Saturday, November 1, 2008

CN's Lewvan Subdivision, September 1985

Late September, 1985 found two things on the ground in southern Saskatchewan - snowflakes and dead grasshoppers. Despite the poor crop, CN was shipping grain off the Lewvan Subdivision, running southeast from Regina towards Weyburn. I arrived in Regina by VIA around 0300, then rented a car and headed out to record some trackside treasure.


I visited Cedoux, Colfax, Lewvan, Estlin, Gray and Rowatt. Unfortunately it was a weekend and no grain pickup trains were running. Lots of 40-foot boxcars and some cylindrical covered hoppers were on the elevator tracks. I'll include some interesting post content from a recent YahooGroups discussion on the Lewvan Sub.


My first stop Saturday afternoon was Cedoux...two elevators and one lonely tree. CN boxcars with six-foot Superior and Youngstown doors and wet-noodle and maple leaf logos awaited loading.

"The Lewvan has many wonderful memories for me. I discovered it on a very hot July day in 1970 when many of the depots and elevators were still there. It was so hot that my wife was refilling our thermos with water at every town. The towns still had businesses then and were at least somewhat viable. I eventually got to chase it a couple of times and enjoyed that very much. I wish I had started 10 years sooner, but I'm glad for what I got."
Chuck Bohi



The elevators at Colfax were lettered for Sask Pool, Searle and Federal. CN still thought enough of traffic on the Lewvan Sub that they stationed a speeder here for the section forces. The town's houses, church and garage were of wooden construction and looked like they had stubbornly faced many harsh prairie summers and winters.

Namesake town of the subdivision sported a Pioneer elevator with two annexes, as well as two Parrish & Heimbecker elevators. The nearest one included an old tractor and grain truck parked
behind it. Some low cloud made for moody photography and foreshadowed the demise of the line only a few years later, after being one of the last strongholds of GMD-1's.
"Lewvan [Sub] was there 8 years ago - the southernmost portion overgrown with weeds, but at least as far as Estlin & Riceton had been sprayed so the rails were visible, albeit coloured brown. The sub. was still listed on the employee timetables as late as August, 2001. "
Peter Lacey
Late Sunday morning, after an overnight stop in Weyburn, I visited Estlin, the town with the most colourful elevators: two Pioneer and one Cargill. A tilted wooden whistle post indicated the road I was on. Due to the cold and wet, I preferred to stay inside my warm rented Chrysler Fifth Avenue to keep the upholstery clean, and shoot with the telephoto lens!

With the option of visiting Riceton or running out of gas, I only got as far as Gray, where the store was open but the gas pumps were not. Covered hoppers, though likely not fully-loaded were spotted here. I coasted into Regina and found Petro-Canada open. This was one of CN's subdivisions notoriously listed in the employees' timetable as "Only units in series 1000-1076 permitted."
"I scanned some slides yesterday of the last run of the A1A's down to Talmage in 1999. I was kept in the loop as to when the train was going to run and made a hasty decision on a Friday afternoon to fly out to Regina to document the Sunday move. The train spotted about a dozen cars at Rowatt before heading to Talmage."
Jeff Robertson
Just south of Regina, Rowatt was my last stop. Next door to the Sask Pool elevator was a new Cargill, with exposed elevating leg, one wooden and two steel bins. Before long, concrete elevators would take over, the light rail subdivisions would be pulled up, wooden elevators would tumble, and the boxcars would be scrapped.

5 comments:

Chris Attrell said...

Wow, these are some terrific photos! I am very glad you posted them for all to enjoy.

Thanks

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Chris. Although it's sad to hear that all the elevators pictured are gone, that is progress I guess. Trackside treasure indeed. Eric

Jason Sailer said...

Hi Eric:

Neat to read! I and a group of photographers followed the former Lewvan route from Rowatt down past Estlin, Gray, Riceton, Lewvan, Colfax, and Cedoux just last month. It is cool to see the photos of what existed to what I experienced not long ago. The railbed remains, although we did find some old signs at the old ghost town along the route. I will be posting photos on Facebook in the next couple weeks of the trip. Thanks!

Eric said...

Good stuff, Jason. This was a big day for me, though the cloudy skies added to the gloom. Also, it's one of my first Trackside Treasure posts so the photos could use some brightening accordingly. Regardless, feast yer eyes on them 40-foot boxcars!
Thanks for your comment,
Eric

Eric said...

Good stuff, Jason. This was a big day for me, though the cloudy skies added to the gloom. Also, it's one of my first Trackside Treasure posts so the photos could use some brightening accordingly. Regardless, feast yer eyes on them 40-foot boxcars!
Thanks for your comment,
Eric