The origins of
reprinted from Red Deer Express April 23, 2008
One of the most unique
historic landmarks in Red Deer is the solitary bridge pillar which
stands along Taylor Dr., halfway between the intersections with 32
and 43 Sts.
It is a reminder of a very ambitious venture from the years before
the First World War. That was the Alberta Central Railway, a largely
local attempt to build a "transcontinental" rail line across Western
The origins of the Alberta Central go back to May 1901 when a
charter was granted by the federal government to a group of Red Deer
and Ontario businessmen.
Originally, a rail line was authorized to run from Coal Banks, near
modern day Delburne, to Rocky Mountain House.
However, as the great settlement boom built momentum across Central
Alberta, the plans were expanded to run the line from the Fraser
Valley, through the Yellowhead Pass to Moose Jaw, with extensions to
Saskatoon and the Hudson Bay.
One of the key backers of the Alberta Central was John T. Moore.
Originally a chartered accountant, he had been the managing director
of the Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Company.
That company, on Moore's recommendation, had purchased more than
115,000 acres of land in the Red Deer area.
The company's lands were laid out in a rectangle, with Red Deer in
The plans for the Alberta Central offered a way of opening up the
districts to the east and west of Red Deer, thereby making the S.L.H.
Co.'s holdings much more valuable.
Moreover, John T. Moore was very ambitious politically. Constructing
railroads was good politics.
He ran successfully in the 1905 Alberta provincial election and
became Red Deer's first M.L.A.
He ran unsuccessfully for the nomination in the 1908 federal
election and for re-election in the 1909 provincial election.
In each of the campaigns, the promise of construction of the Alberta
Central was used by Moore to garner votes. In fact, in the 1908
contest, a mysterious surveyor showed up to plant survey stakes in
politically important areas.
Eventually, people began to tire of the surplus of promises and lack
of concrete action. Demands were made that the Alberta Central
either start immediate construction or else sell its charter to a
more bona-fide railroad company.
Action finally came in April 1909 when the federal government
offered a subsidy of $6400 per mile for a rail line constructed
between Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House.
Soon crews of surveyors were out laying out a rail line. Some
grading work began in the spring of 1910.
A real coup for Moore came in August 1910 when he was able to get
the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Wilfred Laurier, and the federal
Minister of Railways, George Graham, to drive the first spike for
the Alberta Central on a site very close to the present location of
the Capri Hotel.
Sir Wilfred Laurier driving the first spike for the Alberta
Central Railway, August 10, 1910.
Appearing in the photo are
John T. Moore, President of the A.C.R.,
George P. Graham, Federal Minister of Railways,
Sir Wilfred Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, and Duncan
Marshall, Provincial Minister of Agriculture.
courtesy of the Red Deer and District Archives
The dream of the Alberta Central
finally seemed to be becoming a reality. Then a series of serious
setbacks took place.
In late 1910, the Canadian Northern Western Railway began
construction of a competing line just north of the A.C.R.
Having not one but two railroads being built, literally side by
side, drove up construction costs dramatically. Moore and his
business colleagues had grand plans, but not a lot of money.
Finally, in late 1911, an agreement was struck with the Canadian
Pacific to take over the A.C.R. and the construction of the line.
While there was some talk that the C.P.R. would continue the full
plans for the Alberta Central, all that was completed was the
portion of the line between Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House.
While a small station and yards were built where the Mountview Fire
Hall stands today, the C.P.R. really never used it, preferring to
use the main station and yards in downtown Red Deer.
With the Mountview yards not being used, the bridges across the Kin
Canyon and Waskasoo Creek were not needed.
The superstructures were removed. With the Waskasoo Creek bridge,
two concrete pillars were soon all that were left.
When the new Taylor Dr. was built several years ago, one of those
pillars was removed, leaving a solitary sentinel as a testimony to
the grand dreams of the Alberta Central's pioneer entrepreneurs.
Central Railway page
Laurier's 1910 visit huge event for city
(Red Deer Express August 2010)
Sir Wilfrid Laurier visited Red Deer
(Red Deer Advocate May 2010)
John T. Moore
(Red Deer Express Feb.2003)