Peter's Pond.

Hmmm...two trains at one time...bonus!

Matthew's train departs Peter's Pond.

Mark captures me capturing his train.

Too much fun!  Nah...ya can never have too much fun railroading.  There's always room for more fun to be had!

Mark's beautiful Shay passes through Blockhouse.

Rounding the bend eastward outside of Spruce...luckily still pulling her consist!  Mark tells us he still has to change out the over-sized couplers..

Passing in front of Ironwood Brick.  The Shay eyes the coaling station waiting for her next load of fuel.  She'll have to wait until she arrives the ore dock in Craig Leigh to be given her dinner.  "My that green tank car looks nice!"  Mark is heard to say.

The cow at Scobie's wanted a bit of a better look.  The Shay was happy to oblige.

"Now you see me!"

"Now you don't!"

Thanks, Mark, for sending along this great looking folder of images for the blog!  It was a pleasure crewing with you and our record-breaking Matthew!'s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago this is what the railroad looked like.  Thanks so much to all the hard work put in by our many volunteers in order to get the railroad ready for the first successful operating session of the season!

To see further images taken from the train operating session highlighted here, check out

All the best!
Mike Hamer, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Session #1 "Opening Day!"

The date is the 18th of May, 2019.

It is our inaugural session of the season.

Narrow gauge.

Mark bought out his latest acquisition.

But first, let's check out the latest developments.

We find Watkins Siding has been moved closer to the fence line.

This has allowed for greater flexibility up in Bell.

Bernie sent these next five images.  Here he is running a test train through the new trackage. The track to the immediate left is the new yard lead for the eastern end of Bell.  Watkins Siding is down the track a ways and joins on to the yard lead.

Lawrence and Garry conduct track work in Nelson Yard.

Ensuring all trains will traverse the ladder without derailing.

Gene is hard at work with the gardening.

What a great work crew these lads are.

Back to today, we are pre-ops with the setting out of cars.  Malcolm, pictured above in the black jacket creates impressive video montages of the sessions.  Check out his fine work based on the train movements from today's operations by copying and pasting the link below into your computer's browser.

Some great looking narrow gauge specimens.

Paul checks with Fred and his master list to determine correct locations for a few errant rail cars.

Doug sent this image of our dispatcher on the day...Bill Sn3 Scobie.

Followed up by my pic of Doug and Bill!

Garry, Henk and Doug setting out traffic in and around Nelson Yard.

Steve and Brian at Glen Hammond.

Here's Steve!

Nelson Yard appears ready for the session.

As does Glen Hammond.

Garry and Pat in the lounge.

Paul, Brian, Bill and Fred.

Bernie is the yard master at Craig Leigh.

He's a happy chap!

Some of the cars in and around Craig Leigh.

Mark and his son, Matthew, will crew with me on this day.

Some cleaning up in Rat Portage pre-ops.

The Hamer industry down in Rat Portage!  Say...did you know...Rat Portage won the Stanley Cup way back in 1907!  True story...honest to God!  Rat Portage was renamed Kenora, a word taken from the first two letters of three nearby locations, Keewatin, Norman and Rat Portage.   In 1907, the Kenora Thistles went down in hockey lore by defeating the Montreal Wanderers in a challenge for Lord Stanley's chalice.  Say, we'll have to find a Garden Scale replica of Lord Stanley's Cup and place it somewhere in Rat Portage on the RP&M!

Bob and Doug talk trains.

Ralph yard sure is full.

Passengers are ready to board Passenger 2 in Firgrove.

Doug "squared" in conversation while George looks on and Bob snaps a photo.

Malcolm and Steve, seated, while Pat passes by.

Bill, Fred and Paul.

Bernie in the far background with Pat "squared".

Fred's master list for freight car locations.

Henk and George enjoy each other's company.

Say, I get to ring the bell for our inaugural session of the season.
I've never rung the prestigious bell before.  What a thrill!

Before our pre-ops meeting, I have unpacked my locomotive from its carrying case which you see in the distance along the inside track.

I must turn the loco to have it face in the proper direction for the train I will be crewing.

Steve listens in on the news of the day.

As do all the lads.

Around the table.

Time to board my train with my crewmates, Mark and young Matthew.

While Steve and Lawrence busy themselves with their work at the western throat of Nelson Yard.

We are aboard Train 327 from Glen Hammond to Firgrove.

Our first move is to pick up a car at the team track in Bellamy.  While we have no setouts here, had we had one we would have tucked it directly behind our locomotive so as not to foul the diamond in the distance with a lengthy cut of cars.

I turn around to find Bob in control of the ore train.

He is downgrade from Firgrove and is about to enter Bell.

Steve and Lawrence ready their RP&M train 65.

