Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Wee Grain Elevator Trip

On August 4 I took a "wee" grain elevator trip as part of my 2014 photography project (you've visited, haven't you?). I only had Sunday morning and I had an errand to run, to drop off a print to the owner of the Mentmore grain elevator in thanks for him showing me around. I figured I didn't have much time so I really only planned on seeing one new-to-me elevator, in Justice, Manitoba.

I made a spreadsheet to plan my trip (of course! who wouldn't?) and here it is.

You can see I intended to take the Trans-Canada west, then north to Justice, then visit Mentmore, then revisit a few elevators on my way out. I had a dwell time of 30 minutes at Oberon because I wanted to revisit that fantastic elevator in detail, and I planned on 30 minutes at Harte to hopefully catch a train passing the elevator on the CN Rivers subdivision.

I woke up bright and early around 03:15 and hit the road a few minutes early. After passing Portage la Prairie, I noticed I was well ahead of schedule so I made a quick decision to add two more elevators to my list. There is a new Viterra elevator just north of Brandon on the Rivers subdivision, as well as the old Manitoba Pool grain elevator at Forrest. I had thought about including them in the list before but I didn't think I had enough time.

After a quick stop at the highway Esso for fuel and the local Scottish restaurant for drive-through breakfast, I headed north on highway 10. I came across the old Pool elevator in Forrest quite easily.
Forrest with a new top!?
I spent the next 15 minutes photographing the elevator. It is a bit of an odd duck in that the top has clearly been replaced / renewed while the rest of the elevator, and the annex, is quite weathered. It does appear to be maintained as it is not very overgrown and there is an open Shop-Vac in the truck bay.
Drive Through Service
Back on the road, I quickly spotted the new Viterra facility and took a few photos from the highway.
Service at.. a profit
After 17 minutes of driving, I found Justice.
Been searching for justice? Here it is!
Justice has a classic Manitoba Pool elevator with a largeish annex. The single-track CN main line runs past it but there is no siding for the elevator any more.
Your classic prairie elevator
I spent half an hour photographing the elevator and a few scenes around. I was hoping a CN train would happen along but there was no sign of any rail traffic. There was some nice scenery, though.
Thanks for the photobomb, birds!
I carried on east to Brookdale and territory I had covered before on May 31. I stopped in Brookdale to photograph the old grain warehouse, a classic structure I had intended to photograph the first time but ended up forgetting about! The sun was not in a great position but I did what I could.
Ancient grain warehouse
From there I headed north to Mentmore. I dropped the photo off and took a few photos of the elevator from afar.
Jayson Brothers Limited, Mentmore
After that it was a short drive to Oberon.
Grain Elevator Selfie FTW!
I just love the weathered, forlorn look of this elevator. I spent about 20 minutes photographing it from various angles. Here's the office, viewed from outside.
Needs a little work
From there I headed directly south to Harte.
Bye for now
I was about 20 minutes ahead of schedule!

There was no rail action imminent but I did see a crop-duster working nearby, so I went over and photographed it for a while.
How low can you go?
The plane is an Air Tractor AT-402B, a plane custom made for spraying. It is part of the fleet operated by Ken Kane Aerial Spray Ltd. out of Minnedosa, Manitoba.
Air Tractor AT-402B
My scanner crackled to life with CN 114 calling the approach to Harte around 09:20. An eastbound would look great in the morning sun but it would be a "going away" photo for the grain elevator, as the elevator is east of the overpass I was shooting from. I had my old Canon S3 set up on the tripod to record video while I shot stills with my Canon T1i with the 70-200mm f/4 lens.
That's the shot I wanted

That overpass sure rumbled when those containers rolled by underneath. It was almost scary how close they were!

