Rising from the ashes, stronger and more magnificent, Friday was the Beaver River Trestle. The bridge that spans half a kilometre over the Beaver River and connects the Iron Horse trail to Cold Lake celebrated its grand reopening. The satisfaction of completion was thick in the air as dignitaries, trail users, volunteers, and supporters enjoyed burgers, laughter, memories. President of the Riverland Trail Society, Marvin Bjornstad says it’s been four years of dedication from a lot of people who rebuilt the bridge.
“It feels good. When this burned down we didn’t know how we were going to find all the money to get the construction done; but somehow we were able to do it.” Bjornstad says there were some government grants that helped, along with a lot of local partners. “There were the ten municipalities and the Province put in grants. The Federal Government put in originally $200,000, but then through lobbying from the Snowmobile Association, because it’s part of the Trans-Canada Snowmobile Trail, they put in another $100,000. There was lots of private donations, as well.”
Arson took the east end of the bridge out in 2012, the damage resulted in $1.6 million in repairs. The group was able to raise $1 million of that and follow through with construction, but are still short $500,0000. The shortfall has been left in the hands of the Riverland Trail Society, “we met with four different Ministers over the last four years,” Bjornstad says the group continues to lobby the Provincial Government for funding, “they haven’t said no, so we will continue to lobby them.” Bjornstad local MLAs have been helping through the process, including St. Paul – Two Hills – Lac La Biche, Dave Hanson, Bonnyville – Cold Lake, Scott Cyr and former Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Genia Leskiw were all on hand during the reopening ceremonies.
The group of volunteers that the Iron Horse Trail has is phenomenal; they’ve put their hearts and souls into this. Kudos to them! – Genia Leskiw Former Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA
Marianne Price, with the Iron Horse Trail, has been one of the driving forces behind the rebuild, “this is awesome, it’s really nice to finally get to this day; to know it’s open and the public can come out to enjoy it!” Price says the group saw the importance of building the bridge, even if all the funding wasn’t there, “we went ahead with the construction and the rebuild of the whole thing. It’s a $1.6 million project, so we did manage to do a lot of fundraising and get some grants. We’re still short, so it would be nice to get that back somewhere down the road; whether that’s through another grant or public donations.”
Price says the trestle is special to the Lakeland, “the Beaver River Trestle is one of the hidden gems on the Iron Horse Trail, one of those big old trestles. It stands 60 metres over the Beaver River floor, the scenery is amazing. It’s on the flight path of planes on the base; so you get the jets, the wildlife, a beautiful view and this magnificent structure.”
It’s really a magical place! – Marianne Price Iron Horse Trail
To get to the Iron Horse Trail, you can walk use the Iron Horse Trail east from Bonnyville or west from Cold Lake. You may take the Y-Road off Highway 28 and when you meet a junction in the road park your vehicle, safely in the embankment or the ditch and then walk to east along the trail for approximately a half a kilometre.