Winter Valley is like a thousand other towns. People meet and make plans just like folk anywhere else. School is back in. Jack has just been chosen captain of his football team and Diane is hoping he’ll ask her to the Thanksgiving dance. Her dog Jeff is hoping he’ll just throw that darn ball. The snowmobile will soon be dragged in and tuned up for some winter’s fun and that big CN dash 9 is ready to start hauling a bumper crop of good hard wheat down south into the United States. It’s true. Transplanted Italians insist on Canadian flour for their pasta.
Out this way, if your young and experiencing an ongoing lack of cash, then you’re probably not in real select company. Perhaps he’ll find that carburetor still has some life in it. Failing that, there may be something else of value in this rusting old wreck. The snow fence has seen better days too. When grandfather was around it protected the siding that served the packinghouse that cut the meat that fed the town. Today, a single ‘bad order’ car is testing the limits of those rusting rails. Next year they may fail.
The grass is tall, in the rainy season, and one of the swings has been broken all summer, but Centennial Park still offers a place to sit under a tall, shady tree. Sure, it’s just as quiet here as in the rest of the town but there must be some unwritten rule that if you’re in the park you won’t be disturbed. At the end of the day, every second day but Sunday, the Colder turn drifts into town with full hoppers and a few empty cars from the mine warehouse. There is still some money to be made up there. A buyer is even glad to see all that rock that’s now so darn devoid of ore.
Over at the UGG a crew is spending the day replacing a culvert under the main line and the elevator spur. Only one guy, the fellow standing around, is a regular WV employee. The rest of the ‘crew’ are part time workers from town who chose a days labour over a days rest. Everyone knows who they are. They’ll be buying down at the Legion tonight.The little station fell into disuse slowly, and with little dignity. As freight traffic was turned over to the trucks half of it was shut down. The remainder was left to the commuters. Now they’re gone……
Passenger service is still a reliable commodity down at the main station. An RSD1 is the usual provider but an RSD3 is way past due. Passengers are down – freight is up. Its normal resting-place is just under the spout of the old water tank. The Winter Valley Historical Society has restored the structure and rebuilt the interior into a fine museum. This picture was taken just after the Colder turn arrived from the mine site. It will sit out on the main line all night (After all, no one is coming.) and continue on to Grizzly Junction, and CN, in the morning.
The end of Main Street remains just about the same as it did when 2-6-4’s polished the railheads around here. The CNoR 3 rd Class depot was adopted as ‘classic’ CNR early after the amalgamation and it has become an important icon of Western Canada. Refreshed and repainted, it’s as good as that day in 1923 when it was built. The town machine shop of course has undergone a number of transformations over the years. The blacksmith retired many years ago and the single pump never offered a viable living to those that followed. Then, after a decade or more of silence, it found a new life as a great little cycle shop. People come from miles around again. Maybe even to watch trains.