Before they cross the diamond, they must first drill the Bud-Lite siding.  This is a trailing move for them and they are able to utilize one of the two industrial tracks at Bellamy/Anderson as their lead for their trailing move.

By doing so, they have not blocked the diamond.  This image illustrates how our IPP&W train is able to cross the diamond while the RP&M crew work their industries without anyone getting in each other's way.  We held a meeting recently to discuss these moves and it was with great joy that we are able to say the moves are most effective!

Mark borrows my camera to snap a shot of me with my train as it crosses the junction.

Mark and Matthew follow our train as we are righthand running through Mercer.

Although the sun is out, my spring jacket attests to the slight chill in the air.

We meet Doug with Passenger 2 in Peter's Pond.

Doug is wearing his fleece with our nation's capital NHL team logo...the Ottawa Senators.

That's a great looking train you are in care of, Doug!

327 meets Passenger 2.

The ore train is right on the heels of Passenger 2.

Malcolm and Paul work Mount St. Helens in the distance.

Their locomotive is a beauty!

While we wait for Passenger 2 to depart, I am able to scope out the action just a few linear footsteps away.  At Spruce I find Steve and Brian aboard Train 318 which is our train's eastbound counterpart.

We hold the main in Peter's Pond for a second meet, this time with the ore train.

Some railfans look on as the unit train pulls into, then out of Peter's Pond.

Back up in Spruce, Steve and Brian work their train in front of the lovely depot.

At Peter's Pond, I snap this drone shot of our locomotive as it runs around the train.  Check out the close tolerances.

I'm having a ball!

Pat and Pat watch our train as they have also been waiting to get into Peter's Pond.  We would've arrived quite earlier, but we assisted another train crew back in Glen Hammond with their switching moves...which is always a gentlemanly pleasure.

Again...Pat "squared!"

Our train has navigated successfully the subterranean environs below Mount St. Helens as we make our way up to Bell.

Lots of foliage has been removed at the location known as "The Corners."

I turn around to find trains in both Spruce and Ironwood.

We climb the grade at Watkins.

I take a gander over at Ironwood.

Some nice new trackwork.

We take the cross-overs to the east of Bell.

Bill offers to throw the cross-overs back to the main for us as we take Track 3 in Bell.

We meet  RP&M Train 65.  Both trains are able to work independent of each other here thanks to the turnout installed last season.  Brilliant idea, Henk!

We note on our train orders for Bell a couple of moves we normally do not see.  These are called "local moves".  We do have to work some of the cars from our train at Bell such as setting out a reefer at Brunt's Brewing.  We conduct this move first.

The two "local moves" require us moving cars from Brunt's Brewing and Stuart Yard to the Interchange.  We have already picked up the car from Brunt's and placed it in Stuart Yard.  Then we ran around our train to begin conducting the remaining moves along with finishing up the local ones.

Check out the two local moves we have been given.

With our tasks complete at Bell and clearance granted for Firgrove we round the big bend to the west of Bell.

We conquer the grade at a location I affectionately call "The Ledges."

Mark and Matthew railfan the train.

We had also contacted George, the yard master in Firgrove before ascending the long grade.

While following my train up the hill, I notice Lawrence and Steve down in Rat Portage.

Our crew changes locomotives at Firgrove for the run back down the hill aboard our new train, Train 304 from Firgrove to Nelson Yard.

George has lined the route for us.

Mark takes a gander at his train as he throttles ahead.

Departing Firgrove we say "so long" to George as we begin our lengthy journey back across the IPP&W.

A nice "going away" shot.

I was too late to capture an interesting cornfield meet, but it seems the westbound passenger train didn't sustain any damage as a result of the encounter.

Steve and Lawrence are on their return trip aboard RP&M Train 66.  Note how they have successfully managed to place their Drover caboose between the industrial tracks they are working and the turnout for the junction.  They are not fowling the junction at all.  Before leaving Rat Portage, they cleverly placed their setouts for the trailing industries they are currently working directly in front of their caboose.  This movement of cars is typical of the instructions we created at a recent "meeting of the minds."

Mark is a proud papa to his son, Matthew and to his new acquisition, the Shay, which he is following as it glides downgrade at "The Ledges."

Looking ahead of us, we spot Doug with the Pool Train at Bell.

The train is stopped at the depot.

We take the turnouts which will bring us to the ladder at Bell.

Lovely looking locomotive, Mark!

I look across at Nelson Yard to see Steve and Doug discussing train moves with yard master Garry.

Henk follows the action.

Our train would normally take Track 4 here...

...but we choose to come in on Track 3.

Doug has asked our crew to give an "assist" with the business car.

We head over to the east house track and retrieve the car for Doug.
He then will head out over RP&M territory.  Thus the moniker "Pool Train"...traffic is "pooled" across the two railroads.

Back in Nelson Yard Henk and Garry continue their efforts while some young railfans arrive to scope out the scene.

Garry focuses on his orders while Steve focuses on his liquids.

Bob approaches Glen Hammond bypassing Nelson Yard.

That ore train is a beauty, Bob.

Bob holds for the Pool Train.

The Pool Train meets the ore train.

Then Bob is able to depart.

While my crew and I work Bell, I turn around to snag a shot of Steve and Brian aboard Train 303 at Ironwood.

A look back at Bell.

Our work done, we are granted clearance to Peter's Pond.

Fred and a buddy share some camaraderie.

Peering through the Spruce trees at...well...Spruce....we see a train in town.

While our train continues its descent towards Peter's Pond.

There's Doug.

Which means the Pool Train is close at hand. it is!

Looking good Doug!

An artsy shot between the facilities at Ironwood Brick.

Through "The Corners."

We are silhouetted beneath Mount St. Helens.  Say, where's the rest of our train?  Mark has yet to change out the oversized couplers on his new Shay.  A few choice words later and we're back in business.

We meet Paul and Malcolm aboard Train 311 at Peter's Pond.

While we wait to the west of the pond, I am able to capture the Pool Train eastbound at Mount St. Helens.

Station stop.

Train 311 on the main in Peter's Pond.

This allows us to take the siding at the Pond where we have already uncoupled from our train.

The ore train arrives.

With skipper Bob.

Our meet with the ore train.

Drone shot of Mark's locomotive.

The ore train departs eastbound.

We follow shortly thereafter.

Entering the limits of Nelson Yard.

Garry has lined us up.

Bob admires Mark's shay as Garry continues with his never-ending work at Nelson Yard.

Brian and Steve look on.

The ore train bypasses Nelson Yard while Steve enters on a slow order.

Our train, 304, terminates at Nelson Yard.  We uncouple from the consist and head over to the adjacent track where Garry has placed our new consist for Train 314.

Train 314 departs Nelson Yard.

We tiptoe onto the gorgeous trestle.

Our power exits the trestle.

We fly by Blockhouse.

Where we learn that our little train with its Shay locomotive has held up Passenger 1 in Spruce.  (We get a chuckle out of that...but we wonder if Doug is in our camp!)

Pat looks over at the action in Mount St. Helens.

His train approaches the Mount.

While our train rounds the big bend on the western fringes of Spruce.

By the depot.

Where we meet Passenger 1.

Looking behind us we spot Brian up in Cedar Rock.

Lovely locomotive Brian.

A cool looking car in Cedar Rock!

We depart Spruce for Ironwood.

Taking the big curve...

...we round the bend...

...and arrive Ironwood.

Behind us a train climbs the grade at Watkins.

Above us an airplanes climbs the grade out of Ottawa.

Mark railfans his own locomotive.

Back at Bell, things look pretty busy.

You've gotta love Paul's steam locomotive.

Bill bends for a breather.

Who knew that the benchwork would be the perfect height!

Pat in Mount St. Helens.

His locomotive.

His train.

A car in the siding.

Train 328 descends the hill.

The new trackwork looks great!

They round the bend.

A train on the upper level with a train on the lower level.

Train 319 arrives Ironwood.

Train 314 holding the main.

319 and 314 meet.

319 between Ironwood and Mount St. Helens.

Mark likes the green tanker we've placed directly behind the locomotive!

We work the industries at Mount St. Helens.

While behind us...

...Paul and Malcolm switch out Cedar Rock.

Our work complete, we depart Mount St. Helens for the terminal at Craig Leigh.

Mark parks his Shay by the engine house.

Egads!  A train monster of epic proportions!

328 clears the junction...

...while Doug clears the railroad!

Miss Piggy clears the bank.

319 nears the end of its run.

Taking the curve at Lilly.

The lovely depot down in Rat Portage.

Beer bottle caps come in handy for many needs!

Post ops, we enjoy the cooking of Chef Bill Sn3 Scobie.

Steve, Malcolm and Bob.

Pat, Lawrence and Bernie.

Check it out!

Now Henk, I hope that's no dunce cap you are wearing!'s just the big tree in behind.  In fact, Henk is a brilliant mind who offers many a great suggestion which helps improve the running of things around the railroad...along with all helpful suggestions from his buddies as well!

While there is still a little chill in the air around Ottawa...

...the few tulips that remain in my front garden put on a nice show.

If everyone else enjoyed our first session as much as I did, then all is well in the big train world around Ottawa.

Malcolm and Fred from an earlier day.  Thanks Fred for hosting the crew on such a fine day!
All the best, Mike Hamer, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada