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Trip to British Columbia to the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway 6/24/2011

by Chris Guenzler

After breakfast, Bob, Elizabeth and I left the house and headed north on Interstate 5 towards the Canadian Border. We had no wait and soon we were heading north into Canada. After stopping at a store for some things they could only pick up in Canada, we headed into Surrey where we pulled into the parking lot for the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway at their car barn.

The sign of the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway. There we were met by John Sprung, Chairman of Fraser Valley Heritage Railway and Alan Aubert, Secretary.

The car barn of the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway. This was built with the dream of having British Columbia Electric Railway equipment to be housed it in. This dream has come true. But this group will be moving to a new site next year in Cloverdale, BC.

B. C. Electric Railway Brief History

Originally started in 1910 as an amalgamation of existing street car lines, and a plan to push out into the farming lands of the Fraser Valley. Construction started in Surrey and continued through to the present day site of Chilliwack. When completed in 1911, the BCER ran from downtown Vancouver out to Chilliwack. There were up to four complete round-trip runs each day. Carrying not only passengers, it also provided a fast method for moving freight, the mail and gossip. Another goal of completing the rail line was to electrify the valley. Modern conveniences, such as electric light and telephones, came to the valley as the rail line spread up from the Fraser River and through settlements. Over time these settlements grew into the town centers and cities we find today: Whalley (Surrey City Center), Newton, Sullivan, Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, Sumas, Yarrow, Chilliwack.

The British Columbia Electric Railway's reconstructed Sullivan Station as it was in its prime.

They have this speeder and trailer that they give rides on at this site over 200 feet of track.

Another small shelter on the grounds is the original Sullivan Station which was built in 1909 and served the Sullivan Community until 1950.

Two more views of the British Columbia Electric Railway's Sullivan Station.

Two maps that show the electric railroads of the Fraser River Valley.

Pictures of the British Columbia Electric Railway 1304.

British Columbia Electric Railway 1304 which was built in 1911. This car was on the 1912 Royal Tour of Canada. The car has the name of the Duke of Connaught, the Governor General of Canada. After that the car ran on the Chillwack Line. Then in 1945 the car caught fire and burned to its steel frame. It was then rebuilt and returned to service running until October of 1950. But Interurban car 1304 had not been out on the Chilliwack line for almost five years, but when Yarrow teacher Miss J.E. Fowlie wondered in a letter to president Grauer if her grade three students might not have a train ride to round off a study unit on transportation, it was as good as done. One of the diesels hauling a freight train brought 1304 to Chilliwack, where the thirty-eight students, with their teacher, boarded it for a forty-five minute ride to Yarrow. After the students had inspected the train's caboose, the freight train continued on its way to New Westminster, leaving behind a class of bubbly, still side - eyed children." Car 1304 left Canada in 1955 and moved to Glenwood, Oregon to reside at the "Trolley Park" of the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society. After 50 years, it returned to B.C. in April 2009 and, in time will run again on the Fraser Valley/ Chilliwack line.

Front end view of the British Columbia Electric Railway 1304.

Inside of British Columbia Electric Railway 1304.

From Car 1304 we now will look at Car 1225.

British Columbia Electric Railway 1225 built in 1912. It worked in downtown Vancouver to Steveston {Richmond} and Burnaby from 1913 to February 1958. USA Railfans rescued it from destruction and it was towed to the Orange Empire Railroad Museum in Perris, California who kept it operational. It ran there until 2005 when it was returned to Canada and has been undergoing restoration ever since.

Front end view of the British Columbia Electric Railway 1225.

The inside of British Columbia Electric Railway 1225.

All of us in the British Columbia Electric Railway 1225.

Smoking as allowed in one end of these cars.

The Steveston Interurban Restoration Society Sign. This group owns Car 1304.

Pictures on the end wall of the 3000 square foot car barn. After that we were presented with a few gifts to remember our visit to the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway. From here we went outside and after several attempts to start their speeder, it finally kicked over and I got the first ride on their 200 feet of track.

Views from my four speeder trips around their loop of track.

Elizabeth boarded for my fourth lap. After that we decarred and Bob boarded for a single trip around the loop. Elizabeth and I photographed Bob's trip aboard.

The Speeder Runbys. After that John and Allen invited us to lunch so we walked across the street to the Java Hut. After that we went to the Burnaby Central Railway {See the next story above this one for that trip.} After that we went to the Burnaby Museum where we found the British Columbia Electric Railway 1223.

British Columbia Electric Railway 1223 built in 1912. It entered service in 1913 and retired in 1958. It was one of only seven British Columbia Electric Railway Cars saved from destruction. It was displayed outside in Burnaby but was vandalized and deteriorated in the elements to the point that it need to be restored and placed inside which happened after it arrived at the Burnaby Museum and Heritage Village.

End views of the British Columbia Electric Railway 1223.

The control stands of the British Columbia Electric Railway 1223.

The inside of British Columbia Electric Railway 1223.

The British Columbia Electric Railway Vorce Station.

The home of the British Columbia Electric Railway 1223. After that in the bathroom I looked at the guide to the grounds and discovered that there was a steam engine located on the museum grounds. We went in search of it and found it.

Canadian Pacific 0-4-4T 3. It was built in 1879 for construction of the San Francisco Sea Wall After that it went to the Canadian Pacific which named it "Curly" for the building of their railroad. It was sold to D.O. Mills and Company then it went to BC Mills Timber and Trading in 1888. After that it became Hastings Saw Mill Company 3 in 1926. In 1973 the engine was displayed at the Pacific National Exhibition. Years later it became a part of the Burnaby Museum. Thus the Number 3 is the oldest existing Canadian Pacific Steam Engine on earth. Then we drove back to Lynnwood spending only 30 minutes at the US Border getting back into the USA. It had been a great trip to Canada and a place I want to come back to soon. I finished up the story then called it a night.