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Rocky Mountaineer behind steam

Rocky Mountaineer dome trailing steam!

Every year, the steam-powered Kamloops Heritage Railway runs its Kamloops Railway Days specials. The KHR is a great little tourist operation in the heart of Kamloops, BC. Trains run from the beautiful CN depot, three miles to the edge of the CN yard and back with former Canadian Northern 2141, a beautifully restored 1912-built 2-8-0 that is owned and operated by the Kamloops Heritage Railway Society. The Society also owns several passenger cars and some other interesting equipment, including a stock car, wooden caboose, and a wedge snowplow.

This is a neat little organization that is deserving of a look. The equipment is skillfully restored, and looks great. The Society is presently in the process of restoring ex-Comox Logging Ry. 2-8-2 no. 16, which is owned by the West Coast Rail Association, and will be used in Kamloops as well for a minimum of five years following its return to steam.

Anyhow, like I said before, the KHR is worth a look, doubly so during the annual Railway Days, when even more equipment is imported for a day of special excursions and tours. Past pictures show the likes of CPRail SD90MAC 9300, CP heritage fleet GP38-2 3084, CN SD75i 5712 and GMD-1 1419. And of course, you could be as fortunate as last year's participants were, getting to ride Rocky Mountaineer's Goldleaf dome 9501 behind the 2141 and a special guest...

One trip during the event was made with a guest addition - Canadian Pacific's 4-6-4 2816, aka "Empress". Here, we see the doubleheader crossing over the South Thompson River with a four car train. Last in line is Rocky Mountaineer dome RMR 9501, the first dome built for the excursion company. Photo by Gordon Hall, courtesy of the Kamloops Heritage Railway. Sept. 20, 2003.

While all of the photos weren't labeled with exact locations, it's pretty easy to narrow it down when the trains only run on a three mile section of line... Here we see the train, I presume backing up toward the CN yard, which heralds the end of the run for the train. Photo by Gordon Hall, courtesy of the Kamloops Heritage Railway. Sept. 20, 2003.

A closeup of the 9501 as the train backs toward a grade crossing in east Kamloops. Photo by Gordon Hall, courtesy of the Kamloops Heritage Railway. Sept. 20, 2003.

Kamloops holds and honorable attachment to Canada's first train robbery, conducted by a very charismatic rogue named Billy Miner. (Miner is credited as being the first bandit to use the phrase "hands up".) Miner and his gang robbed a Canadian Pacific train near Mission in 1904, escaping across the US border with $6-7,000 in gold dust, $914.37 in cash, and a $50,000 bond. Miner and company were captured near Kamloops in 1906 following another train heist, but he escaped from prison and went on to conduct several more robberies. Though a bandit by trade, most accounts of Miner paint a picture of courtesy. In the 1904 robbery, Miner is quoted as telling his victims "Goodnight boys, sorry to have troubled you."

While Miner was captured and escaped several times, and his real fate after being captured in Georgia at the age of 67 isn't clear, actors portraying Miner and his two accomplices frequently attempt to relieve KHR passengers of their valuables even today. It's all in fun, of course, and helps to shed light on a very unique part of the area's history, and on a person who acted in sharp contrast to his notoriously bloodthirsty contemporaries. Photo by Terry Butcher courtesy of the Kamloops Heritage Railway. Sept. 20, 2003(?).

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