Wooden Grain Elevator Map
APRIL 12, 2020: This “project” started completely by accident. I don’t even remember what I was searching the internet for when I stumbled across an article on the RETROactive blog which was talking about the inventory of wooden grain elevators in the province of Alberta.
I had started a Google Map with a list of these grain elevators back around 2012, when their original article was first published. I had entered a few places onto the map but then got distracted and never finished.
With no travel plans in the queue thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have a lot of time to kill on the weekend so when I rediscovered the list of grain elevators I decided to complete entering the data so I would have a list of places to explore once the pandemic has run its course.
Along the way I decided to note which elevators I had taken of pictures of and mark them with a different icon. Then I decided to go through my entire photo library of tens-of-thousands of images and find those pictures and attach them to the placemark on the map. Since I haven’t always properly geo-tagged my photos, this involved a lot of manual effort. As I came across more and more grain elevator photos, I decided to expand beyond Alberta and include my photos from Saskatchewan and other places too.
As this “database” expanded, I thought it might be interesting to make it accessible to the general public. Now, this is not a unique idea — many of these types of resources exist and are far more comprehensive than what I have put together here. This was a project I did for my own pleasure and purposes, not to be a definitive guide. See some of my caveats and notes below the map for more detail.
– Alberta elevators marked with a binocular icon are ones I have photographed. Images attached to those entries are ones I have personally taken. If you wish to use one of those images for some non-commercial purpose, please contact me and the odds are I will be happy to send you the high-res version, if one exists. All I ask for is credit and attribution. If you have a commercial purpose in mind, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk.
– Alberta elevators marked with a basic pushpin are ones I have not photographed (yet!) but were listed on the RETROactive list. (Link to 2018 edition)
– Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba, and USA elevators marked with a pushpin are ones I have photographed.
– I did not include all of my images, just a selection of the ones I thought best showed the elevator. In some cases, the images are from multiple different trips, sometimes years apart.
– No attempt has been made to add non-Alberta elevators which I have not photographed. There are still a lot out there, albeit fewer and fewer every year.
– The RETROactive list excluded elevators which have been moved off railway right-of-ways. I have included them on my list so some of these are in museums and private farmyards. However, I have not included any elevators which are known to have been originally built for private use (ie: “farm vators”).
– If you know of elevators on the list which have been demolished/destroyed, please let me know so I can update their status.
– This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of every elevator which has existed nor of every location which once had an elevator.
UPDATE: We managed to make three decent road trips between June and October of 2021 which allowed me to photograph some of the Alberta elevators I have been missing. I was also able to add photos of another 26 Saskatchewan elevators and my first ten Manitoba elevators.
If you found any value in this mapping project, please let me know. Thanks!