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In response to Arnold's sublime 1998 take on Hawk Junction, here is a contemporary view. The difference is stark.For a few months now, word has been going around that Canadian National's former Algoma Central line is on borrowed time. Today, a sobering visit to Hawk Junction confirmed the rumours -- the old Algoma Central is very much a railway on its death throes. According to the local section-men and veteran train crew aboard Hawk Jct. to Hearst local 571, traffic on the line has dwindled drastically. These days, the twice-weekly local finds the majority of its traffic between the ONR at Hearst and the CN mainline at Oba. Franz, on the other hand, is infrequently serviced with only one or two cars received/dropped-off a month. Worse yet, the south-end of the line from Hawk to Sault Ste. Marie hasn't seen the passage of a revenue freight train since April 15th. Despite these veteran railroaders doing their best to keep the mood upbeat, the air of melancholy was undeniable. These men, many of which whom have been with the company for 30 + years, are witnessing their seniority, railway, and ultimately their livelihood changing in-front of their eyes. I couldn't help but feel a knot in the pit of my stomach as these men, who have worked on this railroad since the ACR days, described their frustrations and anxieties with being bumped to the bottom of the seniority list, and essentially, forgotten. Times are indeed tough on the old Algoma Central Railway. For a brief moment, though, former glories were rekindled as EMD SD70M-2 8830 notched out of Hawk Junction with sixteen loaded log cars -- supposedly, the first time a train has departed Hawk with loads in months. While the future of the ACR remains uncertain, CN will continue to rumble along the Tracks of The Black Bear a few times a week serving communities in Northern Ontario.
Copyright Notice: This image ©Ryan Gaynor all rights reserved.



Caption: In response to Arnold's sublime 1998 take on Hawk Junction, here is a contemporary view. The difference is stark. For a few months now, word has been going around that Canadian National's former Algoma Central line is on borrowed time. On October 6th, a sobering visit to Hawk Junction confirmed the rumours -- the old Algoma Central is very much a railway on its death throes. According to the local section-men and veteran train crew aboard Hawk Jct. to Hearst local 571, traffic on the line has dwindled drastically. These days, the twice-weekly local finds the majority of its traffic between the ONR at Hearst and the CN mainline at Oba. Franz, on the other hand, is infrequently serviced with only one or two cars received/dropped-off a month. Worse yet, the south-end of the line from Hawk to Sault Ste. Marie hasn't seen the passage of a revenue freight train since April 15th. Despite these veteran railroaders doing their best to keep the mood upbeat, the air of melancholy was undeniable. These men, many of which whom have been with the company for 30 + years, are witnessing their seniority, railway, and ultimately their livelihood changing in-front of their eyes. I couldn't help but feel a knot in the pit of my stomach as these men, who have worked on this railroad since the ACR days, described their frustrations and anxieties with being bumped to the bottom of the seniority list, and essentially, forgotten. Times are indeed tough on the old Algoma Central Railway. For a brief moment, though, former glories were rekindled as EMD SD70M-2 8830 notched out of Hawk Junction with sixteen loaded log cars -- supposedly, the first time a train has departed Hawk with loads in months. While the future of the ACR remains uncertain, CN will continue to rumble along the Tracks of The Black Bear a few times a week serving communities in Northern Ontario.

Photographer:
Ryan Gaynor [154] (more) (contact)
Date: 10/06/2020 (search)
Railway: Canadian National (search)
Reporting Marks: CN 8830 (search)
Train Symbol: CN 571 (search)
Subdivision/SNS: Hawk Junction, CN SOO Subdivision (search)
City/Town: Hawk Junction (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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Photo ID: 42857

Map courtesy of Open Street Map

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5 Comments
  1. Conditions, as you stated, Ryan, are terrible. I looked a the “Main Business Section” of Hawk, across from the station when there last September; and there is nothing left by a dilapidated old Hotel. Restaurant, gas station and stores all gone. Oh, to have seen this area in the ’90s. What a difference. What a shame.

  2. Can anybody comment on where all the traffic went? Did the forest industry just dry up or did CN actively discourage any business? Or both? I’m trying to figure if there is any business case to keep the line running. I hope so….

  3. The closing of the Wawa sinter plant in 1998 was a crushing blow. It resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs as well as the Michipicoten Sub being shut down and then taken up. The Strandboard plant a few miles S of Hawk Jct went under. That was a local freight eliminated. Passenger trains gone. It seems like one thing after another.

  4. Dave, from speaking with a few CN/ACR guys, my understanding is that the traffic largely still exists but is simply being routed differently now. For example, 573′s traffic (the former Soo to Hawk Jct. train) is now routed through the States as opposed to over the ACR (CN SOO Subdivision). Supposedly CP wouldn’t lift interchange cars from Franz in a timely manner and what would typically take only a couple of days to bring cars to Thunder Bay and other places ended up taking much longer. Eventually, CN had enough and figured it was faster to go all the way around the Great Lakes instead. As for on-line traffic, I don’t think there’s much (if any) between Odena and Hawk Junction. Word has it there’s a once-a-week local based out of Sault Ste. Marie that works a logging industry at Odena. Things seem to be a little better on the north end with 571/572 averaging 30-40 cars a trip between Hearst and Oba on their twice-weekly run. Again, this is only an anecdotal report and not gospel so take from it what you will, but it does not sound like there’s much keeping (or much to keep) the old ACR alive. It’s sad no matter how you look at it.

  5. So that explains the loss of the old #9 and #10 daily as I knew them. Thanks, Ryan.

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