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Stratford on Tuesday, July 23, 1957

December 06, 2016

Yesterday, I began laying out the story and images for the second volume of King’s Highways & Steam Trains.

In filmmaking, a director starts with an “establishing shot”. It’s similar for my books of narrative nonfiction. Above, you can see the picture (by my late friend Don Wood) that greets visitors Angus and Amanda at Stratford on the morning of July 23, 1957.

Now, everything that I describe here will happen in the course of one hour—ONE HOUR!—at Stratford on the morning of Tuesday, July 23, 1957.

At 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time), diesel switcher 8498, resplendent in black with yellow trim, starts the morning yard shift. We don't see the diesel in the picture. Maybe that's appropriate.

Meanwhile, steam yard engine 7312 (which survives today in service on the Strasburg Railroad) is heading over to the “Big Shop” to start an eight-hour shift. The year 1957 will set a record for steam locomotive overhauls at Stratford. This small locomotive is fitted with a tiny tender so she can share a turntable with freshly-shopped engines. We don't see number 7312 here, but will in the pages of the upcoming book.

Down near the roundhouse, steam engine 2347 (of the “Consolidation” wheel arrangement, 2-8-0) begins a shift devoted to de-icing of refrigerator cars. That's behind the photographer.

Five minutes after the hour (can you imagine standing on the station platform watching all this—as my characters will be doing in King’s Highways & Steam Trains volume 2?), passenger train 28 arrives from Goderich. It’s pulled by steam engine 5568, a Pacific of the 4-6-2 wheel arrangement.

Not three minutes later, sister engine 5594 arrives from London with passenger train 168. That's the middle engine of the three in the picture. Readers encountered this consist a few minutes earlier in King’s Highways & Steam Trains (volume 1), at St. Marys.

At quarter past the hour, Mikado 3422 (of the 2-8-2 wheel arrangement) leaves for Fort Erie with mixed train 218. In the Don Wood picture, that train is already gone.

You can see locomotive 5568, off the Goderich train, heading for the shop track on the left. Meanwhile, heavier sister 5287, rightmost of the three locomotives, has coupled on for the run to Toronto. At 7:17 a.m., this train leaves. My characters Angus and Amanda will chase this train toward Guelph in the pages of the upcoming book.

The engine which had arrived from London, number 5594, will depart for Palmerston at half past the hour. In later volumes of King’s Highways & Steam Trains, we’ll encounter that locomotive and train on the Owen Sound line.

Yet another light Pacific, a sister engine of 5568 and 5594, will head eastward toward Guelph Junction and Galt, once train 28 gets far enough along. This local train will be a way freight, handling carload and less-than-carload (l.c.l.) shipments at various stations. That train should be on its way by 8:00 a.m.

You can experience all of this action—with commentary on what is going on behind the scenes and in the bigger picture—in volume 2 of King’s Highways & Steam Trains (due in February).

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