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Rail Construction Continues

An overview of the railway restoration project.


Last season, construction was seriously hampered by an extensive over-growth of sweet clover which had to be cleared prior to laying down the ties and rail. The good news is that this work is complete all the way to Highway 601 and rail was spiked and bolted in place to within a mile and one-half of this important crossing.


We just received word that any requirement to install electronic lights at the Highway 601 crossing has been waived by Alberta Transportation. East Central Alberta Heritage Society’s consulting engineer, Ralph Garrett of Calgary, had made a strong argument that railway warning lights should not be required at this lightly used highway/railway crossing. The resulting construction cost saving to the society will be between $100,000 and $150,000.


Another bit of good news is that two much-needed railway gravel ballast cars have been acquired from Northern Plains Railway in North Dakota, and both of these cars have finally arrived after close to a six-month wait. Over the last couple of years efforts to rent, lease, purchase, or borrow ballast cars had been blocked by a more pressing need elsewhere in North America. These cars are essential to moving more than 10,000 tonnes of specialized gravel currently stored at Fenn. Ballast has been in storage and ready for delivery for more than three years thanks to the expertise and generosity of Earl Marshall Trucking who made these materials available at less than cost.


Our project is the first of its kind in more than 90 years. It has been a very long time since anyone has attempted to construct close to ten miles of rail infrastructure by hand using little more than manpower and a minimum of light equipment. Doing things by hand is historically accurate but it is time consuming and the bad weather can play havoc with construction schedules, which has been the case over the last two years.


All the materials necessary to complete the Stettler-Red Willow rail line are in stock and available funding should see the completion of this phase of construction for the most part in 2014.

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