At one time, 48 grain elevators stood on the CP rail line from Stirling to Manyberries. Only seven of them remain.
As such, a pair of southern Albertans have their sights set on preserving an aging artifact once known as an iconic part of the "Prairie skyline."
Jason Sailer and Cody Kapcsos are part of the Southern Alberta Grain Elevator Society (SAGES) - a group whose goal is to save and restore the nearly 90-year-old Ogilvie grain elevator located in the hamlet of Wrentham, about 60 kilometres southeast of Lethbridge.
They want to move the elevator to the Galt Historic Railway Park just north of Stirling, about 30 kilometres away, within the next year and a half.
The idea originated more than five years ago, but has gained momentum since October. On Sunday, Sailer and Kapcsos will be at the Lethbridge Public Library to unveil their plans during a kickoff meeting in the Theatre Gallery.
"I'd like to preserve a little bit of that history," said Kapcsos, who grew up in Stirling.
He remembers a time when there were 22 grain elevators in the general vicinity of the village. Now there are only three.
"I've seen at least five or six grain elevator demolitions in the last year, year and a half, so I'm afraid one of these days it might just fall victim to the wrecking ball, too. It would be the loss of an icon. It's the Prairie skyline," Kapcsos said.
"It seems like a lot of people become upset afterwards," added Sailer, who grew up on a farm south of Medicine Hat.
Moving the elevator, built by Ogilvie Flour Mills in 1925, from Wrentham to Stirling would cost $100,000 to $150,000.
The 36-acre Galt Historic Railway Park has offered relocation land to the preservation group. Once at the park, the elevator would be restored back into a functioning grain elevator, at an additional cost of about $50,000, and offer live demonstrations to school groups and tourists on how they operate.
The restored 1890 North West Territories International Train Station from Coutts and Sweetgrass, Mont. was moved to near Stirling in 2000. The museum displays items of life and travel from the 1880s to the 1920s.
"We thought of that one (the Wrentham elevator) because it fits in with the time period of the train station," Sailer said. "We thought it would be a good fit at the railway park."
Sailer and Kapcsos will look to see what financial help could be available through possible grant dollars, from the County of Warner and from larger grain companies, although they know much of the work will rest on them.
But it is something they want to preserve because they say the grain elevator, or number of elevators, was once considered a sign of a town's size and potential services and should be recognized as historically significant.
Wrentham once had seven grain elevators, but only two remain. The Ogilvie one was sold to the Alberta Wheat Pool in 1960 and the Kuhn family has owned it since it closed in 1968.
But they no longer plan to farm in the area, do not need it for storage, and have agreed to SAGES' proposed move.
"They are architectural icons, in a sense, for the Prairies," Sailer said, adding 1,755 grain elevators once stood in Alberta and, of the 120 remaining, only 32 of them have been saved by similar efforts.
"It might be a bad thing moving it out (of Wrentham), but it's a good thing that we're saving it. If it's there, we should at least give it a shot."
Sunday's presentation on the Wrentham Elevator Move will take place from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the Theatre Gallery in the public library's main branch.