An 18 Year Old Mystery Solved

Location Unknown - Until Now!
Location Unknown – Until Now!

Back in May 2000, I was driving across half of Canada with my girlfriend (and future wife). She had been living in Regina, SK and was moving to Fredericton, NB to be with me. It was a long drive, spanning almost a week, and we were mostly just trying to get to New Brunswick as fast as we could. There wasn’t time for tourism or, heaven forbid, railfanning.

However… I did grab these photos. As we were driving along the Trans-Canada Highway, I saw what appeared to be a RailLink train beside the highway. I stopped, took three quick photos on film, then kept going. I made no record of where I was, or even what day it was, so until today, these photos were a bit of a mystery to me.

Today, I was scanning some photos and found these three and decided to scan them too. I posted them on the excellent Canadian Trains Facebook group, and within minutes, Christian Base had the answer. This was taken in Mattawa, Ontario about 50 km east of North Bay.

RLK 2002 in Mattawa, Ontario, May 2000.
RLK 2002 in Mattawa, Ontario, May 2000.

RLK 2002 is/was a GP38, originally B&O 4813.

The passenger cars in the background were from the Timber Train that ran between Mattawa and Temiscaming, Quebec. That tourist operation ceased operation in late 2001 when its assets were seized by the Royal Bank.  The cars were purchased by the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in New York and may still be in operation today. Here’s a photo of one in Ithaca, NY in 2013.
Mattawa-Temiscaming Timber Train (a remnant)
The below photo of RLK 3585 is probably the only photo I’ve taken of an MLW HR412W.  At first glance, it looks like an MLW M-420. The “HR” stood for “High Reliability”, and the 412 meant 4 axles, 12 cylinder engine and the “W” means a wide cab. This unit was listed as out of service by 2003. It’s obviously ex-CN.

RLK 3585 in Mattawa, Ontario, May 2000.
RLK 3585 in Mattawa, Ontario, May 2000.

This is the Ottawa Valley Railroad, a former CP line that was taken over by RailLink on October 30, 1996. RailLink was acquired by RailAmerica in July 1999. The line ran both local trains and through CP trains between Sudbury and Smiths Falls.

Today RailAmerica and the Ottawa Valley Railroad are owned by Genesee & Wyoming. The line runs for a total of 157 miles from Sudbury through North Bay to Mattawa, then up to Temiscaming, Quebec. It interchanges with CP in Sudbury, and CN and Ontario Northland in North Bay.

I’m glad that 18 year old mystery is finally solved! Thank you, Christian and others from Canadian Trains!

4 thoughts on “An 18 Year Old Mystery Solved”

  1. Glad you solved the mystery. Before I read the article, I saw the picture and thought, gee, that looks like it’s along Hwy 17, heading towards North Bay… 🙂 If you have any more such mysteries, please share!

    • Hi Patrice, I guess that’s a common location – I’ve only been there once so far.

      If I have any more mysteries, I’ll be sure to post them!

  2. Great pictures of the timber train… I worked on it for a few years as a host…. and I would do commentary in French when needed… too bad it didn’t last … it was a great job

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