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 A Tribute to Dad Through His Railfan Pictures 1951

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Mike Hamer Posted - 01/13/2013 : 1:40:10 PM
My dad who passed away this week left me with a little booklet he assembled of photocopies of the smaller images he took trackside in the environs of the former "Outer Station" at Kingston, Ontario in 1951. Dad provided a story for each image which I will share with you. I hope you enjoy this tribute to my dad through the images he lensed with his camera over half a century ago.

These are dad's words. "In Kingston there were facilities to replenish the water tanks of main-line locomotives at both ends of the station. The nearest coal towers were at Brockville, 50 miles to the east and at Belleville, 50 miles to the west. The local switcher and way-freight locomotive was laboriously "coaled" by shovelling coal into a large box which was lifted by a crane and dumped into the tender. If several boxes were required this could be a lengthy process which was interesting to watch - but plain hard work for the engine's crew."

"A west-bound passenger trains starts from Kingston station behind a 4-8-4 locomotive. Notice the sharp right-handed curve in the tracks for the station was in the middle of a long, uphill grade from the Cataraque River to higher ground west of the city. Friction of the wheel flanges against the curved track added to the difficulty in starting. I remember one occasion when a train was out of control on the up-grade and as it entered the curve in the station the locomotive left the track, fell on its side and slid into the station building. One member of its crew died in that accident."

"At the west end of Kingston's Outer Station there had been a level crossing where Montreal Street crossed the tracks. After a fatal accident between an auto and a train this was replaced by an underpass which was in the middle of an S-bend in the road. Because this was a blind curve from either side it still was dangerous because there was only just room for two cars to pass under the bridge. The entire "bottleneck" was eliminated perhaps 25 or more years ago. The railroad was diverted to the north, the outer station became an industrial subdivision, the bridge was removed and Montreal Street was straightened. A new Kingston Station was built in the west end of an expanded city."

"The 6400 class of 4-8-4 locomotives...Intended for passenger trains only, these locomotives were given a "skyline casing" over the various items on top of the boiler, and a rounded front. This semi-streamlining was for appearance only as it did almost nothing to reduce the "drag" of the irregular shapes on the locomotive, which themselves were only a tiny portion of the total "drag" of an entire train."

"Diesel Traction...Diesel, or Compression-Ignition engines had been used for many years in high-speed, torpedo boats in the world's navies. Apart from an experimental main-line unit built by CN in 1927, diesel power did not appear on railroads until the makers of diesel engines realized that a huge market would exist on world railroads if diesel locomotives could replace steam. A start was made with low-horsepower locomotives for switch yards and eventually progressed over 40 years to high-horsepower units for main line trains. In North America, the diesel engine usually drives our electric generator supplying power to electric motors, "nose-hung" from the truck frames to the axles. In Europe, some diesel locomotives have hydraulic transmissions."

"Passenger Trains 6 and 15 meet at Kingston...This photograph was taken west of Kingston's Outer Station. The westbound locomotive has its fire built up to make steam for the climb ahead while the approaching eastbound train is coasting to its station stop. It will probably replenish its water tank while mail and express goods are loaded into the vans at the front of the train, immediately behind the locomotive."

"Reverse running of a locomotive on a passenger train is very rare and this picture shows one of those rare occasions. The direction of the plume of smoke confirms the reverse running. I believe this was an advance, extra section of a westbound train which did not stop at the Kingston station and so kept some ten minutes and eight or so miles ahead of the main train which followed."

"Locomotive 5554 has a white flag mounted on its handrail close to the front of the boiler. There will be a similar flag on the other side of the locomotive and these flags tell all railroad employees that this train is an extra section which will shortly be followed by another section of the same train."

"Locomotive No 5582...This would have been an old locomotive when the picture was taken but the life of a steam locomotive could be very long if it had regular repairs, maintenance and parts replacement. In England some steam locomotives survived for almost a hundred years in branchline service where the demands for power were not heavy."

"Ballast Cleaning...This train, pictured in the freight yards at Kingston could dig the crushed rock ballast from under the tracks, screen out the dirt, weeds etc and replace the ballast as it moved slowly along the tracks. When it was working on the main line, its track was out of use for regular trains and special single track working arrangements controlled the other track which had to be used safely by trains running in both directions."

"Ballast Cleaning...Notice the marking on the hopper car, D.L.& W. which showed that the car belonged to the Delaware, Lackawana & Western railroad in the United States of America."

"SITIO...This is the first person singular, indicative mood, of the Latin verb meaning I THIRST. The circular water tank may have a capacity of ten thousand gallons of water. That is an indication of the huge amount of water consumed by a large steam locomotive when hauling a heavy train. The "circular" tender was known as a Vanderbilt Tender."

"A 4-8-2 Passenger Locomotive...These locomotives were not regular visitors to Kingston as there were only a few of them and their normal territory was from Toronto, west into Southern Ontario. The train is heading eastwards to Montreal."

"The small locomotive just in front of the caboose of this freight train was being hauled "dead" perhaps to Montreal. In 1951 it was probably going to be scrapped."

