Sunday, July 18, 2010

CN's Craik Subdivision, 1986

CN's Craik Subdivision runs 154 miles between Saskatchewan's two largest cities, Saskatoon and Regina. In 1979, the line hosted Railiners 680/683 and thrice-weekly freights 865/866. From November 1981 to June 1984, the Craik Sub was the CN portion of VIA trains 109/110 between Winnipeg and Saskatoon, profiled in this post from February/09. In May 1986, I took three days in the Saskatoon area to photograph grain elevators. More in this Craik Subdivision postscript.

After a Saturday morning of CP subdivisions, by late afternoon I reached the lower third of the Craik Sub, emerging through some trees at Mi 45 to later find Findlater's elevator track. Two CNWX covered hoppers had been loaded by Sask Pool. New ties had been dropped trackside as part of CN's track renewal program. CN Lines Vol 10 No 1 has a great series of photos taken here during the steam era. For another, helicopter-borne view of Findlater, start at the 40:30 mark of this Helicopter Canada National Film Board film.

Chamberlain's single SWP elevator was the usual nine miles from the next town. A Canadian Forces truck convoy was headed south, likely returning from a training exercise at CFAD Dundurn's ranges. CN's 1993 employee timetable showed a 2.2-mile spur branching off the Craik Sub at Mi 134 to serve Dundurn.

The only semblance of a train on the Craik Sub this day was a string of 40-foot grain boxcars in the siding at Aylesbury, Mi 62. Sask Pool and Parrish & Heimbecker elevators baked in the afternoon sun. A spike's-eye view shows that the agent has left the office windows open to cool it off for Monday morning:

Craik's location at the midpoint of the Craik Sub at Mi 72 rated five elevators: Pool A and C, 2 Cargill and 1 United Grain Growers.
The section crew's speeder shed must've been just out of the picture near the shade of some trees at right:
Girvin's 4710-foot siding was second in length only to Davidson's. SWP and UGG elevators at Mi 80:
Davidson at Mi 89 was my rest stop for the night. A room at the Jubilee Motor Inn set me back $27.00, a dollar less than the Rosetown Motel the next night.
Elevator row was impressive with six installations: seven elevators and eight annexes of various sizes. Two SWP, two UGG, one Cargill, plus Pioneer's massive 8,110-tonne capacity elevator with its two annexes accounted for eleven covered hoppers. A second elevator track was in use at the far end, closest to the station. See below for a 1979 photo at this location, elevators and all!

After checking in, I drove out to Bladworth at Mi 98 as the evening shadows lengthened. Its two SWP and one Pioneer elevator basked in the beams of the setting sun:

Today only the northern portion of the Craik Sub remains in CN hands, with shortline Last Mountain Rail operating the southern portion.  Here's a Keith Bowler photo showing a southbound ex-CN RDC 6350 at Davidson in 1979:

Running extra...

Just saw "Grownups" with Adam Sandler, David Spade et al. Funny scene in which the wives of the group ogle a lifeguard. When he approaches them, he speaks in an annoying, squeaky voice and says he's from Canada, specifically "Saskatchetoon".

Enough with the Saskatchewan jokes, already. Saskatchewaners can't help it if their province is so flat it can all be seen if standing on a chair, plus it's so flat your dog can be seen running away from home for a week. Any others?

A visit to CN's Belleville yard yesterday included DPU train 350 handling an RJ Corman RR boxcar, and two dimensionals: CAT dumptrucks on flatcars. 372 setting out seven cement etys and two of plastic, lifting six. 305 was DPU also, but a long 149 wasn't.


Zartok-35 said...

I just saw "Grownups" last night. That Saskatchetoon scene was pretty funny..Hey HEY! Saskatchewan Isn't THAT flat! I know you've been to Gull Lake! And what about Eastend? If you've been there, you know things aren't flat.

Nice post. I've been past the line many times myself, it's nice to see the bygone elevators. You should have stuck around to see the trains that worked them. I haven't seen nearly enough trains on the Craik line myself.

Anonymous said...



Eric said...

Hi Elijah and Mark, and thanks for your kind comments. Of course Sask isn't flat; wait for the Stranraer post where there's some major topography. It was a great, though warm afternoon exploring the Craik. It would have been great to see a train or two, but I had more ground to cover. Glad at least part of it is still in service.

LinesWest said...

Fabulous series on the Prairie Elevators. I ventured up there about a decade ago. These photographs really bring back some fond memories.


Eric said...

Glad to hear that my post evoked some memories of your visit north, Leland. Unfortunately, we have to rely on memories, as so many of the elevators are gone. Except on Trackside Treasure, of course, where I'll be posting many more from various CN and CP subdivisions coming up.