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Across the bridge at Washademoak

July 25, 2021

Across the bridge at Washademoak

Wagner and Harwood have one scene in mind, and they don’t mind navigating a broken road to reach it.

That is the bridge over the Washademoak River at mileage 69.5, half a mile shy of Cody station. The pile-supported span, only 17 feet above sea level, is one of the principal reasons for the survival of the trio of CPR 4-4-0s on the eastern half of the Minto Subdivision.

Engine 144 eases downgrade onto the steel lattice portion of the span at a reduced speed while we observe from the opposite side of the river. As the locomotive passes the centre point of the main bridge, the assembly rocks on the pivot point. At the far end of the crossing, number 144 traverses a girder swing span, which facilitates waterborne traffic on the river.

Unlike the restrictive bridge structure that the CPR strengthened at Pennlyn to accommodate coal traffic, there is no economic reason for the railway to fortify the span at mileage 69.5. Instead, the railway has chosen to replace their lightest steam power with a diminutive internal combustion creature—an HS-5c class 44-ton diesel-hydraulic locomotive. That ignoble beast will be here scarcely two months from now.

Mother Nature will take care of this bridge once and for all on April 2, 1962. Ice damage that day will end service between here and Norton, with the last train to polish the rails having passed through on March 31, 1962.

Clear of the drawbridge, engine 144 quickens her pace for the ascent up the grade from here to Cody, then a water stop at the Perry tank.

[So reads pages 32-33 of the manuscript for Speed Graphics and Steam 1959! If you would like to order this upcoming title—or enjoy browsing all the videos we’ve released describing it—please visit the Speed Graphics and Steam 1959! page].

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