The Forest Discovery Centre has things you wouldn’t expect—like trains!
Gerry Wellburn, the logging company owner who started the collection and museum, didn’t just collect tools—he collected locomotives, many of which were used in the forest industry. (Actually, he collected a lot of things, many of which grace other museums now.)
According to the engineer we chatted with, he and some friends built a rail line in his back yard—must’ve been bigger than our back yard!—before the museum was created. Here’s the story from the website:
In 1951 he happened to be driving by the MacMillan Bloedel yard at Chemainus and found them putting the cutting torch to an old Shay locomotive he’d ridden as a boy, turning it into scrap. He stormed into the office, outraged. They gave him the pick of what was left. His choice was “Old One-Spot”, because she was the oldest and most interesting. She was built in 1911 by Lima Locomotive Works of Ohio and was the first of her type brought into British Columbia. He bought the locomotive for $1750.
His passion for railways created the “Glenora Western Railway” on his 10 acre property near Deerholme, 4 miles from Duncan south of the Cowichan River. The last spike on the G.W.R. was hammered in place June 28, 1958. The line was completed with the help of the Victoria and Nanaimo Model Railway Clubs.
There are several locomotives and train cars on the grounds, and there’s a narrow-gauge railway almost 3 kilometres long for visitors to ride. At certain times of year they bring out a steam locomotive, but we rode the Green Hornet, which had been used at Jordon River by the BC Electric Railway Company.
Oh, and there are advantages to having a partner who always says, “Can I drive?” when getting onto various vehicles. We didn’t get to drive, but we did get to ride in the engine.