Strange Cargo

Lessons from the Jack London Finishing School

Friday, July 28, 2006

7226 - Transcona Yard


I'm finally getting out of Winnipeg. The stay was much longer than I thought it would be, but I have learned much in the mean time. There are two buses to ride and then a two mile walk out to the catch out spot. Rod has decided to see me off from here and is coming with me to the yard. I'm a little surprised he made it with all the various drugs and Percocet he is taking for his lung ailment.

On the way out here I accidentally stepped on a nest of hornets, they're not happy! I end up paying for it with a sting to the ankle and at this time of writing it has swollen up quite a lot due to my allergy. As we get up to the catch out by the yard I'm somewhat surprised to see that there are two riders here already, waiting for a train. They introduce themselves as Josh and Cricket and they are both from the states, so that makes three americans trying to get out of Winnipeg today. They have been here waiting for an eastbound since 8AM when they walked over here from Symington yard, same place that I came in a few days ago. In the time they have been here there has only been two trains to come by and it is now 9:30PM. This is the Canadian National mainline, so it's a bit unusual.

Comparing notes, we have hit many of the same towns and taken the same route from Jasper on east. They came up from Vancouver on BC Rail to Prince George and switched to CN there. They have been on the road since May 1st and will be heading back to the states via Montreal,QC. I ask if it's cool to travel with them for a while and they say sure thing. A long drawn out whistle sounds abruptly and our attention is on the tracks. Something is finally coming our way and it's definitely going in the right direction.

A retreat is made to the bushes and we wait for our acommodations to pull abreast so we can spot a ride. It's a junker, not stacks and this is a point of some discontent. Well, a slow train is better than no train and besides, the mosquitoes are getting more and more blood thirsty by the minute. The decision is made to ride this junker to Sioux Lookout which is the next crew change, and try to get a stacktrain there. We hoist ourselves into the first rideable that comes along and it's a decrepit old gondola of some uncertain vintage. The gondola is one of many all-purpose cars on the railroad and this low wall version is basically just a 10'x60'x4' box on wheels sometimes referred to as a bathtub. This is actually not a bad ride as one has nearly 360 degree views but there is little shelter from precipitation and they tend to be littered with shredded steel and/or broken glass.
Rodney climbs up with us to get a picture and after saying goodbye we are minutes later rolling through a starry night and across the plains at 50 mph. Toronto is only 1500 miles away...


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