A look inside the Searchmont train station (9 photos)Sunday, July 13, 2014 by: Kenneth Armstrong
Nathan Brown unlocked the door to the Searchmont train station on Friday afternoon, taking a look back in time at a station that was last open to the public in the late 1990's.
The Searchmont Station Preservation and Historical Society, with Brown as director and CEO, looks to restore the station to its original condition and have it operate as a station once more along the Algoma Central Railway (ACR) line.
A similar station still operates on the line at Hawk Junction, but the Searchmont station is older, dating to the opening of the line, says Brown.
The last time the station saw any restoration was 1945, said Brown.
"It's a good thing I still have all the drawing plans for this," he said.
Brown surveyed the site Friday, having only seen it previously in photos. He was looking for heritage details, such as original fixtres and benches.
He was encouraged by the condition of the structure while somewhat disappointed by the damage done by vandals since the station was boarded up in the 1990's.
"I'm really glad someone is doing something about it," said Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) co-chair Dr. Linda Savory-Gordon.
She would like to see the station operational again as most of the stations along the line are in private hands, many have been converted to camps.
"Both the upgrading of the rail line and the improvement of the stations, it's all part of the infrastructure upgrades that are going to be required," said Savory-Gordon about CAPT's sustainability plan to keep the ACR in operation.
The station was like a time capsule; old paper station orders were scattered across a bench, a pile of coal was found in the basement and old posters and notices were still pinned to the wall.
The society is currently in phase one of their plan, which is the initial assesment of the station. This will involve some inventory of the site and to have inspectors come in to examine the structure and foundation.
If the sale of the station goes through, Brown will then prepare the building for the winter and begin the restoration.
"What we are pushing for is the 1903 floorplan," said Brown about the restoration.
You can follow the project by clicking here.
(PHOTO: Nathan Brown surveys the damage done to the Searchmont train station by time and vandals. Brown hopes to restore the station to its original 1902 blueprint. SooToday.com/Kenneth Armstrong)