Posted on 20-10-2011
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

Once again the alarm clock rang at 06:00, after a good night’s sleep it was time to start another day, a good one as we were homeward bound. It was a good time to get a daylight view of the beautiful surroundings of a winter’s day in East Coulee a little history of this mining town in 1928 the first major mine opens in the area, 1930 population booms to over 3000 people, 1952 to 1959 natural gas replaces coal for heating homes and industries, most of the big mines close, and the community begins to dwindle. By 1970 it is virtually a ghost town, businesses have closed many of the houses are moved away the only mine operating in the Drumheller Valley is the Atlas mine accessible by the CPR East Coulee Railway/Highway wooden trestle across Red Deer River it was built in 1948. The CPR and CNR have an agreement for switching the Atlas mine, for six months of the year from the end October until 1 April CNR switches the mine, the CPR brings in our empties for loading and leaves them in the East Coulee yard, and we pick up our loads that have been set out for us by the CNR so this morning we have the loads, and have set out our empties, so we change ends on our locomotives, pick up our caboose and we are ready to go southbound on the Langdon subdivision caboose hop (a railway term meaning traveling with locomotives and caboose only) Fred phones the operator from the hotel at East Coulee to arrange for the operator at Drumheller to meet us at Rosedale Junction with train orders so we can enter the CNR joint section of track and travel back to Kneehill Junction to get back onto the Langdon subdivision. This is where the work for the day began with lifted loaded grain at Kirkpatrick, Hesketh, Sharples, and Carbon by this time we had 32 loads of grain to struggle up the grade at Kneehill Creek, next stop was at Acme where we had some lunch, then picked up all the loaded grain and the grain and sulfur traffic from the Acme Subdivision, then it was on to pick up at Beiseker, Irricana, Keoma, and Langdon by then we had a respectable train of about 80 loads.


1.) Waiting at Rosedale Junction to meet Drumheller operator and receiving our train orders to proceed to Kneehill.

2.) Stopping to register at Drumheller Station caboose hop, geographically pointed west but going east by timetable direction.

3.) Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator at Kirkpatrick our first stop to lift loaded grain.

4.) Alberta Pacific Grain elevator at Hesketh Alberta from the Unifarm Collection note the sectionmen’s tool house with the station name board, also loaded CPR boxcars ready to lift.

5.) Old postcard view of P&H elevator at Sharples, Alberta boxcars on spot and ready to be loaded, as you can see by the spout.
6.) Parrish and Heimbecker elevator at Sharples after it was abandoned.
7.) View of Sharples elevator looking back on our way to Carbon

8.)Going southward on the Langdon subdivision at Carbon, siding visible behind shadow of caboose, elevator track with Alberta Wheat Pool, Pioneer, and United Grain Growers elevators with a couple of loads of wheat ready to lift.

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Posted on 13-10-2011
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

Tuesday, February 19, 1974 after a night’s sleep the alarm clock rang at 06:00, by this time the caboose fire had gone out, and it was quite cold inside, with ice crystals forming on the walls from the condensation of our breath, we huddled under the warmth of our blankets, while Fred who was a hardened veteran, a lieutenant during World War II in Italy from what I understand, he was up right away in his shorts getting the caboose stove going with the kindling I had left out last night, with the fire lit he proceeded to get the kettle boiling, and the coffee on, me and the other brakeman reluctantly got out of our beds, made them up, got dressed and washed up for breakfast, that Fred made for us it included burnt toast, jam, and coffee, I always carried oatmeal in my grip so I made myself a bowl with some raisins and milk to tide me over until lunch. Vince was up cooking his own breakfast in his bunkhouse, after we finished, we got out our switch lists and started switching the elevator track at Wimborne, and building our train on the mainline, we tied onto the grain loads at the elevators, and coupled onto the empties we have left on the north end yesterday and pulled them down to spot, we than coupled the loads of grain to our loaded sulfur tank’s we had left in the siding last night and doubled them over to the mainline with our caboose, we then performed a break test, and Fred telephoned car control in Medicine Hat from the engineer’s bunkhouse for any new information, and changes to our switch lists. With this done we departed Wimborne at 09:00, I did the kitchen chores of washing the dishes, and we lifted grain loads and respoting the elevator tracks at Torrington, Allingham, Sunnyslope, and Linden arriving at Cosway Junction around 11:45, we than pulled our train down to Acme, and set our train over to the siding, switched out the loads from the elevator track and respoted the empties that we had set over to the north end yesterday, we then ran 8833 back to the north end and marshalled our caboose and traffic for the Langdon Subdivision, we always had to be careful in Acme is there was a private crossing to a farm located in the middle of the yard, so we always had to make sure that this crossing was not blocked with our cars, I remember the farmers had a pet peacock that was always around showing off his feathers, and making sure everybody understood that this was his territory. Such are the sites one sees working in these pastoral parts of the countryside. With the work done we went to town for a good home-cooked lunch at Lucy’s Café. The CPR reached Acme in 1909, and it was named for the Greek word Acme which means highest point, the community had a population of about 600 at that time, the local butcher shop sold the best Canadian back bacon I have ever had, and we would literally bring home the bacon on our return trip, after lunch we departed Acme, stopping to register at Cosway and proceeded for our descent down along the Kneehill Creek.

