By Jessica Messerer-Trosin
More than 100 years after it was first built, Kamloops’ historical locomotive, 2141, is ready to get back on the rails.
After a two-year hiatus, the locomotive — now known as The Spirit of Kamloops — is once again providing entertainment to the residents and visitors of Kamloops.
The engine, which dates back to 1912, originated in Kingston, Ont. where it was one of 25 locomotives built by the Canadian Locomotive Company. It was originally a coal-burning engine, but was converted to burn oil in 1948.
The Canadian Northern Railway (which eventually merged to become the Canadian National Railway) locomotive transported freight, passengers or mixed trains. It operated primarily in the Prairies, but worked on Vancouver Island before it was retired.
2141 made its way to Kamloops when it was given to the City on Oct. 28, 1961. For more than 30 years it sat on display in Riverside Park.
In February 1994, the 2141 Steam Locomotive Restoration Society was formed, on behalf of the City, to restore the engine back to its former glory.
Restorations continued until early 2001 and included upgrades to its breaks and electrical system. They were conducted by volunteers.
When the restorations were complete, the society changed its name to The Kamloops Heritage Railway Society and shifted its focus to “operating a railway and a tourist train,” according to its website.
At the beginning of the following year, the engine moved — using its own power — to its new location on Lorne Street. At this time some new track and switches were also added.
A few months later, on June 26, 2002, The Spirit of Kamloops carried its first passengers.
Trips were taken three days per week and included the Bill Miner Train Robbery Re-enactment.
It was a popular tourist attraction in Kamloops for about 10 years, until 2013 when the Society required $300,000 for restorations, and the $200,000 that had been granted annually by the city was cut off.
The engine required service that is mandatory after every 1,470 operating hours. Without the funding, the locomotive was once again stagnant.
In 2014 the City agreed to supply funding to The Kamloops Heritage Railway Society and, along with money collected through donations, work on the train began.
Work on the locomotive took most of the summer, but the engine is back up and running now. Tours began again in late August. The Spirit of Kamloops tour runs until Sept. 5, followed by the Ghost Train and the Spirit of Christmas tour to coincide with Halloween and Christmas, respectively.
For more information check out www.kamrail.com or call 250-374-2141.