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former Alberta Central Railway (CPR)

 
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News articles about Alberta Central Railway heritage
including the Mintlaw elevator, ACR pillar in Red Deer and history of the ACR
but excluding Mintlaw bridge and Benalto station, each with its own news page:

 
Jan. 19, 2017, Red Deer Advocate (Lana Michelin) & Jan. 26, Central Alberta Life

Group formed to try to save aging grain elevator
Fight to save grain elevator
 
Blackfalds grain elevator could be saved
'The new owners don't know what to do with the grain elevator . . . we don't want to lose such a poignant piece of local history' - Bob Gugin, Old Prairie Sentinel Distillery
Mintlaw elevator - Red Deer Advocate photo   The 94-year-old Mintlaw grain elevator near Blackfalds just might escape the wrecker's ball for a second time.
   The smallish Searle Grain Co. elevator built in 1923 initially had a date with a demolition crew some 60 years ago.
   That's when a heritage-minded Central Alberta farmer saved the 15,000-bushel structure by moving it onto his farm, located seven kilometres northeast of Blackfalds, from its original site, south of Red Deer.
   Now the aging elevator's roof is sagging and the farm's current owners would like to see it gone. Kim Bloomfield, the Blackfalds farm's co-owner, told an agricultural publication last year she's hoping the wooden structure can be moved or dismantled, "because we can use the space for something else."
   "The new owners don't know what to do with the grain elevator," admitted Red Deer-area resident Rob Gugin. But he's rather attached to it, since he incorporated an image of the Mintlaw elevator on corporate logos for his new Lacombe-based Old Prairie Sentinel Distillery.
   Gugin said a regional group was recently formed to try to save the elevator, since these 'sentinels of the Prairies' are becoming so scarce. "We don't want to lose such a poignant piece of local history..."
   The committee plans to discuss fundraising ideas for moving it to another property, added the entrepreneur, who's heartened that Bloomfield is willing to listen to ideas for preserving it.
   But the big question will be where can the sizable structure be relocated?
Photo:
This grain elevator, formerly located in Mintlaw, now sits on Reg and Kim Bloomfield's farm northeast of Blackfalds.
Red Deer Advocate Photo


Sept. 24, 2014, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
A look back at the Alberta Central Railway
ACR Mintlaw trestle under construction 1911   This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the final chapters in the history of one of the grandest dreams, and greatest disappointments in Red Deer's history.
   The dream was the construction of a 'transcontinental' railway, centered in Red Deer, and extending from the Hudson Bay to the B.C. coast.
   When the last of the Alberta Central Railway was constructed in the summer of 1914, the line only consisted of a branch from Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House and operated as a minor subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
   The origins of the Alberta Central actually went back to May 1901 when a railway charter was granted by the federal government to a group of Red Deer and Ontario businesspeople. Originally, the line was to run from Delburne area to Rocky Mountain House.
   However, over the years, the A.C.R.'s charter was amended to allow it to build a line from the Fraser Valley through the Yellowhead Pass to Moose Jaw, with extensions to Saskatoon and the Hudson Bay.
   For a long time, very little happened with the A.C.R. other than the periodic time extensions to its charter by the federal government.
   Eventually, people began to tire of the lack of concrete action.
   Demands were made that the A.C.R. either start immediate construction, or else sell its charter to a more bonafide railroad company.
   Action finally came in April 1909 when the Federal Government offered a subsidy of $6,400 per mile to a railway constructed between Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House.
   Soon crews of surveyors were laying out a rail route. Some brushing and grading commenced in the spring of 1910.
   The driving of the first spike in Red Deer by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier in August 1910 was a wonderful public relations event.
   It seemed proof that the construction of the A.C.R. was finally fact and not political fiction. However, a severe thunderstorm cut short the A.C.R. ceremony. It seemed symbolic of the problems which were to follow.
   In late 1910, the Canadian Northern Western Railway started construction of a line from just north of Red Deer westwards to Rocky Mountain House and then onto the Brazeau coalfields at Nordegg.
   This new competitor was anxious to build as fast as possible. Therefore, it closely followed the route which had already been mapped out by the A.C.R.
   Having not one but two railroads being built, literally side by side, drove up construction costs dramatically.
   However, with wages for labourers rising by 50% and with prices for things such as oats soaring to three times the Alberta average, there was soon a wonderful economic boom in Red Deer and across west Central Alberta.
   Unfortunately, the A.C.R. found it increasingly difficult to manage financially.
   The company did not have enough capital to fulfill its grand plans.
   With prices and wages leaping, there was no way that the A.C.R. could cover its day-to-day bills.
   Finally, in late 1911, an agreement was made with the C.P.R. to have that company take over the A.C.R.'s charter and the construction of the line.
   While some insisted that the C.P.R. would eventually follow through with the grand plans to extend the A.C.R. from Moose Jaw to the B.C. coast, it gradually became evident that the C.P.R. had no such intent.
   By late 1913 and early 1914, the construction of the two rail lines began to wind down.
   The A.C.R. was completed to Rocky Mountain House in the summer of 1914, and the C.N.W.R. finished construction to Nordegg.
   The economy of Red Deer and area began to noticeably slow. The great boom was finally coming to an end.
   In 1983, the entire A.C.R. branch line of the C.P.R. was finally abandoned. However, Red Deer County purchased the rail bridge across the Red Deer River and a major portion of the old right of way, from the C.P.R. for a possible utilities corridor/walking trail. Thus, the legacy of the A.C.R. may continue.
Photo: Construction of the Alberta Central Railway (Mintlaw) bridge across the Red Deer River, 1911.
Red Deer Archives P2631


