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Last updateThu, 21 Sep 2023 8am

Hoodoo Preservation Project goes ahead


    The Royal Tyrrell Museum will be going forward with erecting barriers around the Hoodoos, possibly being installed this fall.
    The Mail reported in its August 12, 2009 edition, the museum was looking into putting barriers up to protect the popular destination for residents and tourists to enjoy for generations to come. Andrew Neuman confirmed the Hoodoo Preservation Project would be moving forward.
    “We have received some funding to proceed on that project this year,” Neuman tells The Mail.
    He explains they have completed the design and engineering phase and currently has a request for proposals on the Alberta Purchasing Connection website. There was a pre-bid meeting on the site on Tuesday, June 8.
    “The next bit is to start on the fabrication and we expect the installation to take place at the end of the tourist season,” said Neuman.
    He explains there are three objectives to the project. First and foremost is protecting the Hoodoos.
    “There has been a fair amount of vandalism, graffiti and carvings that are speeding up the weathering out there,” said Neuman. “The first objective is to eliminate the close personal contact between people and the Hoodoos themselves, and we’ll do that by putting up an unobtrusive fence. These will identify the sensitive areas and tell people they shouldn’t go into that area, and why.”
    Another objective he said, was to allow visitors a great experience by constructing stairways to ideal viewing venues.
    “We have done a lot of research on where the best places for viewing and taking pictures are,” he said, adding they are even planning special camera ledges to place the camera for the perfect holiday snapshot.
    With the new walkways and barriers, they hope to increase the safety of the site. For example, rain can make the site at best, messy, at worst, hazardous. He adds the improvements will make it more accessible to those with mobility issues, although because of the nature of the site, it will not be barrier free.
    The improvements will also add a shades area and more interpretive signs for the site.
    Currently, the Tyrrell has placed employees at the site to act as both guardians and interpreters. He hopes they will eventually move away from this.
    “We’ll evaluate the success of the project and whether or not any kind of constant presence by people is needed,” said Neuman. “We are hoping it won’t be so the money we are investing in building these new strategies will reflect in our manpower budget.”

Drumheller Relay For Life breaks $1 million mark


    The rain stayed away, but even if it poured, it wouldn’t have dampened the spirits of the 18 teams walking their way to $1 million.
    The fourth annual Relay For Life went last Friday night at the Drumheller Stampede and Ag Society grounds, and in its four years, it achieved its goal of breaking the $1 million mark. The announcement of this kept spirits high as they made their way around the track.
    "We did it," said jubilant Merridy Martin, event chair. "We made it for Tanya."
    Tanya Howard was the founder of Relay For Life in Drumheller. Just weeks before the 2008 Relay For Life, her battle with cancer ended.
    "That was her dream, not only to bring the event, but to make $1 million, and we brought her that dream," said Martin.
    She said the official total will be known shortly as they are still totaling up the numbers. She added the lines are still open and those who want to donate can still do so.
    The event went off without a hitch according to Jason Blanke who emceed the event. The main stage kept spirits strong as participants took time to remember, celebrate and fight back.
    Shari Christensen of the organizing committee was especially impressed with the Fire Coulee Bandits who started their set before midnight, and carried on into the early hours of the morning.
    “They played until about 2:30 a.m., they played until they had no more material,” said Christensen. She adds the cinnamon buns baked by Dr. Poulsen were a hit for all those who were up at 3 a.m. to enjoy.
    The $1 million mark came from all directions. The track was lined with dozens of luminaries, and the Chinookers took the top prize bringing in $20,070 alone. The Greentree Warriors, a team made up of students brought in over $4,000.
    “We’ve had teams that have been here for four years and understand the devastation of cancer, and then we had the Greentree Warriors, some may not have been touched by cancer, but they understood how important it is to raise funds for cancer research,” said Blanke.
    Along with the celebration, the Luminary Ceremony provided a moment of sober reflection for the toll that cancer has taken on friends, families and those who have battled cancer.
    Teri Sparkes led the Luminary Ceremony.
    “This year I have felt like I have never experienced before how selfish and cruel cancer is. This year, after this experience, I realize even more how important it is to be aggressive in the fight against cancer so future generations are spared from living in a world where cancer exists,” she said to open the ceremony. “I want to remember, celebrate and fight back for all those loved ones whose lives have been touched by cancer.”

Artifacts uncovered at Atlas Coal Mine


    The East Coulee Atlas Coal Mine appears to be a mine of artifacts as items are still being unearthed.
    Recently, Bob Moffatt, who used to be a pony driver in the mines, found a device called a ‘railway torpedo’ at the site.
    “We had no idea that they even existed or were used onsite,” said executive director Linda Dibgy.
    Moffatt found the device at the mine and knew straight away what he had found.
    “When I was young, I worked on section gang, maintaining and repairing track,” he said. “All of a sudden, when I was checking out the new track, I saw this device and thought ‘My god, this looks like a torpedo’. I was wondering if it was even the right name for it as it is close to 60 years since I last saw one.”
    He explained to The Weekender that those devices were used to warn train engineers of possible danger ahead.
    Strapped on top of the rail track, the torpedo would explode with a loud bang and a flash when the wheel of the train would pass over it, giving a warning to train engineers to be cautious of workers or an accident on the track.
    “We used them when we were working on tracks so it would alert the train drivers we were there. There were flags too, but they weren’t always seen or they might have flown off,” explained Moffatt.
    He was puzzled to have found one on the site.
    “The question was ‘Why would they have that here?’. As I looked the tipple over more and more, I realized they were probably backing carts into that area and if the engineer was alone when it went off then he would know he went back far enough. This is the only reason I can think for them to be there.”
    The torpedoes provided lots of fun, and some trouble, for children in those days as they tried to make them explode, although they were considered highly dangerous.
    Last week, Moffatt found another item of interest at the mine, a metal sprag, used to brake coal carts.
    “It’s amazing what comes uncovered down there as time goes by,” he said. “As a matter of fact I made some wooden sprags for them which were used to brake the coal carts. I had said one of these days I would make them some metal sprags. And we only just found one of those right at the top of the gantry!”
    Again, Moffatt was puzzled to find one as he explained they didn’t take carts up there.  However, he recalls those devices were kept hidden so no-one would steal them, which could explain the unusual location in which it was found it was found.
  Used as braking devices, a driver at the front of pony-pulled carts would use them to help brake when going downhill by placing them in the spokes of the wheels to stop the wheels from turning.
  “Wooden ones occasionally would break so you had no brakes anymore. These metal ones would not break. However if you had a flat spot on a wheel, it started to bounce back and forth and would fall out.”
  Moffatt estimates the sprag found to be about 50 years old.



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