Hornsby crawler seeks new home

A one-of-a-kind steam tractor is in search of a loving home. Rather, the North Island Historical Society is looking for a home for its 100-year old Hornsby crawler steam tractor.

  • Feb. 3, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The North Island Historical Society is seeking a location to house a century-old Hornsby crawler steam tractor

A one-of-a-kind steam tractor is in search of a loving home. Rather, the North Island Historical Society is looking for a home for its 100-year old Hornsby crawler steam tractor.

The crawler is currently housed in Surrey. The Mount Waddington Regional District is hoping to find a new home for the massive machine before committing to the expense of bringing the crawler home. That would reduce the effort to a single move instead of two separate moves.

With that in mind the North Island Hertitage Society is inviting proposals from North Island communities and organizations interested in providing a new home for the crawler.

Jane Hutton, curator and director of the Port Hardy Museum, said the Port Hardy Historical Society does not feel it can take on a project of this size at this time. She hopes that some other organization on the North Island will come forward with a plan for the Hornsby.

“Organizations should submit their proposals to the regional district by March 31st,” said Hutton. “In the proposal they need to show that the crawler will be sheltered and accessible to the public, yet protected from mischief such as vandalism.”

The crawler was constructed in England and shipped to Canada in 1910. This Hornsby crawler is the only steam version of the crawler ever built. Oil powered versions of Hornsby crawlers were built, but this one was destined for the Yukon gold fields where much coal was available and fuel oil was scarce.

The Hornsby finished its work in the Yukon in 1927 and found new work in Apple Bay on Vancouver Island where eventually it fell into disrepair. The boiler was removed sometime in the 1950s. About 25 years ago it was rescued from the bush and moved to the Seven Hills Golf Course where it remained on display for 20 years before being loaned to an Alberta heavy equipment exhibition in 2005.

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