A passenger train? 40 minutes from where I grew up? In Ogema?
There was a time when I thought that small towns didn’t have much to offer for tourism minded people. Obviously, anyone who stopped by would enjoy the friendliness of the people, the directions that include family names, and they would have a giggle/ cry over nothing being opened after 5pm or on Sundays. I have always loved living in small towns, but hadn’t thought much about touring them.
A couple years ago, when I heard that Ogema, Sk, had a passenger train, my curiosity was peaked. Now that I have been actively seeking out small town adventures, I knew I had to get there.
Waiting on the platform for the train to pull up, I felt like I was on a real adventure. The workers dress in outfits from the 1920’s, adding to the experience.
Cheryl met us as we entered the train and led a great tour. Tales of outlaws from Saskatchewan’s history, prairie information, and lots of knowledge about the construction of the train and engine kept everyone entertained.
I had met Cheryl at a tourism convention and, on my ride this weekend, really enjoyed hearing about a few small groups with various dreams working together to create something so great. Southern Prairie Railway did not happen over night. The vision took time, collaboration, and a dream. Now, this attraction brings people to town and has created interesting jobs for many locals.
Outside, a couple runs a portable food truck. MMMMM. It was delicious and the atmosphere it created was one of neighbors meeting in a park to eat and visit. I actually stopped by again for breakfast the next day and was greeted with more friendly conversations.
On my train tour we headed out of town and ended at an old elevator. We jumped off, were treated to a tour of an what has become an iconic landmark in any small town, and watched as the train engine moved to the other side, ready for the return trip.
The elevator tour is just one of many themed tours. Listening to the descriptions of other tours made me want to book another. Haunted tours, farmer’s markets in the next town, full day tours with entertainment, breakfast tours, dinners in country churches, and train robberies that raise money for charity are just some examples. I can tell that giving back to the communities around and creating interesting events that cater to many different tastes is important. I can’t wait to hear about what else the creative minds come up with.
On the way back I was a little less chatty. I have always been the dreamy passenger who stares out the window deep in thought. As I enjoyed the beautiful green Saskatchewan scenery, I thought about how many people, myself included, have dreams that they are too scared to chase. Our small town has a lot to offer. We just need an idea and a group of people who are willing to go for it!
The railway has paired up with Deep South Pioneer Museum, so after disembarking and lunch we headed across town. Wow! Over 30 historic buildings brought in from the area awaited us.
Each building showcased some aspect of the local history. Outside, rows of old equipment, vehicles, and wagons were displayed. Huge sheds showed off everything from clothing and furniture to musical instruments.
There is definitely something for everyone!
If you are heading out to explore small towns, a few pieces of advice:
-Get gas where ever you can, or come with a card lock!
-Bring cash, not every place is set up with interac.
-Bring a smile and be prepared to wave back to strangers.
For more information, and to book a tour, visit http://www.southernprairierailway.com
I was invited as a guest, but all opinions are my own. Thank you to Southern Prairie Railway for helping me check off one of my Saskatchewan bucket list items!
Have you been on any of their other tours? Tell me about it!