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Rail being laid for heritage line

reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Paul Cowley) September 2, 2010

Work has begun on a project to lay 12 kilometres of track from Stettler to Red Willow for use by historic rail tours and to boost tourism.

Grading is nearly complete along the abandoned rail line north of Stettler that will be used to extend rail tours north to the small hamlet of a few dozen people. Once the gravel has been laid, the tracks will be laid, a project expected to be completed by the end of March.

The project is being led by the East Central Alberta Heritage Society (ECAHS) whose decade-long goal has been to restore the rail line on the east side of Hwy 56 ripped up for scrap in 1997. The society was able to raise enough money to buy the rail from Stettler to Big Valley and Alberta Prairie Railway runs popular tours along the 30-kilometre line.

Western Economic Diversification Canada gave the project to extend the line a big boost last year when $2.6 million in funding was announced and provided through Canadian Badlands, which promotes tourism in that stretch of Alberta. Since that announcement, another $600,000 has been raised through provincial and corporate funding, which will cover the cost of building the line to Red Willow.

An important hurdle was overcome recently when the society found the 80-pound steel rail necessary for the first leg.

Rail, ties and spikes were bought (from) Cando Contracting Ltd., a railway salvage company in Brandon, Manitoba. Cando is also supplying some of the equipment needed to lay the rail, as well as providing a $350,000 cash donation.

Local, provincial and national contractors will lay the track.

Society president Norma Leslie said they still plan one day to extend the track another 12 kilometres to Donalda.

"(ECAHS) will continue to pursue funding opportunities to extend the rail from Red Willow to Donalda, and beyond, but for the present the focus is on the projects we have begun.

"There is no definite target date, at this time, for the next extension," she said.

In the meantime, work is expected to begin on a number of linear parks that will be built at key points along the entire line. The work will also be funded mostly through the Western Economic Diversification Canada's Community Adjustment Fund, which provided $732,000 to build the parks. Another $60,000 came through private and corporate donations.

Consultations with landowners, environmental surveys and other preliminary work has been completed and fencing and grooming is already underway.

Leslie said five parks will go ahead and are expected to be completed by the end of March. They are slated for near Edberg, Meeting Creek, Big Valley, Rowley and Morrin.

       News article: Relic caboose gets new home (Red Deer Advocate May 2013)
       News article: Rail link effort chugging along
(Red Deer Advocate May 2013)
       News article: Big Valley station banks on restored roof (Stettler Independent Apr.2013)
       Blog: Big Valley Canadian Northern Station Celebrates 100 Years
(RETROactive Sept.2012)
       News article: Track for historic railway tours likely to be done by late summer
(Red Deer Advocate June 2011)
       Feature article: 6060 turns 66 (Red Deer Express Sept.2010)
       News article: Stettler group wants to convert grain elevator into museum
(Red Deer Advocate May 2010)
       News article: Train track wanted
(Red Deer Advocate May 2010)
       News article: Major funding will restore rail line to Donalda
(Stettler Independent Oct.2009)

Canadian Northern Railway in Central Alberta (CNR) - Camrose to Drumheller
Canadian National Railway Stations in Central Alberta


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