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Welcome to the blog of Ian Wilson, author of the award-winning Canadian Branchline series, the King's Highways & Steam Trains series, and the Angus Wolfe adventures series.

A picture for you from September 23, 1995

October 30, 2017

Some 22 years ago this autumn, I ventured up the CNR’s Owen Sound Subdivision, camera in hand. The object was to click some atmospheric shots to inspire scratchbuilt model projects in HO scale.

My travels took me to Chesley, between Palmerston and Owen Sound. There, I found the mainline still in place—barely—but little in the way of secondary tracks or structures. I shudder to think of what the place looks like now.

Anyhow, there was a remnant of the steam era in place—the CNR freight shed. On September 23, 1995, the building looked pretty much the same as it had in the 1950s.

David P. Morgan once said, “The train only tarried 20 minutes to a half hour... then all too soon was moving off... the bystanders vanished, the depot went back to sleep, the rails became still and empty.

“When the train left, the fun paled.”

That pretty much sums up the railway branchline territory in Ontario. Whether we visit any of those points in the 1960s (when everything remained but the steam locomotives), on September 23, 1995 at Chesley (when nothing remained but the rails and the occasional derelict structure), or today at Harriston Junction (when nothing remains), it’s the same.

“When the train left, the fun paled.”

That’s where Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! comes to the rescue. Between the pages of this upcoming volume, the train is there.

Or take the cover picture, for instance. Where else can you go today and behold two branchline steam-powered trains meeting—on tracks which no longer exist?

You’ll want to avoid a painful experience I’ve had all too many times, though. Be careful as you turn the glossy pages of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! For the images and captions will promise something wondrous to you.

Like this picture by Don Wood, of CNR Mogul 86 switching boxcars on the freight shed track at Chesley on July 24, 1957—the subject of the 1995 photograph but with a difference.

The train is there.

Getting back to your avoiding my painful experiences... You know—and I know—that the world depicted in the 1957 photographs of Messrs. Rehor, Wood and Harwood is no more. It’s gone.

But that won’t stop you from wanting those scenes to exist. And, in an irrational way, believing they still do. At least until you set your eyes on the scenes in their present-day configurations.

And, dear reader, you could indeed traipse out to Chesley or Harriston or Owen Sound or Hanover. You could visit any of the dozens upon dozens of steam-era stations and terminals depicted in Speed Graphics and Steam 1957!

And if you do, you’ll feel sadness anew every time. For, part of you will have expected the world of 1957 to still be a reality. Such is the power of the printed page of a book that whisks you away on the steam railfan’s adventure of a lifetime.

So, save yourself the trouble and the heartache. You needn’t—and can’t—change the present-day world into its 1957 counterpart. But that job will be done for you. The only things you’ll need are a copy of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! and your imagination.

Between the covers of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! all things will be possible. The fun will be restored. The train will be back.

If you haven’t already, place your advance order (at a 20% discount) for your copy of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! You will then be assured of an event in early May 2018. That marvellous day, your postal carrier will hand you a package. You’ll already know what it contains—and you’ll set everything else aside to go to that special relaxing place where you peruse your favourite books.

And, on that special day for you in early May 2018, the fun will have returned.

The train will be back.

PS—I’ve added fresh pictures to the overview of the images to be presented in Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! You can find them at http://www.ianwilsonauthor.com/canadianbranchline/speedgraphics1957. Together, they portray a chronological taste of the world to be contained within the hard covers.

 

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