Friday, January 10, 2014

CP Stored Cars at Skiff, Alberta

Canadian Pacific has held rolling stock for disposition, donation and/or restoration at various locations across Canada after the equipment has been retired. Though I can't remember which photo first caught my attention, the cars languishing on a siding in Skiff, AB have intrigued me for some time now; an agrarian, Alberta Area 51. Where else could you see such an eclectic mix of current, retro and re-purposed rolling stock set out in the middle of the bald prairie? Strangely, the Google Maps satellite view still shows cars in place at Skiff. But not in the Google Street View from Skiff's Railway Avenue. Cars...gone! Here on Trackside Treasure, the cars still exist in this tiny corner of the blogosphere. Though this post contains some on-site photos, I haven't been to southeastern Alberta recently, and don't have permission to post all the photos I found. So, submitted for your clicking pleasure are over 50 clickable links that will lead you to more photos and information on these rusting, resting, relegated relics that I've relished retroactively.

Listed in my 2008 Canadian Trackside Guide, the cars were at various times set out at Stirling (junction of Mi. 0.0 CP Cardston Sub, Mi 84.5 Stirling Sub and Mi. 0.0 Coutts Sub), Raymond (Mi 7.2 CP Cardston Sub), and Skiff (Mi. 51.0 CP Stirling Sub). Raymond and Stirling are towns just to the west of Skiff, with Skiff and Stirling being linked by road - the Red Coat Trail highway passes around Skiff on an S-curve before reaching Foremost, AB. West of Skiff is Fort Macleod, a notable Service car storage location for CP in Alberta, as North Transcona was in Manitoba. South of Skiff is Warner, home to a rare intact elevator row. The cars were moved from Raymond to Stirling, then to Skiff due to ongoing vandalism. Certainly, if many online photographers could find the cars, so could the local ne'er-do-wells. The cars, while stored at Stirling:

Cody Kapcsos photographed 27 cars at Skiff, with the distinctively-painted grain elevator and big Alberta sky:
I have re-formatted Cody's photo, dividing it into two sections. Each alphabet letter pertains to a car which is listed in order by paint scheme, car type and number below, with the information I found. I'm leaving the 'CP' out of reporting marks used in this post, since all but one are CP cars.
A: 421681 Service flat car with Burro crane aboard
B: Flat car
C: CP Rail 50-foot combination box car 42668
D: CP Rail 52-foot flatcar 301364
E: CP Rail 52-foot Gondola 341459
F: Snowplow 400772*
G: CP Rail 52-foot Gondola 340040
H: CP Rail cylindrical covered hopper 388615
I: CP Rail centre-cupola Angus van 434395*
J: CP Rail 40-foot box car
K: Drop-bottom doors coal hopper 348551
L: CP Rail 40-foot box car 226227*
M: Box outfit car
N: Box outfit car
O: Box outfit car
P:  Box outfit car
Q: 50-foot Service box car 415138
R: Box outfit car 409018
S: Box outfit car 409017
T: Box outfit car
U: D&H heavy-duty 12-axle flat car 16157
V: Stacked-scheme box car 403627
W: Stacked-scheme box car 401216
X: Script-scheme grain-loading box car 143048*
Y: Box car 403629*
Z: CP Rail 23-foot ore car 377187
a: CP Rail23-foot ore car 377213
* For more on these cars, see The Final Five (bottom of post)

Here is a photo of three printed-off pictures posted online that are no longer available. Taken beside the cars, these photos show the cars from a different angle than the other photos in this post; one is a nice view of the Burro crane on the flat car:
Shane Stewart photographed some of the cars stored at Raymond, AB in 2002: 415138, as well as some box outfit cars (I believe these are M-P and T in the above list): 409005409008409910409912, and 409196.

Two photos posted to social media by "britchie" showing the cars at Skiff in September, 2009: ABPR photo archive: Snow plow 400772 between two gondolas at Stirling in July 2001, and a nice shot of D&H 16157 at Stirling also showing the outfit cars. (Would you believe I printed copies of these photos on Sept. 27, 2001 - over 12 years ago? Alex, I'll take the category Things that Languish?)

