Saturday, July 11, 2015

Northwest Manitoba Elevator Trip - Winnipeg to Dauphin

After my planning, it was time to go. My alarm went off at 2:15 AM, and after a shower and a couple pieces of toast, I was ready to roll. The weather forecast was still calling for a chance of thunder showers. I fired up my podcasts and hit the road in the pitch dark, 17 minutes ahead of schedule.

Super early!

As I drove around on the Perimeter Highway, I spotted an eastbound CN freight train on the Rivers subdivision passing under the highway. Something made me decide to go photograph it, despite the darkness. I exited and chased it up Wilkes Avenue. As I approached the head end, I saw a bright light coming from the rear of the head end, which was odd. Overtaking it, I saw they had three TEST cars behind the two locomotives. I got ahead of the train and stopped before Shaftesbury Boulevard. I quickly put my "nifty fifty" 50mm f/1.8 lens on the camera (it's the most light-sensitive lens I have, and quite inexpensive) and photographed the train.
Lots 'o' lens flare!

TEST cars behind the power
The trailing car (which was occupied) is CN 15008 and I believe the middle car was CN 15007. The lead boxcar is an "ATGMS TEST CAR".

ATGMS stands for Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement System (not Anti-Tank Guided Missiles like Google suggested) and is a system designed to be added to regular freight trains so railways don't have to run a special train for track testing.

That was exciting. I got back onto the highway and headed up to Headingley and west on the Trans-Canada Highway. The sky started lightening around 4 AM but it was overcast so there was no real sunrise. I bypassed Portage la Prairie and took highway 16 to Gladstone. There was no action on the CP Minnedosa subdivision.

As I approached Gladstone, I spotted a flashing red light just to the right of the highway, meaning the end of a CN train. I exited and went to the grain elevator in Gladstone to find CN train 853 by the elevator. CN 8902 was on the head end.
Blue hour in Gladstone
I'm not sure what they were doing in Gladstone - I heard them rev the engine for a few minutes - but I couldn't sit around, so I carried on to my first target, Glenella.

On the way there, I had to stop to capture the former Waldersee school... I think it was a school, anyway.
Waldersee School?


Who knew?
Beyond being the broomball capital of Manitoba, Glenella has a single grain elevator, a former Manitoba Pool elevator.
Manitoba Pool #166
It's a handsome elevator.

The Glenella grain elevator
Note the MPE painted on the side of the ramp.
Manitoba Pool Elevators
Like many Prairie towns, Glenella has a small hotel. I don't know how many people actually stay in these hotels...
Corona hotel and elevator in Glenella
On to McCreary... but first, I spotted this former gas station and had to photograph it. As you can see I was making a point of photographing decaying old buildings en route.
Parkview Petroleum Products - for sale!


The town of McCreary has an ex-UGG grain elevator and a preserved train station.
McCreary elevator and train station
The sun was coming in and out so I was trying to time my shots to get some light. It came out to light this side up.
UGG 4ever!

I do like that UGG logo. It's rare to see it in Manitoba.

I took a few photos of the McCreary train station. It was built in 1912 and closed in 1982. I believe the town bought it in 1997. I saw the museum sign but nothing was open and the windows seem to be mostly boarded up.
McCreary's train station
The lighting wasn't good because the elevator was shading the station.

I was just packing up when I spotted a headlight to the southeast. It was CN 853, the same train I saw in Gladstone. I quickly decided on an angle to feature the elevator and station, fired off the necessary test photos to get the exposure right, and took the shot.

After the head end passed, I packed up and waited for them to clear the crossing before heading off to the next destination. I hoped to get them at the highway crossing just north of town, but the crossing lights came on before I got there, so I watched them roll by before carrying on to...


I took a few back roads to get to Makinak, the first time I had left pavement on this trip. On previous trips I swear I was mostly on gravel but not this time!

I had just pulled up near the elevator when I heard a train blowing for the town crossing. CN 853 was right behind me, so I sprinted over to get a shot with the elevator.
CN 8902 in Makinak
The approach shot was fine but my shots of the head end passing the elevator were out of focus. :(

At least this turned out.
CN 853 and grain cars in Makinak
There was a large foundation beside the elevator. At the time I thought it might have been a second elevator, but a little research shows it was a building, probably for fertilizer and other products. You often saw auxiliary buildings beside elevators containing all of the flammable stuff.
I shot the other side of the elevator and captured a few sun rays.

Like many Prairie towns, Makinak has a lovely church.

After that, it was time to head to Dauphin. I was still on schedule so I had time to divert for this farm elevator I spotted just south of Dauphin. The sun gods smiled on me and lit it up nicely.

Shortly thereafter, I arrived in Dauphin. That's up next!


Jason Paul Sailer said...

Awesome Steve! Great photos and content!

bmillier said...

As always, a great report. Thanks Steve

bmillier said...

As always, a great report. Thanks Steve

Unknown said...


Are there no grain elevators in south eastern Manitoba?
Vita,Sprague, Steinbach, Hadashville,Whitemouth....etc etc.???
Just curious.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this Steve. Waldersee is my hometown and that was the old hall you photographed. Brought back some great memories. I really enjoyed your commentary on this trip.


Karl A. said...

I'm looking forward to the next post already!

I'm going to let you know, I had a moment of sadness as I turned the train calendar you put together to July; the year is half done already! I hope you are going to create another one for next year.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks for clarifying what that building was, Monica! I'm glad it brought back good memories.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Karl, I must confess that my train calendar is still stuck on June. I'll flip it when I get a chance. I'm sure I'll be making another one for 2016.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Glen, the only remaining grain elevators SE of Winnipeg are at Dufresne and Fredensthal (just outside Emerson). There was never a railway through Steinbach so no elevators there.