Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Demise of Bieseker Station

The Bassano (Alberta) train station has been heavily damaged by fire early in the morning of September 18, 2015. This station was in Beiseker, AB as part of the Alberta 2005 Centennial Museum Society's (Beiseker Railway Museum) collection. The fire destroyed the freight shed end of the train station and the whole station will have to be demolished due to water and damage.
Fire damage to Beiseker train station - from Rocky View Fire Department
The fire is believed to be suspicious in nature, and the RCMP are investigating. From the comments from the society's treasurer, Fred Walters, it appears there was some insurance on the building.

This station was originally built in Bassano, AB in 1911, was moved to Beiseker AB in 2012. A foundation was built for the train station and it was slated to be moved onto the foundation and restored. When I passed through Beiseker in July 2013, it was still on the beams used to move the station.
Beiseker (Bassano) train station, 2013
I understand there were a number of problems with the foundation and the contractor(s) involved. The station sat on these beams until October 2014, when the contractor who owned the beams supporting the station moved it onto the foundation so they could get their beams back. You can read the whole sordid story about the station and the Society on bigdoer.com and also this news article. So far close to half a million dollars has been sunk into this project.

This station was not the only station in Beiseker. I believe the town owns the ex CP train station, a more modest structure built in 1913, with caboose CP 434592 and insulated boxcar CP 165017.
Beiseker train station and caboose
The Beiseker Railway Museum, or Centennial Society - not sure which is correct - also owns a collection of rolling stock, including an ex CN S-13u locomotive, an ex CP baggage car that was converted to a safety car, a number of boxcars, a snowplow, a small Burro crane, and a few other cars. Their collection seems to be... diverse.

It all sits in a fenced enclosure.

The town of Beiseker is still served by rail via the CN Three Hills subdivision, which is part of the Calgary-Edmonton line. It used to be served by the CP Langdon subdivision, which was abandoned close to 20 years ago. The museum equipment is along the former CP right-of-way.

I hope the society/museum can recover from this tremendous setback and make something useful out of their collection.

More reading:

4 comments:

Carolina Caboose Captain said...

So sad and so senseless, why would someone do such a cruel act? I remember my days of youthful foolishness, we did a lot of silly or stupid things, but we were also taught by our parents to respect others property and to richly value our heritage in the form of buildings, monuments and markers......shame on those merciless souls who would d wantonly destroy a part of our railway heritage r....

It is my earnest hope the culprit or culprits be caught, swiftly judged and given the maximum penalty in hopes others will see and remain vigilant to protect these treasures across Canada and the United States for future generations.

Bob Liming, Columbia, SC
USA

Steve Boyko said...

I agree, Bob, it is totally senseless. I don't understand why people vandalize things, and especially why they commit arson.

Maybe this won't turn out to be arson - maybe - but it sure seems like it.

Chris BIGDoer Doering said...

Such a horrible end to an already sad and depressing tale. It broke my heart to hear it, but I can't honestly say I was surprised. Neglected buildings are a natural attractant to trouble makers and with this one being so unloved for so long, I hate to say, it was only a matter of time.

Matthieu Lachance said...

Sounds like the 60s all again when heritage buildings went up in fire every weeks in the most absurd ways. This time, it is sadder since so many efforts were needed to preserve the building. Funny how people in Canada loves to say our country has "no history"... when they just forgot they had one and didn't care about it.

Best wishes to the people working in this project. I hope them to find a way to overturn this in a positive manner.