Sunday, August 30, 2015

Along the Stewart Southern, Part 2

In my last post I had traveled along the Stewart Southern Railway from Regina, SK to just before Stoughton, SK. In this post I'll talk about the oil transloading facility just outside Stoughton.

Just northwest of Stoughton is the Crescent Point Energy Corp. transloader site. This is where crude oil from nearby Bakken oil wells is transloaded into the tank cars for shipment. There are two long tracks adjacent to the Stewart Southern main line that can each hold a long string of tank cars.

You can see two separate tank car strings plus a 3-unit set of Stewart Southern locomotives.

Here's my teaser photo from the last post showing the three locos:

The Stewart Southern has five of these locomotives, three visible in the foreground and two more visible in the background. Note the grain elevator in the distance.

There was no activity so I carried on to take photos from a vantage point with better light.

Here are the two locos at the other end of the facility.

A view from the southern end of the facility... this would make a good model train industry, or a Layout Design Element as Tony Koester would say.

A little closer look, showing a couple of the mobile gantry devices used to transload oil into the tank cars. All photos taken from public roads, of course, with a good telephoto lens.

I don't know the entire loading process but here's a glimpse.

Note the pipeline running the length of the train. It looks like there is a tap at each tank car position where the gantries are positioned to load the tank car.

Here's a view of the other side.

It looks a bit like this.

I have no idea how the oil gets to this facility. I assume there is some kind of underground pipeline system, as there didn't seem to be a lot of tank storage on site.

Before we continue on to Stoughton and its two elevators (and three more Stewart Southern locomotives), I'll leave you with these pumpjacks across the road from the Crescent Point facility. They are all over the place in southeast Saskatchewan.

On to part 3
Back to part 1

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Along the Stewart Southern, Part 1

The Stewart Southern believes in lots of signs!
The Stewart Southern Railway is one of the many shortline railways in Saskatchewan. I mentioned their start back in 2010. We were in Saskatchewan at the beginning of August to visit family and friends and I negotiated some time to see the Stewart Southern.

I went out early on August 2 to head down Highway 33 toward Stoughton.

The Stewart Southern acquired a portion of the CP Tyvan subdivision, at one time the longest stretch of straight track in the world. They interchange with CP in Regina and their track basically parallels highway 33 all the way to Stoughton.

It was a beautiful morning... at least at the start.


My first stop was in Richardson at 7 AM to see the Legumex Walker facility there.
Legumex Walker, Richardson, SK

There were no cars there but the May 2015 Street View shows grain cars, so I have to assume it is still a rail customer.


Next up on the line was the grain elevator at Kronau. This is a former Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (SWP) elevator. It has no annex but has a couple of large bins for extra storage.
Kronau grain elevator

There were a few cars spotted at the siding.

Note the 1867-1967 Centennial logo on the elevator. There are only a few remaining with the logo. I saw it on one of the two Sintaluta elevators.
Canadian 1967 Centennial log on Kronau grain elevator


Next is a siding and stub track at Lajord. There was a string of oil tankers there, complete with buffer cars on one end.
Oil train in Lajord SK

Note there are a couple of tracks there.

There was a beautiful large Pioneer grain elevator in Lajord. Back in 1964 Lajord had three elevators: the Pioneer, a National Grain Company elevator, and the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool grain elevator.

After leaving Lajord, I ran into some serious morning fog. Visibility grew quite short and I had to slow down below highway speed on several occasions as I couldn't see far enough ahead.


The grain elevator at Sedley was barely visible in the fog.
Sedley grain elevator in the fog

Disappointing... but not the first disappointment.


Francis, SK was also socked in.
Francis grain elevator


It was clearing a bit at Osage but it still wasn't great.
Osage grain elevator

I finally broke out of the fog south of Osage, and by the time I arrived at Fillmore, it was blue skies and sunshine. I wasn't too concerned as I knew I would be heading back on highway 33 and would have another chance at the fogbound grain elevators.


There are two grain facilities at Fillmore, an ex Saskatchewan Wheat Pool grain elevator operated by the SooLine Marketing Group, and a more modern facility operated by Fill-More Seeds Inc. "Pride of the Prairies".

There was another elevator between these two facilities but apparently it came down. I think it was a United Grain Growers (UGG) elevator.

