Canadian group seeks funds to build station replica

RELATED TOPICS: PRESERVATION | CANADA
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Searchmont1
The Searchmont, Ontario, station as it appeared in the 1920s, before its waiting room was destroyed in a fire.
Courtesy Searchmont Station Historical Society
Searchmont2
An artist's conception of the proposed replica of Searchmont Station.
Courtesy Searchmont Station Historical Society

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — A preservation group is working to raise funds to build a near-exact replica of an historic railroad station in too much disrepair to be saved.

Algoma Central’s Searchmont Station, built in 1902 in a community of 300 some 29 miles northeast of Sault Ste. Marie, is the oldest Algoma Central Railway station still standing, although its original circular waiting room was destroyed in a 1925 fire and some modernization took place in the 1940s. It also suffered significant damage from vandals in a 2008 break-in.

The Searchmont Station Historical Society was formed in 2014 to preserve the railroad history of the community, the first stop for Algoma Central passenger trains after leaving Sault Ste. Marie. The group, which is still in the process of purchasing the depot from Canadian National, which now owns the Algoma Central line, learned in July 2015 the existing depot would not be salvageable, and developed the idea of building a modern replica.

Since it started raising money in 2015, the society has raised a few thousand dollars towards its goal of $300,000 Canadian. The society aims to supplement this with building materials donated in-kind by hardware and home improvement retailers, says Nathan Brown, the group’s committee director.

Passenger service to the community ended in 2013, and efforts to revive it continue. Even in the absence of passenger train service, the society aims to generate revenue from the replica facility by using it as a visitor’s center and event space and by renting out guest quarters in the upstairs on a monthly or seasonal basis. It will also be available for movie or television shoots.

Brown encourages those interested in contributing to the station reconstruction project to visit www.searchmontstation.com.  

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