Thursday, June 2, 2016

Solitary Saskatchewan Elevators - Denny, Leach Siding and Ridpath

It was 30 years ago. Disembarking from VIA Rail Canada’s Super Continental in Saskatoon, I began a Saskatchewan scavenger hunt photographing Canadian classics – wooden-crib grain elevators. Driving off in my rented Chevy Cavalier, map in hand across the seemingly endless prairie, my plan was to visit 50 towns over three days, overnighting in Davidson and Rosetown. My subjects were very visible on the horizon every eight to twelve miles!

Most other railfans might have chosen a more elusive quarry – CN and CP grain pickup freights still serving a sinewy spiderweb of subdivisions. But I could already see, both literally and figuratively, the massive new concrete high-throughput elevators on the horizon. In the 10 years preceding my visit, the number of Saskatchewan’s grain elevators had already been cut in half. Time was of the essence.

Among my favourite scenes from this trip were three solitary elevators: Denny, Ridpath and Leach Siding. Lettered with elevator company names or logos and not augmented by annexes or silos, these prairie sentinels stood alone in summer’s heat and winter’s icy bite, guarding their golden harvest safely inside. Characteristically, each elevator had its own unloading shed, office and elevating equipment. Each awaited the arrival of 60-ton boxcars or 100-ton covered hoppers in ones or twos, fives or tens. Each posed politely as the sun arched in the boundless sky through morning, high noon til suppertime.

Now, thirty years on, I’m sharing the results with you. These three wooden-walled, wheat-filled wonders no longer stand - all systematically toppled in the name of sheer unromanticized progress.
Denny's Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator had a 1,880 tonne capacity in 1985. The annex may have been moved to Conquest. Note the mechanical car puller at the corner nearest the elevator track. This Sask Pool map shows the locations of Leach Siding on CN's Elrose Sub (left arrow) and Denny on CN's Conquest Sub (right arrow):
Ridpath's elevator was listed as operated by Pioneer Grain Company in 1985, with a capacity of 1,090 tonnes capacity and its location (left arrow) is shown just west of Rosetown on CN's Rosetown Sub and Leach Siding (right arrow):
Watch for future posts on this 1986 trip that took me to CN's Watrous, Craik, Conquest, Elrose, Rosetown Subs and CP's Colonsay, Outlook, Kerrobert Subs over three sunny days! Leach Siding's UGG elevator stands alone, though Leach Siding had two elevators in 1975: United Grain Growers' 24,000 bushels and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool's 68,000 bushel facility. 

This post is based on a blog post submitted to Edd Fuller's professional-looking new blog, The Trackside Photographer which highlights the trackside environment, not necessarily the trains on the tracks.

Running extra...

Everything old is new again. Wye not. VIA Rail is re-converting its LRC car fleet to 50/50 forward/backward-facing seating, just like in 1981! Brother Dave took this photo during the first trainset's debut at Kingston's Outer Station. More in this just-published post: MLW's, RDC's and schedules.
This week's reading: Levitt & Dubner's book is a collection of blog posts. Thanks, Andrew! This book had me chortling before I even cracked the cover. Two from the Kingston Central Library book sale: Shadow Wars was a newsy read, with lots of blanked-out faces. I wouldn't consider myself a STAR employee, unless STAR stands for Sitting Thinking About Retirement.
After 43 years, Canada AM is getting CAMcelled. Pamela Wallin, Norm Perry, Keith Morrison, and Sandie Rinaldo all got up at nought dark thirty to host this red-eye. A new format will soon launch similar to The View, featuring a distinctly Canadian name: Beauty View, Eh? with segments on Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau's fashion choices, cool summer coleslaw recipes, and trainwatching reports from across Canada. (OK, I made up that last part.)


Steve Boyko said...

A post after my own heart! More! More!

Eric said...

Solitary elevators, but don't think for a single, solitary second this will simply suffice as the sole post on this scintillating subject, Steve!

Chris BIGDoer Doering said...

I'm with Steve! Something about solitary elevators, especially if historically they were the only one to ever exist at a loading point, so really, really small towns and lonely junctions and the like, that makes them something extra special; doubly so if they lack any sort of annex or later additions, much like the ones seen in your photos.

Run-on Sentence Chris.

Eric said...

I agree with you and Steve, Chris! I thought I'd include these three in the themed article for The Trackside Photographer blog. The best part? They were all pretty much surprise finds on my drive around that part of Saskatchewan!

Alliterative All-the-time Eric.

Jason Sailer said...

Beautiful! Wished I could have been there. Thanks for recording these sentinels Eric!

Shaun Crewe said...

Thanks for sharing. Like you I have a love for these sentinels of the prairies. It is sad to see a icon tore down on the name of progress . Hope you share more in the future .

Eric said...

It's my pleasure, Jason! Shaun, I have more to share!
Thanks for your comments,