Glimpses of the Huron Central

It’s been a busy few weeks getting my daughter ready to start college in Toronto. College! I remember when she could barely walk and here she is, living in Hogtown without us. Yikes.

My wife and I drove her to Toronto via the Trans-Canada Highway through northern Ontario. We would have preferred to drive through the US but the border is still closed to us. We ended up doing the almost 2,500 km trip in two long days of driving, overnighting in Wawa, ON. I didn’t do any railfanning on the way to Toronto as we were in “just get there” mode.

After getting our daughter set up in her new apartment, we said our tearful goodbyes and headed home. We chose to do the return trip in three days, stopping in Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay.

The Huron Central Railway is a shortline that runs between Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie. The Genesee & Wyoming leases the line from CP and in 2020 was threatening to pull out. Fortunately this has been avoided.

The HCRY’s tracks are visible from the highway in numerous locations. I happened to notice a yard near Espanola, ON about 50 km west of Sudbury and stopped for a couple of minutes to take photos in the pouring rain.

Huron Central locomotive and CP boxcars, Baldwin, ON
Huron Central locomotive and CP boxcars, Baldwin, ON

There was a locomotive and three CP boxcars on one leg of the wye that leads south to the Domtar mill in Espanola. There were a few tracks off the main line with rail cars in them, and a small maintenance facility by the tracks. This location is known as McKerrow.

We continued to Sault Ste Marie without seeing any other trains. I noticed that our hotel was only a few blocks away from the HCRY yard in the city, so I got up early before breakfast to investigate.

Huron Central yard in Sault Ste. Marie
Huron Central yard in Sault Ste. Marie

One end of the yard is easily accessible from Bruce Street. There are several tracks for car storage and general use, and I spotted a few locomotives way in the distance.

HCRY 3404 and 3802 in Sault Ste Marie
SOR 3404 and HCRY 3802 in Sault Ste Marie

SOR 3404 (on the left) is an SD40-2 lettered for the Southern Ontario Railway, and was originally a Penn Central unit.

HCRY 3802 is a GP40-3M (originally a Penn Central unit). The “M” means it is a mother for road slug 802, presumably the unit behind it.

There is an office at the other end of the yard in Sault Ste Marie, with Huron Central signs on it.

HCRY office in Saulte Ste Marie
HCRY office in Saulte Ste Marie

I didn’t see anything moving in the yard so I carried on to the CN / Algoma Central yard… a subject for another post.

I feel bad about one thing I did while looking at the HCRY yard. I was driving along Bruce Street and pulled off into a parking lot so I could walk over to the crossing to take the above photos. As I pulled off, a young woman walking on the sidewalk near where I pulled off immediately crossed the street so she wouldn’t pass by where I was parking.

Clearly my maneuver made her uncomfortable and anxious. I’ve read many accounts from women about how they cross streets, pretend to be on the phone, avoid eye contact et cetera to avoid unwanted attention from men. I should have known better and parked somewhere else so I didn’t alarm her. It never even occurred to me.

This is male privilege, folks. If I were the person walking along the street and someone pulled into a parking lot near me, I’d probably either ignore them or maybe give them a hard look to warn them off. Dudes can do this. Women can’t.

I’ll be more mindful in the future.

HCRY in 2003!?

HCRY 461 in Fairview Yard, Halifax, Oct 2003
HCRY 461 in Fairview Yard, Halifax, Oct 2003

When I was filing these photos away in Adobe Lightroom, I noticed that I had photographed another Huron Central Railway locomotive way back in 2003. I was in Halifax in October 2003 and saw several “oddball” locomotives in CN’s Fairview facility, including HCRY 461, an SD45.

HCRY 461 and HLCX 6039 in Fairview yard, Halifax, Oct 2003
HCRY 461 and HLCX 6039 in Fairview yard, Halifax, Oct 2003

These aren’t great photos as they were taken from public property with our 1 (!) megapixel Sony camcorder.

Notice the other units – “Operation Lifesaver” IC 6204 and HLCX 6039. Almost 18 years later, IC 6204 is a hump yard locomotive here in Winnipeg!

That was a good find back in 2003. Too bad I wasn’t blogging back then! 😉

2 thoughts on “Glimpses of the Huron Central”

  1. I have seen a number of G&W units over the years but never a HC unit. Having come across many inactive yards, I do appreciate your effort. It’s sometimes a lonely pursuit when you attempt to capture shortlines.

    • Hi Michael, thanks for commenting. A lot of people don’t like the uniformity of the G&W paint scheme, but I haven’t seen enough of them to be bored by them yet!

      I agree, it’s a lonely and sometimes fruitless pursuit to photograph shortlines.

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