The Sullivan Mine and Railway Historical Society held their AGM this week, and as is the case most years, President Mick Henningson was able to tell members of another successful year running the tourist attraction.
Last summer, the Railway exceeded 9,000 riders for the first time. This includes visits to the Power House, the Underground Interpretive Centre or up to the Resort Station. It also includes a number of school trips, which Henningson says continue to be very popular with schools in the Cranbrook/Kimberley area as well as from further afield. Grade 5 tours are a yearly occurrence for most area schools, he said. Students from the West Kootenay and Alberta also arrived for tours in 2013.
For the past several years, wet Junes have caused a bit of grief for the Railway and 2013 was no exception. The Railway was forced to stop operation for a couple of weeks in late June due to concern of a potential mudslide into Powder Magazine Creek, which the Railway crosses. However, the rains did stop and the Railway was able to begin their summer full-time schedule on time.
New this year, the Kids Trains, a 10 a.m. train ride only, proved successful. The train goes through the underground but doesn’t stop, proceeds up to the Resort for a quick picture taking stop, then returns downtown.
The Railway also tried a new feature in partnership with the Resort —a train/chairlift ride combination. This was planned for the September First Saturday.
“Unfortunately, this was the one Saturday where it rained all day,” Henningson said. However, should they be able to come to agreement with KAR again, it is quite possible the ride will be offered next year.
When the Railway shuts down in September, the team of volunteers who keep it running don’t put their feet up. September until the snow flies is when track maintenance takes place. Volunteers started a significant track upgrade in the Downtown Station area, Henningson said.
“This project was partially funded by Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Grants recommended by the City of Kimberley and Area ‘E’ of the Regional District. Thanks to our operating revenue, the combined CBT grant, Teck Resources, our huge volunteer base and help from any number of local companies and individuals; we were able to complete this project and finish the year slightly in the black.”
Henningson acknowledged all the volunteers who work so hard for the Railway; Desiree McKay who manages (and plants the flowers) at the Downtown Station; Safety Director Tom Martin who works to keep the Railway in compliance with the B.C. Safety Authority; and the group of shop volunteers led by Sever Rondestvedt.
“This group of 10 “regulars” has very skilled people including some recent retirees. The whole group has demonstrated they can basically maintain and fix almost anything, even our 120 year old rope driven Rand Compressor,” Henningson said.
Public Relations are handled by Sharon Henry, who is also the lead commentator/engineer. Engineering duties are also covered by Society Vice President Dan Jarrett.
Henningson himself handles track and tunnel maintenance, and general administration is covered by Esther Jacobson. The Society’s long time treasurer Lorne Boates resigned last year, but agreed to keep the books until the end of 2013, for which the Society is very grateful, Henningson said. Volunteer Greg McCormick took on payroll for 2013.
“The Society had a very good year thanks to tremendous Community Support, great seasonal employees, and our large group of very talented volunteers,” Henningson said.
“Our goal is to educate people about the history of a mine that employed 65,000 people over its 100 year life. Its is also to provide a major tourist attraction in the Region at Reasonable Cost. I thank the Community, employees, and volunteers who helped us achieve our goals in 2013.”