March 31, 2010, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)
Region celebrating century of railroad heritage
One hundred years ago, in 1910, Red Deer enjoyed one of the strongest booms in its history. A significant factor in that boom was an enormous amount of railroad construction and development, involving three different railway companies. Probably the most important boost to the local economy came with the decision of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to make Red Deer the major divisional point on the Calgary-Edmonton line.
(more)

  

Oct. 24, 2008, Red Deer Advocate (Brenda Kossowan)
Historic significance of concrete obelisk preserved in mural
ACR-bridge-pillar- Fiedler photo Advocate   Signs marking the sole remnant of the best little railroad that never was were to be unveiled today.
   A chubby concrete obelisk that looks oddly out of place at its site alongside Taylor Drive, west of the Capri Centre, the bridge abutment is all that remains of a group of Red Deer and Ontario business owners' plans to build a Western Canada railway network.
   Backed by Red Deer MLA John T. Moore (Liberal), the Alberta Central Railway got its greatest boost in 1910, when Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier and railways minister George Graham came to drive the first spike at site near the Capri, wrote Red Deer archivist Michael Dawe.
   But the plans fell short a year later when CPR took control of the ACR, promising to complete construction of the railway. Boosted by a federal subsidy of $6,400 per mile ($4,000 per kilometre), a railway station and yards had been built along with the first section of the line, running from Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House.
   But the CPR eventually abandoned the project and the line was ripped up, leaving only the two abutments where it bridged Waskasoo Creek.
   One of the two abutments was removed to make way for construction of Taylor Drive, wrote Dawe.
   Fearing that the remaining abutment would meet a similar fate, Red Deer historian Harlan Hulleman helped lobby the city to have it preserved.
   "I remember there being two, but when they built Taylor Drive, one was taken down. So, some people worry that this last bridge abutment might be thought of as too ugly to survive.
   "So, the idea of putting a mural on the abutment is so that people are aware of the significance of this railroad line and that we preserve it," Hulleman said on Thursday.
   He was among the people to attend the unveiling ceremony, set for 2 p.m. today.
   Pat Matheson, public art co-ordinator for the City of Red Deer, credited Hulleman with spearheading the creation and installation of the sign that now marks the abutment.
   "Hulleman raised funds for the project and approached the City of Red Deer for permission to have the sign placed on the abutment," Matheson said in a prepared statement.
   Local artist Shane Young designed the sign, featuring two historical photographs from the ACR: a steam locomotive and an image of Laurier and Graham driving the first spike.
   Sign sponsor Indie Signs transferred Young's image to a weather-resistant material and installed the sign on the side of the abutment.
Photo: Taylor Drive traffic passes the new Alberta Central Railway sign on the concrete obelisk originally built as a railway bridge abutment. Photo by Randy Fiedler, Red Deer Advocate


April 23, 2008, Red Deer Express (Michael Dawe)

The origins of Alberta Central Rail Pillar
ACR 1st spike 1910   One of the most unique historic landmarks in Red Deer is the solitary bridge pillar which stands along Taylor Dr., halfway between the intersections with 32 and 43 Sts.
   It is a reminder of a very ambitious venture from the years before the First World War. That was the Alberta Central Railway, a largely local attempt to build a "transcontinental" rail line across Western Canada.
   The origins of the Alberta Central go back to May 1901 when a charter was granted by the federal government to a group of Red Deer and Ontario businessmen.
   Originally, a rail line was authorized to run from Coal Banks, near modern day Delburne, to Rocky Mountain House.
   However, as the great settlement boom built momentum across Central Alberta, the plans were expanded to run the line from the Fraser Valley, through the Yellowhead Pass to Moose Jaw, with extensions to Saskatoon and the Hudson Bay.
   One of the key backers of the Alberta Central was John T. Moore. Originally a chartered accountant, he had been the managing director of the Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Company.
   That company, on Moore's recommendation, had purchased more than 115,000 acres of land in the Red Deer area.
   The company's lands were laid out in a rectangle, with Red Deer in the middle.
   The plans for the Alberta Central offered a way of opening up the districts to the east and west of Red Deer, thereby making the S.L.H. Co.'s holdings much more valuable.
   Moreover, John T. Moore was very ambitious politically. Constructing railroads was good politics.
   He ran successfully in the 1905 Alberta provincial election and became Red Deer's first M.L.A.
   He ran unsuccessfully for the nomination in the 1908 federal election and for re-election in the 1909 provincial election.
   In each of the campaigns, the promise of construction of the Alberta Central was used by Moore to garner votes. In fact, in the 1908 contest, a mysterious surveyor showed up to plant survey stakes in politically important areas.
   Eventually, people began to tire of the surplus of promises and lack of concrete action. Demands were made that the Alberta Central either start immediate construction or else sell its charter to a more bona-fide railroad company.
   Action finally came in April 1909 when the federal government offered a subsidy of $6400 per mile for a rail line constructed between Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House.
   Soon crews of surveyors were out laying out a rail line. Some grading work began in the spring of 1910.
   A real coup for Moore came in August 1910 when he was able to get the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Wilfred Laurier, and the federal Minister of Railways, George Graham, to drive the first spike for the Alberta Central on a site very close to the present location of the Capri Hotel.
Photo: Sir Wilfred Laurier driving the first spike for the Alberta Central Railway, August 10, 1910.
Appearing in the photo are John T. Moore, President of the A.C.R., George P. Graham, Federal Minister of Railways, Sir Wilfred Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, and Duncan Marshall, Provincial Minister of Agriculture.

