The Revelstoke Railway Museum will celebrate its 30th anniversary later this month with a public event and the launch of a campaign to restore the recognizable locomotive that sits in in the yard.
The museum began construction in the summer of 1992 and was opened to the public the following year. Since then, the museum has had over 500,000 visitors from around the world and boasts a collection of over 20,000 artifacts, sharing the rich, expansive story of railroading in the mountains of British Columbia.
“Revelstoke is the perfect place for a railway museum. It is less than an hour away from the Last Spike site at Craigellachie, the iconic Rogers Pass, and the history-rich town of Arrowhead to the South,” said Jim Cullen, Executive Director of the Revelstoke Heritage Railway Society, in a press release. “Its status as a ’division point‘ — a major regional railway hub — and being home to the largest workshops between Winnipeg and Vancouver until 1911, meant that Revelstoke was a place of advanced technology and craftsmanship. And its status as an important railway town still resonates today.”
The Revelstoke Heritage Railway Society was formed in 1988 with the help of local business leaders, retired CPR employees, historians, and residents. The building was constructed by local tradesmen using beams from Kozek Sawmill, the largest beams ever produced by that mill according to the museum’s staff.
“Building the Revelstoke Railway Museum was a bold act of vision, risk-taking and love for community,” said George Hopkins, President of the Revelstoke Heritage Railway Society, in a press release. “I hope the founders would be proud of the Museum’s work in both preserving a vital part of Revelstoke’s history and culture, and in serving its local communities.”
The Museum is celebrating its 30 years of operation with an event on June 16, producing a special short video documenting the museum’s history, and launching a $250,000 fundraising campaign for the restoration of the iconic SD40 diesel locomotive No. 5500.
“We are fortunate to have such generosity in our community,” added Hopkins. “Many people do not think of diesel locomotives as historic, but the reality is that No. 5500 is already over 50 years old. The locomotives that run past our Museum daily can be viewed as the descendants of this pioneer locomotive. However, time and the elements have not been kind to No. 5500 and the Museum’s 30 Anniversary is a wonderful opportunity to ensure this pioneer locomotive’s long-term preservation.”
According to the Revelstoke Heritage Railway Society, an individual donor has committed to pay for a roof structure which will go over the locomotive. The campaign will fund the cosmetic restoration of the train’s familiar red colour.
The community event will kick off at 4 p.m. on June 16. Donations for the restoration project can be made directly at the Museum or online at www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/revelstoke-heritage-railway-society/.
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