Dec 242012
Dorothy Alberta elevator

Waiting patiently for a train that will never come, the lonely little grain elevator seen here sits abandoned and unloved. It’s located in the ghost town of Dorothy, deep in the Alberta badlands east of Drumheller. Somewhat off the beaten path (so perfect for us), it’s a lonely little dot on the map.

While this structure was the focus of my attention, Dorothy is also home to two churches that tend to draw in photographers as well. I plan on revisiting the place to capture them at some point (we did May 2013). As I understand it recent work has been done to stabilize them, which is good as they were in rough shape last time I visited here. However I an not sure of plans are afoot to do the same to the elevator. It looks reasonably solid for now but I am certain it could use some TLC as well.

The rail line that passes here came though in the late 1920s and this elevator dates from this time period – it was closed in the early 1950s and presumably abandoned at that time. At one time Dorothy was home to three elevators, the one we see, one marked for the Alberta Wheat Pool (1928-mid 1970s), and the other for United Grain Growers (1928-1931). The rail line was pulled up in the mid 1970s (give or take).

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The structure is marked for the Alberta Pacific Grain company, one of only a few in the province still painted in these colours. This company was later folded in the Federal Grain Company in the 1960s, and later still (in 1972), into the Alberta Wheat Pool. By then of course this elevator was long closed.

By the 1970s Dorothy was the second last point served on the rail line with Finnegan further east being the then end of track. There was actually a line beyond Finnegan but it was abandoned by this point. Earlier it hosted many eastbound coal trains but that traffic dried up long ago.

Given how close the elevator is to the highway it clear that road was built atop the railway grade. You can not see in the pictures but the road is right behind the elevator, on the far or right side of it.

These photos were scanned from 35mm prints taken in 1997 (I believe). These were no notes included with the photos so that date only a guess. I was doing oil field deliveries in that area around that time, so that date makes sense. I must have been in a hurry – probably since these deliveries were known as hot shots after all – and these were the only images of Dorothy in that roll.

I hope to return here and plan to document the place a little better. In addition to the this town, I would like to explore the abandoned rail line east to Finnegan and beyond. In particular there is one old bridge over the Red Deer River at Bullpound, that begs to be seen. It’s well off the beaten path and would require a bit of a hike in (see links below).

Not terribly far away from Dorothy, west up the valley, is the historic Atlas Mine. It’s a great place to visit to learn about the areas coal mining past Also nearby is the abandoned East Coulee Road/Rail Bridge. It’s a fascinating structure that carried both trains and autos on a common shared deck.

Update: May 2013. We returned to Dorothy! To see that report, which includes the grain elevator and the churches we mentioned, click the link below…
Dorothy Alberta.

To see the Bullpound bridge mentioned in this report, follow this link…
Bridge hunting – Bullpound Alberta.

To see our visit to Finnegan, click below…
Finnegan Alberta.

If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!

Date: Likely 1997.
Location: Dorothy, AB.

Dorothy Alberta elevator

Dorothy in 1997.

Dorothy AB grain elevator

This former Alberta Pacific elevator still stands (2013).


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6 Comments on "Dorothy Alberta, the little grain elevator in the valley"

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Dan Overes
Dan Overes

If you ever plan on exploring the rail line to Finnegan, let me know! My friend Miles and I did some exploration in that area a couple years ago when trying to see if we could find any remnants of Trefoil and we only had a little time to explore as far as Finnegan. I’m also a sucker for bridges so the one near Bullpound is right up my alley.

Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder

The elevator at Dorothy is looking pretty rough now and I hope someone does something before it’s too late. Help!

Jim A Pearson
Jim A Pearson

I think it is privately owned, but it has been closed since 1953, privately owned until 1961 when it closed for good, There were also an Alberta Wheat Pool (closed 1976) and a United Grain Growers which was closed and torn down in 1931.

Other elevators on the line included 2 in East Coulee (On the north side of the river) and the Alberta Pacific on the south side next to the Atlas, and a Parrish and Heimbecker at Finnegan (Built in 1932, closed in 1975). The line crossed the river at Bullpound and joined up with the CPR Royal Line at Rosemary!