Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

In this post I'm going to review 2014 using my blog posts as reference.

2014 started off on a very bad note with Jay Underwood's passing. He is missed.

There was a lot of uncertainty about the northern New Brunswick rail route. There was talk of detouring the Ocean but fortunately the provincial and federal governments came through and saved the route. VIA Rail ran a few extra (stainless!) trains over the Christmas holidays and there are rumours flying around about changes to come with the Ocean and possible new routes. We shall see.

I tracked the sale of the MMA and its rebirth as the Central Maine and Quebec Railway. The new railway has been pretty quiet.

You probably noticed that I wasn't blogging much in the first nine months or so of 2014. I find I have a finite amount of writing energy and for much of 2014 I spent that on Google+. In the fall I came back to the blog and began blogging more frequently.

I took a few trips in 2014 and documented them:
There were a few derailments in 2014 that I reported on:
Of course the biggest blogging topic for me was my Manitoba grain elevator project. I spent a lot of time driving around southern Manitoba photographing elevators.

I didn't get all of the elevators in 2014 but I have the majority of them, and I'll get the rest in 2015.

Here are some grain elevator posts to look for:
I was fortunate to be able to see both the CP Holiday Train (also the combined US-Canadian CP Holiday train) and the CN Christmas Train.

Oddly the CN Christmas Train video was my most-watched video of 2014, by far. I guess it was passed on to a few people.

I started and moved my model train blog to and started blogging again there too. I sure hope I don't start a 4th blog...

What's in store for 2015? Well, more grain elevators, of course... a few business trips that might involve trains... and a summer vacation on the west coast. That's all I know so far! Thanks for being along for the ride, and I wish you all the best in 2015 and beyond.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Long Journey For NBSR 2319

NBSR 2319, one of NB Southern's GP38-2 engines, has been spotted in several places in the USA. She's far away from home, destined for Michigan for engine block work.

Sam Sponseller spotted her in Willard, Ohio yesterday amongst a number of CSX engines.
Photo by Sam Sponseller, used with permission
Her journey started in November when Harry Gordon spotted her behind some Pan Am engines on the 15th of November near Northern Maine Junction (link).

On December 20th she was photographed in the CSX Selkirk Yard near Albany, NY (link).

She was recently spotted on a railfan web cam in Berea, OH (link).

Hopefully more photos will surface as she continues to Michigan!

NBSR 2319 in Saint John, November 2007

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Discount on Calendars Now

Come Into The Light
I've discounted my train calendar and my grain elevator calendar for the remainder of the year. If Santa didn't bring you the calendar you wanted, why not order your own?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Quick Survey

Would you mind taking this quick one-question survey? I'd like to know where people go to see train photos. Thank you so much!

Thank you - the survey is now closed. The results are here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays

Thanks for being here and reading and participating. It means a lot to me.

I'm not actually posting this today as I should be surrounded by friends and family and eating way too much good food. Hopefully Santa brought me a Canon 7D Mk II camera.. but I'm not holding my breath on that one. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Steve Hunter's PEI Photos

Noted Prince Edward Island rail expert Steve Hunter has posted a selection of his PEI rail photos from the 1970s to abandonment. I applaud his decision to share some of his photos and I encourage you to go have a look. If you have Alan Graham's Prince Edward Island Railway book, you'll probably recognize a few. Please keep in mind these photos are for personal use only - please read the notice at the top of the gallery.

Go have a look!

My PEI blog posts including my series on Diesels on Prince Edward Island.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Southwest Manitoba Elevator Trip, Part 7 - Tilston

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 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6.


The town of Tilston has two grain elevators. One is an ex Lake of the Woods elevator which became a Manitoba Pool elevator, and the other is an original Manitoba Pool elevator. Both have a lot of character!

Let's look at the Pool elevator first.

As you can see it still has its Pool logo, a rarity. This was the "A" elevator, indicating that there was more than one Pool elevator in the town at one time.

The elevator has no annex, but instead a low warehouse attached to it. To me this indicates it is pretty old, and the fact that it isn't clad in metal also indicates its age. Speaking of age...

This building has seen better days.

Like many older Pool elevators, this elevator proudly announces its affiliation.

"TILSTON / Co-Operative Elevator Association / POOL NO. 61 / Service At Cost"

What a lovely old elevator.

I should point out that whenever I was walking between the two elevators, I was being harassed by an angry bird. I assume I was walking near its nest. The bird was constantly yakking at me and swooping near my head, which was a little unnerving. I tried not to linger in the area!

Now let's talk about the Five Roses Flour / Lake of the Woods elevator.

As you can see it has FIVE ROSES FLOUR on its side, indicating that it was initially owned by Lake of the Woods. You can still buy Five Roses flour, although it's made by Smuckers now.

Notice the lettering above the FIVE.

My twelve-year-old self can't help but notice "P O O" but of course it was for the Manitoba Pool. The Lake of the Woods company built it in 1949 and sold it to the Pool in 1959 when it became the Pool B elevator.
Note the cell phone antenna on top of the elevator.

Here's a track side view.. if there were still tracks here. The CP Alida subdivision used to serve this town but it was abandoned in 1978.

Does anyone know what would have been attached to the annex here? I've seen these attachment points on other elevators but I don't know what they were for. See comments below - they were to reinforce the annex to prevent/counteract sagging.

I had a look through the window into the office of this elevator. It looks pretty well preserved.

The door to the driveway had the ubiquitous "NO SMOKING" sign on it. It looks like I wasn't the only one to shoot this sign.

I spent almost an hour wandering around the elevators and around town. It's such a lovely place. Here are a few scenes from the main street.
 Note the friendly dog! She followed me around and was quite happy to have her tummy rubbed.

 Lots of stuff on the community bulletin board!

A typical Prairie town.

 Many Prairie towns have old homecoming signs still up.

On my way out of town, I noticed this old house.. a bit of a "fixer upper".

I hope you've enjoyed this Tilston tour. Here's a great article on the Tilston elevators.

In part 8 we will jump back into the timeline and continue on to Hartney, Hathaway and beyond, and see a couple of old pieces of rolling stock and solve the mystery of the missing grain elevator. Read on!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Southwest Manitoba Elevator Trip, Part 6 - Starting the Second Day

Napinka, Manitoba

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 and part 4 and part 5.

I arose bright and early on the morning of August 9, 2014 to continue photographing Manitoba's grain elevators. I left Melita and headed due east to Medora to photograph its remaining elevator.


This tiny town has one remaining grain elevator, an ex United Grain Growers (UGG) elevator.

The light blue lettering and roof is a give-away that it was UGG.

The other giveaway is the faded UGG logo on the side of the weathered wooden structure.

Under the UGG logo is a Sherritt logo. I'm not sure what this structure used to be but it sure has some nice weathering.

The elevator appears to be privately owned and in operation.

Next I headed to...


The town of Napinka, namesake for the CP Napinka subdivision, has two grain elevators. The left elevator is the former Pool "A" elevator and the right (an ex Ogilvie elevator) is the former Pool "B" elevator. The very end of the Napinka subdivision is visible between the horses and the elevators. There used to be a wye here with the CP Estevan subdivision but the west leg was removed some time ago.

Here's the former Pool "A" elevator.

The former Pool "B" elevator is an ex Ogilvie grain elevator.

The "POOL B" is faded on this side but more pronounced on the other side.

Those SOO hoppers are pretty beat up!

After that, it was off to one of my favourite towns from this trip, Tilston.

However, I'm going to skip over that town for now and come back to it in the next post. I think it's worthy of its own post.

After leaving Tilston, I came across a crop duster doing passes over some sunflower fields. It was quite interesting!

This was C-GYGV, a Cessna A188B built in 1975. The A188 was a purpose-built agricultural aircraft. Almost 4000 of these were built. You can see a video of an A188B planting rice to give you an idea of how low they fly.

With my telephoto lens (and a bit of driving to get in the right place) I was able to get some decent shots of the plane.

I left the wire in the shot to show how low the plane was flying. They have to fly low to minimize dispersion of the product. These pilots are highly skilled and I admire their work.

It was fun to watch him do his work but I had grain elevators to photograph! On to...


Sinclair, Manitoba has a single grain elevator, the former Manitoba Pool elevator.

I don't think it is in service any more. The siding is certainly overgrown and in fact the vast majority of the CP Arcola subdivision is slated for abandonment.

The rails are starting to grow rusty.

I was surprised to see an open convenience store in Sinclair, Wiebe's Corner Store. It was well stocked inside and I had a good chat with the owner, who graciously allowed me to take a photograph inside.

The store features a gift shop, the local post office, a Sears catalogue outlet and is a one-stop shop for the town. I assembled an impromptu lunch from the store to take with me. At this time it was 10:20 AM.

After leaving Sinclair, I headed over to:


The town of Reston's single grain elevator is now privately owned, by the Elliott Brothers.

I drove around the town to photograph the elevator from all sides.

This side is the most interesting to me.. not for the elevator but for what is in the foreground.

Check out that trailer!

What the heck is a Texas Mexican Railway trailer doing in a small town in Manitoba??

As I drove around the elevator, I stumbled across this little gem that I would have otherwise totally missed.

This is a 4-stall CPR roundhouse, built in 1906. I didn't approach closer as it is clearly on private property and possibly owned by Gray's Transfer. There is a sign on Highway 252 pointing to it, so perhaps access can be arranged. I decided on a Sunday morning that there was little chance of that, so I took my photos from the road and carried on.

As I mentioned earlier, the next post will be all about the town of Tilston, Manitoba. Read on!

PS Bill Hooper has some great photos of Reston in his Flickr stream from the late 1950s. Check them out! I love the second photo of CPR's homemade weed killer train.

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 photograph 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.