This is the second scene from the 1976 movie Silver Streak that used the High River Alberta train station as a backdrop. In an earlier report, we see the speeding train fly past the station, which was marked Rockdale IL. In this view, which is clearly meant to be a different town even though we see the same station, the evil art dealer Devereau burns some papers as the train slowly pulls away.
In our now pictures it’s easy to see that little has changed in the almost forty years since the movie was filmed here. Since each scene was brief and given they were shot from different angles, I guess they thought no one would know it was the same building in both cases.
The building is an imposing sandstone structure, very unlike the typical prairie branch line station which was usually of simpler wood construction. It all makes sense since this is not the station’s first home and prior to coming here in 1911 it served as the CPR’s main Calgary depot. Built in the 1890s it soon proved too small for the booming town.
Dismantled and split in two, the one section is the station we see in this report. The second half ended up further south of here, on the same branchline, in Claresholm Alberta. The later building also still stands today and is likely to be a subject of a future report here. Both these stations have been modified since being transplanted in their respective towns, but still retain most of the flavour of the original building.
It’s interesting how High River came to represent two different US locations in the movie and I am sure it was selected for a number of good reasons. First, the station has the look, at least to movie viewers, of an archetypical railway depot, one that might be found anywhere in small town America. Second, it is located on a quiet branchline which hosted only a small number of trains, making filming easy. In this scene the train is actually heading north towards Calgary. In the other scene (see link below), they pass by the opposite direction. I guess we’re not supposed to know it’s the same building!
The track here is along the CPR’s MacLeod Subdivision and the last passenger train that passed by prior to the Silver Steak was a few years earlier in 1971, although as I understand it the depot had been closed even earlier. Near the end a single dayliner (a self propelled railcar) was enough to serve the line.
While there is still track here it is now unused. Portions of the subdivision which travelled from Calgary south to Fort MacLeod were abandoned by the turn of the last century. The section in High River and to point just south of it was retained and was often used to store surplus cars. Now it’s been severed however, due to some roadwork, and now the line ends at a meat processing plant a few kilometre north of town. The portion of the subdivision from Aldersyde Junction to Calgary is still busy and serves as a section of the CPR’s north/south secondary main line to Lethbridge, using the Aldersyde Subdivision to complete the route.
Across from the station, so behind the camera crew, one would have been able to see some of the town’s grain elevators. Where there was many, now there is one left, a small fertilizer plant.
Had they continued to film as the train moved north one would have almost immediately caught a glimpse of downtown High River at a grade crossing and shortly after they would have passed over the Highwood River on a substantial bridge.
This is our sixth Silver Streak then and now series and we are by no means done. They filmed so much in Alberta that we’ll have many more posts yet to come. It’s so much fun doing these and in case the reader was not aware we always use our detective skills to find these locations, and not relying on any outside help.
Images from the movie are copyright 20th Century Fox.
This station also plays a role in the 1983 movie Superman 3 and while shooting these Silver Streak themed series, we also did some for that movie…
Superman 3 then and now – Smallville.
In the same movie, this station also stood in for Rockdale IL, and to see that scene from the movie, click below…
Silver Streak movie then and now Rockdale Il station.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date: March, 2013.
Location: High River, AB.