September 9th, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. 36
Historic Locomotive in Blairmore to be restored
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
David Selles Photo
Council passed a motion to fully restore the train locomotive on main street in Blairmore. The locomotive has been in the community since 1920 when it was in use at the Hillcrest mine operations.
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
After receiving an email about the possibility of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass moving on from a historic locomotive, Council has decided to keep the historic locomotive in downtown Blairmore and fully restore it.

An email was received from Andrew MacInnis of the South Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society in January of 2020 requesting that Council consider donation of the steam locomotive No. 11 currently located on display on 20th Avenue in Blairmore.

MacInnis advised that the Society is pursuing opportunities to acquire a steam locomotive for restoration to service in tourist operations in southwestern Ontario.

Administration referred the request to Fred Bradley of the Crowsnest Historical Society for further input and to provide some historical background on the locomotive

Bradley has submitted a background report on the locomotive citing the history of the locomotive in the Crowsnest Pass dating back to 1920.
Mr. Bradley has researched the availability of grant dollars for restoration of the locomotive and has provided options for Council to consider with respect to either donating the locomotive or pursuing funding to embark on restoring the historical asset.

The locomotive was built in 1914 by the Canadian Locomotive Company in 1914 for the City of Winnipeg and operated by the Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway.

In 1920 it was acquired by Hillcrest Coke and Coal Company and used as yard engine to transport loaded coal cars to the CPR line.

With the closure of the Hillcrest mine in 1939 the locomotive was purchased by West Canadian Collieries for the yard engine for their Greenhill Mine in Blairmore and served that purpose until the closure of that mine in 1958.
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There are multiple newspaper clippings from the Lethbridge Herald that talk about history of the locomotive and the work that went into the display where the train is now.

In a clipping from May 28, 1965, an article discusses how a group of men led by Max Brown formed the Blairmore Historical Restoration Committee and raised the necessary cash to save the locomotive and ensure it didn’t end up at a salvage yard.

The Town of Blairmore agreed to provide a site to display the locomotive and negotiated a lease of land from the CPR for that purpose and later erected a perimeter fence around the site. Local high school students assisted with initial painting of the locomotive as their contribution to the celebration of the Canadian Centennial in 1967.

Also, Don Shannon’s wooden carving of a coal miner was later added to the display.

The next full restoration of the locomotive was undertaken by the Crowsnest Pass main street project in the early 1990’s.

In 2014 the locomotive was listed in the Crowsnest Pass Heritage Inventory as a place of local historic significance.

It is one of four 2-6-0 configuration locomotives in Canada and the only one in Alberta and Western Canada. With concerns relating to the deteriorating condition of the locomotive, in 2015 the Crowsnest Heritage Initiative started to recruit volunteers to assist with the restoration of the locomotive, however the project was stalled by the discovery of asbestos between the boiler and a rusting exterior metal cladding.

Originally the Locomotive Site was leased from CPR.
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It is now mostly located on land leased since 2004 by the Municipality from the Blairmore Railway Land Corporation, who have expressed interest in donating their portion of the Locomotive Site land to the Municipality as a park.

Council enjoyed the information that Bradley provided and say it helped them realize the importance and history behind the locomotive.

All council members agreed to keep the locomotive and restore it while also making sure the community understands the history of the locomotive.

Councillor Sygutek made a motion that the municipality will keep the locomotive and have administration look into restoring it to its historical value.

That motion was carried.
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September 9th, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. 36
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