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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Railways & Forestry

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

~Friday, June 24, 2022~

Day 740

Day 4 of Alaska Trip

It was good to be up at a good hour for a good, hearty breakfast which included an omelet, toast and fruit. Jeff and I like to have bigger breakfasts on non-travel days which, coming up, will be a little less frequent with the fast pace we have in getting to Alaska. So we’ll take it when we can get it.

This would be our only day of sightseeing in Prince George so we settled on a visit to the Central BC Railway & Forestry Museum. Right inside the entrance was an art exhibit called “From Soil to Silk” by artist Maggie Spicer, fabric art inspired by the garden.

Her pieces were just lovely. I was particularly fascinated with the process of wall art and clothing where she sketches her flowers on silk, then goes over the lines in fabric paint, before using watercolor inside the outline.

The last step is stitching around the outline so it gives the appearance of being quilted (as if it was pieced together). Very clever. It was a nice way to start our tour.

Anyway, back to the museum. Situated on the ancestral territory of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation, this 8-acre site is home to many locomotives, rolling stock and heritage railway buildings. We learned that both railway and forestry have a rich history in the Prince George area. Over the years, they definitely had their share of financial troubles but persevered with the train industry alive and kicking. Today B.C. hosts two class 1 railways….the CN (Canadian National Railway) and the CP (Canadian Pacific Railway) and several small line operations. A few of the highlights were an electric locomotive, a snowplow train

and a switcher locomotive. The best part…..getting to go inside the railcars with my personal favorite….the dining car. Loved the retro vibe. They could make a killing serving lunch or dinner from this thing if they refurbished it.

Then there was the forestry section. Forestry operations have been equally prolific over the years. Starting in the early 20th century, the landscape of central British Columbia became dotted with many small saw and planer mills. While several of these daily operations survived and grew, many faded as quickly as they had been founded. But after WWII, there was a new invigoration to the local industry as whole operations were moved to the area. It was pretty interesting getting up close to some of these heavy pieces of machinery……things like a yarder, a beehive burner, and a huge eight foot bandsaw, to name a few. But the most interesting piece was the aerial cone rake which assists in reforestation. Yes, you can harvest cones from the forest floor, but you can also “rake” them from above which we never knew. Cone rakes are suspended from helicopters and lowered onto the tops of trees.

The blades on the cone cut branches and the branches are collected in the basket surrounding the cone. Fascinating stuff. Lucky for Jeff, I don’t mind learning more about all this manly equipment.

From the museum we picked up the river trail in Cottonwood Island Nature Park. This 2-½ mile loop trail is part of the Heritage River Trail System, and though gorgeous, was flooded. Bordered by 2 rivers, the Nechako and the Fraser, much of the park has been shut down since June 8th due to high stream flow. I guess they’ve had an unprecedented amount of rain lately. What we could see, though, was worth the visit with the beautiful Cottonwood trees, some with

hidden carvings in them.

On the way back to our campsite, we stopped for a late lunch and brewsky at Trench Brewing Company. I’d rate my beer a 9 out of 10, with Jeff’s review a 7-½ for the only IPA they sold. My vege tacos and Jeff’s French Dip received 2 thumbs up! While there, we had a nice long conversation with Hannah and Carson calling us from the kiddee park in their neighborhood. Of course we didnt’ get much out of 2-year old Carson who was completely distracted. But it made for easier talking with Hannah. Devin is at a bachelor’s weekend retreat for a close friend of his, and Easton is in California visiting his dad until early July. We sure miss that little man and look forward to hearing about all the fun stuff he was able to do with his dad.

Not really part of the plan, I decided tonight was as good a time as any to get some laundry done. What I thought would take only a few hours, took more like 5 with the dryer not fully cooperating. Each of our 4 loads took nearly an 1-½ to complete. And there was only 1 washer and 1 dryer. I guess I’ve gotten a little spoiled being able to wash and dry multiple loads at a time. Wendy uses the honor system where you can leave money in a box when done, or pay her directly. It was nice of them to let me go past their 9:00 closing so I could finish up. I still had 1 load drying to pick up in the morning. With the evening busy and a late lunch, the leftover pizza was enough to satisfy dinner. And we’re just digging these long lasting sunsets (they at least seem long)

Wrapping up the evening with a little night stroll near the campground, Jeff and Sadie took a narrow, quiet road until Sadie started growling. With Sadie’s agitation and Jeff’s worry not having the bear spray with him, they decided to turn the other direction, back towards the campground. Who knows what it was, a moose, an elk, a deer, or a bear? even though Wendy said they hadn’t seen one in years. But best not to have those encounters, eh?

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