"A Thirsty 6400 class 4-8-4 locomotive...This picture shows that apart from the skyline casing, the deep valence beside the running board and the large diameter of the driving wheels, this loco's appearance was similar to Canadian National's other 4-8-4 locomotives."

"An Old Timer...Locomotive 7359 is working out its days on switching and way-freight duties in the Kingston area."

"The Man in Charge...This engineer has probably brought his train from Belleville to Kingston and will take it to Brockville, a total distance of about 100 miles. A day's work for a locomotive crew was measured in miles travelled, not hours worked; a situation which pertained from railroad's early days. The number of miles per day's work did not seem to change as train speeds increased over the years."

"Double Heading...Mary and I were driving along a country road when I heard the tremendous noise of the exhaust of an approaching train. Never having previously heard such decibels I turned down a country lane to be near the tracks. Two locomotives were working hard to pull a huge freight train up the grade, westbound into Kingston. This gave me the only picture of a double headed, steam hauled train I ever made." F.B. Hamer

Thank you so much for taking the time to look over my dad's railfan pictures from 1951 when dad and mom lived in Kingston, Ontario. Dad also include this photograph showing the station where his father, my grandfather, Fred Hamer, got his first job, probably in the late 1890's. This is Westvale Station on the Stainland Branch of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in England. Dad tells me that his father worked for that railway and its successors until the advent of World War II.

Our dad and our mom loved us dearly and we loved our dad and mom dearly. I remember, as a young boy travelling in the car with dad...whenever we approached a railroad grade crossing dad would slow down in the hope that a train might approach while other motorists hurried on in order to get across the tracks and not be delayed with their daily lives. Yes, dad loved trains. The image above shows my twin brother, Jim, on the right, my older sister Margaret, who we call Marty, in the middle and little old me to the left. Yes, dad instilled a passion in me for trains right from the earliest days of my life. This image is taken at a train station not far from my home in Ottawa, down near the St. Lawrence River.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to view dad's pictures.

Michael Lawrence Hamer
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
MarkF Posted - 01/14/2013 : 12:13:23 PM
Mike, that was a beautiful tribute to your father. The pictures he took, along with the terrific descriptions and story lines were wonderful.

Thank you for sharing this with us and once again, I am sorry for your loss, but you were lucky to have him!
tct855 Posted - 01/14/2013 : 11:25:24 AM
Great photos: An honor to view & read the captions. Thanks for sharing! Thanx Thom...
Dave P Posted - 01/14/2013 : 09:46:47 AM
My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father, Mike. I found out about it on Friday evening at FNG.

The photos are a great tribute to your Dad. His captions show that teaching is in your genes.

Dave P
seelite Posted - 01/13/2013 : 10:33:03 PM
What a nice way to remember dad.
As I rode trains during WWII, (still steam)
I enjoyed the fotos which seem so familiar.
But, the familiarity ends when I realize that
Kingston, Ont. (while a nice town) does have
some differences with the Kingston, NY that
was my destination. As I now regularly ride
Amtrak and VIA, I assume that the current
similarities probably were representative of
similarities in the '50s. A picture is still
worth a thousand words, so I'll turn off the
text so folks can view the fotos. Thanks, karl s.
rutlandfan Posted - 01/13/2013 : 10:25:06 PM
Some really great photos Mike. I like the Aultville Station one, although that hand car is now safely stowed inside the station. Only 8km from my home. :)

wvrr Posted - 01/13/2013 : 10:01:58 PM
Wow, nice memories to share, Mike! Thanks!

The Third Posted - 01/13/2013 : 7:50:20 PM
Thank you for sharing some great photographs.
Jim Schrader
hunter48820 Posted - 01/13/2013 : 7:17:01 PM
Hi Mike,
That was very enjoyable. I am so sorry for your loss. Your dad sounds like he was a great father and wonderful guy in general!

simon1966 Posted - 01/13/2013 : 7:05:10 PM
Mike, a fitting tribute. I missed the first thread, so let me add my condolences to all those that you have received.
Thorn Creek and Western Posted - 01/13/2013 : 6:46:59 PM
Those pictures are a treasure, Mike.
I'm making a point of taking more pictures nowadays-- even of what now seems like ordinary stuff. Time moves so fast...
Ensign Posted - 01/13/2013 : 5:00:53 PM
Thanks for sharing your Dad's pictures, Mike!
Those photo's are awesome, and your Dad's captions for each one of them excellent!

Greg Shinnie
Jim from Valencia CA Posted - 01/13/2013 : 4:16:25 PM
Thanks for sharing. Yuor memories are priceless.
Curator49 Posted - 01/13/2013 : 3:33:30 PM
Fantastic Mike.
Your dad has made a great photographic record and stories about those images of an era long gone. They are treasured memories from your dad to you and your family and to your fellow Forum members.

Thank you for sharing.

David Mewes
The Workshops Rail Museum
Orionvp17 Posted - 01/13/2013 : 3:20:46 PM

Wonderful photos, and a lovely gesture on your Dad's part to catalog them as he did with supporting text. Thanks so much for sharing these!

in Michigan
Rick Posted - 01/13/2013 : 3:04:04 PM
Thanks for sharing your memories and pictures with us Mike.

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