WHEN YOU HEAR the phrase, the “Spirit of Kamloops”, what comes to mind? Do you think of the two rivers that meet here? Our lush parks and greenery? How about our friendly, local attitude?
The answer for the hardworking staff and volunteers of the Kamloops Heritage Railway Society, a registered charity, is the steam engine “2141” also known as the “Spirit of Kamloops.”
The 2141 was built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston, Ontario for the Canadian Northern Railway and is classified as “Light Consolidation” because of her 2-8-0 wheel configuration. The official class is M-3-d and she is the only survivor of this type.
From 1913-1598 the 2141 was used to carry a mix of passengers and freight, until she was finally slated for demolition. On Oct, 28,1961, after three years of arduous work, Mayor Jack Fitzwater of Kamloops finally persuaded City Council and the CNR that selling the locomotive to Kamloops was the best choice. After a payment of $2,000 the train was refurbished to become a static display at Riverside Park.
The new landmark train sat in a section of Riverside Park inactive for over 30 years until 1993, when a private enterprise approached the City with a purchase offer after realizing the train’s potential. The entrepreneur wanted to restore the 2141 and offer train rides in Alberta.
The City asked residents for their opinions and it became abundantly clear that the residents of Kamloops could not part ways with the soon to be “Spirit of Kamloops.” A community plan quickly developed to undertake the restoration for local train rides.
The public and the City wanted the once thriving train to roll onto the tracks once again. The steam engine was lovingly restored over an eight-year period (1993 – 2001) by a group of dedicated volunteers after 80,000 hours of labor and a new 5,000 square foot home on Lorne Street.
On June 26, 2002, the Kamloops Heritage Railway carried the first passengers on the “Spirit of Kamloops” rail tour and has been a proud staple of our city ever since. Steam train aficionados and history buffs, not to mention families and people of all ages, continue to enjoy these train rides today!
One 5-star review from Trip Advisor claims “it is a fantastic way to experience a ride on the rails like it used to be!” The Kamloops Heritage Railway Society is gearing up for the autumn and winter events coming very soon. Spooky Ghost Train anyone? Tickets are on sale right now, so check out more information at https://www.kamrail.com/autumn-railtours. Until next time Downtown Kamloops, keep on riding the rails!
Written by Jon George, Customer Care and Patrol (CAP) Team Member. Reach them at 250-572-3008/3009 or the Customer Care & Info Centre at 250-572-3017. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Facebook, Instagram (Downtownkamloops) and Twitter (@downtownkamloops).