Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Grafton Bound

BNSF at Drayton, North Dakota
This past weekend my family went to Grand Forks, North Dakota just to get out of the city for a while. On the way down on Saturday afternoon, I caught BNSF 2259 and BNSF 3134 at the American Crystal Sugar Factory in Drayton. They process sugar beets here, much like Manitoba Sugar used to do in Winnipeg. There are always lots of rail cars at the Drayton facility and usually a few BNSF locomotives around. The plant uses a Trackmobile to move their cars.

We enjoyed the Holiday Inn Express and visited the many stores of the area. I negotiated a little railfan time for Sunday morning, and after a quick (free) breakfast I headed out before the official sunrise. It was a gray day.

I had thought of heading south toward Fargo to catch some mainline BNSF action, but some railfans had mentioned Grafton as a place to go. I didn't really know why, other than the several grain elevators in town, but I decided to go see what the fuss was about. I headed out on the 29 up to Manvel, home of a large grey grain elevator.

A gray elevator for a gray day.

I drove around the town for a bit and found a few interesting sights. There are two very old outside-braced boxcars in someone's backyard.

Like many small Canadian towns, the Legion can be counted on for a little entertainment of the liquid kind.

This long low building was (is?) the Manvel Bean Company.

Manvel is mile 12.4 on the BNSF Glasston subdivision, which runs between Grand Forks and just south of Grafton.

So that was Manvel. I headed north on the 81 and came across the tiny town of Ardoch. This town features a couple of interesting items. The Northern Plains Railroad crosses BNSF here, there's another sugar beet facility here, but what really attracted me was this wonderful twinned grain elevator.

This belonged to the Mondry Grain Company. I haven't found any information on that company.

It looks like it was patched at one point. The siding is long gone. I like the garage door covering the driveway.

I'd like to come back sometime in better weather to explore this elevator. It was bitterly cold with the wind blowing so I didn't linger very long. I did spot the old city hall.
Ardoch City Hall
The interchange with the Northern Plains Railroad is apparently a couple of tracks, one of which had some BNSF grain cars and boxcars. It seems it was a GN-SOO diamond "back in the day".

The next town north on the 81 is Minto, North Dakota. This is a larger town with a few elevators.

I liked the W.L.A. Grain Company elevator.

There is a spur to a potato plant but the bridge is quite twisted - I'm guessing from a flood.

I carried on north to Grafton. It's the north end of the BNSF Glasston Subdivision and the south end of the BNSF Drayton Subdivision. It also meets the Dakota Northern Railroad here. The DN took over the rest of the Glasston subdivision as well as the Walhalla subdivision.

The Dakota Northern's facilities in Grafton are quite modest.

I was hoping to see an engine, but nothing was around except this snowplow.
MNN 999 is owned by the Minnesota Northern Railroad, whose co-owners also own the Dakota Northern.

I headed down Stephen Avenue, a very well-named road.

There is a large grain elevator here, I am guessing this is Farmer's Co-Op #1.
Note the huge bins and annexes. This elevator has a lot of capacity!

In the distance you can see Farmer's Co-Op #2, a much smaller elevator.

On a nearby street is Farmer's Co-Op #3.
Its shape is reminiscent of the Paterson grain elevators in Manitoba.

Grafton seems like a really nice small town.

BNSF has a little maintenance depot here but not much else.

I went north a few miles and found that the remainder of the Glasston subdivison is being used for car storage... tank cars in fact.

I didn't have time to go up the Dakota Northern's Walhalla subdivision but I'd like to - there are a number of grain elevators on that line.

So that was Grafton.

I headed back to Grand Forks to check out the BNSF action at the yard... more to come in another post!

PS if you have a few minutes, why not check out some great railfan blogs like The Beachburg Sub, Trackside Treasure, the CP Rail Manitoba and Minnesota Subdivision, Prince Street Terminal, and Rolly Martin Country?


Unknown said...

Is the first picture real? I know it's real, but I can't shake the fact that it looks like it came from a simulator.

Karl A. said...

Next time you are by the Dakota Northern Shops, swing in and ask to get some shots inside. The shortline guys take a lot of pride in their stuff and are usually pretty accomodating.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Totally real, I'm afraid, Taylor!

Canadian Train Geek said...

I'll do that, Karl. I didn't see anyone around and I figured on a Sunday morning there would be nobody around.

Unknown said...

Excellent post, really enjoyed the photos. Interesting info re the branch lines to Morden and Gretna.

Keep up the great work Steve.

Eric said...

Thanks for sharing these photos and for the Trackside Treasure shout-out, Steve.

MNN 999 has to be an ex-CN plow!


Michael said...

Great shots of the Mandry elevator and the Ardoch "City" Hall. I would love to see those two shots in the summer. Also, that plow reminds me of a similar piece of equipment, right down to the orange colour, used on the GEXR. And I always appreciate referrals from your site. Thanks!

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks Lorne glad you are enjoying the site.

Canadian Train Geek said...

You're welcome, Eric. I thought the plow was ex CN too!

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Michael glad you liked Ardoch.. I really want to visit that place again when it's not so cold. I'll have to start negotiations!