The grain elevator seen in this article is located at the Wilson Farm north of Drumheller Alberta, but once sat along the rail line in the town of Gartly, just to the north. Gartly is gone, the rail line is abandoned, but the elevator survives.
Constructed in the late 1920s for the Alberta Wheat Pool, it was moved to its present location in the early 1970s. It’s sat at the farm almost as long as it sat in town and is presumably used for grain storage by the farmer. It’s actual location is just north of Cambria (which is east of Drumheller) on highway 849. It’s on private property, so shoot from the road.
The Alberta Wheat Pool, a farmer owned cooperative formed in the 1920s, was for most of its history the biggest player in this provinces’s grain industry. Nearly every town had an AWP elevator, some several. This company ceased to be in the later part of the 1990s, having merged with a rival company becoming Agricore. But it did not end there and that company has merged many more times since and is now Viterra. For now anyway.
Gartly was in fact home to two grain elevators, the second of which also survives to this day, it having been moved to a different farm not terribly far away. We’ll visit it soon and will make a report. It’s a bit older than our elevator, having been constructed in the mid teens for the Home Grain Company – a subsidiary of Searle Grain, which it was folded into in the late 1920s. This elevator was also moved to its new location in the early 1970s.
Never more than a whistle stop, Gartly was (is) along the CNR’s Drumheller Subdivision, which ran through its namesake town on its way from Calgary Alberta, to Saskatoon Saskatchewan. Built in the early teens by predecessor company Canadian Northern Railway which was folded into the CNR in the early 1920s, a large part of this line, from Oyen to Lyalta, including the section through Gartly, is abandoned. The last through trains used the line in 2008 but some locals visited as late as 2010. The rails for some reason remain in place however, and there has been talk of another company resurrecting the line. It’s only talk though.
We found this elevator completely by accident, while travelling back roads in the area. This is one of our favourite parts of Alberta and if you like ghost towns, grain elevators and abandoned stuff, it’s a real treat. Check out the quintessential ghost town of Dorothy Alberta, a photogenic little place with a couple nice churches and an abandoned grain elevator.
The Historic Atlas Mine is located nearby and was the very last coal mine that operated in the area, closing in the late 1970s and now a museum you can visit. Not far from it is the East Coulee road/rail bridge, a very interesting structure. Also in the valley is the famous Royal Tyrrell Museum, a world class facility for the study of dinosaurs and fossils.
To see some other grain elevators in the area, please follow any of these links…
Prairie Sentinels – Delia Alberta.
Prairie Sentinels – Kirkpatrick Alberta.
Dorothy Alberta, the little grain elevator in the valley.
If you’d like to know more about this grain elevator, by all means contact us!
Date: August 2013.
Location: Near Drumheller, AB.