Friday, August 7, 2020

Vestibule View of Alberta and Saskatchewan, 1986

Aboard VIA train No. 4 east from Vancouver following SteamExpo86, we're arriving in the west end of Edmonton on May 30. Riding in coach, passing the Alberta Terminals Limited's 134-silo elevator at 127th Ave. at 130th St NW. Built in 1924 for government use, to the provincial government in 1978 then then sold to Cargill in 1991, it still stands. You won't find all those cylindricals there today, and even if you did find a gaggle of them, it would be a graffiti'd gaggle.
Speaking of Expo, right outside my window I was lucky to catch EXPO86-painted CN 5334, along with 5122 and 5438 at the Calder (since renamed Walker) Yard locomotive shop (above). Also on the ready tracks were CN switcher 7949 and 9101, one of CN's blind mice:
Heading east, we meet this westbound freight 5096-9598-4216 at the west end of Clover Bar Yard. Ahead in our train is VIA 6512-6621-9668-5483-5748-3224 and I'm in the vestibule of Skyline 502. To the rear are Chateau Papineau-Endeavour-Escuminac. I remained in the vestibule from Edmonton to Holden and Bruce. Interestingly, the year before, I'd been in the dome photographing elevators from Holden east to Landis, SK. This following year, I resumed photography at Biggar, so both posts cover almost the whole trip from Edmonton to Saskatoon. Covering the route again last June, I did some grain elevator photography from the dome, but it just wasn't the same. Watch for an upcoming post.
The air conditioning in my coach didn't work between Vancouver and Kamloops the day before, though I did have two seats to myself to stretch out to sleep overnight! Meeting VIA No 3 at speed with 6519 in the lead with 7 cars at 1420, possibly Tofield:
Out on the Wainwright Sub, at Mi. 226.2 we're passing through Tofield:
Tofield had three Alberta Wheat Pool elevators (above and below):

Shonts' privately-owned  Killean Farms brown-painted elevator (above and below):
Another westbound freight near Ryley with 9453 and two more locomotives. My note-taking was taking a real hit on this trip! A probable reason is suggested at the end of this post.
Tail end passing Ryley 214.7, also three AWP elevators, though the passing train must have made their photography quite difficult:
National elevator, privately-owned. Location not noted, but I believe it's at Poe, AB:
Holden, at Mi 205.9 had an AWP fertilizer elevator, as well as United Grain Growers, Cargill and two AWP. On paralleling Highway 14, we met a Versatile 895 tractor
Holden elevator row up close:
At Mi. 196.7, we reached Bruce. AWP #1:
Very shortly thereafter, Bruce AWP #2:
No more photos until BIGgar, SK. The dome had been busy departing Edmonton, but after Bruce I found room and even napped a little. Coach A/C was acting up again, so it was back in the vestibule at Mi 0.0 Wainwright Sub, Mi 247.3 Watrous Sub, we're meeting westbound with three units, newish CN 5416 in the lead:
Biggar Pioneer and UGG elevators. The Pioneer elevator burned June 7, 1988 after a lightning strike, with the fire endangering the town. A $3 million dollar value of grain and elevator. Twenty years old, the elevator was upgraded 1986-87, in fact fresh excavation can be seen in my photo:
A news clipping of the aftermath:
Biggar Cargill and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in the gathering dusk:

SWP sunset: two photos at Leney, Mi 227.6 Watrous Sub (above and below):
Kinley B at Mi 222.1. Near here, a fast moving deer bolted out of the tall grass!
We were running 90 minutes late. That lateness, combined with the time of year and the nicer evening weather, allowed some more easterly elevator photography than the year before. Asquith A at Mi 212.5:
Then it was back to my seat to get ready to disembark at Saskatoon for the night, before heading out for elevator exploration the next morning. Apparently a long ride in from the non-central station, sharing a taxi with a 'weird couple' to the Parktown Motor Hotel with a pleasant view of the South Saskatchewan River. Located on Spadina Crescent, just a few blocks from the Bessborough Hotel, if I'd visited the lobby, I might have found some Spadina Shops! I was running short of film and money. This, in the era before widespread digital photography and credit or debit card use.
Running extra...

Thanks to the anonymous poster providing plethoric postcards of Montreal and Delson. No return address, so if it's you, many thanks!

