Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sask Pool Leased Covered Hoppers

In 1996, Nova Scotia's Trenton Works built two lots of 5250 cubic-foot covered hoppers for grain service. Both lots had large Saskatchewan Wheat Pool logos applied, like pristine UMP 850850 on a stopped CN train No 369 at Kingston's VIA station on September 29, 1997 (above). These cars could handle 10% more than traditional covered hoppers - OK for lighter grains like oats, canola and barley, but perhaps making them over some track weight limits if loaded with wheat. It's likely the cars would be loaded on mainline high-throughput facilities. It's important to note that Sask Pool did not own these cars. Though other Canadian grain-handling companies had leased hoppers before, this was the first time such cars were emblazoned with a corporate logo. A string of new WCRC-lettered Pool covered hoppers alongside a CN cousin, in the May 2, 1996 edition of Sask Pool's Western Producer newspaper:
Sask Pool was interested in advertising the provision of cars to meet their sales targets for shipments to eastern Canada and the United States. There was not even a guarantee these cars would be loaded in Saskatchewan, especially at a Pool elevator - there was an equal  chance of Pioneer or United Grain Growers loading a Sask Pool car! The first 50-car order was delivered in grey paint, lettered for Washington Central Railroad: WCRC 3800-3849 - liberal use of such 'railway' reporting marks was made by car-leasing corporations. WCRC 3843 is on an 83-car CN grain train with locomotives 9606-5176-5189 at Belleville, ON on a snowy January 31, 1997:
No longer in existence, WCRC was a 1986 railroad start-up based on former Burlington Northern lines in eastern Washington. This series of grey covered hoppers was later lettered for the Upper Merion & Plymouth - UMP 850950-850999, then FURX - First Union Rail, then some to NOKL (Northwestern Oklahoma), later SMW - St Mary's Railroad West, with the same numbers! SMW-lettered cars retained the unique (un-covered hopper car-like?) data block lines like SMW 850645. The second, 200-car order was painted off-white, lettered as UMP 850700-850999, later NOKL, FURX, Norfolk Southern and finally SMW, all using the same number series. In imid-2023, some of the FURX cars with POOL logos are repatched in the TIMX 56xxx series. UMP 850768 is in the same train at Belleville on January 31, 1997:
A few more of my observations - on even-numbered trains the cars would be eastbound/loaded, on odd-numbered trains westbound/empty:
-UMP 850878 in a cut of grain cars on CN No 204 on July 13, 1997.
-UMP 850866 on CN No 395 on November 29, 1997, then again on No 395 on January 21, 1998.
-UMP 850788 on 93-car grain unit train CN No 896 on February 22, 1998.
-UMP 850747 and WCRC 3827 on CN No 361 on April 11, 1998.
-UMP 850747 destined Vergennes, Vermont on CN No 330 April 26, 1998
-UMP 850785 destined Moncton, NB on CN No 308 on May 2, 1998.

Using CN's public car trace system, I was able to follow a few UMP cars in March, 1998:
-UMP 850845 dest. Quebec City, QC on CN No 898 March 3, 1998, returning on CN No 899 dest. Winnipeg
-UMP 850802 and UMP 850821 dest. Limoilou, QC eastbound on CN No 898 March 9, returning on CN No 899 March 13.
-UMP 850863 released loaded from Kindersley, SK dest. Limoilou, QC then eastbound on CN No 204 March 6
-UMP 850866 bad ordered at Winnipeg, then actually placed at Leross, Saskatchewan on March 13.

Randy O'Brien kindly shared a couple of POOL car photos, taken at Fort Erie in May, 2006. FURX 850802 and NOKL 850713 were brought to the CP-NS interchange for furtherance to Buffalo, NY. Thanks, Randy!

Adam Regush photographed SMW 850870 at the former Parrish & Heimbecker mill in downtown Saskatoon in 2014. Note the evidence of more than one set of reporting marks, likely NS in line with the number, not to mention the unsightly work of the graffiti taggers, not seen in my pristine-condition photos above!
NOV 2018 UPDATE: SMW 850957 passed in front of the Belleville Railstream webcam (screen capture - below)  on November 14, 2018 on an eastbound CN grain train:
It's b-a-a-a-c-k. SMW 850957 on a long cut of grain cars in Belleville yard on May 10, 2019 with the same amount of graffiti!
AUGUST 2019 UPDATE: Same car number, 850723 but new WFRX (Wells Fargo) reporting marks on this train of westbound grain empties at Kingston on August 16:
January  2021 Update: It's WFRX 850723 again! (images courtesy RailStream, LLC)
And again! November 10, 2022 - the other side of  850723:
November 2019 Update: SMW 850780 through Kingston on the 3rd, westbound empty:
December 2019 Update: SMW 850769 has had its Pool logo painted out, westbound at Belleville on the 2nd:
April 2020 Update: FURX 850966's Pool logo has flaked off, eastbound through Kingston on April 10:
November 2020 Update: WFRX (Wells Fargo) 850708 heads west through Kingston with other grain empties. Also on this train were NDYX 850620 and WFRX 850614 (once owned by NS, not shown), similar in appearance to the grey cars' lettering block:
March 2021 update: SMW 850797 on CN No 368 at Belleville (image courtesy RailStream, LLC):
April 2021 update: WFRX 850776 on CN No 106 at Belleville (image courtesy RailStream, LLC) On New Year's Day, 2023 WFRX 850776 was once again westbound for more grain, appearing exactly the same as below:
April 2021 update II: fadey SMW 850805 westbound at Belleville (image courtesy RailStream, LLC):
August 2021 Modelling Update: Prairie Shadows has announed their intention to release the 5250 cu.ft. Trenton car in HO scale, including a UMP/Pool variation, though no pricing announced:
October 2021 Update: Some POOL cars now with AEX 262xx-series reporting marks.

