Museum to celebrate railway’s 100th anniversary

The Kaatza Station Museum’s curator Barbara Simkins always has something to do.

The Kaatza Station Museum’s curator Barbara Simkins always has something to do.

Along with museum volunteer Al Lundgren (see Page 19), her biggest project at the moment is working on their massive United Steelworkers 1-1937 (International Woodworkers of America 1-80) archive of photographs and documents.

“A lot of them haven’t been seen,” she said, of the interesting photos.

The next big thing for the museum will be the 2012 celebration of 100 years since the railway came to Cowichan Lake.

In 1913, the fist rail passenger service came to Cowichan Lake, “So, we’re going to celebrate for two full years,” Simkins said.

“The reason the railway came here was the forestry,” she said.

“It totally opened up. Before 1912 they only took stabs at logging.”

During their ‘stabs’ at logging, foresters would float logs down the narrow Cowichan River, with the logs often jamming.

“The least man on the totem pole worked sticking a stick of dynamite and blew it out,” Simkins said, of the log jams.

“A lot of people died. Most of the time they lost money.”

The opening up of the Cowichan Lake area to logging is what truly started the Cowichan Lake area community, which is built around the industry.

The museum’s main building itself is an old railway station, which was phased out of service in 1979, though the rail line stayed in for another 10 years.