Rail History of
History of the
Preservation in Central Alberta
Central Alberta has a rich railway heritage and much of it is being
lost. However, much is also being preserved. There are a handful of
railway stations, grain elevators, bridges or bridge piers, locomotives
and rolling stock, and even a working heritage steam train operation.
A group of people have come together to promote transportation heritage
as a theme for two major tourist attractors that combine commerce,
entertainment, education, hospitality, nature, heritage and community,
called the Forth
Junction Project. It also aims to integrate several of the regional
railway heritage preservation sites in Central Alberta and to preserve
or replicate additional heritage icons of the region.
Prairie Steam Tours - Stettler
Five to six hour trip on the former
Canadian Northern Railway line
between Stettler and Big Valley using authentic restored steam
locomotives. Variety of trip options and packages mostly during the
summer months and also during other seasons. Options include dinner
trains, dinner theatres, family specials, train robberies, murder
mysteries and meals at Big Valley, the home of a restored Canadian
Northern railway station,
grain elevator, and a 14-stall roundhouse 'ruins' interpretive centre.
Steam locomotives include No. 41, a 1920 Baldwin Consolidation 2-8-0,
6060, a 1944 Canadian National Mountain 4-8-2 'Bullet-nosed Betty' owned
by the Rocky Mountain Rail Society. Vintage passenger
equipment includes a 1919 Canadian Northern combine and Canadian Pacific
1923 day coaches.
Valley Railway Station & Museum - restored 1912 second class Canadian Northern
Railway station, restored grain elevator, an interpretive
centre at the site of the original 14-stall roundhouse 'ruins', the new home of
the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame and home to the Canadian Heartland
Alberta Central Railway Museum - located in Wetaskiwin County
southeast of the city, the site includes several pieces of Canadian
Pacific railway rolling stock, equipment, structures, a scaled down replica of the Wetaskiwin 1907
Calgary-Edmonton railway station,
a mile of operational track, a diesel locomotive, RDC, speeders and a 1906 Alberta Grain Elevator
Henday Museum Delburne - located in a relocated Grand Trunk Pacific
railway station, the site includes an enclosed water tank and caboose.
Camrose Railway Park, Morgan Railway Garden and Tea Room - the
restored 1911 Canadian Northern Railway station includes the Canadian
Northern Society archives and library.
Alberta 2005 Centennial Railway Museum Beiseker - owned by
TransCanada Trails and located on the abandoned Canadian Pacific Langdon
subdivision that ran through Torrington and Wimborne, the museum is
still under development but has already acquired several pieces of
railway equipment mostly of Canadian Pacific vintage.
Museums that include Railway Heritage:
Town & Country Museum Stettler includes the Stettler Canadian Northern railway station,
Innisfail Historical Village includes the Bowden C & E Railway
N scale historical model displays under construction
Mirror & District Museum includes a CN caboose and history of the
town as the divisional
point on the former Grand Trunk Pacific Railway,
Three Hills Kneehill Historical Museum includes a station,
caboose and box car.
Railway Stations Restored on Original Site:
Deer: grand Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) station
was built in 1910 at the head of Ross Street and has been designated as
a historic site. It was restored in 1996 and is now used as an office building.
The rail yards were removed in 1991.
Big Valley: 1912 second class Canadian Northern station is a
museum and terminus for the Alberta Prairie Steam Tours train
Meeting Creek: restored 1913 third class Canadian Northern Railway
station deactivated in 1981 along the now abandoned Canadian
National/Central Western Stettler subdivision, restored in 1987 by
Canadian Northern Society.
Didsbury: restored 1904 Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian
Pacific) station in 1991, turned around to become the Chamber of
Commerce and visitor information building.
Railway Stations Relocated and Restored:
Historical Village is the home of the relocated 1904 Bowden
Calgary and Edmonton Railway station that was deactivated in 1968 and
moved to Innisfail in 1973.
Delburne: Grand Trunk Pacific Railway station moved to Anthony
Three Hills: Kneehill Historical Museum Grand Trunk Pacific
Stettler: 1911 second class Canadian Northern Railway station relocated to Town
& Country Museum.
Donalda: 1909 fourth class Canadian Northern Railway station
relocated from Vardura, Saskatchewan on abandoned Canadian
National/Central Western Stettler subdivision.
Rimbey: Canadian Pacific station relocated from Tees, probably
built around 1905
Camrose: restored 1911 third class Canadian Northern Railway station,
deactivated in 1988, relocated 500 metres and restored in 1993, has a
garden railway park, tea room, museum and archives of the Canadian
Railway Stations Replicated:
replica of original Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) station
built for use as
a commercial/office centre.
Lacombe: built in 2006-07 for use as a commercial centre, Siding 12
is a replica of the Lacombe 1911 Calgary and Edmonton Railway (CP) station
on the opposite side of the tracks as the original station that was torn
down in 1978.
