January 1924, No. 311 Canadian Railway and Marine World (Toronto) Page 13, col. 1

Longlac-Nakina cutoff, Canadian National Railways, completed.

The Canadian National's cutoff between Longlac, Ont., on the Canadian Northern main line from Montréal to Winnipeg, 480.7 miles northwest of North Bay, and Nakina, on the National Transcontinental, 272.25 miles west of Cochrane, has been completed. From the time when the Canadian Northern Ontario and National Transcontinental Rys. were built, the possibly of this connecting short line had been discussed, and W. F. Tye, formerly Chief Engineer, Canadian Pacific Ry, indicated its advantages in a paper on Canada's railway problem and its solution, published in Canadian Railway and Marine World for Feb. 1917. Under D. B. Hanna's management of the Canadian National, prior to the Grand Trunk's absorption in the system, the project of building the cutoff was seriously considered, S. J. Hungerford, then Vice President, Operation and Maintenance, having developed detailed figures to show the savings to be effected. The difficulties, chiefly financial, facing the management at that time, however, were too great to permit of construction beginning at once. The original reconnaissance survey for the connection was made in 1917, by H. K. Wicksteed, then Chief Engineer of Surveys, Canadian Northern Ry., and his assistant, H. T. Morrison. In 1919, Mr. Morrison made trial and location surveys under Mr. Wicksteed's direction, and in 1922, as Locating Engineer, Canadian National Rys., he made a revised location survey under direction of H. T. Hazen, Chief Engineer, Canadian Northern Lines east of Port Arthur.

Longlac-Nakina cut-off in relation to previously existing lines.

The principal objects in building the cutoff, which is 29.7 miles long, were to effect a saving in distance over all previously existing routes between east and west, and to do away with the necessity of dropping down from the height of land to Lake Superior level and then rising again to Winnipeg. Also, the Longlac-Nakina line will enable Canadian National management, if considered desirable, to discontinue the operation of passenger trains over the T. & N.P. between North Bay and Cochrane. The length of the various routes affected by the cutoff's construction are as follows:

Canadian National Rys.—Toronto to Winnipeg— Miles
Via Capreol and Port Arthur 1309.0
Via North Bay and Cochrane 1256.6
Via Capreol and Longlac cutoff 1207.0
Canadian Pacific Ry.—Toronto to Winnipeg— 1232.4
Canadian National Rys.—Montréal to Winnipeg—
Via Capreol and Port Arthur 1459.2
Via North Bay and Cochrane 1372.2
Hervey Jct. and N.T.Ry. 1387.5
Via Longlac cutoff 1357.1
Canadian Pacific Ry.—Montréal to Winnipeg, via M. & O. short line 1411.6
Canadian National Rys.—Québec to Port Arthur—
Via Joilette, Ottawa and Capreol 1172.0
Via N.T.R., Longlac cutoff and C.N.R. 1073.2
Canadian Pacific Ry.—Québec to Port Arthur vai St. Martin's Junction and Hull 1139.4

The foregoing figures show that the cutoff's use shortens the distance between points in eastern Canada, and Winnipeg, by 102 miles, and between Québec and Port Arthur by 99 miles, the latter being an important factor in connection with the haulage of grain for export from the head of Lake Superior to the Atlantic seaboard. The geographical relationship of the points between which the route lengths are affected is shown by the accompanying sketch map. The large saving to be effected through avoid the long drop down to Lake Superior level and the long uphill haul back to height of land is demonstrated by the two profiles given herewith, one of the National Transcontinental between Nakina and Winnipeg, and the other of the Canadian Northern between Longlac and Winnipeg. The elevation at Longlac is 1034 ft. above sea level; at Fort William it is but 613 ft., while at Huronian, 92.9 miles west of Fort William, it is 1,571 ft. A train proceeding from Winnipeg to Longlac via the Canadian Northern would drop 958 ft. between Huronian and Fort William and would then be faced with a climb of 499 ft. to the summit (elevation 1123 ft.) 16.3 miles west of Longlac, while if it used the National Transcontinental route, this long fall and rise would be avoided.

Longlac-Nakina cut-off, Canadian National Rys.

