Sullivan Mine & Railway Historical Society President, Mick Henningson reports that 2019 was a busy year for “Kimberley’s Underground Mining Railroad”.
The 2019 Operating Season was on the shorter side, Henningson said, with Labour Day falling on September 2 and July 1 on a Monday, however, 9,780 people still rode the train. In 2020, the daily operating season will be seven days longer. Daily operation will start the weekend before July 1 and run to Labour Day on September 7. Weekend operation will start Victoria Day Weekend.
“We were fortunate to get funding for three betterment projects in 2019,” Henningson said. “The first project was funded by Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) Sustainable Communities to make necessary repairs to a couple of hundred year old riveted boilers and then place them on display in front of the Sullivan Mine Powerhouse.”
The big project was restoration and preservation of the Powerhouse itself. This two-year restoration project is being funded primarily by Heritage B.C. on behalf of CBT with additional funding supplied by Teck Resources and the City of Kimberley. Work on this project started in July and continued until the Fall. This project involves rehabilitation of the brickwork and windows inside and out and will commence again in the Spring. To date, repairs on the majority of brickwork have been completed along with most of the work repairing and painting of the 15 sets of windows on the South side of the Powerhouse containing 1,584 panes of glass.
The Society also received Resort Municipality Funding resulting in paving of the City road to the Station in the Fall. Thanks to the talented shop volunteers, trains ran problem free during the past operating season.
“Our shop maintenance crew also did work on our Boiler and Powerhouse Projects over the Summer. This Fall and Winter our Shop volunteers have been installing heavier duty rectifiers, surplus to Teck Resources, in three of our locomotives along with doing other projects,” he said.
KUMR also gets non-train tours of their facilities in the off season. Recently, two classes of McKim students visited the Train Station basement, viewing Paul Ransom’s incredible Sullivan Mine mineral collection and also viewing the many historical photographs of mining, milling and the town in general. “Amongst other things, they now know there were three mines within the Kimberley city limits, 60,000 people worked in the mine and surface facilities and a big piece of Marysville was once the company dairy farm,” Henningson said.
“Currently, the Society is seeking funding to replace the 900 meter long rope on the 125 year old Rand Compressor in the Powerhouse. This rope has been patched many times and finally broke completely off during our operating season. Starting this compressor is a major attraction in the Powerhouse so they are eager to get it running again for tours.”
They are also seeking funding this year from Heritage B.C. to restore our 1922 wooden sided caboose located at the Train Station.
Henningson says KUMR continues to operate without any off-season staff. He thanks all the talented volunteers and seasonal staff for making them, according to Trip Advisor, the #1 rated Tourist Attraction in the Kimberley area.