A segment of rail line that normally services farmers and grain producers in central Saskatchewan’s prairie grain belt, now also acts as a source of nostalgia and entertainment.
The Wheatland Express Excursion Train runs between Wakaw and Cudworth, showcasing Saskatchewan culture.
“We’ve had the idea of an excursion train for a number of years,” Amy Lintick, operations manager for the Wheatland Express, said. “When we partnered with Wheatland Railway to run the Cudworth subdivision we thought what a perfect place to bring an excursion train to the area.”
Everything on the train is Saskatchewan made; from the beverages and the food, to the entertainment.
Several passenger cars make up the Wheatland Express, one in particular coming from as far as New Orleans, La. On the weekdays it serves as the Wheatland Express safety train, educating kids about rail safety and awareness.
Entrenched in another one of the cars is a piece of American history. It’s rumoured that Harry Truman sat on the back of the now century old car platform during his presidential campaign and gave speeches.
Cudworth’s Mayor, Elaine Olexson, hoped this made in Saskatchewan experience gives the area an economic boost as well.
“Opportunities not only for jobs, but to bring other people into our community to showcase what we have to offer,” Olexson said. “Small towns need to become viable and anything that can further enhance that viability is a positive experience for everyone.”
The train opened to the public on June 2 and Olexson said the sell-out crowd is an indication that lack of exposure will no longer be an issue.
“People came from all over,” Olexson said. “I generally know most of the people in town and most of the people I saw – 75 per cent of them – were strangers to me.”
The Wheatland Express has nine more excursions planned before closing for the season on Oct. 6.