Jan Normandale kindly shared these nicely-composed photos taken at Skiff in August, 2008: photos: Roadside view in 2006 by Lila Cugini , Chris Attrell's view of the elevator and distant cars taken in 2004, Dkorevaar/Rachel Anderson's 2008 end view and Shaun P. Merrigan's field view from 2010.  Saskatchewan Urban Exploration also made a visit in March 2010 (scroll a bit) - the photos show the up-close rough condition of the cars. photo: 434395 in 2007 by Gary A. Rich.

Flickr photos: Ian Proctor's two ore carskicked-in door of a Service box car, and 42668; Bealluc's photo of van 434395 taken from the roof of the snowplow; Bonedad's view of the Service outfit cars; Cody Kapcsos' long view; and Ron Hoetmer's big sky!

Cor van Steenis photographed four of the cars at Skiff and some of the Calgary cars (scrolling required). Mark Wright photo of D&H 16157 years prior, on port trackage. Eric Musekamp view of Skiff in the 1970s. CP freight switching Skiff in 1972 - Pat & David Othen.

When I posted a Trackside Treasure header photo of these cars, little did I know that I would soon be communicating directly with one of the directors of the near-to-Skiff Galt Canadian Plains Railway Society! Jason Sailer not only supplied important information for this post, he also sent photos that he and Society treasurer Bill Hillen had taken. The more Jason told me about the Galt Historic Railway Park, located in the County of Warner, 25 minutes south of Lethbridge AB, the more I became interested.

(So interested that I became a member of GCPRS. I urge you to, too! Membership application pdf form here.) Top two photos, and next eight photos by Bill Hillen. Snowplow 400772:
Stacked-CPR meets graffiti on 403627:
Either/ore situation:
Outfit cars 409018, 409017, possibly 409016 at right, all largely windowless:
Plow 400772, with the gon, flat, box car, location not available:
Former script-scheme CP 401467, location not available:

Jason Sailer and Bill Hillen were among those working with CP to fulfill a promise made to the Galt Historic Railway Park to donate a snowplow, box car, van and other cars. Notwithstanding negotiations, CP eventually decided to scrap many of the cars after other avenues had not been pursued to their satisfaction. The cars were not suitable for interchange. CP had, however, paid for the transfer and craning costs of two preserved cars donated by the Town of High River to the Galt park: 1943-built double-deck stock car 277344 and 1941-built van 436986:
CP also donated four former Service cars to the historic Galt site: 401807, a 1918 RPO (ex-3774); 411369, a 1926 tourist car (ex-sleeper Parry Sound); 411692, a baggage-express car built in 1952; and 411734, a 1953-built  baggage car (ex-4754). These will be used onsite to provide display, restaurant, education and kitchen space, respectively. Bill Hillen photographed the cars en route, crossing CP's Lethbridge Viaduct in March 2011:
Cody Kapcsos' photos of the cars on the move, with cranes in action. Jason Sailer photographed the cars on-site in May 2013 left to right 411692, 411734, 411369 and 401807:
CP offered cars to credible organizations by tender on its website in October 2010, (strangely at least to me) "as part of the celebrations for the 125th anniversary of the driving of the last spike". Along with some of the cars at Skiff  (the snowplow, one flatcar, drop bottom hopper and four boxcars), CP offered several other surplus Service cars stored at Calgary:
-404935 baggage-mail
-411742 cook/diner/sleeper
-411714 sleeper
-411734 sleeper/diner
-404924 tool car
-411752 Cape car, no trucks
-404097 auto box well as:
-411249 former sleeper with trucks removed, Medicine Hat AB
-540033 double-deck auto-rack, Moose Jaw SK (which Steve Boyko photographed in 2010 - scroll a little and look in front of the blue locomotive)

Shane Stewart photographed some of the above cars stored at Calgary in 2003 when they were considerably less-weathered and reposed in good light: 404924411714411734411742; plus 401467, and 411692, the latter car later donated at Galt.

