Locomotive #112 has made the journey from Bear Cove to Port Alberni.

Locomotive #112 has made the journey from Bear Cove to Port Alberni.

Locomotive moves one last time

A locomotive, steeped in local logging history, was loaded onto a flat deck trailer, and hauled away to Port Alberni last Tuesday.

A locomotive, steeped in local logging history, was loaded onto a flat deck trailer, and hauled away to Port Alberni last Tuesday.

Locomotive #112 had been sitting out in the weather for the last 45 years in Beaver Cove. Beaver Cove is located at the mouth of the Kokish River, 18 kilometres southeast of Port McNeill and three kilometres up the inlet from Telegraph Cove. The locomotive, originally built in 1923, was visible from the Telegraph Cove highway.

“We would go fishing at Telegraph Cove and I remember the kids would climb all over it,” said Town of Port McNeill Mayor Shirley Ackland, adding over the years the locomotive has fallen into “a state of disrepair.”

Nickel Brothers, a company that specializes in heavy moving, transferred the engine down-island on Wednesday. Oversize loads may only be moved at night, when traffic is lightest.

The transport took one day and the locomotive was transferred onto the railroad tracks by the Alberni Pacific Roundhouse on Friday.

The move was made possible through a donation from the B.C. Railroad Historical Association to the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society, who will be covering the balance of the cost.

Neither the City of Port Alberni nor the Alberni Valley Museum were involved in the operation.

“There is quite an interest in trains and logging in Port Alberni,” Ackland said.

“Fortunately someone is going to look after it.”

Ackland said the Town of Port McNeill did not try to keep the locomotive and include it in a Regional Heritage Registry “because we’ve got some artifacts here that we need to take care of.”

For instance, down by the waterfront near the ferry terminal is a steam donkey, a common nickname for a steam-powered winch, that was used to pull logs up the side of hills.

“That one is right from Port McNeill,” said  Ackland.

In 1968, locomotive #112, a 90-ton, oil-fired tank model, was retired and put on static display at Nimpkish before being relocated to Beaver Cove two years later. Its sister steam locomotive is on display in Woss.

Locomotive #112 was part of the Englewood Railway operation.

Englewood Railway is part of Western Forest Product’s Englewood Forest Operations, headquartered in Woss.

Built first in 1917, the railway was operated until 2006 by CanFor.

The railway line runs 90 kilometres (56 miles) from Vernon Lake, through Woss, past Nimpkish Lake Provincial Park to Beaver Cove. Logs are brought from the hills, where they are cut to rail loading points at Vernon, Maquilla, Woss and ‘Camp A’ via logging trucks and then loaded onto rail cars.

Englewood Railway is the last operating logging railroad in North America.