Searchmont train station 'deserves to be saved'
Searchmont Station Preservation and Historical Society aims to preserve turn-of-the-century station
A Sault Ste. Marie group is working to buy and restore the Searchmont train station, located just north of the community.
The director and CEO of the Searchmont Station Preservation and Historical Society said he got involved after reading a few books by Ron Brown, which discussed the loss of railway heritage and train stations.
“I felt it was important to save [it] ... because it’s literally the last surviving station on the Algoma Central Railway today,” Nathan Brown said.
“It’s the oldest station that’s on this line and it deserves to be saved, or otherwise it’s going to end up being torn down or we’ll eventually lose it all together.”
Brown said it was one of the first stations to be created on the Algoma Central Railway line. It was built in 1902 and closed in 1994.
The station is in the process of being sold to the society from CN Rail for a "nominal fee," Brown said. The building will be transferred to the society, and when that happens, it will have to be moved off of CN’s land.
The society has a four year time-line to do work on the station, Brown said. He added the goal is to restore the building, achieve provincial heritage status, and then restore it fully into both a working train station and learning centre.
Brown recently went inside the building to tour it for the first time last month.
“When you look at a picture, they always tell you a picture is worth a thousand words,” he said.
“In this case, it was the exact opposite.”
Brown had seen pictures of the inside and was expecting to see a building with significant damage inside.
“When you basically actually walk in the door, it was almost taking a step back in history. I was completely in awe,” he said.
“I was prepared but not really prepared at the same time. It was just something different from … what I had seen in pictures [and] to see it in person was something completely different.”
The cost to restore the station is estimated at around $200,000.
Brown said the society is raising money through fundraising campaigns, community donations and corporate sponsors.