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“Last Stand”

OSRX 1401 & 6508 take charge of the final “Cayuga Clipper” through Belmont Road just west of Aylmer, ON. 

Today was definitely a day to go down in history, as the last revenue freight train rode the rails of the “Canada Air Line” from Tilsonburg to St Thomas today. Over the 147 years this line has existed, it has seen its fair share of operators, including CN,CP, TH&B, NW/NS, and many more. Known officially as the CN Cayuga Subdivision until 1995, it linked the once extremely busy St. Thomas (aka Railway City) with Buffalo, NY. After CN abandoned the majority of the line in ‘95, the remaining portion from St. Thomas to just east of Tilsonburg was renamed the Cayuga Spur, and only existed for industries located along the line who still requested rail service. Since then, the line has seen use from Trillium as well as OSR but as far as I know, operations became fewer and further between as customers along the line either started to leave or switch to trucks. Since the line was no longer feasible to the current Operator (OSR) the decision was made to pack it all up, with only one industry remaining on the line. For the past couple weeks, OSR has been picking up cars which have sat in sidings for years, even decades in some cases (see @boxcar_gaynor ‘s profile for pictures of some old CASCO tank cars) and dragged them out in preparation for abandonment. Although nobody knows the actual future for the line, it’s nearly impossible to be optimistic considering the stories for many of Ontario’s rail lines have been all too similar to this one. But regardless of if it is or isn’t the last train to ride these rails, I’m glad to have seen history in the making today. (Please correct me if I made any mistakes in the caption!)
Copyright Notice: This image ©Liam MacDougall all rights reserved.



Caption: “Last Stand” OSRX 1401 & 6508 take charge of the final “Cayuga Clipper” through Belmont Road just west of Aylmer, ON. Today was definitely a day to go down in history, as the last revenue freight train rode the rails of the “Canada Air Line” from Tilsonburg to St Thomas today. Over the 147 years this line has existed, it has seen its fair share of operators, including CN,CP, TH&B, NW/NS, and many more. Known officially as the CN Cayuga Subdivision until 1995, it linked the once extremely busy St. Thomas (aka Railway City) with Buffalo, NY. After CN abandoned the majority of the line in ‘95, the remaining portion from St. Thomas to just east of Tilsonburg was renamed the Cayuga Spur, and only existed for industries located along the line who still requested rail service. Since then, the line has seen use from Trillium as well as OSR but as far as I know, operations became fewer and further between as customers along the line either started to leave or switch to trucks. Since the line was no longer feasible to the current Operator (OSR) the decision was made to pack it all up, with only one industry remaining on the line. For the past couple weeks, OSR has been picking up cars which have sat in sidings for years, even decades in some cases (see @boxcar_gaynor ‘s profile for pictures of some old CASCO tank cars) and dragged them out in preparation for abandonment. Although nobody knows the actual future for the line, it’s nearly impossible to be optimistic considering the stories for many of Ontario’s rail lines have been all too similar to this one. But regardless of if it is or isn’t the last train to ride these rails, I’m glad to have seen history in the making today. (Please correct me if I made any mistakes in the caption!)

Photographer:
Liam MacDougall [71] (more) (contact)
Date: 04/30/2020 (search)
Railway: Ontario Southland (search)
Reporting Marks: OSRX 1401 (search)
Train Symbol: Unknown (search)
Subdivision/SNS: Cayuga Spur (search)
City/Town: Aylmer (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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Photo ID: 40010

Map courtesy of Open Street Map

Full size | Suncalc
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8 Comments
  1. Liam there were four customers in the end on cn: FS Partners in Courtland, Townsend lumber near Courtland , Future Transfer in Tillsonburg and IGPC Ethanol in Aylmer.

    with the CP bridge in Tillsonburg out of service in 2017 or so OSR added Adient Seating to this job as well as Internatiiomal Beam both on the CP loop line transfer (not cn) section.

  2. Thanks for the info Steve. I’ve been learning a lot about what’s left in and around the area and it’s a lot to take in!

  3. Indeed. Wait till you see a railway map from 1950 from the area. You’ll gasp at how much was once in the vicinity. 2020 just scratches the surface….

  4. So Future Transfer will no longer be serviced?

  5. The CP/OSR bridge at Tillsonburg is also out of service. Future transfer is moving their rail operations to the North end of Tillsonburg. RIP south end of Tillsonburg (F)

  6. I remember, getting back into the hobby after 2008, Both Future Transfer and IGPC were new tracks! I stopped in at both on the way home from London as I loosely modeled IGPC but never saw a train. I did however see a truckless Trillium 3582 at Future. So much is changing. That same trip I took photos of the tracks at the TH&B station in Brantford.. Those are gone too. :(

  7. To be precise, there was also transloading capabilities in Tillsonburg, in the Future Transfer property. Cars of salt were transloaded there within the last month or two.

    In terms of revenue (verse customers) the storage on the line are also worth mentioning, can be thought of as a “customer” depending on how you look at it.

  8. A good angle to catch these units as they make their way towards you. Well done Liam.

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