Authority for the cutoff's construction was given by a Dominion order in council on Dec. 22, 1922, which, after setting forth the line's location, the advantage to be gained by its construction, etc., at some length, concluded as follows: After the construction of the proposed cutoff, it is estimated that there will be an annual saving of $389,200 in the movement of traffic; further, that a large increase in passenger traffic will accrue as the result of shorter schedules, which will make possible an estimated annual increase in earnings of $600,000, without any material increase in expenses. It is further observed that the total estimated cost of the work will aggregate $1,944,006, including the removal of the new terminal facilities from Grant to the new junction point, and that sufficient funds are available to provide for any expenditure up to March 31, 1923, but, that in the view of the fact that the proposed work will obligate the Government to the above mentioned expenditure, $1,944,006, it is considered that authority should be obtained before proceeding with such work. It is point out that if the work is not commenced immediately, a delay of one full season will result in the completion of the line, with consequent loss of profit; that, provided immediate authority is given to proceed with the proposed work, a great deal of preliminary work, such as making tote roads, arranging for supplies, establishing camps, clearing right-of-way, and excavating rock, can be performed advantageously during the winter, which will permit of actual construction work commencing as soon as the snow is off the ground in the spring. The Minister, therefore, on advice of the Deputy Minister of Railways and Canals, recommends that authority be given accordingly. The committee advise that the requisite authority be granted.

Government authority having been secured, no time was lost in receiving tenders for construction, and after spirited bidding (the names of the bidders being published in Canadian Railway and Marine World for Feb. 1923), the contract for the clearing, grading and bridge work was awarded to Foley Bros. and Hervey, the members of this firm being Foley Bros., St. Paul, Minn., and Brig. Gen. Chilion Hervey, D.S.O., C.E., Montréal. O. W. Swenson, Secretary-Treasurer of Foley Bros., was placed in charge for the contractors, and immediately went to the scene of the work. Preliminary work commenced on Jan. 6, 1923. Lnglac was chosen as the contractors' headquarters, and also for the Canadian National's Engineering Department staff. The first work was the construction of camps and the cutting of tote roads. A large camp was built at Longlac, and intermediate camps at miles 10, 19, and 24 from Longlac. With the letting of grading sub-contracts, smaller camps for the sub-contactors'' men quickly spring up along the line. January and February were devoted largely, in addition to right-of-way clearing, to getting in material and supplies, which were teamed in. In addition to the ordinary supplies common to any railway construction work, as food for men and horses, tools, bedding, etc., the contractors teamed in three caterpillar type Erie steam shovels, and enough coal to operate them for some months, a number of small gasoline locomotives, and 1 1/2 yd. side dump cars, and a sufficiency of narrow gauge track rails. The steam shovels and small gasoline locomotives were used only in the earth excavation, which ran heaviest between miles 19 and 26 from Longlac. This equipment was teamed in from Longlac, but with the advantage of well packed winter roads, no particular difficulty was experienced in getting them to the desired location. The end of March saw the bulk of the supplies and equipment distributed.

The heaviest rock work was between Longlac and mile 5 therefrom. It was not necessary to wait for spring to start the rock-cuts, and grading on this end was well under way early in February. Nothing could be done on the earthwork until spring, however, and the grading between miles 19 and 27 from Longlac, where the heaviest earthwork was located, did not get under way till May. Good progress was made on both rock and earthwork, and by Nov. 1 the grading was practically completed. Approximately 125,000 cu. yd. of rock and 600,000 cu. yd. of other material were handled.

The cutoff leaves the Canadian Northern main line at Longlac at just about the height of land between the Hudson Bay and Lake Superior drainage areas. To nine people out of ten, mere mention of the height of land conjures up a picture of a rugged mountain chain, with very steep slopes down which the waters run with no hesitation as to which course they are going to pursue, and through which a railway could be located only after the conquest of almost insuperable difficulties. Nothing is further from the truth, however; locating engineers join with the voayageurs of the north in testimony that a wilderness traveller may cross and recross the height of land many times and not be aware of the fact, so slight and gradual is the change in the direction of slope. Despite the proximity of the height of land in this case, no outstanding engineering difficulties were encountered. As shown by the accompanying location plan of the cutoff, curvature is light. The maximum has been restricted to 4 degrees and the maximum gradient if 0.4% in both directions. Where the cutoff leaves the Canadian Northern line, the elevation is 1,032 ft. above sea level, and at the junction with the National Transcontinental Ry. it is 1,045 ft., and the summit on the cutoff itself is 1,085 ft. On emerging from the rocking country which extends for about 5 miles north of Longlac, long stretches of spruce swamp, the clay subsoil, are encountered. The north middle portion of the territory traversed is partly sand and gravel, and at the north end the country is again swampy. The numerous creeks, rivers and lakes so characteristic of the north country did not present any outstanding difficulties to the locators, and only 3 bridges of major dimensions were necessary, these being a 100 ft. plate girder span at mile 22.9 from Longlac, at the crossing of the Kenogamisis River; a 100 ft. through plate girder span at mile 13.7, at the crossing of Devilfish Lake, and a 52 ft. 4 in. deck plate girder span at mile 28.8, at the crossing of McDonald Creek. A number of concrete culverts were necessary at different points, this work being sublet by the contractors to Isbester & Bell, who established headquarters at Longlac.

