The Sullivan Mine and Railway Historical Society officially received their award for Outstanding Distinguished Service from Heritage BC this month.
President of the society Mick Henningson travelled to Nanaimo, BC from May 9 to 11 to attend the Heritage BC Conference and accept the award on behalf of the society.
He spoke about the enormity of the Sullivan Mine and related surface operations that employed 60,000 people during its life over 100 years. He also mentioned that the World Bank cites Kimberley as one of the best examples of sustainable development in mining.
“Besides creating enormous wealth, the mining company, then Cominco and now Teck, looked after the environment and left behind a destination resort,” Mick said at the ceremony. “Cominco developed the High Density Sludge Water Treatment Process to treat acidic water with the first plant in the world going into operation in Kimberley in the 1970’s. They also developed complex cover systems to support sustainable growth over acid tailing ponds from 20 years of research.”
Gord MacDonald, Heritage BC Chair of the Board of Directors, bestowed the award upon Henningson and the society.
“The Sullivan Mine and Railway Historical Society is the steward of the Sullivan Mine Powerhouse and operator of the Kimberley Underground Mining Railway, an historic interpretive tour at the old Sullivan Mine site in Kimberley,” MacDonald said at the conference. “With so many communities in BC built on mining, but no longer active in this field, many struggle to preserve and convey the legacy of mines, mining, and miner’s life to younger generations.
“The Sullivan Mine and Railway Historical Society fills that gap in knowledge in the most meaningful way – guided by real miners in an authentic mine site and mining town, and with live demonstrations of all aspects of hard rock mining. There are very few efforts in the province today that achieve the preservation of the BC mining legacy, demonstrate it and keep it alive in such an effective, engaging way.
“The [society], a volunteer organization that has been carrying this torch since 1984, is carrying the story of towns in every corner of this province, and keeping them tangible, fun and educational.”
Henningson says that because of the hard working and very talented volunteer base, the Kimberley Underground Mining Railway (KUMR) was able to operate without any grants in their day to day operations.
“This is quite an accomplishment for heritage attractions. This has been made possible by making the preservation and history of the Sullivan Mine a major tourist attraction,” Henningson said. “In fact, trip advisor rates KUMR as the number one tourist attraction in the Kimberley area.”
Henningson suggests that Heritage BC look into holding the 2020 conference in the Kimberley/Cranbrook area, citing other major tourist attractions such as the Cranbrook History Centre, Fort Steele Heritage Town and the St. Eugene Resort.
“Heritage tourism is alive and well in the Kootenays,” he said.