Saturday, June 30, 2018

More Memories of the Marconi Spur

CP Rail GP9 1577 on the Marconi Spur, 1994. 

After writing the previous post about the Marconi Spur—the former CPR transcontinental mainline that was responsible for the creation of Winnipeg as it is today—I asked my friend and Canadian Railway Modeller editor Morgan Turney if he had any photos of the line to share.

He did, and he also had some memories of the line, which you will find below. All photos credit to Morgan.

Ah yes, the Marconi Spur. According to my copy of CPR Time Table No. 68 dated June 3, 1984, the line from Whittier to Lac du Bonnet was known as the Lac du Bonnet Subdivision.

But I think by 1987, only the portion from Birds Hill to Whittier was still active.

CP Rail S-11 6620 switching the lumber yard on the
Marconi Spur across from the Golden Spike, 1992.

When I moved to Winnipeg in 1987, the Marconi Spur was fairly busy with CP Rail SWs and Geeps moving different loads up and down the line.

At the south end there was a short spur that ran past the Golden Spike (one of Winnipeg's best model train stores, now long gone) to a lumber yard on the west side, across from the Spike.

On some Saturdays, Rick Smith—also known as Skippy Smith—would sometimes be switching the spur and would stop at the Spike and give some of us rides on the engine!

It's a cold winter day on the Marconi Spur. GP9s
1590 & 1531 with three vans on their way to Mandak
for scrapping.

The only stop lights then were at McLeod; the rest were all 3-way stop signs with grade crossing lights and gates.

I remember seeing Skippy hogging tank car loads just north of Springfield Road on occasion. He used to tell stories of how he'd "bump" into vehicles that stopped too close to the tracks, between the crossing gates.

Towards the end, the Marconi Spur between Kimberly and Munroe was used to store cars that were destined for the Mandak scrapper in Selkirk.

SGUs (steam gennies) on their way to the scrapper, 1993.

I have many memories of walking my dog, Radar, up Raleigh along the tracks and through the field where the Chief Peguis Trail goes through now. He'd always want to chase the many rabbits that inhabited the field of trees that once grew there.

Of course, the rabbits have now relocated in our neighbourhoods as those fields are now paved over. And the Marconi Spur is also long gone.

Anyone else have memories or photos of the line? Leave a comment below.

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