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CN sells Algoma Central Railway

Watco to continue freight operations, Agawa Canyon Tour Train
Algoma Central Railway file photo (Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday)

CN has reached a deal to sell the non-core lines and assets from the company’s Soo Subdivision, which includes the Algoma Central Railway.

CN and the purchaser, the Pittsburg, KS-headquartered transportation company Watco, made the announcement in a March 30 news release.

It marks the culmination of a sale process that began last July.

The deal includes 250 miles (402 kilometres) of track that runs between Sault Ste. Marie to Oba, as well as 650 miles (1,046 kilometres) of branch lines of Wisconsin Central Ltd. in Wisconsin and Michigan.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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“In Ontario, Watco will continue freight operations as well as the Agawa Canyon Train Tour,” the companies said in the release.

The train tour is one of Sault Ste. Marie’s premier tourist attractions, running visitors 114 miles (183 kilometres) into the Agawa Canyon to view the changing fall colours through September and October.

Work is ongoing to upgrade the attraction, including the construction of a new station on the former grounds of the St. Marys paper mill, which is being led by Sault entrepreneur Tony Porco.

The release also indicated that Watco has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Missanabie Cree First Nation “regarding partnership opportunities” for the ACR.

Missanabie Cree has led efforts, in recent years, to get the train back up and running between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, after it ceased operations in 2015.

In operation since 1983, Watco is a single-source transportation and supply chain services company with locations throughout North America and Australia.

The company owns and operates a network of short-line railroads, terminals, ports, and mechanical shops.