Nine-in-a-Line

Vulcan Advocate September 10, 1924

“Flowers are all right in their way, but it is the wheat that counts, so say the farmers of today. And the bouquet of wheat brought to The Advocate office by Mr. R. McLeod, just about proves the claim. It was made up of some of the finest heads that have ever been seen in the neighborhood. It was taken to the hotel where everybody can have a look at it, and it certainly commanded admiration.”

Wheat Country history books

When this area was settled the huge, high quality wheat crops attracted more settlers, increasing the rural population. The wheat grown was the hardest spring wheat in the world, making it excellent for milling. Access to a market was needed. The coming of the railroad provided that. The railway grade was built in 1910, with the steel coming in 1911 and the first train coming through in October. The first elevator, Terwilliger Grain Elevator, was built in 1911. The huge crops attracted many elevators, referred to as “Prairie Sentinels” in the following years. In the 1920’s, pictures of Vulcan’s elevators, affectionately referred to as the “Nine-in-a-Line,” were published in national magazines, trade magazines, newspapers, on calendars.

As more capacity was needed, more elevators were built and some were twinned. The row of elevators made an impressive sight for many years, a testament to the bountiful results of hard labor through the years.

An entrance sign on Highway in 1987 provided this information:
“The town of Vulcan has the greatest grain storage capacity in its 12 elevators, each with annexes, of any primary grain shipping point in Canada. The gross capacity of the elevators operated by five different companies is 2,056,500 bushels. They handle spring wheat, barley and flax, which are the principle grains growing in the district. The average farm is approximately 720 acres in size. Vulcan, with a population of 1600, is a service and administrative centre serving a trading area of some 7,000 people.”

As in other prairie towns, the trend in recent years has been to demolish the wooden elevators and build a much larger cement land terminal. The wooden ones were prone to fire and explosions. Private elevator companies have merged. The romance of our “Prairie Sentinels” has entered another chapter.

Elevators in the photo: Alberta Wheat Pool (twinned, continuing north, came the Alberta Pacific Grain (twinned), United Grain Growers (twinned), National, Searle, Parrish and Heimbecker, Pioneer, Alberta Wheat Pool, Pioneer.

Names on the elevators varied as companies sold to others, or amalgamated to form new companies.

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