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Benalto Train Station returned to
hamlet after lengthy journey
reprinted from Sylvan Lake News (Stuart Fullarton) May 2, 2013

More than 40 years after leaving, the Benalto Train Station finally returned home last Wednesday.

"It's been a while coming, but now it's a reality," said Benalto resident Betty Nielsen, who remembers watching the station leave the hamlet in 1971.

Nielsen was one of dozens of people who lined the streets of Benalto to witness the station's homecoming, which took place following its slow drive along Hwy. 11 from Red Deer.

A number of setbacks meant the station's arrival was delayed several times throughout the day, but excited residents and visitors stuck around to experience the momentous occasion.

"It's a big thing, and it's very exciting because it's a positive story," said Benalto Centennial Committee chair Dave More, adding that the crew transporting the station took no chances when it came to safety.

Power lines needed to be raised each time they were encountered during the station's trip from just outside of Red Deer.

"It's a good crew moving it, and every time they come to a line, they have to bring all the traffic to a complete halt," said More. "If something was wrong with the line, they don't want to endanger anybody, so they're being very careful."

The train station was given a police escort into Benalto, where members of the Shadow Riders 4-H Club horses led it the rest of the way to its original home.

The train station was moved by Taber-based Wade's House Moving and Heavy Hauling.

Food and refreshments were served to those eagerly awaiting the station's arrival.

"I think it's amazing, because it's all about the community," said Carole Verrault, who, on behalf of ATB Financial in Red Deer, cooked hot dogs.

Benalto resident John Moorhouse felt the station's return was a fitting way to mark the hamlet's centennial year in 2014.

"It's good to see it coming back and it couldn't happen at a much better time," he said.

After leaving Benalto, the train station was bought by Jack and Joan Donald of Red Deer. It was then transformed into a house and moved to the east of Red Deer River near Penhold. It eventually made it's way to Red Deer County west of Red Deer, where it was situated until its return to Benalto.

When members of Benalto Centennial Committee heard that its owners, Garett and Brenda Cupples, were willing to donate it back to Benalto, they quickly began raising money to fund its return.

"The fundraising has been absolutely awesome," said Benalto Centennial Committee's Karen Turner-Padley. "We've heard from people from all over Alberta, and we've had lots of companies that have been really behind us."

Turner-Padley admitted that members of the committee had been "having heart attacks" at the thought of not being able to fund the move.

Generosity from community members and businesses, however, helped the dream of bringing the station home become a reality.

"It's a lot of money to bring it here," said Turner-Padley. "Once the word got out, it did come quick. We were basically more than half way there less than a month after starting the fundraising, and it's been just steadily coming ever since.

"Even kids have been putting their candy money and stuff in the donation box."

The Cupples, who donated the station, were unable to attend the homecoming, but were happy to hear that it had arrived safely.

When they made the decision to donate the station, they were unaware that Benalto would be celebrating its centennial next year.

"Everything kind of worked out the way it was supposed to work out," said Garett Cupples. "It was really neat to see everybody put their heads together and say, 'let's make this happen'".

Fundraising for the train station is ongoing, according to More. Further donations will help in the next phases of development. Donors will be recognized by having their names appear on railway-related fixtures inside, he said.

The train station will act as a community centre, museum and gathering area for Benalto residents and visitors.

"We want to make it an all-year place where people can come and gather and maybe have meetings, small weddings, social gatherings and family gatherings," said More. "Our next step will be to make it into a place not just for Benalto, but for the whole community."

Donations may be sent to Benalto Booster Club Centennial Project, Box 135, Benalto, Alberta T0M 0H0.

News articles related to Alberta Central Railway heritage:
       News article: Riders welcome train station home to Benalto
(Red Deer Advocate Apr.2013)
       News article: Benalto station move delayed (Red Deer Advocate Mar.2013)
       News article: Benalto train station to return home after 42-year absence
(Sylvan Lake News Feb.2013)
       News article: Former Benalto train station donated back to community (Red Deer Advocate Feb.2013)
       News article: Historic significance of concrete obelisk preserved in mural
(Red Deer Advocate Oct.2008)

News articles related to ACR/CPR Mintlaw bridge:
Commentary: Preservation Opportunity Not to be Lost
(Innisfail Province & Red Deer Advocate June 2015)
       News article: Red Deer County seeks partners to afford bridge access (Mountain View Gazette Apr.2012)
       News article: County council looks at bridge as tourist attraction
(Red Deer Advocate April 2012)
       News article: Plans for Mintlaw Bridge waiting on public feedback
(Mountain View Gazette Feb.2012)
       News article: Opposition comes forward to Mintlaw Bridge preservation
(Mountain View Gazette May 2011)
       News article: Reinforcing our history
(Red Deer Advocate Mar.2011)
       News article: Repairs planned for crumbling CPR bridge
(Red Deer Advocate Feb.2011)
       News article: RD County antes up for Mintlaw Bridge repairs
(Mountain View Gazette Nov.2010)
       News article: Bridging gap between history and disrepair
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2010)
       News article: County buys bridge for a buck
(Red Deer Advocate Dec.2009)
       News article: County buys historic railway bridge
(Red Deer Express Dec.2009)

News articles related to regional historic railway stations:
       News article: Alberta railway stations get a new lease on life
(AgCanada Nov.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: Historic train station relocated to Beiseker
(Rockyview Weekly July 2012)
       News article: A new face for the old station (Red Deer Life July 1996)

Alberta Central Railway (CPR) - Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House
Canadian Pacific Railway Stations in Central Alberta
Red Deer once had four railway stations

ACR/CPR Mintlaw Steel Trestle

Michael Dawe articles related to Alberta Central Railway / CPR ACR branch heritage
A look back at the Alberta Central Railway (Red Deer Express Sept.2014)
       Laurier's 1910 visit huge event for city (Red Deer Express August 2010)
       Mintlaw Bridge essential to region's railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)
       Sir Wilfrid Laurier visited Red Deer (Red Deer Advocate May 2010)
       The origins of Alberta Central Rail pillar (Red Deer Express April 2008)
       Alberta Central Railway helped open region (Red Deer Advocate Special March 2007)
       John T. Moore (Red Deer Express Feb.2003)

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