Hyde Park: SW Ontario Gem

CPR C424 #4234 and a 5000 series SD40 forward a Norfolk & Western roadrailer train east towards Buffalo. (R. Craig photo)

Southwestern Ontario in the 1960s, 70s and 80s provided plenty of good train watching, but was not apt to appear on a list of top 75 or 100 North America's hot spots. One of the premier locations was Hyde Park about 15 minutes west of downtown London; many local fans knew it better as Lobo Siding (on the Canadian Pacific). Prior to the creation of VIA Rail, the Canadian National and CP provided most of the traffic, which was upwards of 45 to 50 freight and passenger trains daily. Additionally, the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) had trackage rights on the CP and ran two daily freights between Detroit and St. Thomas, Ontario. On weekends during the 1980s, it is was common for the CN to "borrow" Government of Ontario (GO) Transit locomotives and commuter train sets. Perhaps, the real beauty of Hyde Park train watching were the cab units which hauled passengers, both GMDD built (General Motors Diesel Division) and MLW built (Montreal Locomotive Works, an Alco subsidiary).

Unquestionably, the most popular vantage point to watch the action was the old wooden bridge that carried Denfield Road over the CN and CP rails which were only 20 yards apart and ran parallel for a quarter of a mile. A second bridge, 1/2 mile west, spanned the 2-track CN main. while the CP ran on a slight uphill grade approximately 100 yards north of the CN.

Hyde Park was predominantly a rural community with some working farms. Rail traffic during the daylight hours was plentiful and diverse. Additionally. the GMDD Locomotive plant was located on the east-side of London, thus it was common to see new GM locomotives rolling west to the U.S., enroute to their future owners. Although urban development has spread outward from the center of London since the mid-1980s, the area around Lobo siding has retained lots of its original character.

Please join us as we revisit Hyde Park "back in the day."

New: 1 June 2019


Photo Exhibits

The "Inter-city Limited, a CN/GTW train between Chicago and Montreal, is just minutes from the next station stop in downtown London on 19 January 1972. Built in 1959. FPA4 cab units, such as #6764, will be common sights on this line for another 17 years. (R. Craig photo)

CP SD40 #5630 and a big M630 #4563 pull a manifest train east towards Detroit, Michigan on 23 October 1988, for hand-off to the C&O. CP's line between London and Windsor (Detroit) is freight only; the demise of passenger service (RDCs) came in 1971. (R. Craig photo)

A pair of GTW GP9s sandwich one from CN (note dynamic brake blister) and lead a Toronto to Chicago general manifest on 17 January 1974. GTW run-through power was quite commonplace. (R. Craig photo)

Two GTW GP9 "Torpedo Boats" appear to be leading a late-running "LaSalle" (Toronto to Chicago) passenger train. The daily passnger service employs heavy-weight cars and runs via Sarnia/Port Huron. (R. Craig photo)

The C&O's St. Thomas - Detroit manifest heads west for Windsor and the entrance to the Detroit River Tunnel. GP30s & U25Bs were common sights on this afternoon train.(Dave Burroughs photo, Sept. 1967)

On temporary loan, GO Transit #906 leads a late morning CN Train east towards downtown London. The APCU was built originally for the Ontario Northland as FP7 #1511 to work ONR's Toronto - Thunder Bay passenger service. (R. Craig photo)

It is 31 March 1989, and the last day VIA FPAs can lead passenger trains in Canada. An overcast sky and very light drizzle only add to the melancholy mood. VIA Train #83 w/b passes with a a pair of Montreal beauties on the point. Two GMDD-built cab units lead e/b train #76.(R. Craig photo)

VIA Rail, during the 1990s and 2000s, applied custom vinyl body wraps and paint schemes to several F40PH-2s built by General Motors Diesel. These specially attired passenger-hauling locomotives sported a wide range of product and service advertising, along with community-support messages. The 6411 is seen here in OLS livery. (R. Craig photo)

A 2000-hp M420 #2512 teams with a GP9 to deliver a general manifest to Sarnia, Ontario. The M420 was one of eighty units built between 1973 and 1976 by Montreal Locomotive Works for the CN. (R. Craig photo, 23 December 1973)

Twenty Bombardier HR616s (High Reliability six-axle, 16 cylinders) of 1982 were the last freight units built at the Montreal Locomotive plant which had produced steam engines since 1890s. (R. Craig photo, 24 March 1993)

The CPR had a sizable fleet of M636s that were built during 1969 and 1970 by Montreal Locomotive Works. The #4702 leads manifest train 904. (R. Craig photo)

A pair of SD40s from the SOO line glide down the escarpment which leads in to London and the CP (yard on Quellette Street). The train is CP's eastbound 904 .(R. Craig photo)

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