Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Southwest Manitoba Elevator Trip, Part 5 - The Bottom Left Corner

Back in August 2014 I took two days (Aug 8-9) to photography every grain elevator in southwest Manitoba. Here's part 1 and part 2 and part 3 and part 4.

After taking a lot of time to take in Elva's two grain elevators, I carried on to complete the southwest corner of Manitoba. First up...


The town of Pierson has two grain elevators, an ex Manitoba Pool elevator and a Paterson elevator. Both are now owned by Paterson and are in operation.

The Paterson elevator has that characteristic square top that seems to grace most Patersons. You can see that bins were added on both sides for additional storage.

There is civic pride in many of these Prairie towns.

The former Manitoba Pool elevator has a small Paterson logo on it.

Check out the cool Paterson car by this elevator!

The elevator manager came out and we had a talk for a few minutes. He had a lot of pride in his elevators! Paterson is investing some money in repairs to their elevators to keep them going, which is good to hear.

Here's a view of Pierson from the west side. Pierson is on the CP Estevan subdivision.

After Pierson, I headed south to the most southwest grain elevator in Manitoba.


There is a single surviving elevator in Lyleton, the former Manitoba Pool elevator. Here it is with a grain truck in the foreground. Note the annex doesn't match the elevator... there must be a story there.

The cupola has a bit of a lean to it.

The office has an interesting addition.

I'm not talking about the satellite dish to the right. Note the big pipe running from the office roof to the driveway roof. I guess this was an addition to provide some heating to the driveway! I'm told it's actually for dust collection and draws the dust from the driveway into a collection system beside the office.

Speaking of the driveway, I took a peek (NOT a "peak" - sheesh) through the open door.

The town of Lyleton has the usual closed stores along the main street. This looks like it was a garage.
Note the dead car behind it.

Lyleton was the terminus of the CP Lyleton subdivision. Lyleton, Coulter and Cameron lost their rail service in 1976 due to a washout between Dalny and Coulter.

So that was Lyleton.


I admit, I had a hard time finding this one. Apparently I had the wrong GPS coordinates. I had to call my father-in-law to look it up on my Manitoba grain elevator map. Once I drew close to the coordinates he gave me, I spotted it and it was all good.

It's hard to believe there was ever a town here. Maybe there wasn't... I've only seen references to "Cameron Siding". The nearest house was barely in sight. I drove up a road leading to one of the many oil wells around.

It was great to see another Lake of the Woods elevator.

It doesn't seem to be in use. I didn't get close to it because I didn't want to tromp across someone's field.

Check out the other name on the elevator!

Five Roses Flour was a brand of the Lake of the Woods company, much like Royal Household was an Ogilvie brand and Purity was a Western Canada Flour Mills brand.

You can see the shadows were getting long, so it was time to get to the final town of the night.


It was getting pretty close to dark by the time I arrived in Melita. The town was bustling with Bakken oil business and I had a hard time finding a place to stay. I called around and ended up at a brand-new hotel in town, the Western Star All-Suites. It was more hotel than I wanted. When I was packing the car, I was prepared to sleep in my car, but after a long day's photography in the heat, I was feeling pretty gross and sweaty and desperately wanted to shower, so I coughed up the cash and booked a room.

The above photo shows the two elevators in Melita. The nearest is an ex-Manitoba Pool elevator and the farthest is ex-UGG. Both closed on July 31 2000, 5 days after the concrete Elva elevator opened. They were owned by Tilbury Farm and Trucking in 2008 and presumably still are. The UGG elevator got a new roof in February 2005. Wayne Tilbury was quoted in an article on the spring 2011 flood and the Melita motel was submerged. It is still out of service.

Here's a couple of views of the ex-Manitoba Pool elevator.

You can see the shadows were getting long.

Now the ex UGG elevator. This photo was actually taken on the 9th so it is better lit than my other photos in town.

Note the plane buzzing around the elevator. There was some kind of summer fair going on and this crop duster was flying around at an alarmingly low altitude. The plane was flying lower than the tops of the elevators, a bit too low in town if you ask me!

Melita has a caboose in town, oddly ex-CN 79256. I say "oddly" because CN never went through Melita.. just the CP Estevan subdivision, as it still does.

Melita also has a giant banana. Yes, you read that right.

Apparently this was installed in 2010 to represent Melita's location in the so-called Banana Belt of Manitoba, the southern "warm" section.

I hit the sack shortly before midnight, and I was just about asleep when a train rolled by. I took this photo of the oil train out of my hotel window before going back to bed.