Rider Pride is everywhere in Saskatchewan.
The SWP logo is somewhat visible on the non track side of the elevator above the word "FILLMORE". Note the bright yellow fire engine!
Fillmore SK grain elevator and fire engine
I understand at one point the Stewart Southern parked a few locomotives here but none were in evidence.
Fillmore, SK grain elevators
More on Fillmore grain elevators


The town of Creelman, SK has two grain elevators joined by a common annex. The larger one appears to be a former SWP elevator but the smaller one is an ex Lake of the Woods Milling Company elevator!
Creelman Lake of the Woods grain elevator

They make quite a handsome pair.
Creelman grain elevators
Next up was Stoughton, the end of the line for the Stewart Southern. I'll tackle that in the next post, but here's a teaser...
Stewart Southern 2237 near Stoughton, SK
Read part 2

Further reading:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Upcoming Assiniboine Valley Railway Events

Winnipeg's Assiniboine Valley Railway will be holding its 6th Open House/Rails Weekend of the season on September 12 and 13, 2015. For $2 each you can ride the 1/8th scale railway through the Assiniboine Forest, and kids 2 and under ride free. You can also purchase a 12 ride pass for $20, a saving of $4! They will be running Saturday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Dinner train, courtesy AVR
On the following weekend, September 19-20, the AVR will be holding its Dinner Train. Eat a 3-course deluxe hamburger meal on the train! Meals cost $15 per adult, or $12 per child 12 and under. Reservations must be made by Thursday, September 17 by calling Len at (204) 832-3448 to reserve your time, and pay by Visa or MasterCard. The meals are available on Saturday at 12:00, 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30, and on Sunday at 1:00, 2:30 and 4:00.

The AVR will have one more Open House/Rails Weekend on October 10-11, at the same times on Saturday and Sunday.

See their web site for more information.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Are Train Horns Obsolete?

The city of Saint John, New Brunswick is moving closer to banning train horns at two crossings in the city.

Map of the area,
courtesy of Google Maps
Two crossings, at Rothesay Avenue and Thorne Avenue, are busy with trains crossing them multiple times a day traveling to the refinery, the crude oil unloading terminal, the potash terminal, Irving Paper, and other local industries. I don't know how many trains a day pass through those two crossings but I would think it is more than a dozen.

Residents have been complaining about the noise from the train horns, especially at night.

The article says the railway, NB Southern, is not in favour of removing this protection but will abide by the province's risk assessment, provided the city assumes liability for any accidents or injury caused by the ban on train horns.

This raises a bigger question - are train horns obsolete? Is there any point to blowing the horn for a crossing any more?

"Quiet zones" or "whistle bans" have popped up all over the continent. Here in Winnipeg, most of the city seems to be a quiet zone with horns only being sounded on the periphery of the city or during emergencies. Some people also question the efficacy of train horns with car drivers listening to music or talk radio at high volumes with rolled-up windows.

A TSB accident investigation delved into the effectiveness of locomotive horns. Larger vehicles such as trucks or buses make a lot of ambient noise and their drivers have trouble hearing train horns. This study indicated that only 14% of vehicle drivers involved in vehicle-train accidents heard the train's horn when the horn was sounded prior to impact.

Horn placement on the locomotive has an effect. A study indicated that mid-engine horns are less effective than horns on the nose. However, horns on the nose affect the crew's hearing more, so there is definitely a trade-off.

One alternative is a wayside horn, where the horn is physically located at the crossing and automatically sounds as a train approaches. These can be 10-12 dB quieter than locomotive horns (better for nearby residents) and have been shown to be at least as effective as train horns. However, there is an increased cost, of course, as every crossing has to have a system installed.

What's your thoughts on the train horn? Is it obsolete?

PS if you like train horns, read this article by David Gagnon!

PPS the train horns were banned as of October 24.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Take Me To Church

At the end of my Northwest Manitoba Elevator Trip series, I mentioned I would post photos of some of the churches I encountered along the way.

I'm not religious, but I appreciate the architecture and history of churches in Manitoba and elsewhere. The Prairies are well known for their Ukrainian influence, which is part of my own heritage, and the Ukrainian churches are well represented here.

The very first church I photographed was in Glenella. This is the St. Andrews United Church, established in 1906.
St. Andrews United Church, Glenella, MB
It's a very simple country church, a good start to this ecumenical tour.

The next church I saw was in Makinak. I posted that one already.

