Nov 30, 2012

Medicine Hat Rail Yard & Roundhouse

Like so many other prairie communities across North America, the railway was a lifeline that spurred immediate growth and development.  As I explained with my CPR Bridge photo set, the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in Medicine Hat in 1883 and made the settlement a divisional point on their mainline.  

It's not immediately clear from the information I've uncovered when the CPR roundhouse was built or if there was additional construction or demolition as the rail yard grew.  I have found a lot of archival images of the yard, but the dates are skewed and it's not entirely clear what state the roundhouse is in in all of them.  What is certain is that the roundhouse was demolished decades ago, and the city has since commercially developed the land where it used to be.

Medicine Hat Rail Yard ca. 1960s

What makes the rail yard such a fascinating location is that it's been central to so many other buildings and early industries in Medicine Hat.  From the train station, to hotels like the Cecil and Corona, to industries like the Five Roses Flour Mill and others further into the clay district, the railway was a link to them all.  Today there are still clues to a lot of faded histories along the tracks.  There are a number of fading painted signs, rough looking warehouses, and locations that simply raise more questions.  It's easy to see the difference 100 years makes though.

If anyone has more information about the roundhouse in Medicine Hat or knows another resource for looking it up, please get in touch.  

Early Medicine Hat postcard showing the rail yard ca. 1911-1913

CPR Roundhouse ca. 1910 with the train station on the far left.

View today without the roundhouse.

CPR Roundhouse ca. 1955

Rail yard ca. 1968

Canadian Pacific train in the yard ca. 1928

View of rail yard with Five Roses Mill and Elm Street School ca. 1910-1920s
View today.  Take note of how the city has grown onto the hill.

Aerial view of train yard ca. 1968

Overpass ca. 1962

View of the rail yard with the Corona in the background.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Growing up in the Hat in the 70s and 80s, the roundhouse was used for light diesel maintenance. There was only 5 or so stalls during that time.

The roundhouse was torn down and that chunk of rail yard was converted into roadway and strip malls in the late 80's or very early 90s.