The next station was Entice at Mile 52.2, 10.5 miles North of Cosway my timetable but geographically east, Entice once had an elevator, and a roadmasters house, but was now abandoned; the elevator track was still in place and held 40 storage cars. The next station was at Mile 58.0 Carbon a community of 500 residents, named after the coal mining region that started there and ran towards Drumheller, Alberta in the Badlands, there were four big elevators an Alberta Wheat Pool, a Pioneer, an United Grain Growers, and another Alberta Wheat Pool, we spotted them 12 empties, there was also a siding filled with 44 open top hopper cars, next stop was Mile 62.8 Sharples that had one Parish and Heimbeker elevator that we gave five empties. next up was Mile 67.2 Hesketh with two Alberta Wheat Pool elevators that we spotted eight empties, at mile 70.1 Gatine there was an abandoned Alberta Wheat Pool elevator and the backtrack was filled with more storage cars, next at Mile 73.0 was Dunphy that was abandoned, at mile 74.8 Kirkpatrick was a single Alberta Wheat Pool elevator that we spotted five empties next up was mile 77.2 Nacmine that stood for North American Collieries Mine were a large coal mine was located, most of the tracks were filled with storage cars, we stopped there with the caboose alongside the hotel across the highway, and Fred went over to telephone the CNR operator at Drumheller to get permission for us to come out on to the junction at Mile 78.7 Kneehill and to proceed on the CNR Drumheller subdivision to the station at Mile 80.8 Drumheller at the time CNR was still running dayliner passenger service between Drumheller and Edmonton, and the only other scheduled freight train ran in the evening. the operator at Drumheller gave Fred verbal permission to enter the main track.

The railway was originally built by the Canadian Northern and ran east from Hanna near the Saskatchewan border to Calgary, Alberta they entered Drumheller at Kneehill and ran geographically eastward through Drumheller, and went westward after leaving Rosedale Junction, the CPR and CNOR worked out a joint agreement for sharing trackage between Kneehill and East Coulee and we operated on Canadian National Railways timetable and train order authority between Kneehill Rosedale Junction. This was real dinosaur country and Drumheller hosts the home of the world-famous Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology, between 1911 and 1979 139 mines were registered in the Drumheller Valley, the Sub bituminous coal mined there was ideal for domestic heating and cooking fuel, and it provided work for many miners who came to the valley from Eastern Europe, Britain, and Nova Scotia. We stopped at the Drumheller station to register our train and receive train orders to run on the CNR down West to the next station at. Mile 85.8 Rosedale this was a junction, where we left the CNR and returned to the Langdon Subdivision next station was. Mile 89.4 Willow Creek an abandoned siding, and finally our terminal at Mile 94.3 East Coulee where the Atlas Mine the last operating coal mine in the Drumheller Valley was still in operation, it was located across a wooden trestle on the south side of the Red Deer River, there was a large yard with the capacity of 600 cars, and many of the tracks were filled with storage cars, there was an abandoned station, turntable, and Atco bunkhouse for the locomotive engineer this was all located on the north end of the yard, and the track continued on to the Rosemary Subdivision that ran down towards the Bassano Subdivision, although the track was only opened to the town of Finnegan at this time. We switched out our train, it had been a long day and we were off-duty at 22:35.
Illustrations 1.) Photo of mine tipple at Nacmine, Alberta taken by Walter Kot in the late 1960s 2.) Photo of CNR Drumheller station, the original passenger station had been torn down, and the train order signal and office was moved to the freight shed, this is where we registered our train, and received our train orders to proceed to Rosedale Junction. 3.) Heritage photo of Rosedale Star mine and suspension bridge over Red Deer River 4.) Steel trestle crossing Red Deer River on Langdon Subdivision. 5.) Mile 90 Langdon Subdivision. 6.) South end of yard East Coulee showing loading platform and yard tracks with storage cars. 7.) North end of yard and station at East Coulee track on left-hand side leads to turntable, and lead to Atlas mine. 8.) Heritage photo mine tipple at East Coulee.

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