Stettler: built in 1990 by Alberta Prairie Steam Tours, the depot is
similar to an early Canadian Northern railway station (the original
station was relocated in Stettler).
Wetaskiwin County: Alberta Central Railway Museum scaled down replica
of Wetaskiwin 1907 Calgary and Edmonton (Canadian Pacific) station.
Railway Stations Relocated for non-public use:
There is evidence of a few original stations used for farm, storage or
residential use including those from Red Deer (ACR Red Deer
County), Benalto (ACR/CPR Red Deer
County), Ardley (GTP/CNR Red Deer County), Hobbema
(C&E/CPR Ponoka County),
Railway Infrastructure Preserved:
Deer: Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) truss bridge
built across Red Deer River on north side of downtown in 1908,
designated a historical resource and transformed into a
pedestrian/bicycle trail and part of the TransCanada Trail system.
Red Deer: park fountain now located in
a downtown park close to its original location at the former CPR station park
that was replaced by a parking lot in 1950.
Red Deer: one of two Alberta Central Railway piers
originally used to support a rail bridge built in 1910 and removed in
1913 over the Calgary and Edmonton Railway (Canadian Pacific) and Waskasoo
Creek, still standing along Taylor Drive south of downtown. In August 1910, Prime
Minister Wilfred Laurier drove the first spike for the Alberta Central
at a point east of the pier.
Delburne: Grand Trunk Pacific (Canadian National) enclosed
water tank at the Anthony Henday Museum.
Big Valley: Canadian Northern (Canadian National) 14-stall Roundhouse
'ruins' Interpretive Centre.
Deer County: abandoned Alberta Central Railway Mintlaw steel
trestle bridge across the Red Deer River. The bridge, 2,112 ft. long
and 110 ft. high, was completed in the fall of 1912 and abandoned in
1983. At the time it was built, it was the second longest CPR steel trestle
Nordegg (Clearwater County): Nordegg Heritage Centre and Brazeau
Colleries Minesite Museum (National Historic Site) tours of coal mine
operations that ran from 1911 to 1955 on the Canadian Northern Western
Railway (CNR) Brazeau subdivision.
Grain Elevators Preserved:
Most of the grain elevators that marked the prairie landscape have
been destroyed. A few are still being used and a few have been abandoned
or moved to farms. A small number have been restored and/or preserved.
Big Valley Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator, Meeting Creek,
Castor 1910 elevator,
Wetaskiwin County 1906 Hobbema Alberta Grain Elevator Alberta Central
Stettler: Alberta Prairie Steam Tours
CN 6060 4-8-2 MLW 1944 Mountain steam locomotive,
retired 1959, owned by Rocky Mountain Rail Society;
No. 41 2-8-0 1920 Baldwin Consolidation steam locomotive;
CN 1259 GM 1958 SW1200 diesel locomotive.
Wetaskiwin County: Alberta Central Railway Museum
CP 8015 MLW 1959 RS23
CP 9108 Budd 1956 Rail Diesel Car (Dayliner)
Beiseker: Alberta 2005 Centennial Railway Museum
CN 8704 MLW 1959 S13
Canadian Pacific 1947 wood,
Delburne Canadian National 1967 steel,
Mirror Canadian National 1952 wood, ex-1918 box,
Three Hills Canadian National 1972 steel,
Stettler Canadian National 1951 wood, ex-1918 box,
Rimbey Canadian Pacific 1947 wood
Big Valley Canadian National 1942 wood, ex-GT-1910 box
Other Freight Rolling Stock:
Big Valley, Three Hills, Wetaskiwin County, Beiseker
(Alberta Prairie Steam Tours)
1919 Canadian Northern combine, 1923 CP day coaches
Wetaskiwin County (Alberta Central Railway Museum) 1926 coach-observation-buffet
1921 sleeper Glen Norman, renamed Val David,
express-baggage car used for displays, HO scale yard
Significant Railway Museums and Historic Sites Outside Central
Battle River Historical Museum Wainwright
Wainwright Railway Preservation Museum
Alberta Railway Museum north of Edmonton
Calgary and Edmonton Railway Station Museum Edmonton
Fort Edmonton Park Edmonton
Heritage Park Historical Village Calgary
Museum of the Highwood High River
Proposals and Concepts for future rail preservation:
The Alberta Central Heritage Model Rail
'Moving People by Rail' Themed Community
Historic Rail Background for 'Moving People by Rail' Proposal
The rail history of Central Alberta:
The Calgary and Edmonton Railway
The Calgary and Edmonton Railway
near Red Deer (Canadian Pacific)
The Alberta Central Railway
(abandoned Canadian Pacific)
The Canadian Northern
Western Railroad (Canadian National Brazeau subdivision)
The Canadian Northern Railway