In part 6... Medora, Napinka, Tilston and beyond. It's hard to believe the 5 posts to date were from just one (long) day.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Southwest Manitoba Elevator Trip, Part 4 - Able Was I Ere I Saw Elva

Back in August 2014 I took two days (Aug 8-9) to photograph every grain elevator in southwest Manitoba. Here's part 1 and part 2 and part 3.

In part 3 I followed the former CP Lyleton subdivision to photograph grain elevators at Deloraine, Waskada, Dalny and Coulter. Since I was ahead of schedule, I deviated from my trip plan to visit Elva... home of probably the oldest grain elevator in Manitoba.

On my way there, I saw the modern Cargill grain elevator outside of Elva. This monstrosity can hold 24,500 tonnes of grain. It was built by Agricore in 2000 and purchased by Cargill in 2007 and recently expanded to its present capacity.

I hope you noticed the locomotive there!
CRGX 573 is an SD38-3, originally a Louisville and Nashville SD40 built in 1971. It's a sharp looking engine!

Elva received rail service in 1892 and was initially served by a portable train station until a permanent station was built in the early 1920s. Apparently it was closed in 1950 and moved to Melita, where it is a private residence today.

Elva initially had a water tank and coal dock but the local water was unsuitable. It had a stock yard until it was demolished in 1962, and the loading platform and passing track were removed in 1964. Today Elva can watch the CP trains roll by on the CP Estevan subdivision but there is no siding in town.

Elva never had more than about 150 people. By the 1960s it was in decline and in 1974 the school was closed, usually the death-knell of Prairie towns. The general store and post office closed in 1980. In 1982 the population of Elva was 43 and I dare say it is less today. Thanks to Our First Century - Town of Melita and Municipality of Arthur for most of this information.

Elva currently has two grain elevators, a Lake of the Woods elevator and a United Grain Growers elevator. I love that Lake of the Woods elevator.

This is an elevator with a lot of character! It is thought to be the oldest grain elevator in Canada, having been built sometime between 1892 and 1899.

Note the distant Cargill elevator.

The UGG elevator looks .. not bad on this side.

However, a look at the far side reveals a different story.

The gaping holes in the elevator don't bode well for this old sentinel.

One last look at the Lake of the Woods elevator before moving on..

In part 5 we finish our tour of the former CP Lyleton subdivison by visiting Cameron and Lyleton, and also visit Pierson before tying up in Melita for the night.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

An NB Southern Chase

I was staying in Saint John NB Thursday evening. I awoke Friday morning (Dec 12) at 8 am and checked my email / Google+ / Facebook and found a post in the RailsNB Facebook group from Brian Barchard reporting an NBSR eastbound freight train through Harvey at 07:25. I did some mental calculations and figured they couldn't cover the 40+ miles to Welsford until 08:30 at the earliest. I grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and headed out. My intention was to follow the NB Southern line all the way until I stumbled across the train. On my way out of Saint John I saw these two units at Island Yard..

I passed the Ponderosa Yard at Dever Road in Saint John but nothing was going on. Onwards!

I passed through foggy Grand Bay-Westfield without any sign of trains. As I approached Welsford I heard the EOT squawk* on my scanner just as I came to Aikins Lane/Sand Hopper Road and saw white tank cars going east. Time to turn around!

I decided to get them at Brittain Road first. I got there about 2 minutes ahead of the train. Looking at the bright(er) overcast sky and the dark ground, I set the exposure compensation on my camera to -2/3 of a stop. I do that in these situations to prevent the sky from blowing out when the camera meters the ground. I also had the shutter speed at 1/250s because of the low light. Normally I'd prefer 1/400 or faster but it wasn't possible given the available light. It turned out OK.

The consist was NBSR 6315, HLCX 6304, NBSR 6318, GMTX 2226 and GMTX 2233.

Next I was determined to get the overhead shot at Westfield Beach. I parked at the mailboxes and ran like heck up the bridge to get into position. Seconds later the headlights were visible as the train came around the bend.

Detail roof shot, anyone?

I knew I would be playing catch up so I drove through Westfield-Grand Bay. I wanted the curve shot at Milligan Road and arrived just in time. Part of railfanning is choosing your opportunities!

You can see there was some fog...

I grabbed a quick side-of-road shot as the train passed through Grand Bay.

Since I had an overhead shot I felt no need to get the overhead shot by the Co-Op, and the train was there first anyway. I had no real idea of what I wanted next except that I wanted the bridge shot just before Gault Road. I stopped to take this photo at Ketepec Road. The engineer really loved that horn and 6315 has a very loud horn!

Here's the bridge shot I wanted.

