Back in the old days, the Kettle Valley Railway was famous for its feats of outstanding engineering. Nobody thought it could be built, and it seemed as though more of the track was on wooden trestles than on solid rock.
Sadly, those days are long gone. The line was shut down, although eventually the parts were “restored” as hiking and cycling trails. A major forest fire destroyed many of the best trestles, although some were later replaced.
Fans of the KVR and steam trains in general rejoiced when a short section of the old KVR was reopened in West Summerland, as the Kettle Valley Steam Railway (KVSR). For the first few years, they used a Shay steam locomotive to pull the train, but just before our visit they switched to a beautiful ex-CPR Consolidation-class (2-8-0) steam locomotive.
In September, 2005, we jumped into our motorhome and took off for this south-central British Columbia, Canada location. The RV campground was quiet, and only a few steps away from a beach at scenic Okanagan Lake.
The drive to the KVSR train station was hardly scenic however, passing through the West Summerland garbage dump, but the actual KVSR facilities were nice and well maintained.
The train does not travel very far, and stops at the once-famous Trout Creek bridge. This is a 238-foot high deck truss bridge, approached from either side of the Trout Creek canyon by wooden trestles. As was common practice, the trestles were eventually filled-in with dirt to prevent fire, and the bridge itself now has a tall fence on either side.
During our visit, passengers disembarked from the train, and the locomotive backed out onto the bridge for a “photo shoot,” blowing lots of steam in the process. When the locomotive returned, we reboarded the train and it backed out onto the bridge again, so we could see the view, before returning to the KVSR train station.
Okanagan Lake is a popular holiday destination, and if you are planning a trip to that area, you will certainly enjoy spending a few hours with the Kettle Valley Steam Railway. [ KVR Jigsaw ]
If you are interested in the history of the old Kettle Valley Railway, keep an eye out for any of these excellent books:
- Kettle Valley Railway, by Gerry Doeksen
- Steam on the Kettle Valley, by Robert D. Turner
- Steel Rails & Iron Men, by Barrie Sanford