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.