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Kimberley Underground Mining Railway celebrates 40 years in 2024

Sullivan Mine and Railway shop volunteers (LtoR: Malcom Muir, Larry Tuck, Jim Benton, Lloyd Miller & John Wiggin) sitting inside and standing in front of Loci 2009 which they converted from right hand to left hand drive over the past year. SMR photo

The Sullivan Mine and Railway Historical Society held their Annual General Meeting in Kimberley on March 19, 2024, and as always Society President Mick Henningson delivered a report on the past year.

2024 is a special year for the railway, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. Henningson outlined the railway’s beginnings.

“Started in 1984 as the Bavarian City Mining Railway, it operated around the City’s original campground and on what is now the Resorts’ major parking lot. The original campground is now the Dreamcatcher subdivision. In the early 90’s, a railway grade was created down into the Mark Creek Valley and a bridge from Expo 86 installed to allow the railway to get to the present train station site.

“In 2006, the ‘underground experience’ was added thanks to major grants from then Teck Cominco and the Canada B.C. Infrastructure Program. This project included putting two more bridges across Mark Creek and driving a tunnel two blocks long and creating an underground train station. It was at this point the name was changed to ‘Kimberley’s Underground Mining Railway’.”

As for 2023, Henningson said tourist traffic was down a bit, but a slight increase in fares and obtaining sponsorship for a kids train in May and June, plus a big car show in June translated to higher revenue.

Henningson thanked Kevin Dunnebacke and his staff at KTown Custom Auto for all the work they put into the car show.

“Besides 68 cars on display in a great setting beside Mark Creek, six special one-hour ‘Kids Ride Free Trains’ operated that day with special events around the Downtown Station for adults and kids alike,” he said. “Preparation for these events included the erection of several tents and hay bale barricades by Kevin and his crew to provide covered spaces for food, beverage, and fun activities.”

Henningson also thanked the hard working shop crew, led by Lloyd Miller, who this year have been busy converting Locomotive 2009 from right to left handed operation. This loci was purchased in 2009 and will also get a major electrical upgrade.

“Technical Safety BC also required a major upgrade to our Safety Management System to have BC railways including heritage railways mirror the protocols used by the national railways,” Henningson reported.. “This task was managed by Gord McLean who also looks after track maintenance and engineer/conductor training.

“Our major projects for 2023 was widening a section of the Powerhouse Station platform before season opening and doing a section of the Downtown Station post season. These widened sections allow seamless loading and unloading of scooters as well as wheelchairs. We can now say we have easy access for both wheelchairs and scooters for the 2024 season.”

Henningson also mentioned two long time volunteers and thanked them for their efforts. Esther Jacobson has been with the railway for 38 years and Desiree McKay, another long time volunteer personally supplies the flowers for the downtown station. He also pointed out the role Bill Roberts and Dale McBain play in presenting the mining shows.

“And finally, in this 40th year of operation, I wish everyone to especially remember those people from Kimberley who went over to the H.B. Mine near Salmo and removed mining equipment and railroad track to start our railway. This group, led by Bill Spence included Dan Jarrett, Frank Goodwin, Lloyd Ryan, Chuck Kinrade, Sever Rondestvedt, Gar Jones and Lorne Boates also got pretty well every business and person in Kimberley to buy a railway tie or two.”

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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