Built in 1961, with an annex built in 1975, the 4800-tonne capacity elevator was relatively modern. Located across from CN's Portage station, the elevator made a natural backdrop for train photos taken from any side. An eastbound CP grain train passes on its north side in August, 1978:
Shortly thereafter, CN 5104 passes on the south side, westbound. CN sometimes loaded boxcars. Notice the wooden grain doors used for boxcar loading, stacked between the hydro pole and the dust collector bins:
In 1984, a 101-car three-unit CN freight with 5560-9169-9192 passes south of Pool 'B' and underneath the Skyview bridge, which afforded a good view of three sides of the elevator.
Up on the Skyview bridge in 1981, a top view of CNWX covered hoppers (front to rear) 100191 - 108218 - 395121 being loaded. CN engines 1353 - 1354 had just lifted two other cars from the elevator track, a Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation car and a CNWX silver-and-yellow car just visible at top right, being pushed back towards CN's Portage yard:
In 1979, a CP freight rumbles by with SD's 5536 - 5518 - 5717 - 5758 - and M-630 4568 for power. Pool 'B' was located across from CP's Portage section car sheds:
One drawback to the elevator's central location in town was just that - its central location. Farmers trucked their grain through town, when momentum was already shifting to larger trucks unloaded at larger elevators, located outside town.
An eastbound CP freight passes as three Canadian Wheat Board covered hoppers, CNWX 395552 - 396753 - 396491 are loaded on the CN side:
Here's a view of CP's loading spur, guarded by a classic CP target switchstand. The spur was on a switchback that also served Engro fertilizer, and a small CP freight loading platform, as a CP freight behind 8807 - 4431 - 8493 trundles toward Winnipeg in 1981:
Unfortunately, a fire started at the base of the elevator on Sunday morning, September 30, 1984. Portage's five fire trucks responded, as well as trucks from Carberry and CFB Portage. The fire resulted in $1.75 million in damages, and the loss of the structure:
The elevator's proximity to CP's mainlines caused problems for passing CP trains - heat stress to the rail and grain spillage onto the tracks as the fire spread, and gravity drew the grain downwards. Winds blew burning embers toward the CN station, which received minor damage. By 1986, there's no trace of the elevator behind the trees, as an eastbound CP grain train heads east behind 6041 - 5965. A shout-out to my homeys in Gladstone who spray painted "GRAD 85 GLADSTONE" on that car:
Ironically, Portage Pool 'A' built in 1951 burned on September 9, 1982. Not to worry, Manitoba Pool Elevators was busy building new elevators outside Portage, on CP at Burnside to the west (below), Westroc to the north, and Tucker to the east.
In 1994, the westbound VIA Canadian departs Portage at dusk. A lone cyclist but no Portage 'B' witness its departure in this L.C. Gagnon photo:
Manitoba Pool 'C' burned in August, 1976 (file news photo). The elevator was still standing during our visit there in July, 1976.
I discovered this grain elevator blog today, which has some interesting photography and effects:
Just finished Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields - Discovering America's Hallowed Ground on CD. After the war, several famous artists painted Cycloramas, circular paintings of famous battles such as Second Bull Run and Gettysburg, designed to overwhelm viewers with vivid detail of historical events. This Pool 'B' post also provides a sort of circular view of the elevator a few years before its demise.
Next up on the listening list, W.O. Mitchell's classic 1947 novel Who has Seen the Wind, set in southern Saskatchewan during the years of drought and depression. Mitchell captures not only the sweep of the prairie and the loneliness of skies scoured by unending wind, but the varied richness of human nature and the strength of the human spirit. An excerpt: "My Dad's a conductor," Forbsie said, "on the C.P.R. He has got silver buttons."