Historic train station relocated to Beiseker
After more than two years of effort, Beiseker is the new home of an historic train station.
The circa 1911 station, which is 162 feet long by 31 feet wide, was moved about 156 kilometres on July 19 from its previous home in Bassano, where it had fallen into disrepair. The 100-year-old building now rests on the west side of Beiseker at the Rail Museum site awaiting restoration and a future life as a museum.
“This is one of the last wooden-framed stations that are available,” said Fred Walters, Beiseker councillor and member of the Alberta 2005 Centennial Railway Museum Society (RMS), the organization responsible for the move.
“There is 100 years of Alberta railway history (represented).”
Mammoet Movers oversaw the relocation of the building with a crew of seven. The move cost about $400,000, money garnered from government grants and community fundraising efforts.
According to Walters, restoration of the roof will begin as early as July 23. The building is scheduled to be moved onto its foundation later this summer.
Walters, who has lived in Beiseker for 18 years, added an early estimate of the cost of restoring the station is $200,000. According to Walters, three or four previous attempts to move the train over the past year have failed due to permitting and equipment problems.
About 50 curious bystanders were on hand for the train station’s entrance into the village on two flatbed trucks. The atmosphere was festival-like, with kids cheering and adults taking photos of the building.
Several media outlets were also on hand, including a cameraman from the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, which plans on featuring the move in a future episode.
“This is awesome,” said Melanie McCullough, who has lived in the village for eight years. “The adrenaline is just going, you can’t even foresee the excitement until it happens.”
Walters’ wife Marion said she is proud of her husband, who played a large role in bringing the station to the village.
“He has worked very hard to bring it here and he had a lot of support from the community,” said Marion of her husband of 53 years. “I’m so thankful that it’s here and he can say ‘it’s done.’ He is 75 years old and this is keeping him young.”
Lisa Kirkland, a member of the RMS, which is a non-profit organization, was on hand to witness the move as well.
“I think most people are relieved (it’s here),” she said, adding the relocation went smoothly.
Kirkland said the society is planning on constructing a 300-foot platform to the station and laying rail ties to mimic what the station would have looked like about 100 years ago.
The station will join about 18 pieces of railway equipment located on the land, mostly obtained from Canadian Pacific Railway, including old cars dating as far back as 1921 and a double-track snowplough built in 1930, the last built by the rail company, said Kirkland.
Walters said the museum will be good for the village as it will attract visitors.
“It will become a tourist attraction and small towns need tourists to survive,” he said.