Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Knox and Forrest

Recently Darren Mckay posted (on the RailsMBSK Facebook group) an aerial photo (that I believe he took) of the Viterra grain elevator at Knox, just north of Brandon, Manitoba. With his permission I am posting it here... slightly edited for contrast and saturation.
Knox grain elevator, by Darren Mckay

We had a good discussion about the area and I thought I'd write a blog post about it. You see, if you look just a bit farther afield, there is a fair bit of rail history here. Here's a Google Earth screen capture that I annotated to show what was around here.

There's the CN Rivers subdivision (originally the Grand Trunk Pacific) going across the bottom, but you'll notice I marked in two CP subdivisions that do not exist any more: the CP Rapid City subdivision that ran between Brandon and Minnedosa, and the CP Lenore subdivision that ran between Forrest and Lenore, MB.

CP Rapid City
Let's talk about the CP Rapid City subdivision (don't confuse it with the CN Rapid City subdivision!)

As I said, the original CP Rapid City subdivision ran from Brandon to Minnedosa, running generally north-south with a big side trip to Gauthier and Rapid City.

View CP Rapid City Subdivision in a larger map
Map courtesy of Brian Switzer.

In 1963 the north portion was abandoned and the remainder was merged with the CP Miniota subdivision... which was abandoned in 1980.

Anyway, back to the area in question. In the Google Earth image I showed, there are two interesting areas. Forrest, Manitoba has a former Manitoba Pool grain elevator.

It was also the start of the CP Lenore subdivision. The wye that started the subdivision was just north of the elevator and is still visible from a satellite view (GPS: 49.971967, -99.941320). From the Forrest elevator, the rail corridor is still pretty visible.

If you kept going north on the CP Rapid City subdivision, you'd cross the CN Rivers subdivision. What is also evident from a satellite view is that there was a connecting track between CN and CP. (GPS: 49.998370, -99.946814)

I'm told that CP used this connecting track to serve the North Brandon passenger station. Oddly I can't find any reference to a CP North Brandon station in their timetables.

I found this image of the Grand Trunk Pacific station at Knox, dated somewhere between 1900 and 1909 (courtesy University of Saskatchewan Archives)

Knox was one of the Grand Trunk Pacific's alphabet railway stations. You may remember I recently posted about Justice, just up the line, and before that Gregg and Harte.
A little quiz for the reader: why did the mileage change between the Grand Trunk Pacific timetable and the CNR timetable?

CP Varcoe Subdivision
Continuing a few miles north on the CP Rapid City subdivision, you would encounter the start of the CP Varcoe subdivision, which ran from Varcoe to MacGregor and included the Brookdale and Oberon grain elevators.
It was another wye. (GPS: 50.070547, -99.964051)

That line crossed the CN Rivers subdivision (at the east end) as well as the old CN Neepawa subdivision.


Do you ever get the feeling that railways in the Prairies were like a big bowl of spaghetti, like some 1960s Model Railroader track plan?
All Railways Lead to Winnipeg
(courtesy Atlas of Canada, 1957)


Anonymous said...

I believe the mileage changed between the Grand Trunk Pacific timetable and the CN timetable because the Rivers subdivision in Charleswood was moved south to its present location.

GP9Rm4108 said...

Nerd, the Rivers Sub's present location would have been the Canadian Northern line, would it not? Regardless, I do believe the mileage change is definitely to do with CN adopting the current routing over the Grand Trunk routing to Portage.

Also, I knew Bloom was not the original B but I had forgotten that the original was Barr. I will have to keep that in the memory banks.

Eric said...

Harte Sub?

And the word verification number was 4536 - a good CN Geep number.

GP9Rm4108 said...

Eric, my last one was 532 and this one is 7021, another CN Geep!

Unknown said...

I seem to recall the Lenore Sub being around atleast til 1986. The line (same with the Miniota sub) was definitely removed by 1989. The only reason I vaguely remember this is I have relatives that live in the area. The elevator at Lenore is still there and I think the one at Bradwarine still up, don't quote me on the latter.

Canadian Train Geek said...

I agree, the mileage change is due to the abandonment of the Canadian Northern / Hartney sub routing and choosing the GTP / Rivers sub.

Canadian Train Geek said...

I love random numbers like that. I can remember driving along the Lincoln Road in Fredericton, NB and enjoying seeing the "911" blue signs along the road and seeing an NB Southern engine number... 2318 I think.

Did I say Hartney? I meant Harte.

Anonymous said...

The mileage change was because the old GTP line, the Harte sub became the Transcanada Hwy up to Portage. The line in use now between Portage and Winnipeg is the Cnor line. The beginning of the Harte sub is at Pacific Jct in Charleswood . The GTP route was straighter so would be be the natural choice for the highway. The mileage on the Cnor line was different.

Interesting about that connecting track. But I think it was an attempt to get trains from the CN main to Brandon, rather than using the Pleasant Point sub. There is also the remains of a connection that was graded but never finished from the GTP near Harte to Brandon. The roadbed still clearly shows on satellite images. Would have had a couple of huge bridges had they ever finished it.

Canadian Train Geek said...

The Harte-Brandon line was announced in 1910 and by 1918 was still not beyond grading. I'm guessing the GTP bankruptcy sealed the fate of that line.

Anonymous said...

Methinks the war probably gave them a chance for some sober second thought on the project as well, since the steel and other materials would probably been redirected to the war effort. Then with the bankruptcy, as you say, it kind of sealed the connection's fate. The routing looks like a challenge as well, just to find enough reasonably level ground and those large streams to cross.

Canadian Train Geek said...

I agree, the war probably gave enough time to realize that it wasn't a smart idea. Different parts of Canada had railway fever at different times, and when the fever hit, common sense seemed to go out the window!