I decided to begin my research on Vernon River by first digging into the type of freight traffic the village would typically see.
By far, my favourite types of rolling stock to model are reefers, stock cars and tank cars: so I knew that whatever prototype I did choose would need to tick off most, if not all, of those boxes.
As detailed in the PEI government’s 1958 air photos, by the late 1950s, Vernon River had two potato warehouses along the public siding and a CO-OP Warehouse with its dedicated three-car siding. These buildings, by their nature, would generate a significant amount of reefer and boxcar traffic. Especially so leading up to the potato harvest, the railroad would have reefer cars staged pretty well wherever they could fit them island wide.
What was less evident to me about Vernon River was the amount, if any, livestock traffic the village received- let alone enough to have a stock pen on site.
A dig into UPEI’s newspaper archives located the following advertisements:
“Loading hogs for Canada Packers at Vernon River every Tuesday afternoon. Trucking where possible. Ralph Lea.” [March 25, 1948]
Swift Canadian Co. LTD loading hogs at Vernon River [Feb 1953]
BUYING HOGS— I will buy hogs at Vernon River Station on Thursday the 24th inst. Alex McMillan [March 22, 1921]
Indeed, referring back to the 1935 PEI air survey of Vernon River shows what appears to be a stock pen east of the station. Compared to the 1958 photo, it is shown that sometime between 1935 and 1958, the stock pen was demolished. Considering the 1953 newspaper advertisement for Swift Canada loading hogs, which is the last livestock loading advertisement I could find for Vernon River, it is more likely that the stock pen was torn down sometime between 1953 and 1958.
For me, this isn’t a big deal. Since I loosely base my era on the late 50s, I can justify including this stock pen on the layout. Since no plans for the stock pen exist, I will use drawings my friend Chris Mears made of the stock pen at Millview for the basis of a stand-in model.
I plan to address other types of rail traffic Vernon River would receive in my next post.