Restored elevator a triumph for community

As Stan Eichhorn told the crowd gathered outside of the historic P&H elevator on the weekend

As Stan Eichhorn told the crowd gathered outside of the historic P&H elevator on the weekend, the project to restore it wouldn’t have happened without their help.

“You wouldn’t see what you see if it hadn’t been for each and every one of you,” he said. “We feel that this is your project . . . I hope you can be proud of what you see here today, because it’s yours.”

Eichhorn was speaking to attendees at Celebration Day, an opportunity for the P&H Elevator Preservation Society to show its appreciation for the public’s support of its ongoing work.

The festivities on Sunday, Sept. 28, included live entertainment, a threshing demonstration with antique equipment, a chance to tour inside the elevator, and a meal served by Catering by Sarah.

While on stage, Eichhorn also received a $2,500 cheque from ATCO Electric, to be used to upgrade the elevator’s washroom amenities and install a heating system that will allow the meeting room inside to be used year-round.

The cheque was presented by Bob Sanders, area supervisor for ATCO, who commended Eichhorn and the society for what they had achieved.

“That’s a huge accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourselves,” said Sanders.

Volunteers have logged upwards of 25,000 hours on the elevator project since 2005.

Over the last two years, the major goals were to replace the elevator’s siding and paint the structure, said Eichhorn, the society’s president.

The community came through for them in a major way, he added, through fundraisers and other forms of support.

The project’s cost was roughly $180,000.

“Everybody that is here today has an interest in this project and is a part of it,” said Eichhorn.

Entertainment on Sunday included saxophone performances by Maureen “Mo” Melin of Calgary, the granddaughter of former Stettler resident Doris (Stitt) Aunger.

The crowd also enjoyed a singalong with a seniors choir led by Evelyn Strandquist, whose repertoire included “Down by the Station,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” and “The Happy Wanderer.”

A threshing demonstration was held using The Little Giant, a threshing machine constructed in 1887, and The Beast, an elevator engine from 1912.

The demonstration was led by Dave McCourt, who invested hundreds of hours into restoring the machines, and his brother Norm.

McCourt spoke to the crowd, offering some background and history on the two machines. The Little Giant, manufactured by Heebner and Sons, is one of three known existing models, and the only one known to be in operating condition.

It was donated by the Reynolds family and is capable of threshing 20 bushels per hour, as opposed to modern combines that can process 2,000 bushels an hour.

The Beast was a nickname given to the elevator engine, which came from the Frank Noyce farm near Lloydminster, where it had sat outside, exposed to the elements, for 75 years prior to its restoration.

“It’s actually one of the more complimentary names it had during the restoration process,” said McCourt, adding that three of Noyce’s granddaughters were present on Sunday for the celebration.

The society constructed a metal shed to house both the Beast and the Little Giant.

McCourt said the northeast side has been left blank in hopes that a mural can be painted upon it someday.

He asked the crowd to “cross their fingers” as he, his brother and Eichhorn tried to get the machines running, but after one false start, they were soon successful.

Also present were Sophia Leo and Jason Ramcharan, the two painters working for Color Shift in Edmonton who were responsible for the elevator’s recent paint job.

Eichhorn said the society sought to use quality materials and workmanship in restoring the elevator, in hopes that future generations will appreciate it and take up the cause.

“We haven’t cut corners,” he said. “It will last for a generation or two.”

For more information on getting involved with the society, contact Eichhorn at 403-740-4799.


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