Reading over this post, I was reminded that blogging is often equated with writing, "Oh, you're a blogger, you must be a writer!" Perhaps I'm more of a captioner. Imagine a blog post without the photos. Most of my posts would not be very interesting to read on their own. They ain't no essays, and essay is actually French for 'trying'!  However, a blog post without photos would be BORING and I'm much more of a visual guy, so photo-based it will remain. Very rarely do I have trouble finding photos for a post, as most posts stem from a set of photos. 

Watch for an upcoming post celebrating Trackside Treasure's Twelfth Anniversary. It will follow a Shakespearean theme, based on his Twelfth Night. "Journeys end in lovers meeting; Every wise man's son doth know". This is also the reason for my poor note-taking on this trip. Return home ended in me proposing marriage. Destination anticipation preoccupation! (I have unclasp'd to thee the book even of my secret soul.)


Steve Boyko said...

So many elevators! (heart emoji)

Those elevators at Kinley and Asquith are a little odd - almost like an annex with a small cupola instead of an elevator. Maybe the "newest thing" for the Pool!

Eric said...

Yes, those two are unique, as is the AWP one with a shed on the side at Tofield. I also like those squared-off Paterson ones and of course the latter-day UGG. So much variety. Now, so much...concrete.

Just not the same. Wallowing in nostalgia.
Thanks for your comment, Steve.

Brian said...

Another excellent set of photographs, Eric.

I’m very familiar with the Saskatchewan half of this post as well. The sign on the highway at Biggar has the slogan ‘New York is big, but this is Biggar’. It may be the most photographed road sign in Saskatchewan.

As you noted in the caption for Pioneer Biggar, the elevator companies were undertaking significant capital improvement projects for their wood elevators in the late 1980s. To me, that really shows how nobody foresaw the move to concrete high throughput elevators that really got underway in the mid-1990s.

I forget the exact arrangement of CN’s yard at Biggar, but I would be interested to know if you managed to get any pictures of the Biggar roundhouse. It was certainly still standing in the 1980s and 1990s.

I didn’t really notice them in the earlier posts, but quite a few of these wood elevators have a shed that is nearby, but separate from the elevator. The pictures of Holden, Bruce, and Asquith show these sheds really well. These sheds have trackside doors at boxcar door height and would also have doors on the ‘street’ side of the building. In the 1980s and earlier these sheds housed bagged fertilizer that would arrive by boxcar and would later be loaded into farmers’ trucks. The bags weighed 25kg and would be handled manually 10 at a time with a company issued two-wheeled hand cart. With all the labour involved, everyone was motivated to adopt bulk fertilizer handling practices. A lot of these sheds disappeared during the ‘90s.

From time to time, I used to see CN’s blind mice operating out of Saskatoon. Sometimes they were paired with another four axle locomotive, and operated as a turn to the potash mines around Saskatoon. I did see them hauling mainline freight as well.

I’m not sure whether you got to see the government elevator in Saskatoon. It has a strong resemblance to the Alberta Terminals elevator, although I think the Saskatoon elevator was build first. It’s on the westerly part of 11 street west and would not have been visible from VIA’s Saskatoon station. Depending on the route you took, and if you knew where to look, you may have been able to see it on the taxi ride to downtown. In 1986, this elevator was known as the Northern Sales elevator. It later became AgPro, and later still, Viterra.

Eric said...

Glad to hear your memories and thoughts on this post, Brian.

These photos did not make it into my Trains & Grains books. Alberta is pretty much left out, but then again, I didn't run the roads there!

I have seen ads for the Saskatoon elevator under its various owners. I didn't photograph the Biggar roundhouse. The fertilizer sheds were labour-intensive. Along with the decline of the wooden elevators, the move to bulk fertilizer handling seemed to be growing around this time. Also the move to much wider, larger and more involved one-pass machinery!


JasonPaulSailer said...

Some great shots (and memories). Thanks for sharing Eric, some great grain elevator photos from the Canadian!

Eric said...

Didn't know how good we had it, Jason.
Just pointed and kept shooting!
Thanks for your comment,

Shane Stewart said...

You captured some great elevator shots Eric.

Eric said...

Thanks, Shane. I know that you know a thing or two about elevator photos! I'm glad you enjoyed being along for the ride profiled in that post and I appreciate your comment.

Off the Beaten Path - with Chris & Connie said...

Elevator overload! Thank you for this wonderful post.

Eric said...

My pleasure, C&C - not only to take the photos but to share them!
Thanks for your comment,