Most but not all cars at Skiff were scrapped by excavators on site in January, 2011. Spoiler Alert: this is not a pretty sight. This is the face of good corporate intentions unfulfilled...Sic transit gloria mundi. Cody Kapcsos approached the excavators at workdumpster and car trucks, the pile grows, while the line of cars shrinks, and a view of the ore cars.

Two photos of the car-less elevator track taken by Jason Sailer on a bitterly cold, November 2013 Alberta afternoon. When it was a grain shipping point, Skiff hosted two Alberta Wheat Pool elevators plus this remaining Parris & Heimbecker elevator.
*The snowplow, van and three of the boxcars were not scrapped. Bonedad posted some Flickr photos including a nice broadside of the three boxcars, and here's Mgsbird2's aerial view of The Final Five:
The plow had 'SAVE' spray-painted on it - Horizon Enterprises artsy view of a cloudy future, before the cars were trucked away:
The cars were moved by road to Aspen Crossing, a restaurant location near Mossleigh/Strathmore AB, where these final five cars have been added to the location's existing equipment. I guess this is the silver lining for this story.

December 2015 UPDATE - boxcars, plow and flat at Aspen Crossing, as posted by Chris and Connie.

October 2021 UPDATE - Aspen Crossing deadline posted to social media by Don Hessler:
Many thanks to Jason, Bill, Jan and Cody for sharing their photographs and Mark Perry for his assistance. Check out Cody's Flickr set of photos at Skiff.

We won't even talk about the compelling collection of cars at DeWinton, AB. Well, except for this view. And this Bigdoer link. Check out those RCC's! These were later moved to a gas plant in Mazeppa, AB.

Running extra...

As I mentioned in my first Sceneramic post, this is another situation in which I almost feel like I've given birth to a post. That Sceneramic post had a paltry 22 links, with this post including over twice as many - so it's as if I had twins! Except for the amazing photos posted by the photographers I've linked to that had first caught my eye, I'm not aware of anything else online about these cars. Until now. It was fun to sleuth out as much as I could from various sources.

All over North America, similar sets of stored cars and even locomotives exist. Held in limbo for preservation due to a change in ownership or stewardship, change in corporate or institutional direction or just careless neglect, these cars usually rust away weed-grown and time-worn into obsolescent oblivion. As a rail enthusiast, coming across them can be a haunting moment of discovery. A couple of examples I've encountered: passenger cars held for commuter use in Syracuse NY and CN Geogrid autoracks at Danforth with trees growing between them.

The ultimate rusted hulks: partial restoration on the New Hope & Ivyland, steam locomotive boneyard southwestern Bolivia, and is it a museum? New Jersey. I know there are many, many more out there.


Shane said...

Enjoyed your blog. You might like the April update at Canadian Railroads.


Eric said...

Finally.......a comment on this post. Either I explained it well enough that there was nothing left to comment upon, or......someone else was out there who could add so much more to my gleanings.

Shane, you hit it. Out of the park. Amazing. Thanks very much for posting those photos to your Canadian Railroads site.

If you would like to, please email me at mile179kingstonATyahooDOTca.

Unknown said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing! I live in Lethbridge and never knew those cars were there, in my 16 years of life lol. It always brings back memories when that track around Stirling is brought up, most of it being related to the Cardston line. Before the tracks were ripped up, I'd always watch for trains when I was taken to my grandparent's house in Magrath, not knowing that it was abandoned, or close if not. I think I remember seeing a train going thru, but its too vague to really be sure. Again, great post. Thanks.

Eric said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Braedan. The storage sites were a real eye-opener for me, something I just had to explore more, even if from hundreds of miles away.

Perhaps they were not-too-publicized to deter too much interest in them, but they seem to have suffered somewhat from vandals and elements anyway.

I am a big fan of western Canadian railroading, having spent lots of time with my uncle and late aunt Manitoba and west! You can look forward to lots more here on Trackside Treasure!

Thanks very much for your comments,

Shane said...

Hi Eric,

Did you ever receive an email from me? My account was hacked and I had intermittent e-mail for the month of April.

I added your site to my links page.


Eric said...

Yes, I did thanks, Shane. Thanks very much!

I hope things get back to normal for you #$()*&spammers!