Today, the freight handled by the CNR and CPR remains very important to Camrose, handling the produce of local farmers, including thousands of carloads of canola meal and oil which leave the community’s Cargill crush plant each year. In addition, CPR through trains between Edmonton and Winnipeg continue to pass through the city - the CPR being Camrose’s oldest continuously operated business. The railway heritage of Camrose is also actively preserved by the Canadian Northern Society, a volunteer-led local group that has since 1992 been active in the conservation of the 1911 Canadian Northern Railway depot located in the Augustana neighbourhood, complete with gardens and historic railway structures and artifacts. The Camrose Heritage Railway Station is a significant attraction in the community for residents and visitors.
In the Stony Creek Valley, the original CNoR line from Camrose to its crossing with the Battle River remains in service, and each day trains to and from places such as Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and points in-between ply the “Camrose Hill” as it is known to railroaders. From south to north, the line climbs a 0.6% grade, challenging even modern locomotives as it did during the days of steam.
The park system in the Stony Creek valley provides a great and safe vantage for viewing these modern trains – often up to 10,000 feet in length.
While the city of Camrose subsequently adopted the wild rose as its municipal symbol, it could have just as easily chosen the “iron horse” since the community developed on the strength of the railway. Its early sobriquet, “The Town That was Born Lucky,” was indeed apt, but perhaps an even more accurate title might have been, “Camrose: The Railway City.”