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Rare, century-old steam locomotive to be restored in Alberta

WATCH: It's taken eight years but a century-old steam locomotive has finally made the trek from Prince Albert, Sask. to Mossleigh, Alta. As Christa Dao explains, the two men behind the move are planning to restore it to its former glory.

It has taken eight years but a century-old steam locomotive has finally made the two-day trek from Prince Albert, Sask., to Mossleigh, Alta.

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The rare, original steam locomotive is one of the few remaining steam engines still around today. The steam engine was on display in Prince Albert but suffered years of neglect and vandalism.

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“We were able to save… a 100-year-old piece of history that was becoming a liability to the City of Prince Albert,” Aspen Crossing owner Jason Thornhill said. “People were doing things they shouldn’t be doing and it was becoming very dangerous for the city, and they were looking for a new home and we managed to provide a new home.”

A century-old piece of history is being restored to its former glory in Mossleigh, Alberta. Craig Hooper / Global News

The journey to move the 105-year-old locomotive to Alberta wasn’t a smooth one. Thornhill, who now owns the engine, said he may have given up on the idea if it weren’t for the persistence of his friend.

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“We expressed interest but kept hitting roadblocks,” he said. “But my friend, Al Broadfoot, kept poking the bear there (at the City of Prince Albert) and they finally donated it to us.”

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Broadfoot, 79, is the man who made it all happen. To say trains are his passion is an understatement.

Broadfoot has been working around trains for his entire career, focused on educating the public about the beauty of the old technology and its history.

“I’m very emotional over it. I even cry sometimes,” Broadfoot said. “It’s kind of a labour of love. It’s a lot of work and you have to enjoy working. It gives you a good feeling.”

A quick look around the engine shows more than 100 years of distress and weathered paint. The dials and levers, while vintage, appear to be in good condition. While it’s unclear how much work will be required to refurbish the engine, the team is confident that it will be — especially under the guidance and expertise of Broadfoot.

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“It`s like a rat eating a piece of cheese. It doesn’t eat it all at once — you do a little bit and then it’s finished,” Broadfoot said. “You put a fire in it, the engine, it starts thumping and that’s when you get excited… you really have to love it.

“I can’t lift anything anymore, but we’ll bring some young guys in,” he added. “I’ll work alongside them if they want, it’ll turn out fine.”

Broadfoot has worked on at least 10 locomotives in his career.

The team is hoping they can repair it and get it working and back to its glory days. The hope is to provide educational train tours at Aspen Crossing.

Aspen Crossing Railway is a heritage railway in Mossleigh that operates train tours around the area.


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