Thursday, June 4, 2015


I just received an amazing gift.
It's a labour of love by Carl Riff of Hamilton, Ont. Carl has created the "The Wabash Canadian Diary" in which he has gleaned tidbits of history from1872 through to 1943 from various newspapers and other sources.

It's an impressive tome. Some 500 pages of really neat history. I now have a whole new appreciation of the operation that once was running across Southwestern Ontario.
Here's a few morsels for you;
Lots of wrecks in the early days. On average a collision or derailment ever 6 months.
A couple of circus trains a year for the first few decades.
Jan 18, 1926. 38 trains, 2000 freight cars handled in 24 hours
Feb 20, 1926 The Peek-Aboo Burlesque Troupe traveled over the Wabash.
Mar 24, 1926 The Wabash moves 90,000 live chickens in one train comprising 21 special chicken cars. (Oh the odour!)
Silk trains! A couple a year headed for New York.
Aug 26, 1926 The Wabash will handle a special 13 car silk train. Consignment worth several million dollars.
Aug 30, 1926 Another silk train of 14 cars was handled over the Wabash.
Mar 13, 1929 The Wabash ran 50 trains, 2609 cars.
Sept 16, 1929  A Wabash record! The longest freight train ever handled on the local division of the Wabash left the yards Monday morning for Windsor hauled by engine #2458. The train was 122 cars and over a mile in length.
Apr 1 1935 There are plans to alter the local run between St Thomas and Jarvis daily, so the plan is to build a wye at Jarvis.
Apr 26, 1935 The new Jarvis run to start Monday and operate daily. The Jarvis to Fort Erie run will be made on alternate days.
Jan 29, 1937 The biggest day on the Wabash in 6 years. There were 41 trains, 1780 cars, 86 carloads of Fords and train #91 ran in 8 sections.

This is an enormous resource and it will take me quite some time to go through it all. I've already had to rethink many things that I thought were happening on this line, and no doubt there will be more questions raised as new facts emerge.
I can't thank Carl enough for his generosity in sharing this with me. The only down side is that I'm sorely tempted to model the roaring '20s now. Hopefully I'll get over that.

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