72 Castleglen Way N. E., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3J 1T3
Tucked away in the rolling hills of central Alberta, Canada, is the village of Big Valley. Once on the main line to Edmonton, it was an active community back in the 1900s, producing coal from underground mines to fill the tenders of the locomotives leaving their roundhouse shops. It is now home to some 350 residents and a perfect backdrop for a steam show.
In conjunction with Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions from Stettler, engines and engineers from all parts of Alberta gathered together on July 22 and 23 to set up live steam demonstrations in front of the train station awaiting the arrival of '41' a Baldwin Consolidation 2-8-0, locomotive built in 1920, along with her 12 fully restored Pullman cars and 400-plus passengers. The weather was perfect on both days for demonstrations on the Baker fan, hay press, two different scales of sawmills and threshing machines. This year we made the show a little different by inviting some very unique models. Ken Grove of Indus, Alberta brought his 1/3 scale John Deere D, which took him three years to build and sounds and shakes just like the real thing! Jim Golley, of Tees, Alberta, brought his two 1/3 scale models, of an Adams road grader and scraper.
Engines left to right: Heins Plenert scale 65 Case; Ernie Bertschi scale 76 HP SAwyer-Massey; Brain Manning scale 25 HP Advance Rumely; Dave Fitchie scale 65 HP Case; Ken Grove1/3 scale John Deere D; Henry Eichorn scale 80 HP Case.
There was a total of nine traction engines up to steam, with Case, Sawyer Massey, and Advance Rumely being the predominant makes. Tony Leschinski from Calgary had his1/8 scale Royal Alchin, an English center-crank engine running on air, as well as many models of stationary gas and steam engines. Larry Potter from Erskine, Alberta, had his 1/8 scale 65 HP Case working the matching Baker fan for the crowd, keeping the needle steady at 100 p.s.i, using hardwood for fuel. Fred Fleschette brought his hand-built 1' model of a Pacific class Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive and caboose which had the crowds around both days.
From New Norway, John Kvill, Heins Plenert from Coronation, and Dave Fitchie of Camrose all had their Case scale 65's powered up performing for the spectators. Henry Eichorn from Donalda had his scale Case 80 and matching sawmill demonstrating steam power at its best. Not to be outdone, Ernie Bertschi of Camrose not only had his scale 76 HP Sawyer-Massey operating his 3 inch sawmill, he also built a model Case hay press this past winter, which we all took turns running while Ernie tied small bales of hay for the crowd a very popular demonstration. After repairing injector problems, Brian Manning of Calgary had Pioneer Acres' scale 25 HP Advance Rumely running smoothly, giving demonstrations of a working engine to the crowd.
Attendance grew steadily throughout both days, at times completely filling the grounds.
We look forward to each show season, but the Big Valley Steam Show has to be one of the most relaxed, laid-back fun events each year. Next year's show dates are July 21 and 22, 2001.
For more information, you can visit these websites: Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions, at www.nucleus, com /Heartland, or www.pioneeracres.ab.ca. Anyone wishing to join us next year, contact Brian Manning at 403-280-9090.