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Forth Junction Project
Lacombe and Blindman Valley Electric Railway
Canadian Pacific

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Lacombe & Blindman Valley

Lacombe and Blindman Valley Electric Railway
built 1917-19
renamed Lacombe and Northwestern Railway 1918
(Hoadley subdivision of Canadian Pacific Railway 1928-present)

Photo descriptions and credits at bottom of page.
Businessmen and farmers from Lacombe, Rimbey and Bentley incorporated the Lacombe & Blindman Valley Electric Railway in February of 1909 to serve those areas with a connection to the Calgary & Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) at Lacombe. It was one of several railways chartered in the Lacombe area at the time but the only one to actually build a line. Although, the line was originally intended to be electrified, the charter allowed any means of propulsion.
Aspen Beach/Gull Lake L&BVER/CPR station
It wasn't until 1913 that funding for the project was guaranteed by the provincial government for $7,000 per mile. Although grading was done west of Lacombe, World War I made the availability of steel rail almost impossible. In 1917, the railway was able to buy unused track from two other short lines in the province and was able to complete the line to Bentley. A station was also located at Gull Lake/Aspen Beach.

Baguley self-propelled railcar 1917 - Red Deer Archives P12785The first rail vehicle used by the railway was a British-built 'petrol-hydraulic' Baguley self-propelled passenger car but proved to be very unreliable and had a tendency to derail on curves.

The railway was able to lease some older engines and rolling stock from the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway including a small 0-4-0 saddle tank engine which hauled a flatcar modified to act as a tender and one combine (a freight/passenger car). The 'tender' included a wood sided coal bunker, a wooden water tank and space for freight. The tiny engine was nicknamed "the Peanut" and the line came to be known as the Peanut Line or the Peanut Special.

Peanut Special saddle back engine & flatcar tender - Floyd Yeats CollectionThe provincial government assumed control of the line in 1918 and it was reorganized as the Lacombe and Northwestern Railway.

The line reached Rimbey in 1919 and the first train arrived on October 25 of that year. It was later extended to Bluffton in 1920, and later to Hoadley, Winfield and Breton creating a loop from Lacombe to Leduc which was completed in 1931.

The government sold the line in 1928 to Canadian Pacific Railway which renamed it the Hoadley Subdivision although the Lacombe and Northwestern Railway remained a separate corporate entity until 1957. The central section between Rimbey and Breton was later abandoned. Mixed trains ran three times a week until the 1950s. Currently, local freights run on an as-needed irregular basis out of Red Deer.

Photo descriptions and credits:
Header: Tracks across the Mintlaw bridge near Red Deer (Paul Pettypiece);
Aspen Beach Gull Lake 1917 L&BVER/CPR station (source & date unknown);
L&BVER Baguley self-propelled car 1917 (Red Deer Archives P12785);
L&NWR 'The Peanut' saddle tank engine & flatcar tender ca 1928 (Floyd Yeats Collection);



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