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Full steam ahead for Iron Horse Park's 2023 season

The park is set to open on Sunday, May 21, on the long weekend. It will run Sundays until Oct. 8 this year.
While Iron Horse Park's regular opening has been delayed, the park is anticipating offering COVID-19 friendly activities for families this summer.

Starting May 21, the Alberta Model Engineering Society’s popular interpretive train in Iron Horse Park will be chugging along for the people of Airdrie to enjoy on Sunday mornings and afternoons.

According to the park’s website, the train ride is 1.6-kilometres long and takes visitors over hills, across trestles and through tunnels. The brief, youth-centric ride aims to offer a glimpse into the pioneer days of western Canada by representing the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from the prairies to the coast, providing a unique experience for visitors.

The park is set to open on Sunday, May 21, on the long weekend. It will run Sundays until Oct. 8 this year.

The train ride at Iron Horse Park has gained popularity as an affordable outdoor activity for young families, according to Ray Verdone, the park’s president.

“There are lots of different trains of different scales to see,” Verdone said. “It’s a great activity for families, it’s not very expensive. Entrance to the park is free and it’s $3 per train journey.”

While admission is free every Sunday and ride prices are affordable, visitors should keep in mind the availability of the rides is subject to weather conditions and they should check for updates online before planning a visit.

According to Verdone, if the weather cooperates, visitors can also enjoy other family-friendly activities at the local park in Midtown.

“There’s green space, some people bring a picnic lunch, we have some picnic tables. There’s a walking path which brings you to this little wooden climbing train that the kids really like to climb on,” he said.

In addition to those offerings, Snacks and souvenirs can be purchased at their full-size replica of a CPR station on site. Cash, Visa, Mastercard and debit cards are all accepted.

After being forced to adapt during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Iron Horse Park is set to operate as usual in 2023, like they did last year. However, there is one update in store this year that Verdone wanted to mention.

“We do have a new steam engine that belongs to one of our members, which came from Winnipeg, [that] we are hoping to get that on the tracks. So that will be new this year,” he said.

According to Verdone, visitors are often surprised when they arrive at Iron Horse Park, as they’re not entirely sure what to anticipate.

“Everyone that goes for the first time says ‘Wow we really didn’t expect all of this’,” Verdone said. “It’s a great place to kill an hour or two.”

Iron Horse Park is run with the support of its volunteers, and while the fees they collect may seem small, they help cover the park’s operational and maintenance costs throughout the year.

“The equipment itself requires a fair amount of attention,” Verdone said. “We are hoping that will get our station painted, which is a fairly large building.

While the park is typically only operational on Sundays, Verdone said the venue plans to also open on Canada Day this summer, and volunteers are crossing their fingers for good weather for that holiday.

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