Prairie Dog Central’s stately Coach 103 is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. To commemorate the occasion, this fully refurbished 36-passenger car combo box car will be traveling the rails from Inkster Junction to the Prairie Dog Central Railway northern station in Warren. Built in 1908 by the Pullman Company of Chicago, Coach 103 is a time capsule on rails. Inside the passenger area are oak-panelled walls, opaque vent windows, late 19th century light fixtures, a potbellied stove and a lavatory.
Also back for another year is the venerable ‘Old Lady of the Line’, Steam Locomotive No. 3. This fully restored crown jewel of the Prairie Dog Central Railway was originally retired in 2001 after years of distinguished service throughout western Canada – first for Canadian Pacific, then for the City of Winnipeg Hydro, until its acquisition by Prairie Dog in 1968.
It was built in 1882 by Dubbs & Co. of Glasgow, Scotland and tests had shown the Old Lady’s boiler to be in dire need of servicing and rebuilding. Undaunted, Prairie Dog volunteers fundraised and donated countless hours to restoring the Old Lady to her former sheen. They stripped the boiler, meticulously measuring and labelling each piece, from pipe to bolt, engineer seat to firebox. They even went so far as to videotape the process. From there, they sought out the expertise needed to deconstruct and then rebuild an 1882 locomotive without having any parts left over. Their search led them to the Saskatoon Boiler Co., whose efforts have ensured the refit boiler will prove as durable as the original. By Aug. of 2004, the ‘Old Lady’ was rolling again.
The Prairie Dog Central Railway departs from the Inkster Junction Station, located on Prairie Dog Trail on the north side of Inkster Boulevard between Route 90 and Sturgeon Road.
The trip includes stopovers at Grosse Isle and Warren, where passengers can tour the ‘Prairie Sentinel’, a 1948 West Interlake Trading Co. grain elevator. This tour imparts a deeper appreciation for the importance of the railroad to the rural community. There are on-site food and beverage services, free entertainment, hand-made crafts, and fresh vegetables available from very warm and welcoming local residents.