The next two I photographed were in Dauphin. The first was this impressive church, the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection.
Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection, Dauphin
This church was designed by the famed church architect Father Philip Ruh and built in the mid 1930s. I didn't go in it but the link above shows some lovely Ukrainian iconography inside.

The second Dauphin church I saw was the St. George Orthodox Church, another Ukrainian beauty.
St. George Orthodox Church, Dauphin
The next one I photographed was the much more modest All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church near Dutton, Manitoba.
All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Dutton, MB
While in Inglis I grabbed a quick photo of one church in the town, the Bethany Lutheran Church.
Bethany Luthern Church, Inglis
Not all of the area churches are Ukrainian!

Heading north, the next church I photographed was in Bowsman.
Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, Bowsman

I found was this abandoned Catholic church in the ghost town of Renwer, Manitoba, my second favourite church.
St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Renwer
I'm not sure what the smaller building on the left is/was, but it appears to be related to the church. The church building seems to be in decent shape but some of the windows are broken. I didn't approach it so I don't know what it is like inside.

I did a bit of HDR to shoot the church against the sun.

Passing through Cowan, I shot this Ukrainian church quickly, as I was running a bit short of time.
Church of the Holy Ghost, Cowan
The real gem of the trip was the next church, spotted on highway 10 just outside Cowan, at Sclater.
Sclater Ukrainian church

This abandoned Ukrainian "Our Lady" church was built in 1921. Again, I didn't approach it but it definitely has seen better days. I wish I had more time to look at it.

Continuing on, I photographed two churches in Ethelbert. The first was the very well maintained St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church.
St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Church, Ethelbert
At the other end of Ethelbert is this Greek Orthodox church.
Ruthenian Greek Catholic Parish of Sviatoho Ducha, Ethelbert

Two more!

Here is an impressive church in Winnipegosis with an impressive name, the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1929.

This is another Father Philip Ruh design, like the one in Dauphin. Don't confuse this church with another of the same name in Cooks Creek, Manitoba.

The last church I photographed was a more modest church, the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist, in Fork River Manitoba.
Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist, Fork River
There you have it - 14 churches photographed in a day to go along with the 20 grain elevators I photographed. There were many churches I missed or chose not to photograph. I hope you liked the ones I did photograph.

See more blog posts containing churches

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Circular Polarizers

I've written about circular polarizers before, but I wanted to revisit them one more time.

In case you don't know what a circular polarizer is, it is a filter that screws onto the end of your lens to allow you to polarize the light coming into your lens. It is used for two main purposes:

  1. Reducing reflections and glare from water, glass, etc.
  2. Darkening skies
To see an example of #1, look at this comparison from July 2013:
Note how the polarizer allows you to see into the water a bit more. In this case it is undesirable as you can see the muddiness more, but that's what it helps you do.

I used a polarizer in Kamloops to photograph the salmon run. It made a dramatic difference in the ability to see the fish under the surface of the water.
That shot was not possible without a polarizer.

I used a polarizer yesterday at Elkhorn, MB to perform #2, darkening the skies.

I didn't edit the Elkhorn photos at all except to adjust the crop a tiny bit to get the same composition, and I applied the same lens correction to both in Lightroom.

You can see how the polarizer brought a lot more interest to the sky. The sky is darker and the clouds are better defined.

I like dark blue skies so I like to use a circular polarizer... when I remember it. The only downside to using a polarizer is that it reduces your exposure by a couple of stops, so you need a bright day to avoid reducing the light so much that you have to use a high ISO or slow shutter speed.

A circular polarizer is pretty much the only filter that you can't totally simulate in Photoshop.

Hoya PRO1D circular polarizer

Personally I use a Hoya 58mm Circular Polarizer on my 18-55mm lens and a 67mm Hoya PL-CIR on my 70-200mm lens. You have to get the right size for your lens! I recommend you get a slim frame polarizer so you don't have any vignetting problems. (note that these are affiliate links, in which I get a commission, at no extra cost to you)

This video shows you how circular polarizers are used. Basically you screw it on the end of your lens, and when you are ready to shoot, you turn the polarizer until you get the amount of polarization that you want.

To recap, a circular polarizer is used to cut down glare and reflections, and to darken skies. It's a useful item to carry around with you, especially when shooting outside or when photographing water. Enjoy!