The Nakusp Rail Committee

Nailing that last spike home and bringing history to life

The Nakusp Rail Committee makes the final preparations to bring a CPR caboose and plow to the town.

It was a cold and rainy Saturday as the Nakusp Rail Committee made final preparations at the site which will soon be the new home of a plow and caboose, formerly belonging to Canadian Pacific Rail (CPR) in Revelstoke.

Bringing the plow and caboose to Nakusp has been in the works since December.

Revelstoke CPR superindent Tim Schumaker asked employee Donovan Gentles to do something with one of two cabooses they had. Knowing Gentles’ enthusiasm for railroading, Schumaker trusted he would find it the best home possible.

“I instantly thought about donating it to Nakusp,” said Gentles. “Being a town with such a unique and important railroad history it was a shame that, other than the right of way, nothing shows passersby that the railroad was there.”

The last CPR train to run through Nakusp was in 1988.

Gentles contacted the Village of Nakusp to see if they would be interested in taking it, along with possibly the plow. Because of the town’s history with the railway, the answer was easy.

A committee was formed to work out the details of how to raise the money to bring the two pieces to the village, along with where to put them, and how they would be used. They will be placed on a small plot of land in front of the skate park.

Gentles said it’s overwhelming to see a community so enthusiastic about its history and he is overjoyed to be part of it.

“I am grateful CPR is willing to work with communities to preserve equipment that is no longer required,” he said. “I want to continue to work with the Nakusp Rail Committee to make sure that we never forget the past.”

Moving the two pieces will be tricky. Besides using a crane to lift them onto a low bed truck, the truck will need to cross the ferry from Shelter Bay to Galena Bay.

“The highway from Nakusp to Revelstoke is probably the best suited out of any that you can imagine,” said Donovan. “If you hauled it up from Nelson, you have a whole bunch more hills, and then you also have a lot more power lines.”

The committee hopes to have the pieces arrive in Nakusp in time for Canada Day.

“It’s a piece of the history we’ve lost, no different than with the paddlewheeler,” said Rob Glentworth, one of the members of the rail committee. “It’s all part of the history, and the growth in the area.”

It’s hoped having the plow and caboose in the village will boost tourism.

“There are lots of train buffs in the area,” said Glentworth. “I hope it brings in people. It’s definitely going to be a nice attraction once we get everything complete.”