A Branch Line Chase

Crossbucks on the branch line
Crossbucks on the branch line

On Labour Day, 2019, I went out in the morning with the intention of catching a few trains along the CN Rivers subdivision. I only had a couple of hours so I decided on the Rivers to maximize my chances of seeing a train (or two).

As I drove around the Perimeter Highway, I saw a train crossing the highway here, by the Spectra Energy facility. At first, I thought it was a train switching the facility, as they often get a CP loco or two here to shuffle tank cars around. In fact there was a CP engine there.

However, the train kept crossing the road and it had grain cars in the consist, so it was definitely a southbound train, heading to the Bunge facility in Altona and maybe doing some work in Morris as well.

I changed my plans instantly and decided to chase this train. I don’t see a train on the La Riviere subdivision very often and this seemed like a good opportunity to do a little chase.

The train wasn’t going very fast initially, so it was easy to get ahead of it to a crossing to take the photo above and the photo below.

CP 2325, up close and personal
CP 2325, up close and personal

You might notice a crew person in the second locomotive. It might have been a trainee or they are using a three man crew on this train.

After photographing the head end, I hit the road for La Salle and the grain elevator there.

La Salle

I’ve been considering whether I can fly my drone in La Salle to photograph that elevator. I had a few minutes to look at it and I really don’t think I can, without doing it in early morning to be more certain that nobody would be around.

Anyway, I decided not to fly it, so I set up my ground camera instead and took a photo or two as the train passed the elevator. I’m really pleased with the light and the composition on this one.

CP passing the Paterson grain elevator in La Salle, Manitoba
CP passing the Paterson grain elevator in La Salle, Manitoba

What you don’t see is the giant shadow in the foreground that I cropped out. I was standing beside a building that cast a large shadow, fortunately not onto the tracks or the train!

Once the entire train passed, I packed up and continued on toward Domain, the next town – which also has a grain elevator.


Despite the construction zone just south of La Salle, I got to Domain well ahead of the train. I decided that I could fly my drone here, just outside of town, and get the train and the grain elevator in the same shot.

You’ll see the video at the end of this post, but here’s a snap from the drone video:

Milwaukee Road!
Milwaukee Road!

This elevator is still used. I have seen a car spotted at the elevator at least twice.

Once the train passed, I took a couple of photos of the elevator itself using my drone, then landed it and packed up again.

The grain elevator in Domain, Manitoba
The grain elevator in Domain, Manitoba

I figured I had one more shot at the train before I had to head home. I wanted to ensure I had enough time to get the ground camera set up, and fly the drone, so I drove well ahead – into new territory for me!


Train cars and hay bales
Train cars and hay bales

The small community of Osborne lies south of Domain, along Provincial Road 330. I had never been there before, so I had a quick look as I drove through town and set up just on the south side of town.

Here I took video on the ground and from the drone, and no stills. Fortunately I am recording 4K video from the drone, so it’s easy to take a still from the drone and use that as a photo!

The towns south of Osborne are McTavish and then Morris.

The Video

Three locations, no waiting… well, a bit of waiting.

Returning Home

I elected to cut east to Ste. Agathe on the way home, in the hopes of catching CN on the Letellier subdivision. Sadly, this didn’t pan out, but I can’t complain! There’s nothing wrong with a little branch line action.

Just One More Thing

Some more chases down the La Riviere sub…

12 thoughts on “A Branch Line Chase”

    • Those Milwaukee Road hoppers show up now and then on CP here for some reason. Maybe a customer leases them?

      Thanks for the comment on the crossbucks… trying a few things other than the “3/4 wedgie”.


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