Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Shortline Profile, Episode 2: Long Creek Railroad

Long Creek Railroad logo
In this episode, we will take a look at the Long Creek Railroad (LCR) which is a shortline operating in South-Eastern Saskatchewan. The trackage on which the LCR operates is the former Canadian Pacific Bromhead Sub, and a portion of the former Neptune Sub/Spur. In all the LCR stretches 41 miles from Estevan to Tribune.

The LCR began operations in 2012 when a group of about 25 shareholders finally took over the line after years of delay due to a number of different issues. You can read more about those issues here, but they included such issues as flooding, and pricing for a purchase of the line.

The Bromhead Sub was built in 1913 by CP, and was originally known as the Neptune Branch which stretched from Estevan to Neptune. Later, the Bromhead Sub was extended from Southall to Minton, and the section from Southall to Neptune via Tribune became known as the Neptune Spur/Sub.

Current LCR operations marked with Aqua. Abandoned CP trackage of the Neptune and Bromhead Subs marked with burgundy. Current CP in red.

Cars stored near the end-of-track.
Anyway, we begin our journey along the LCR at the west-end of the current track near Tribune.

Here we see a number of "cans" in storage just shy of the end of track. These cars are likely here due to the recent downturn in oil prices, and they are not the only ones we would come across, as many more will be shown in pictures below as we move east.

The shot below I included because of the abandoned buildings on the hill. There are many abandoned structures out here that give the area a bit of an eerie feel to it.

Same cars, but from another angle. Those houses on the hill are abandoned.

Moving on into Tribune, we see the loading facility which on this day only has four cars parked further back awaiting to either be picked up, or loaded.

Facility at Tribune.

The next stop on this adventure was Southall, the location of a transloading facility. Prior to the purchase of the line, the LCR's main commodity was expected to be grain, but the increase in the oil industry in the area gave the LCR an extra source of income. Torq Transloading built a transfer site at Southall which was a good location due to the presence of a wye, and a short stretch of track that still continues south-west on the former Bromhead Sub.

Oil cars stretched out at Southall.
Cars on both legs of the Southall wye

The next stop was Bromhead which is visible in the above photo. Although Bromhead was the namesake for the subdivision on which the LCR runs, it is now very much a ghost town. Two fires destroyed much of the town, and it never really recovered.

Bromhead elevators, and cars stored.
When we arrived in town from the west, we found more cars in storage, and two grain elevators still standing, although not in use by the looks of things.

Getting a closer look at the elevators, the two sport the letters A and F which I take to mean that at one point there were at least six that would have stood here. The elevator marked A is a former Saskatchewan Pool elevator, while the other marked F looks to be a former Lake of the Woods Milling Co elevator, but I can't quite make out the words on this photo from the 1950's on SaskHistoryOnline. Also looking at that photo, there are four obvious elevators, and a fifth that is hidden behind one of the Canadian Consolidated elevators. So the thought of six being here at one point isn't necessarily out the question.

Have a look at the photos below of the east and west sides of elevators A, and F.

East side of elevator A

West side of elevator A

East side of elevator F

West side of elevator F

After examining the elevators at Bromhead it was back on the road for our next stop at Troquay.

Arriving at Troquay, we found another two elevators standing, but these two appeared to still be in use. To my surprise (based on info I was given) we also found one of the LCR units parked on the "mainline".

Two elevators, and a LCR unit at Torquay

Of course I had to take a quick walk across a field to get a few close ups of the unit.

LCR 6347 is an ex. Southern Pacific GP35, and was purchased from the Dakota Missouri Valley & Western Railway in 2013.

LCR 6347 sits quietly in Torquay

I also made sure to get a few shots of the elevators in Torquay, both of which were at one point Sask Pool owned. Today however they are owned by Pederson Heritage Farms.

Elevator "A"

Elevator "B"

After Torquay it was a quick drive down the highway to Outram, where we came across our last elevator of the day. And like many of the other on this day, it is a former Sask Pool, but this one is a bit different in that the new owners have actually put their name on it;  Lievaart Farms Ltd.

Notice that we have more tank cars here.

Getting closer to Estevan now, we come to the trestle located just below the Rafferty Dam which holds back the Rafferty  Reservoir. Below we see the trestle, and the Souris River.

Continuing towards Estevan, I made a stop at the LCR shop located down a road behind the KFC. The road in wasn't in great shape, so I parked and walked in.

Here I was hoping to find the LCR's second unit, but it must have been inside.

LCR Shop

Of interest up on the hill was the maintenance of way equipment, seen below.

After the quick stop at the shop, I took my final pictures at the Junction where the LCR meets the Canadian Pacific at mile 137.5 of CP Weyburn Sub.

LCR line at right, CP at left

LCR at left, CP at right

Some extra info I found:

- CP and LCR share up to mile 2 of the Bromhead Sub in order to exchange cars with each other.
- Long Creek also owns about 20 acres of property south of Estevan which was supposedly going to be used for pipe storage/transportation yard. Not sure if that is still planned or not.

That was the end of our adventure on the Long Creek Railroad. Hope you enjoyed!



  1. Great survey of the line! Love the grain elevators... the Troquay A looks like a former Paterson.

    1. Thanks, Steve! I thought so too but it was also a pool elevator at one point. http://scaa.usask.ca/gallery/elevators/cities/Torquay.html

  2. Interesting to see a geep parked on the main line. Always the sign of a smaller railway operation. Smaller, but by no means boring.

  3. Good to see shortlines keeping the track alive since the 2 big railways leave town.