November 2022 Update: FURX 850856 westbound at Belleville (image courtesy Railstream, LLC):
July 2023 update: Some POOL cars now with TIMX 560xx reporting marks and HKRX 500xxx reporting marks.

Retro Update! Same car number as above! Marc Simpson kindly shared this B. Sirman photo from his collection. It shows a clean UMP 850868 in Calgary in the mid-90's:
Thanks to Darrell Sawyer, Marc Simpson and Adam Regush for their assistance with this post.

In February 2024, Prairie Shadows released these cars in HO scale. Posted to social media by 'Lisa' Larson: 

Running extra:

Train show Report...Kingston Rail-O-Rama was held last weekend at the Ambassador Motor Hotel, within flange squeal distance of Kingston's VIA station. Touched base with a plethora of Trackside Treasure readers and Kingston-area rail enthusiasts and modellers: Malcolm working the entry desk, Paul with his portable HO Kingston Sub layout, Ron with his precision RPO display, Gary and Warren at the CARM booth;
Paul at bargain-laden BRS table, Peter at his table, Dave of Canadian Express Line, the always-acerbic Michel Bellehumeur with his table o' goodies, Liz Reid with Tim's photo collection, plus chats with co-chair Graham, former hobby-shop employee Steve, barbershop Ken and well-lit module operator Bruce. Crowds Saturday morning were excellent, plus an additional display room for CRHA, Meccano and FSME. I picked up lots of reading material, vintage VIA and Kingston photos from Liz, and a Rocky Mountaineer brochure just for dreaming. Aging myself, I told the Maritime Travel rep that I travelled the ex-CP route when still operated by VIA. My vestibule view was included, not an extra-fare car platform!


Anonymous said...

From Winnipeg...
Glad your time at the show was fruitful, nothing of interest here for collectors, have to venture further afield for the paper and collectibles that I seek. Vintage CN-CP and the corn belt favourite CRI&P or RI to fans. We will venture to ST Paul MN in May for treasure hunting. Meet and greet is always a plus as a chance to network and seek contacts. Love the vintage view from early VIA mishmash colours.From the R3K...

Steve Boyko said...

Hey Anonymous, another paper collector! What's going on in St Paul in May?

Great post on the Pool hoppers, Eric. As you know I saw a Pool car a few days ago. I used to see lots of NOKL cars in New Brunswick, mostly centerbeam flatcars for lumber and wallboard.

Eric said...

St Paul Train Show? St Paul Basement Fillers Expo? St Paul Archives Museology and Conservationist Spring Congregation? Could be interesting!

Thanks for your comments, Brian and Steve. I enjoyed the whole video at Diamond, Steve - watched every car!

Better to see NOKL while trainwatching then NOLK (NO LucK)!


Unknown said...

Great post!

I love Washington Central Railroad Co. (not really Washington County Rail, later Columbia Basin Railroad)/POOL cars. I first saw them in Saskatoon, SK in 1998 on a roadtrip east from Seattle and was really surprised to see WCRC reporting marks and a POOL logo. Along ways from home for a pretty small shortline car. I spent many a weekend in the Yakima Valley in eastern Washington chasing and photographing Washington Central freight cars. Great memories.

Thanks for posting this, Eric!

Darrell Sawyer

Eric said...

Great to hear from you, Darrell. I appreciate your assistance with the reporting marks and their progression over the years since I first saw these cars.

I made my own HO version of the WCRC dark-grey paint car, using a Pool logo from a newspaper ad, but it's no longer in use on my layout, since I've backdated to CP in Vancouver 1970-1976.

Interesting to see photos of these cars still in service nearly 20 years later!


Michael said...

The Pool logo looks eerily familiar. I wonder if the producers of Corner Gas took their inspiration from that logo. Hmmm.

Eric said...

Almost a hydrid between Sask Pool and Shell Oil! Interestingly, I photographed the elevator at Rouleau (before it was Dog River) and until I dig my photos out, here`s a view when the elevator still wore the Pool logo:

Suds said...

Spotted SMW 850892 at Biggar SK heading west on a grain train Jan 8th 2018...I posted pic on FB site "Canadian Trains"...Cheers, Lorne Sutherland

Eric said...

Thanks, Lorne. That SMW car still looks pretty good!

JJ by the Rails said...

I saw a POOL car, HKRX 500590, going through Terre Haute, IN on June 18, 2022, at approximately 2:30pm heading east on the CSX St. Louis Line Subdivision.

See my link at 1:13.

Eric said...

Not seeing the link but thanks for the observation, JJ!

Patrick said...

Any more information on that photo of UMP 850868 in Calgary? More specifically, was this on a CP track/assignment?

Thank you!

Eric said...

The photo is third-hand to me, Patrick. So, that's all the information I have. But Calgary is mostly CP to my mind.