Jun 20, 2018

From Godfrey through to Hinchinbrooke
She travels up the line;
As Tichborne eases past her
She gets the highball sign.
The fireman pours the coal on,
The hogger tells his crew
That a green light at Oconto
Will put them right on through.


This verse from “Ballad of the K&P,” written by Bill Easton and sung to the tune of “Wabash Cannonball,” describes a Kingston & Pembroke train headed north through Tichborne, to Oconto and Sharbot Lake. The photo above shows the engineer’s view of the grade crossing at Tichborne, where the steam engine has turned west onto the main CPR line to pick up coal at the coaling tower, visible in the background. (The picture was taken by David Page in 1956.)


Cyclists and ATVers will soon be able to sing the “Ballad of the K&P” as they pass the same landmarks along the K&P Trail, although the coaling tower disappeared when diesels replaced steam engines.


It’s surprising how many songs there are about trains, whether they are real trains (“City of New Orleans” and “Orange Blossom Special”) or fictional trains like the “Wabash Cannonball,” or just trains as a metaphor for life’s journey (“500 Miles” and “Steel Rail Blues”).


Many of the great songs about railroading will be sung beside the track in Sharbot Lake’s Railway Heritage Park at “CabooseFest” on Saturday, June 30, between 11a.m. and 2p.m. Former members of the Feral Five will reunite as “The Boxcar Boys” to perform a set of train songs and will also accompany local teacher and singer Kora Kamps, whose outstanding voice will be showcased in one of her first performances in the area.


Headliners at CabooseFest will be songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire Shawn McCullough, and 16-year-old fiddler and step dancer Jessica Wedden. Originally from Parham, Shawn McCullough was nominated for Guitarist of the Year by the Canadian Country Music Association, and he rocked The Crossing Pub in Sharbot Lake in early June. Jessica Wedden was a Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee for Young Entertainer of the Year, and recently opened for Juno-winning fiddler Ashley MacIsaac. It’s a safe bet she will play “Orange Blossom Special” at CabooseFest.


The event on June 30 will also feature a huge display of Kingston & Pembroke Railway history, assembled by Steven Manders, author of “The First Spike.” There will be activities for children, and a barbecue lunch for sale by the Lions Club, with proceeds going to the Food Bank.


The schedule of performances is:

11:00 – 11:30a.m. — The Boxcar Boys
(Jim MacPherson, Dennis Larocque, Dave Limber and Gary Giller)
11:30 – 12 Noon — Kora Kamps and Friends
12:15 – 12:45p.m. — Jessica Wedden
1:00 – 1:45p.m. — Shawn McCullough


CabooseFest is presented by the Central Frontenac Railway Heritage Society, who will have memberships available for $10 (or $20 for a family), and the performances are supported by Blue Skies in the Community. Admission is free, and everybody is invited to bring a blanket or lawn chair.

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