The Western Development Museum in North Battleford is on track to reach its fundraising goal to restore a gem from the past – the historic 1158 steam locomotive, a much-loved artifact in the museum’s collection.
The grand old lady currently rests majestically under a protective cover at the WDM N.B. Heritage Farm and Village.
The 1158 was built for the Canadian Northern Railway, which is the railway that created North Battleford,” said Jen Pederson, Western Development Museum's Director of Development. She is leading the museum’s big fundraising campaign - Save the 1158.
This particular locomotive was built in 1913, the same year North Battleford became a city.
“This locomotive and ones like it worked across Canada, and had a particularly important role in the West, in bringing hundreds of thousands of people to new homes, in connecting communities, and in being a real lifeline for communities all across Western Canada,” Pederson said.
The aim of the campaign is a full cosmetic restoration of the 1158.
The first part of the restoration work recently completed involved an intensive cleaning of the exterior surface of the engine.
For the next final phase of the project experts will be using a technique called media blasting to remove rust and grime, before painting the structure.
The final phase of the work is expected to be done next spring.
“The first phase of the job went really well but the majority of the work still needs to be done. Critical pieces like the bell and the whistle will be restored by the WDM’s conservation staff. That’s what we are raising money for right now, to be able to finish the job,” Pederson said.
She added the museum has hired specialists to work on the restoration project because they have the experience for this unique labour of love.
“There aren’t a lot of people who work on 100-year-old steam locomotives,” Pederson said. “It’s very specialized, heavy work.”
While it would cost an exorbitant amount of money to get the locomotive back into working condition, the museum hopes to preserve the integrity of the train itself, to guarantee this beautifully- constructed artifact can continue to be part of the museum’s valued collection for many more years to come.
The restoration will also help prevent the locomotive from deteriorating. It has already been showing signs of wear from exposure to the elements.
The historic 1158 plays an important part in the WDM’s collection, and draws to the area many tourists who are fascinated by locomotives from the past, and the history of these great crusaders.
That’s why this restoration project is so important.
“We need to make sure everything is safe, and most importantly is preserved, to be able to continue to tell that story of immigration and life in Saskatchewan in the early 20thcentury,” Pederson said.
The museum’s aim is to reach the fundraising goal of $200,000 by Dec. 25.
“We would love to have all this money in the bank for Christmas; that would be a really great Christmas present for the WDM,” Pederson said.
So far, about $130,000 has been raised. From that amount, $60,000 came from the museum’s volunteers’ association, another $60,000 from the museum itself in an investment from its Conservation and Collections department, and recently an additional $10,000 more from volunteers. The museum has also received generous donations from individuals for the project.
That leaves about $70,000 left to fundraise.
The museum recently had a fundraiser for the campaign to restore the train as part of its Those Were the Days event.
The next fundraiser for the Save The 1158 campaign will be the Harvest Supper & Barn Dance on Sept. 15 at the WDM in North Battleford.
People can also make donations at: save1158.wdm.ca, at the WDM or by calling 1-800-363-6345.
“We will be making some exciting announcements of companies and community groups who are coming together to make this restoration happen,” said Pederson. “The campaign website is in great big letters on the tent and we invite everyone who sees it to help the WDM Save the 1158!”
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