Interesting stuff in the gondolas...
How would you like your scrap steel?
After CN 114 went by, it was quiet for a while. I heard two CN trains exchanging inspection reports as they passed each other, and then I heard CN 403 call a diverging signal at Harte as they took the siding at 10:00. They crawled past the elevator, with CN 2307 / CN 8009 / CN 5480 / CN 5548 for power.
Taking the siding

When processing these photos, I was surprised to see that the conductor was photographing me!
Say cheese, foamer!

Sergeant stripes forever

The reason for taking the siding became apparent when CN 106 called the approach to Harte.

I set up to record the meet. CN 106 rumbled past with CN 8948 as the sole power on the head end, and CN 8944 as DPU in the middle of the train.
Pleased to meet you

Mid-train blues

CN 403 was rolling before 106 was past, anticipating a quick alignment of the switch so they could leave, and they got it and were on their way at 10:12. So was I, as my schedule said it was time to leave!

I passed Oberon again and took highway 5 south to the Trans-Canada, then headed east toward Winnipeg. As I passed MacGregor I saw two consecutive CN westbound trains. In both cases I pulled over to the shoulder and photographed them from the highway, as I didn't have time to do any more than that.
  1. CN 2120, CN 2619, CN 2125
  2. CN 5620, CN 2011
From a distance...

Passing Bloom, I noticed that poor CN 114 was stopped there. Clearly they didn't get too far after Harte before having to stop for westbound traffic.

Between Bloom and Portage I saw another train, with CN 8934 and CN 2528.
Love that zig zag!

I went around Portage and kept going. I saw I was making good time so I cut north to the Rivers subdivision just before Headingley, so I could drive alongside the CN tracks between mile 20 and mile 11 and hopefully catch just one more train. I met Brian Schuff at Diamond and we saw a CN train carry on westward  with CN IC 2699 and CN 5452 on the head end and CN 8846 pushing on the rear.
Just a few more trains and I'll be right home to you

Not bad for a (long) morning's work... 3 new grain elevators and 7 CN trains.

PS if you're interested in purchasing any of my prints, my best photos are available on If there's one you want that's not there, contact me and we can work it out.


Unknown said...

Nice post, Steve

GP9Rm4108 said...

The elevator at Knox, north of Forrest, is not too new. It's been there for a while!

Are you keeping tabs on the construction of the new elevator at Bloom or the double track construction between Firdale and Exira?

To nitpick I noticed you labelled IC 2699 as CN 2699!

Karl A. said...

I really like the shot of CN 8934. It took me a second to realize they put the cabinet doors on in the wrong order.

Steve, I know it is still early in the year, have you thought about doing a 2015 railway calendar?

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Taylor!

GP9 - I didn't know about an elevator at Bloom... is it in progress now? I see Viterra is building a new one at St. Agathe... I updated the post to say IC.. thanks for the nitpick, I do appreciate it.

Karl, I wish they'd put the cabinet doors on that way all the time! I was thinking of a 2015 railway calendar, and maybe a grain elevator calendar too. Thanks for the reminder. Any requests? :)

GP9Rm4108 said...

It's one mile west of Bloom on the north side. It is to be an elevator for the new privatised wheat board.

It will have a big loop like the Lilyfield one.

Canadian Train Geek said...

GP9 - I'll have to take a look out at Bloom, maybe when I'm on my next vator trip.

Karl A. said...

The train calendar I'll buy for sure, a grain elevator calendar I would probably end up buying too. Between your great photography and the fact prairie skyscrapers are just too cool, it's going to be a winner.

Brad said...

hey, good eye on the fix-up job on the Forrest elevator. I saw it a couple months ago when I was camping in the area. somebody did a similar but more through job on the Sanford elevator--no more gaping holes!!

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thank you, Brad! I have been tracking the Sanford repairs but I have to get back to see the completed work. The last time I was there they had repaired the west side and the top but the hole was still in the annex.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nice page, just wanted to say Hi, That was me in the AirTractor 402 spraying, like the photo..
Stephan Gamache

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Stephan, thanks for the comment and nice flying! If you want a larger version of the photo, please let me know!