Photo courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives


March 28, 2007, Red Deer Advocate '100 Years Vol. 1' (Michael Dawe)

1910
Alberta Central Railway helped open region

 
Sir Wilfrid Laurier ACR 1st spike   On Aug. 10, 1910, the prime minister of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, came to Red Deer and drove the first spike for the Alberta Central Railway.
   The event was significant not only because it was part of the first major visit to Red Deer by a Canadian prime minister. It also represented the start of a major development for Central Alberta.
   The origins of the Alberta Central went back to May 1901, when a charter was granted by the federal government to a group of Red Deer and Ontario businessmen.
   Originally, the rail line was authorized to run from Coal Banks, near modern-day Delburne, to Rocky Mountain House.
   However, over the years, the ACR's charter was amended to allow it to run its line from the Fraser Valley through the Yellowhead Pass to Moose Jaw, with extensions to Saskatoon and the Hudson Bay.
   In short, it was planned that the ACR would eventually become a "transcontinental" railroad extending all across Western Canada.
   For a long time, little happened with the ACR other than periodic time extensions to its charter by the federal government.
   That is not to say that the ACR was forgotten.
   Construction of railroads was politically very popular. John T. Moore, the major force behind the railway, had political ambitions.
   He ran successfully in the 1905 provincial election. He ran unsuccessfully for a nomination in the 1908 federal election and for re-election in the 1909 provincial election.
   In each campaign, the promise of construction of the ACR was used to garner votes.
   In fact, in the 1908 contest, a mysterious surveyor showed up to plant survey stakes in politically important areas.
   Eventually, people began to tire of the lack of concrete action.
   Demands were made that the ACR either start immediate construction or sell its charter to a more bona-fide railroad company.
   Action finally came in April 1909 when the federal government offered a subsidy of $6,400 per mile to a railway constructed between Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House.
   Soon crews of surveyors were laying out a rail route. Some brushing and grading commenced in the spring of 1910.
   The driving of the first spike by Laurier was a wonderful public relations event.
   It seemed proof that construction of the ACR was finally fact and not political fiction.
   However, a severe thunderstorm cut short the ceremony. It seemed symbolic of the problems that were to follow.
Mintlaw ACR bridge under construction 1911   In late 1910, the Canadian Northern Western Railway started construction of a line from just north of Red Deer westwards to Rocky Mountain House and then on to the Brazeau coalfields at Nordegg.
   This new competitor was anxious to build as fast as possible. Therefore, it closely followed the route that had already been mapped out by the ACR.
   Having not one but two railroads being built, literally side by side, drove up construction costs dramatically.
   However, with wages for labourers rising by 50 per cent and with prices for things such as oats soaring to three times the Alberta average, there was soon a wonderful economic boom in Red Deer and across West Central Alberta.
   Unfortunately, the ACR found it increasingly difficult to manage financially. The company did not have enough capital to fulfill its grand plans. With prices and wages leaping, there was no way that the railway could cover its day-to-day bills.
   Finally, in late 1911, an agreement was made with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to have that company take over the ACR's charter and construction of the line.
   While some insisted that the CPR would eventually follow though with the grand plans to extend the ACR from Moose Jaw to B.C. coast, it gradually became evident that the CPR had no such intent.
   By late 1913 and early 1914, the construction of the two rail lines began to wind down.
   As the ACR was completed to Rocky Mountain House and the Canadian Northern Western Railway finished construction to Nordegg, the economy of Red Deer and area began to slow. The great boom was finally coming to an end.
   That is not to say that the ACR did not leave a lasting legacy. It helped to open up and develop West Central Alberta.
   It ensured Red Deer's position as the major transportation and distribution centre for the region. As such, it laid the foundation for future growth and prosperity.
Photos: 1. Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier visited Red Deer in 1910 to drive the first spike for the Alberta Central
  Railway. Photo courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives
  2. The Alberta Central Railway Bridge was built across the Red Deer River in 1911.

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