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Estevan museum calling for donations to help restore a part of local history

The Souris Valley Museum has announced a fundraising campaign to restore the locomotive, which is a part of their collection and the local coal mining history.

ESTEVAN — An old locomotive from a coal mine needs your help.

The Souris Valley Museum has announced a fundraising campaign to restore the locomotive, which is a part of their collection and the local history.

The ALCO Locomotive was built in 1944, purchased by Western Dominion Collieries in Taylorton in 1946, then transferred to the Costello Mine in Bienfait in 1960, and remained in service until 1993. The locomotive joined the museum's collection in 2000, along with three other pieces of heritage mining equipment. In 2004, the restoration of the historic pieces was completed, and no work has been done since then.

Located outside for everyone to see and enjoy, the historic machinery had rain and snow take a toll on it, and it's now covered with rust and has seriously deteriorated.

The museum was quoted upwards of $50,000 for the project to be done by a local contractor, and they decided to turn to the community for help as they need $35,000 to help preserve this local historical piece.

"We want to restore it, it's just not a paint job," said Melanie Memory, the museum's executive director/curator. "If there's any repairs that need to be done, it will be done. … It's like restoring a vehicle: if there are any parts broken, they're going to be fixed. Like broken glass, and we're putting new decals on the machine, that's included in that price. And the paint we're using … is a much higher grade, so it'll last probably 20 to 30 years. … From our board's perspective, we want to do it to make it last."

The train is to be painted the exact same colour and will feature all the original details. Memory noted that some people mentioned that their relatives worked on this locomotive in their days at the mines, and with the coal industry affecting a lot of local people, the museum wants to preserve the piece as close to the original as possible.

She noted that it was important for the board to find a local contractor to preserve this piece of local history, and they definitely don't want to see it further deteriorate and eventually be gone.

"Because of the coal mining industry here, we don't want to let it go, and we hope the public would agree, because there's grandparents, parents, great grandfathers that have worked on that train. There are strong ties there. Coal touched every family in this community in some way. So, this is something that should be kept as part of our history and our legacy. And when we get schools come for tours, kids really want to know about that train, kids just gravitate towards it," Memory said.

She added that people have been dropping off information about their relatives who worked on the locomotive, and the museum encourages people to share their stories.

"There's a lot of community ties to it," Memory said.

She added they expect a number of fundraisers for locomotive restoration, but they started with announcing the project and calling for cash donations at this point.

The museum is currently accepting cash, cheques and e-transfers to [email protected] (note Locomotive in comments). Tax receipts can be issued for donations over $20.