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Wheatland Express train gets rolling this summer

The Cudworth Museum, a restored railway station, is the home of the Wheatland Express

For the first time in several decades, a passenger train will be rolling down the tracks between Cudworth and Wakaw.
The Wheatland Express, a community-owned and operated excursion train, is slated to depart from the Cudworth station for the first time on Saturday, June 2.
“It’s very exciting,” said Joan Wassill, Sales and Marketing Director for the Wheatland Express. “This is our inaugural season, but already tickets are going very quickly. It will be a very popular attraction.”
The Wheatland Express, features 1950s-era passenger cars, prairie-inspired food and wine, and top-quality entertainment, according to Wassill. The shows include four ‘old-west’ train robbery excursions, two murder mystery-themed excursions, a children’s excursion and a harvest-theme trip.
The Cudworth Museum, a restored 1930s-era railway station, is the home of the Wheatland Express.
Wassill said up until the 1950s, train travel was a common way of getting around in rural Saskatchewan.
“It was the golden age for trains,” said Wassill. “The passenger cars we use reflect that time period.
“A lot of seniors are attracted to it because it brings back memories of their younger days. For others, this may be their only opportunity to actually ride a train. The experience of travelling by train, combined with the entertainment, will make great memories.”
Wassill said the project has really taken off in the Cudworth-Wakaw area, with both communities and the surrounding rural municipalities solidly behind the initiative.
“It’s creating jobs and pulling people into the area,” she said. “The economic impact has been tremendous and we expect it will continue to grow.”
She said the rail line is a valuable asset that is proving its worth.
“People are starting to recognize the need to preserve and develop these lines,” she said. “It’s a big investment, but it’s worth it.”
She noted the train excursions will also feature commentary on the train itself and local history of the towns and the rail line.
“The rail line is the reason Wakaw and Cudworth are located where they are,” she said.
The Wheatland Express is a non-profit incorporated company. The section of rail line it rents for its operation is owned by the Wheatland Railway, a shortline that runs from St. Louis through Domremy, Wakaw and Cudworth and connects with the CN main line west of Bruno.
The Wheatland Railway is one of 13 shortlines in Saskatchewan and three in Alberta that are part of the Western Canadian Short Line Railway Association.
The shortlines are owned and operated by private businesses, municipalities and co-ops, and haul agricultural commodities, oil and other resources. The network of shortlines across Saskatchewan and other western provinces emerged gradually as sections of CN and CP tracks were sold off by the major railways over the past 25 years.
A rail car repair shop in Cudworth services rolling stock for the Wheatland Railway and other shortlines.
The full schedule, excursion descriptions and ticket sales are available online at www.wheatlandexpress.ca . The Wheatland Express is also featured in this year’s Visitor’s Guide slated to be published in May by the Clark’s Crossing Gazette. The eight summer excursions are slated for weekends, with the final harvest-themed trip on Wednesday, September 15.

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