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of the reserve. Grain shipments boomed and from the fall of 1883 to February of 1884, 243,500 bushels of wheat were shipped from the Gretna station."
Before the railway expanded into southern Manitoba no trading centers existed within the area of Mennonite settlement on the West Reserve. Grist mills and saw mills operated in a number of Mennonite villages and stores existed in Reinland and Neuanlage, but no villages had evolved into trading centres. By the time the Mennonites immi grated to Manitoba in the 1870's no Mennonite business group had emerged in Russia. In Russia they had depended on Jewish pedlars and businessmen for their outside needs. Thus, during the early years in Manitoba Mennonites relied on non-Mennonite entrepreneurs in Emer son, Nelsonville, and Mountain City.
The first trading centers for the West Reserve Mennonites had been Winnipeg and Emerson. Winnipeg, however, was too far away and after the settlers had made their initial purchases there, they relied on local centers. Emerson and West Lynne were the grain and livestock centers until towns were established in the Pembina Hills country.
Nelsonville developed into a regional center when a sawmill, a grist mill and a store were established there between 1877 -1879. Moun tain City, eight miles south of Nelsonville on the Post Road, developed into another center. Trading centers in the West Reserve proper, however, had to await the coming of the railway.
The railway, when it arrived in 1882, was instrumental in bringing about a change in the almost complete divorce between Mennonite settlement and trading centers. Towns that sprang up along the railway marked a real break from Mennonite life in south Russia and ultimately served as a bridge for the adaptation of the Mennonites to prairie society.
As early as the 1870's Emerson and Winnipeg interests had applied for charters to build a railway through the West Reserve. Emerson's proposal was a life and death matter, since its carefully nurtured trade with the area would be eliminated if Winnipeg established direct rail contact with southwestern Manitoba. Every application by Emerson was disallowed, however, the first railway built into the area was the CPR's Southwestern and Pembina Mountain Branch. Having begun in 1881, the Southwestern Branch ran south from Winnipeg to the townsite of Gretna on the international boundary, while the Pembina Mountain Branch was built westward to the escarpment from Rosenfeld. Regular