Inaugural Wheatland Railway Days set to leave the station

Passengers board the Wheatland Express during a stop in Cudworth on June 15. -- Photo courtesy of Wheatland Express.

Trains of all sizes will be rolling down the tracks as part of a new weekend tourist attraction.

The Wheatland Express and three Saskatchewan model railroad clubs, including Prince Albert-based River Xing North, are partnering together for Wheatland Express Excursion Railway Days on June 22-23 in Wakaw and Cudworth.

Wheatland Express marketing and operations director Ashlyn Weninger said the organization is grateful for the partnership, which will give railroad lovers a peek of trains big and small.

“Wakaw and Cudworth were built because of the railway, and what a great way to build on that history and make some kind of annual event that gets both communities involved with the train and the model clubs,” she explained. “It’s just a really unique thing to bring to Wakaw and Cudworth that they didn’t have before.”

As part of the weekend event, the Wheatland Express Excursion Train will run passengers between Cudworth and Wakaw, with model railroad exhibits and activities planned in each community throughout the day. Organizers have sold more than 100 tickets so far, and Weninger said they hope to increase that number with walkup riders at both stops.

The plan is to give riders a fun experience, while also allowing railroad clubs to show off their creations.

“With the excursion train there’s a lot of opportunity to showcase what Saskatchewan has to offer, and not only on the history side,” Weninger said.

The idea for a join event came after Wheatland Express representatives spent the winter travelling to model railroad shows in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Weninger said they developed some great relationships with the host-clubs, and began making plans to hold a joint event in the summer.

“We’re just really thankful that the three clubs … are all coming together to do this with us and I think it’s also good for the model trains. It’s such a unique hobby. It’s really cool to see all those kids faces lighting up when checking them out.

Model train displays open in Cudworth and Wakaw at 10 a.m. on both days. The Wheatland Express will make trips at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday. For a complete schedule, or to purchase tickets, visit www.wheatlandexpress.ca. There will also be a pancake breakfast starting at 9 a.m. on Sunday in the Wakaw Rec Centre.

Entrance to the model railroad displays is $5 for each hall. Ticket packages, which include both hall and train fare, can also be purchased for $40. Tickets are available online, or by visiting offices in Wakaw or Saskatoon.

Wheatland Express has a diesel electric locomotive built in 1971 for Norfolk Western and runs on the Wheatland Railway short-line along Highway 2 south of Prince Albert. The attraction was named “Rookie of the Year” at the 2018 Saskatchewan Tourism Awards.