Silently standing vigil for almost ninety years, the lonely grain elevator at Kirkpatrick Alberta is a survivor. It outlasted the rail line it used to sit along and has endured while so many other wooden elevators on the prairies have fallen. Privately owned, this is no doubt the reason why it’s still here.
Located in the Red Deer River valley just west of Drumheller, it’s right next to the highway and can not be missed. Looming over the passing traffic, it’s doubtful many people give it much thought. We did though.
Sitting next to the long abandoned rail line that used to serve it, it’s been here since 1924. Originally built for the Alberta Pacific Grain Company, over the years it changed hands a few times (as grain elevators often do), as a result of mergers. In the 1960s it was owned by the Federal Grain Company until that organization was acquired by the Alberta Wheat Pool in in 1972 – Federal had elevators outside of Alberta too and these were taken over by the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Pools respectively.
Closed in the early 1980s it was later bought by Andrew Farms who it’s assumed uses it for grain storage. This and this alone must account for the reason it still stands and normally the grain companies were quick to demolish them when they were no longer of any use.
The rail line here was the CPR’s former Langdon Subdivision which ran from its namesake town near Calgary to the coal mining community of East Coulee, with further connections east. This section came through in 1921 and Kirkpatrick remained the end of steel for a few years, with construction not commencing again until 1924. Why there was this long pause in construction is a bit of a mystery.
For many decades the railway was a busy place and lots of trains would pass by here laden with grain or coal from one of the many mines that dotted the valley. The market for the latter dried up in the 1950s, although a few mines hung on for another decade or two. With the loss of that traffic there was not enough grain moving to warrant continued use of the line and so this section was unceremoniously abandoned and pulled up in the early 1980s.
The railway paralleled the road here, although little evidence of it can be seen. Not long after (if heading westbound), the old rail bed takes a sharp bend and disappears up a side valley.
It’s not known if Kirkpatrick was ever a town or if was just a siding and grain elevator. Based upon research so far the latter seems to be the more likely answer. Of course there may have been a post office in the area and I am sure a couple houses or farms nearby but as far as being a town, with streets and businesses I have to doubt that. With that being said, if there was anything else here, there is no evidence of it today.
This was the only grain elevator ever built in Kirkpatrick. Based on old (undated) pictures seen by this author, at one time it had a annex on its east side. It’s not clear when it was added or removed.
At the base of the elevator is a cross and memorial and sadly, I guess that means someone died there. A hard hat is placed near the cross and so we assume the person who perished here was some kind of construction or oil worker.
Near here is the old Commander Coal Mine and to read about it, click below…
Commander Mine Nacmine.
If you wish more information about this place, by all means contact us!
Date: May, 2013.
Location: Kirkpatrick, AB.