27 June 2008
Heritage Interurban Rail Car to Make a Comeback
Cloverdale British Columbia - Cloverdale's claim to fame as a railway town is only partly because it once sat at the crossroads of three major railways. Cloverdale was also once a stop on the B.C. Electric Railway interurban rail line.
The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society (FVHRS) is busy refurbishing one of the original cars and is bent on having it operational, and running along part of the original route, in time for 2010.
The FVRS is one of several groups planning a display for Canada Day near the site where the CP Spirit of 150 rail tour will pull into town. The society's display will feature a video of the Fraser Valley line as it was in the 1950s. Society members will be on hand to share information about the line and their hopes and dreams for resurrecting it.
The BC Electric Railway interurban rail line was built in 1910 and ran nearly 70 miles from Carral Street in downtown Vancouver to Chilliwack carrying passengers and freight. South of the Fraser, it remains intact from New Westminster Quay to Chilliwack. In its hey-day, up to 80 cars were in operation serving 70,000 residents.
The line made its last run on 28 Feb 1958, from Steveston to Marpole. The car that made this final run, number 1225, was repatriated by the society from a museum in California and is currently being refurbished by them.
"In the '50s, everyone thought the future of interurban transportation lie in buses and cars powered by cheap gas," says FVHRS chair John Sprung. "When the line was discontinued, most of its cars were stripped and burned. No one saw the value in preserving them."
Some of the cars that escaped destruction can be found in static exhibits around the Lower Mainland. Unlike those, the society hopes to have its car running from Cloverdale to the Brownsville area (the Scott Road SkyTrain station) for heritage tourism purposes.
In addition to wanting the service operational prior to the 2010 Olympics, the society's goals include being part of the "Hydrogen Highway."
"This is the original green operation," says Sprung. "We are looking at hydrogen fuel or combined hydrogen/methane as alternate power sources to provide the electricity."
Those interested in learning more about the line can stop by the FVHRS display at the Clover Square Village Mall on 1 Jul 2008 or visit www.fvhrs.org.
For a first-hand look at interurban car 1225, everyone is welcome to attend the FVHRS open house on 13 Jul 2008 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Sullivan Park (64th and 152nd Street) in Cloverdale.