As you can see it was raining by this time, but whatever... The nice thing about a heavily overcast day like this is that you can shoot from any direction and the light is pretty much the same! I had to do some serious editing to lighten the pond and engines enough to be seen, yet not blow out the bright sky.

I went to the overpass to shoot them coming into the yard. "Huff and Puff" were working the west end.

These are NB Southern's two SW1200 locomotives.

The eastbound freight stopped for a while. I am not sure why but there was some chatter about a freight car.

Eventually they got started again.. very slowly. I imagine the rails were quite slippery with the rain and it was hard to get started up the grade into the yard. The engines sounded great and the sanders were doing their thing.
It's been a very long time since I chased an NB Southern train! Thanks to Brian for the heads up and the rest of the RailsNB group for all the information they provide.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Claus Conspiracy

There's a rumour afoot that Santa Claus, that benevolent supplier of presents to children worldwide, doesn't just use his reindeer-powered sled to deliver presents. One man - Craig Waarheid - is convinced the jolly old elf gets help from a huge, diesel-powered entity.

None other than...

CSX is declining to comment, via this Facebook post.

Post by CSX.

The company did email me to say that "CSX can confirm that Craig previously worked at CSX but is no longer employed by our company. At this time, we are releasing as much information as possible via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram regarding Craig’s suspicions about CSX working with Santa Claus."

But wait! Now there's a trailer that promises to reveal more about this long-running, horsepower-enriched holiday conspiracy.

Visit The Claus Conspiracy to learn more.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Southwest Manitoba Elevator Trip, Part 3 - All Manitoba Pool All The Time

Back in August 2014 I took two days (Aug 8-9) to photograph every grain elevator in southwest Manitoba. Here's part 1 and part 2.

In part 2 we covered three towns, Killarney, Ninga and Boissevain - a short distance but a lot of elevators!

From Boissevain I carried on to Deloraine to view a series of ex-Manitoba Pool elevators.


The Deloraine grain elevator, west of town, is owned by Nestibo Agra and apparently used to process sunflowers and other plants. I didn't get very close as it is clearly private property and in use.

You can see where the Manitoba Pool roundel was on the side, above the name.

This elevator has two annexes, one on each side.

Deloraine is mile 89.9 on the CP Napinka subdivision. I don't know if this elevator is still served by rail or not. In downtown Deloraine there are several tracks, unusual for a small town like this...

...until you realize that Deloraine was a rail hub of sorts in the past. The former CP Lyleton subdivision started here until it was abandoned in 1996. Also, Deloraine was served by the CN Wakopa subdivison until 1961, which as I mentioned in part 1 also served Lena and Holmfield.

Next up...


The Waskada grain elevator is right smack in the middle of town. You can tell who last owned this elevator...

You may know that Agricore was the successor to the Manitoba Pool Elevators, and was formed by the merger of MPE and the Alberta Wheat Pool in 1998.

It was not clear to me whether this elevator was still in use or not.

By this time I had really entered Bakken shale oil country. Oil wells were everywhere and there were lots of construction workers around. Every little hotel and rooming place had opened up and were advertising, and I saw an engineering company had taken an old house in Waskada to use as their office building.

These were outside Boissevain... and were a common sight in the "bottom left" corner of Manitoba.

Next up...


At first I wasn't sure I had the right place, but I double checked my GPS coordinates and this was it. The Dalny grain elevator (labeled "MAN. POOL") is in the middle of a field, surrounded by canola and oil wells. I saw no evidence that there ever was a town here.

According to "Rapid City: Our Past for the Future" Dalny originally had a Lake of the Woods elevator.

Dalny was also on the CP Lyleton subdivision.

After taking the requisite photos, I moved on.. until a look back showed this scene.

I love canola.

Next up on the Lyleton subdivision:


As you can see, it is labeled for McKinney Farms.

I think the annex has developed a bit of a lean.

Coulter is a quiet and tiny town. The elevator has seen better days and it doesn't look like it is in use any more.

If you refer to my trip plan at the top of part 1 of this series, I was scheduled to drive from Coulter to Cameron. However, I diverted from this plan. I was running ahead of schedule all day. I was scheduled to leave Coulter at 18:56 but I took my last photo there at 17:13, a full hour and a half ahead of schedule. I decided to knock Elva off the list while I was in the area, rather than have to double back from Melita next morning.

I'll tackle Elva in the next post, as it was quite a place to visit, certainly one of my favourites from this trip. Here's a little teaser photo.

Thanks for reading!

PS I was thinking about my blog a few days ago and I realized I might have the longest-running railway blog in the world. I started blogging in July 2005 and here's my first post. What do you think? :)