Saturday, January 17, 2009

CP Grain Boxcars


Boxcars were the freight car of choice for grain transportation from the early 1900's until they were replaced by gravity-discharge aluminum and steel covered hoppers beginning in the 1970's. The covered hoppers were easier to load and unload. Boxcars required wooden or cardboard grain doors, to hold the cargo in while the car was being loaded via the door. In 1987, terminal car dumpers still existed for boxcar unloading, but they were quickly aging, and costly to repair and operate. Grain boxcar fleets declined through attrition, and the railways' intention after 1986 to use them only on branchlines unable to accommodate covered hoppers. Boxcars are spotted at the elevators in Stalwart, Saskatchewan, while branchline rehabilitation is underway on the Colonsay Subdivision in 1986:


In 1981, the number of railway boxcars and government covered hoppers in dedicated grain service were at a break-even point, at about 13,000 each. The Grain Transportation Agency in that year predicted a decrease of 164 cars per month, due to attrition. CP had 4,545 grain boxcars in 1981, 2,972 in 1985, 1,260 in 1986, 672 in 1990, 363 in 1992 and only 209 in 1993.

Incredibly, this photo from 1985 shows a solid train of CP grain boxcars. Many wear the 1950 stacked CPR scheme, or the 1962 script scheme, but only 6 of the 25 boxcars visible are in the 1968 CP Rail scheme.
Grain east, empties west: CP 5779 pulls 113 grain empties, including 61 boxcars westbound at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1981. It's meeting eastbound grain loads behind 8698 and 5546:

Federal government boxcar rehabilitation schemes were undertaken in 1979 and 1980. Floors, nailable door areas, spot welding, and doors were repaired and spray painting was done. A yellow wheat sheaf, a smaller version of the government grain hopper scheme, was applied to the left of the door. Under it was a stencilled bilingual message, reading in part, "REPAIRED WITH FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA".

CP 123541 in the stacked scheme, has been repaired under the program, seen in Winnipeg in 1984:
CP 123692 is in the CP Rail scheme:

Far from home, CP 269331 has the spartan lettering of an International of Maine-assigned car. Spotted at the Meadows, Manitoba elevator on CP in 1984, the car had nothing for the elevator agent to cooper (nail) the grain doors to, so it was kicked by in favour of four covered hoppers:

CP 6569 switches grain boxcars at the United Grain Growers elevator at Eighth Street in Portage in 1984. The journey to a distant terminal, likely Thunder Bay would soon begin. Direct grain shipments to the U.S., and a shift in grain markets from Europe to Asia, were already signaling the decline of grain export from the Lakehead. In 1983, a record 17.7 million tonnes were shipped from the port, compared to this year's record low of 5.6 million tonnes.

By 1995, CP's remaining boxcars only operated on Manitoba's Russell Subdivision and a few lines in Saskatchewan.  Their last year of operation was 1996. 

Running Extra...
Barack Obama's train from Philadelphia to Washington is rolling into history. Two P42's, four to six Amfleet cars, and President-Elect aboard private car Georgia 300 are making the 137-mile trip today. CNN commentator David Gergen is giving his usual wise commentary on this and other inauguration events.
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Patrick McGoohan, the New York-born actor raised in Ireland and England, died Tuesday. If you are a fan of the 1976 movie Silver Streak, you may remember he played shifty art dealer Roger Devereau, who rode that phony Amroad (CP) consist through the midwest U.S. (southern Alberta) until it crashed into Chicago (Toronto) Union Station. He died previously in the movie, dangling from the cab of the F-unit as it passed through a Chicago (Calgary Alyth) freightyard. Gotta find that DVD so I can enjoy the comic antics of Gene Wilder and Roger Pryor again.

Some frozen switches, but few broken rails or VIA Rail delays were the result of this week's cold snap in eastern Canada. Crisp evenings magnify the sound of whistles of passing trains here on the Kingston Sub, although the snow deadens the whine of the rolling steel wheels on the curve at the top of the hill at Mile 179.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! what a gold mine of information and photos of these 40' cars. Many thanks for putting this together.

WC Indiana

Eric said...

Good to hear from you, WC and thanks for your comments. Stay tuned to Trackside Treasure for more western Canadian railroading, including the inevitable boxcar grain trains.
Eric