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Roadside Attractions – Replica steam-powered locomotive a reminder of the early days of railroading

November 2023

Since the mid-nineteenth century, the railways were once a vital transportation link for the movement of people and goods in the days before the automobile and paved roads. Alma, Ontario, a former unincorporated village in Mapletown Township, Ontario, has an interesting roadside attraction that acknowledges this link to the past.

Sitting beside a Fast Stop card lock truck re-fueling station on Wellington County Road 7, is a non-operating replica of a steam-powered locomotive, sitting atop some old rails. A very short distance from the abandoned Canadian National Railway (CNR) line, a rail line laid down by the long-defunct Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway (WG&BR).

Dating back to the 1840s when the village was founded along the Elora Saugeen Road, it was originally called MacCrae’s Corners, after Alexander MacCrea, who settled here with his wife settled in 1848. MacCrae built a store and served as postmaster beginning in 1854, when the name of the village was changed to Alma, after the 1854 Battle of Alma, fought during the Crimean War.

The WG&BR opened a line through Alma in 1870. The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) assumed control of the bankrupt WG&BR in 1893, including the line through Alma. When the GTR itself declared bankruptcy in 1923, the line through Alma became part of Canadian National Railway. CNR continued operating this line until it was abandoned in 1970.

While the replica locomotive isn’t a working locomotive, the old gauges inside, iron firebox door; whistle, bell and lamp all look real, but the pilot is wooden. It’s also marked for the Lacombe & Northwestern Railway, a long-defunct electric railway from Alberta, not the WG&BR.

Regardless, it makes for an interesting roadside attraction, a nod to the days when steam-powered railways ruled the country.

Sources: http://www.railpictures.ca/upload/here-is-a-curiosity-you-can-make-your-own-conclusions-looking-up-alma-on-google-there-is-a-photo-of-this-engine-referring-to-it-as-a-historic-steam-engine-on-display-near-the-old-alma-stati, Battle of the Alma – Wikipedia, Alma, Ontario – Wikipedia, Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway – Wikipedia, Lacombe & Blindman Valley Electric Railway – CPR – Historical Perspective – Forth Junction.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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