We’re in Pincher Station Alberta, passing through, heading west for a couple days of rest and relaxation. Timing is everything, and as it happens, we’re here and so is a train. Pull over, brakes on hard, jump out and run around like someone who’s mistakenly kicked a hornet’s nest. Catch it going by, line up, frame the shot, click…click, it’s gone. Back in the car, so are we. A few minutes? More like thirty seconds tops.
Pincher Station, founded close to a hundred and twenty years ago, was once called Pincher City. Such aspirations, it never was anything more than a modest village. Just north of, by a few clicks, the much larger community of Pincher Creek (Pincher this, Pincher that) it was where the latter town made connections with the railway. That’s why Pincher Station existed – as a train to buggy/car/truck transfer point. Today, a few people live here. Mostly however, it’s an industrial park of sorts.
The railway line has been here in the 1890s. This is the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Crowsnest Line a modestly busy stretch of track. It used to run all the way to the west coast. Today it heads into the West Kootenays of BC, but most traffic is destined to a US connection west of Cranbrook. The train we captured was headed that way. Nothing particularly special about this freight, it’s unremarkable in every way, yet it completes the scene. Looks good with those mountains as a backdrop.
For the train nerds: leading GE ES44AC, #8759 from 2005 and GE AC4400CW, #9837 from 2004. Trailing, it’s GE ES44AC, #8743, from 2005. Cars were a mixed-bag. Some of this, some of that.
Seen to the right of the train is an old grain elevator. Well in this case a fertilizer elevator. Some sources date it from the 1920s, others much newer. Regardless, it’s old. Once belonging to the Alberta Wheat Pool, the old logo is still seen on its backside and it’s still wearing “company colours” it’s today owner by a local farm services company. At one time there used to be other (true) grain elevators beside it. The siding’s still in place, but they’re long gone. We could talk about them forever. But then you’ll get bored and leave, we’ll look silly…it’d be awkward.
Seen in back, yellow building with a gently arched roof, is what’s listed as a warehouse in old documents. Said to be from the 1920s – looks about right for the era. It was once storage (and a boxcar transfer point) for a firm in Pincher Creek Proper. Later it appears an oilfield supply company used it. Might have to take a better look when were next in the area. Have yet to see it up close. But pass it by all the time. Odd eh?
Seen off in the distance are the Alberta Rockies rising up above the plains. To the right is Livingstone Ridge, a place we’ve been meaning to hike since like forever, but have yet to do. So many tasks, so little time. Here it comes that tired, old, often repeated statement we say all the time, “I need to clone myself”! True, but we should come up with a new way to say it.
The train line makes a line for a break in the mountains. So does the highway. Just beyond is our favourite place in all Alberta, the Crowsnest Pass. We hang there a lot. Lots of history there, outdoor activities, mountains to climb, nice scenery. Hard to not like the place.
Seen in the second photo are some wind turbines. They’re white and with snow everywhere, they sort of blend in. Look close. Pincher Station and the surrounding area is often quite windy, crazy windy at times and there’s huge number of wind farms in the area. It was dead calm this visit – odd. Some call these giant towering behemoths blights on the landscape, bird killers, headache inducers. To others there a way to break humankind’s reliance on fossil fuels and so are a boon to mother nature. You be the judge. These things always seem to polarize opinions.
The train gone, moment’s later so are we. That was a pit stop worthy of the Indy 500. In and out in almost no time. There’s other stuff to see in Pincher Station, old buildings, junk yards, remains from another grain elevator, so this was not the full tour. But these “A Few Minutes in…” posts never are. They’re just a slice. I’m sure we’ll be back at some time. We never tire of any one place and always seems to find something new to blah-blah-blah about.
Now it’s off to our cabin in the Pass. There’s New Year’s to celebrate, slabs of meat to grill, corks to pop. Feet up, glass in one hand, remote in the other it’s time to forget about BIGDoer.com for a while. Hard to let go…but hey…sometimes you gotta.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: July, 2016.
Location: Pincher Station, AB.
Article references (and thanks): Municipal District of Pincher Creek, Jason Sailer. Records at the Galt Railway Museum, Stirling Alberta, Canadian Trackside Guides.