'A Winnipeg icon': New book tells the history of the Prairie Dog Central

A new book is sharing the story behind a piece of Manitoba’s history – the Prairie Dog Central.

“The Prairie Dog Central has been a Winnipeg icon for 52 years now,” said Paul Newsome, the author of the book ‘Prairie Dog Central: The Story,’ in an interview on Monday.

Newsome is the general manager of the Vintage Locomotive Society, which is the organization that owns and operates the vintage steam locomotive and train – one of the oldest regularly operated locomotives in North America.

Newsome said he started to think about writing the book about 10 years ago, but actually sat down to put it together last year.

“I knew the story had to be told. It’s a very interesting story. Everybody’s going to get something out of it they’ll enjoy,” Newsome said.

He noted the locomotive’s story began in 1882 in Scotland, where it was built. It was then sold to Winnipeg Hydro in 1918, remaining with the corporation until 1961.

The Vintage Locomotive Society took over the train’s operations in 1970.

The Prairie Dog Central is still operating today, providing rides between Rosser and Grosse Isle.

Newsome noted the train is just as popular as ever.

“We offer three things in general: history, education and entertainment. There’s something for moms and dads and kids,” he said.

Newsome added that even though the train is 140 years old, it is still authentic.

“All the coaches are between 1901 and 1912. The engine is 1882. It adds to the story of how the Prairie provinces were developed,” he said.

- With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube.