The Sullivan Mine and Railway Historical Society (SM&R) held their Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
President Mick Henningson reported that 2022 was a good year for the Society. This was due, in part, to the COVID pandemic’s restrictions diminishing over the course of the year, allowing them to enjoy a normal season with no reduced capacity restrictions starting with operating weekends on May 21 and operating Thursday to Monday on June 30 through September 4.
Kimberley’s Underground Mining Railway saw an increase in riders from 6300 in 2021to 8400, correlating to an increase from $145,000 to $186,000 in ridership revenue.
“Once again, thanks to all our volunteers, staff, contractors, consultants, and financial benefactors that improved our facilities and brought us through the last two years during a pandemic,” Henningson said.
Henningson attributed part of that increase to their initiative of having local businesses sponsor their 10 a.m. Kids Trains on the five weekends between Victoria Day and July 1, which allowed children 16 and under ride free.
These rides also followed a shorter route and had added attractions, rather than the long ride to Kimberley Alpine Resort and back.
These rides now follow the same route as the full two-hour Mining and Powerhouse tours that go through the tunnel without stopping, but instead stop and have a brief tour of the Powerhouse allowing guests to see the 120-year-old Rand Compressor operate.
Last year also saw the shop crew restore a second man care, an added feature of this tour. Families are able to sit in them on their way to the Powerhouse, after blowing the Train horn at the Powerhouse station.
The 10 a.m. trains are very popular with young families especially now after adding more attractions to this tour,” Henningson said. “Another major shop project was the cleanup of “stuff” both inside and outside the shop, as well as installation of new shelving.”
The effects of inflation in 2022 were felt, increasing the Society’s operating expenses and maintenance costs, particularly insurance.
Henningson explained that though they raised their labour rates, they were able to use less hours by not having to clean each train after every trip, like they did operating during the depths of the pandemic. The Society also didn’t have to split visitors into two groups.
They had two major expenses last year, one being the restoration of the Society’s two large signs on the highway. The shop crew tackled the one near Fores Crowne and Heningson restored the one near Yahk, with the help of some contract labour and donated lumber and gravel.
The other was having to replace the rear end of their backhoe.
This year, the Society aims to pursue funding to restore the Sullivan Mine Carpenter Shop, which is the same age as the Powerhouse and currently used as their maintenance shop. It is the only other building built in the 1920s that remains.
We now have the Condition Assessment and Historical Significance Reports in hand, the latter funded by the City of
Kimberley,” Henningson said. “Our Heritage Consultant came up with an archival print showing all the buildings that existed in the Lower Mine Yard in the 1940’s, about a hundred in total including a train trestle across Mark Creek above the area where the concrete flume now exists.”
There is now a two foot by three foot print permanently on display outside the station wall.
The Society will use $10,000 received last year from the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives and Affected Area Program to repair an eave on the Carpenter Shop, ahead of the total roof restoration. Funding for that project is being requested from Teck Resources.
Another major project of last year was the completion and approval of a Safety Management System Workbook, which is required of all railway systems under the control of Technical Safety BC.
“This was a huge undertaking done in collaboration with a Railway Technical Program Analyst,” Henningson said. “Going forward, we plan to reformat sections of our internal SMS such that they sync up with the new SMS template adopted by Technical Safety BC to streamline future audits and reviews.”
The board for the coming year is as follows:
Mick Henningson President
Kevin Dunnebacke Vice President
Esther Jacobson Secretary
Desiree McKay Station Manager
Sharon Henry Public Relations Manager
Michael Jones Director at Large
Drew Westergaard Director at Large
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter