ALBERTON -- For the first time in more than a half a century, the train’s whistle will sound in Alberton this Saturday.
The last train passed through Alberton in 1989, but the last steam engine went out of town, and, thus, the last steam whistle sounded, in 1950.
This Saturday, for the first time, the Alberton Historical Preservation Foundation is playing host to the P.E.I. Museums and Heritage Foundation’s Railway Day. The event will be held in an around the Old Stone Station, a building which served as Alberton’s second and last railway station. It is now operated by the Alberton Historical Preservation Foundation.
Railway Day, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., opens in the Old Stone station with a lecture by railway buff, Allan Graham, Graham, the son of a former railway section man, published A Photo History of the Prince Edward Island Railway in 2000.
His presentation, which will make use of story boards in the station, will conclude with a short walking tour as far as the “Y”.
Graham explained when the Railway Act passed in 1871, the plan was for the railway to extend from Georgetown to Cascumpeque (Northport). By the time the Act was amended in 1872 to extend the tracks to Souris and to Tignish, the section of rail from Northport to Elmsdale was already started, thus the “Y” in the line at Alberton, explains Graham.
The story boards, which will be officially launched later in the Railway Day program, tell the history of the railway, Alberton’s first covered platform, which was located where the railway park and gazebo is now located (trains passed through the station en route to Northport) and the second station, affectionately called the Old Stone Station.
Graham will then lead participants on a short walking tour to the “Y”, pointing out the railway history along the way.
The train whistle, which would normally sound to alert citizens of a train leaving or entering a station, will serve to advise Railway Day participants that the next session on the program will start in five minutes.
Also on Saturday’s program are songs and stories by John Cousins at 11 a.m., a noon barbecue, the official opening of Railway Day and the launch of the story boards at 1 p.m., a 1:15 p.m. presentation, Railway and Confederation, by Dr. Ed MacDonald, A history circle with George Dalton at 2 p.m. and draws for door prizes at 2:30 p.m. Country Heart will be entertaining in the gazebo from 2 to 3 p.m.
Anyone with railway memorabilia is invited to bring it along for a Railway Day display.