CP's Colonsay Subdivision in Saskatchewan catches one's eye on a map due to its distinctively-named towns. Located almost dead-centre in Canada's prairie grain-growing region, I toured the line on a three-day exploration of 50 towns and their grain elevators in 1986.
Boxcars only: Although a new high-throughput elevator was built at Amazon after my visit, SWP No 225 was still loading outbound grain in boxcars when I was there.
At Simpson, more boxcars to load and four elevators:
A 1913 85-lb CPR splice plate belies the age of this subdivision, and its age is one reason tie gondolas were in many sidings. The line was being rehabilitated.
Unfortunately, the line no longer exists. It was transferred to CN ownership in 1987. A connection was built to the CN at Watrous, and the CP Colonsay Sub became CN's Imperial Sub. The red Pioneer and brown Sask Wheat Pool elevators made a colourful backdrop. Tie gons, a venerable wooden boxcar, and grain boxcars were at Imperial:
A low-profile CPR yard switchstand guards access to Imperial's elevator track. This view could just as easily represent 1976 or 1966:
At Stalwart, three elevators basked in the afternoon sun:
The sun also faded the ink on the shipping ticket attached to a pool boxcar of No 2 Red Wheat that was bound for Vancouver B.C.'s grain terminal:
More boxcars are spotted at Liberty. The lighting conditions are similar in many of these elevator shots, due to the north-south axis of the line. Elevator row at Stalwart looks somewhat similar to elevator row in Liberty:
The highway ran north-south too, and was probably one factor in the Colonsay Sub's eventual abandonment. There were two Federal elevators between these two SWP at Penzance. They were demolished in the early 1980's. No boxcars or pirates are visible at Penzance on this hot, dusty day:
Looking north at Penzance, CP Rail, script and stacked CPR schemes are visible on the grain boxcars spotted here:
At the south end of the line, Holdfast's three elevators are loading boxcars.
Looking north again, more boxcars are visible. I stopped in to the little store in Holdfast to buy a Mountain Dew and a Cherry Coke. The store clerk and another shopper helped me with directions as I headed for Davidson that night, then Rosetown the following night, before returning to Saskatoon and heading east on VIA Rail. This boxcar subdivision was abandoned by CN in 1999. I'm glad I was able to experience it on a sunny June day, thirteen years before its demise.
Another prolific blogger has been added to my Useful Collection of Railblogs. Robert McDonald's Oil-Electric has some interesting posts on Canadian railways and the Pacific Northwest rail scene.