Short Line 101 is Back With a New Brand
The parking lot was full to capacity and cars were lined up down Diefenbaker Dr. on Saturday morning as the Western Development Museum officially re-launched the Short Line 101. the long-running novelty train, The Vulcan, is back on the tracks and its ready for passengers. Only now the line has been rebranded in the name of its official sponsor. So, come on down to the WDM and take a ride on the K+S Potash Canada Short Line 101.
The train worked a solid career before becoming a staple of the WDM Moose Jaw. Originally, it served in the coal mines on the Crowsnest Pass, then did a stint hauling hopper cars on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border before ending its heavy working days at a sodium sulphate mine near Old wives Lake. In 1978 it was shipped to the WDM in Moose Jaw and its been here ever since, riding the Short Line 101..
See Related: History of the Short Line
"It was out of commission for a couple of years when it needed to have its boiler replaced" said, Karla Rasmussen, the WDM's Education and Public Programs Co-ordinator, about the Vulcan.
The Vulcan was taken off the rails because the tracks, ties, and railbed had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer safe to use the locomotive.
"Time and weather had taken their toll; the rails were uneven, ties had begun to rot, and the railbed was not in good condition" Karla said. "We needed to raise over $101,000 for the repairs to be done, and with the help of our community, local businesses, clubs, organizations, and title sponsor K+S Potash Canada, we were able to do so. Our volunteers have also done a tremendous job on getting the locomotive and carriages ready to go, and our maintenance staff have also been working hard to get the grounds about the tracks tidied back up".
According to Karla, the work wasn't easy. All of the old and existing rails and ties were taken off, and the remaining ballast (gravel around the ties) was removed. The contractors (Ironhorse Railroad Contractors) took the old rail bed down to the ground level, and rebuilt it back up with new materials. Construction was completed in October 2017 just before the snow fell.
"Because of the time that had elapsed since it was last run, all of our locomotive engineers had to re-certify to operate the engine, since it’s so specialized. We have some great folks working with us to help visitors make memories during their visits!"
Many influential Moose Javians were on hand to welcome the train and the track back. MP Tom Lukiwski, MLA Warren Michelson, City Councillor Crystal Froese, and K+S Communications Manager, Meaghan Dubois were among many who spoke to the impressively large audience, as well as the chief engineer himself, Tim Pomeroy.
CEO Joan Kanigan also announced the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital family pass program.
When the final spike was driven, representatives from K+S Potash Mine were given the honour of taking the celebratory first ride.
Scheduling for train rides is still being uncertain. According to Karla they only have a limited number of certified volunteers who are able to act as engineers to drive the locomotive. "So the schedule will depend on their availability as well as the weather, since we do not run in the rain. It’s always best to phone ahead, even if you are planning a visit on an advertised running date, to make sure we are able to run the train that day. We plan to operate as many weekend dates as we can throughout the summer, based on volunteers and weather."
Activities were also set up inside the museum for families to partake in.
"We are just finalizing our summer schedule and hope to have it posted on our website and Facebook page by the end of this week" Karla said, in reference to future engagements at WDM.