Thursday, May 29, 2014

The CP Carman Subdivision

Oh yes, the Carman subdivision, that runs between Carman Junction and Graysville, Manitoba.. oh, wait, you said the Canadian Pacific Railway Carman subdivision? What's that?

Well, I'm glad you asked. The CP Carman subdivision is a long-forgotten section of track that used to run between Elm Creek, Manitoba and Plum Coulee, Manitoba. This was a classic grain-hauling branch line and it served as such until it was lifted in the 1980s.

Early History

Most of this line was part of the original Midland Railway of Manitoba, and it was built from Neche, North Dakota north into Manitoba. The line crossed the border near Gretna and passed through that town and Carman on its way to Portage la Prairie. The line was built in 1906 and purchased by the Manitoba Great Northern Railway on July 1, 1909.

The line was one of three railways from the US into Manitoba, as part of James Jerome Hill's Great Northern railway empire. The others went to Winnipeg (now the CN Letellier subdivision) and The Pas via Brandon.

Apparently the line did not do well. In 1928 the centre portion between Plum Coulee and Carman was taken over by the Canadian Pacific Railway and it became the CP Carman subdivision.

The portion from Gretna to Plum Coulee and the portion from Carman to Portage la Prairie were abandoned and removed.

Elm Creek to Carman

The portion from Elm Creek to Carman was built by the Manitoba South-Western Colonization Railway Company. Well, at least it was supposed to be built by them. The MSWCRC built three lines in Manitoba:

  • a line from Rugby Junction (Winnipeg) through Elm Creek to Glenboro, most of which is today's CP Glenboro subdivision;
  • a line from Manitou to Deloraine, which was part of the CP La Riviere subdivision and is now all gone; and
  • a line from Elm Creek to Carman.

The problem is that the MSWCRC ran out of money before they reached Carman. The line reached Barnsley, roughly midway between Elm Creek and Barnsley, and for a time farmers in Carman had to haul their grain to Barnsley to load there. When the CPR took over the MSWCRC they completed the line into Carman in 1889.

In 1938

Here's how it was in the September 25th, 1938 CP Employee Timetable.
Mile Station Siding
0.0 ELM CREEK Junction with CP Glenboro subdivision 65
12.2 CARMAN 35
13.2 CN interlocked crossing (CN Carman subdivision?) -
20.2 GRAHAM 26
24.1 CN interlocked crossing (CN Miami subdivision) -
24.4 ROLAND 49
29.0 HEENAN -

Or, if you'd prefer, here's a scan of the 1938 timetable.

You can see that mixed train service was offered between Winnipeg and Gretna via trains 233 and 234, twice a week. The April 28, 1940 public timetable service shows pretty much the same information.

In 1952

In the next employee timetable I have, the 1952/04/27 CP Prairie (Manitoba) employee timetable, the mileages are the same but many of the sidings have been removed from the timetable. The mixed train was still running, though!

The next several 1950s timetables show no changes.

A great article in Canadian Rail #285 (PDF) says that the section between Carman and Kronsgart was not used since 1964.

In 1973

The April 29, 1973 timetable shows a number of changes:
  • No mixed train!
  • The sidings are back, reduced slightly in capacity, perhaps due to longer cars in use.
  • The CNR crossing at mile 24.2 is no longer interlocked.

The October 27, 1974 timetable is the same except that all sidings show "Nil".

In 1976

The Carman subdivision was downgraded to a spur by the April 25, 1976 timetable:
CARMAN SPUR Westward; Elm Creek to Carman... 15.0 miles. Rule 105 applies. MAXIMUM SPEED 15 M.P.H. PERMANENT SLOW ORDER 10 M.P.H. Carman to end of track.
The spur is still present in the October 30, 1983 timetable.

In 1984

Oddly enough, in the June 3, 1984 timetable, the Carman subdivision reappeared!
It's quite simplified, of course, but it was still there, to Carman and another 2.8 miles past it.

In 1992

The CP Carman subdivision was finally abandoned in 1992.


Barnsley grain elevators
There's not much left of the CP Carman subdivision now. The former Pool elevator in Elm Creek is on the wye that was the north end of the subdivision.

There are two grain elevators in Barnsley that were once on the Carman subdivision.

In Carman, there is a Viterra facility at the north end of town that is on a piece of the former Carman subdivision.

Plum Coulee still exists, of course, on the CP La Riviere subdivision. There is no trace of the line to Carman in the town, although it is pretty easy to trace from Google Maps.

See also


GP9Rm4108 said...

I am surprised you never mentioned that the Carman - Plum Coulee section was not built by the CPR.

Thanks again for that link on that line's history.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the information, since I have never heard of the CP Carman Subdivision.

When I saw the title, I was
like "Oh yeah, - Wait what?"