After years of failed rejuvenation attempts, it appears Locomotive 5080 at the Prince Albert Exhibition Grounds will run again.
Making an “impassioned plea” for city support, Arne Lindberg of the train's resoration committee, pitched a promising preservation for the century-old steam locomotive.
“This is a huge piece of history that we are looking at right now,” Lindberg said. “That locomotive [has] got a storied history here we need to preserve.”
The steam locomotive was built in 1914 in Montreal. It is one of only 61 built between 1914 and 1918 before it was put in service on a line between the Hudson's Bay junction and The Pas.
Lindberg outlined the numerous attempts made since 2008 to resurrect the machine. The talks have included discussions about everything from dining car service and transportation with Carlton Trail Railway, dealings with various casino services, the Western Development Museum (WDM) and applications for federal grants. Sadly, everything had fallen by the rails.
"Everyone wanted to go to the dance but nobody had any money,” Lindberg added, making note of vegetation growing in the train and various signs of “senseless vandalism.”
Recently, the team pushing restoration had spoken at length with management at Aspen Crossing - a train themed destination just outside Calgary. Owner Jason Thornhill plans to totally rebuild and put back in service the locomotive at a site where rail service of old is showcased.
John Diefenbaker’s private business car is also housed at Aspen Crossing. Thornhill said he will transport the train to Alberta and finance a four year, $1 million restoration of 5080, as the engine is near the end of its restorable life.
Thornhill also planned to have the City of Prince Albert’s Coat of Arms alongside a plaque with the names of the mayor and councillors on the train, plus Prince Albert souvenirs inside.
Mayor Greg Dionne was an avid supporter of restoration means for 5080 and is looking to move fast on the proposal.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to see it leave our community either, but we don’t have the million dollars,” he said. “If you look at it, it is just sitting at the front of the property rotting away and that is a shame.”
The mayor made note he had spoken with the WDM and they will offer a letter of support for the move.
Also supportive was Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick, who found it “important to restore” the locomotive. Though he was pained “to have something like that leave,” he said, “it is time that it finds a proper home.”
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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