British Columbia rail museum receives nearly $1 million for preservation projects

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SEATTLE — West Coast Railway Association in Squamish, B.C., has been awarded a $985,000 grant by the Canadian federal government to buy the former BC Rail shop now used by the group for preservation and restoration projects.

The association has been leasing the building for the last 13 years. It’s been “an integral part of what we are able to accomplish” at the association’s West Coast Railway Heritage Park, according to Don Evans, the group’s board chairman.

The grant, from the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, will be roughly matched by $1 million the association is raising on its own to cover expenses for renovations and upgrades. Evans says the association has about half of that amount in hand now, and will be raising the rest this year.

The shops complex — consisting of several buildings including offices — has seven track bays, and the shop itself is equipped with 10-ton and 50-ton overhead cranes. The locomotive service building has a pit beneath the tracks and elevated side platforms, so crews have better access to the undercarriage and the roof of a unit for servicing.

The association plans to incorporate its new acquisition into tourist visits to its 12-acre heritage park. On weekends this summer, Evans says, escorted tours will be offered in which visitors ride one of the park’s pair of Budd rail diesel cars for a 10-minute trip over to the shops.

The shops will also be on display when the association hosts the fall conference of the Heritage Rail Alliance in September.

In the meantime, the association has four restoration projects working in the shop: BC Electric steeple cab electric locomotive No. 960 (GE 1912), Canadian Pacific Baldwin DRS 4-4-100 No. 8000, Pacific Great Eastern sleeping car (which also operated as a sleeper on an Indiana interurban line) and continuing work on Canadian National FP9A No. 6520.

The other track spots will be used for regular maintenance of other pieces in the collection. The association also plans to use classroom space in the office building for heritage seminars and workshops for students.

The West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Vancouver, is home to Royal Hudson 4-6-4 No. 2860. The steam locomotive, not currently operating, is on display.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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