As stated above, the grading was practically completed by Nov. 1. The rock work was the last to be finished. Tracklaying did not wait for the completion of all grading, but was started from the Nakina end of Sept. 5, a Roberts tracklaying machine and about 100 men being employed. Tracklaying was also started from the Longlac end of Oct. 7; no tracklaying machine was used there, but ties were distributed throughout the night by using tea,ms, and the rails were laid, gauged and spiked on the following day, a Brownhoist crane beign used to handle them. The tracklaying proceeded from the Nakina end without interruption, but that started from the Longlac end was held up at mile 5.2 for some time waiting for the completion of a large rock-cut there. The tracklaying gangs met shortly north of this cut on Nov. 18. The track was laid with 85 lb. steel, on untreated jackpine ties, and all curves were tied-plated.

Just as the tracklaying did not await completion of grading, ballasting did not await the completion of tracklaying, but was started as soon as a few miles of track were laid from Nakina. The first pit was put in at mile 26 from Longlac, and was handled by a Marion shovel with a 2 1/2 yd. dipper. When the track was laid to mile 15 from Longlac, a second put was put in there, and a Bucyrus shovel of about equal capacity to that of the Marion shovel at mile 26 was installed. Trainfilling material only was hauled from the pit at mile 15. The pit at mile 26 supplied both trainfill material and ballast, the north 23 miles of the cutoff being ballasted with material from this pit. The south 6 miles were ballasted with material from a pit on the Canadian Northern main line, 32 miles west of Longlac. The ballast and trainfill material was handled in 30 and 40 yd. Hart cars, with the larger cars in the majority, using both and side plows. No center dumping was done. Ballasting was practically completed on Dec. 1. Tracklaying and ballasting were done by railway forces.

In connection with the building of the cutoff it was decided to remove the terminal facilities from Grant, the former divisional point on the National Transcontinental, 254.2 miles west of Cochrane, and 15.9 miles east of Nakina, to Nakina. Railway forces have completed the construction of a yard at Nakina, with capacity for about 400 cars, and of a 12-stall locomotive house of the usual arc design and concrete construction. They have also built a 65,000 gal. steel water tank, and installed an 85 ft. turntable, driven electrically, and have been some houses for employes. The coaling plant, of about 250 tons capacity, formerly at Grant, was moved to Nakina, as also were 3 double dwelling houses, all machinery from the Grand locomotive house, sash and doors, boilers, and a large quantity of brick. The Nakina yard was laid with relay rails obtained from western lines. The yard was ballasted with material hailed from Cavell pit, 14 miles west of Nakina, on the National Transcontinental main line.

The cutoff was built under the C.N.R.'s Operation and Construction Department, of which S. J. Hungerford is Vice-President, C. S. Gzowski being Chief Engineer of Construction. It was handled through the Central Region's organization, of which C. G. Bowker is General Manager; Major F. C. L. Bond, Chief Engineer; and H. T. Hazen, Assistant Chief Engineer. R. A. Baldwin, Engineer of Construction, Central Region, was in direct charge, with Capt. K. G. Polyblank as Division Engineer. The resident engineers and their territories were as follows: C.H. N. Spafford, Longlac to mile 7; H. L. Benson, mile 7 to 15; W. B. Redman, mile 15 to 22; Hector MacNeill, mile 22 to Nakina.

The cutoff has been attached to the Nipigon Division, Northern Ontario District, Central Region, under J. J. Napier, Superintendent, Hornepayne, Ont. It was first operated on Dec. 17, 1923, when a freight train ran from Longlac to Nakina. A. A. Belanger, of the Board of Railway Commissioners' Chief Engineer's staff, left Toronto on Dec. 7 on the C.N.R. business car Quinte, to inspect the line, accompanied by R. A. Baldwin, Engineer of Construction, and some other C.N.R. officers. Beginning Jan. 6, when new working timetables will be issued, all through freight trains between Winnipeg and Ontario points will be operated via the cutoff. Passenger trains 3 and 4, heretofore routed via Port Arthur, will be operated via the cutoff, and the Montréal-Vancouver passenger trains, 1 and 2, will operate via the T. & N.O.Ry. between North Bay and Cochrane as heretofore. A new train will be put on Jan. 6, between Fort William and Port Arthur, and Longlac, to make connection with no. 4 at the latter point.

Railways: C.N.Rys., C.P.Ry., T. & N.O.Ry.

Stations: Cavell, Grant, Longlac, Nakina