These tiny rail cars (called ‘speeders’) and their owners from all over North America visited the Parksville Qualicum Beach area this week.

Speeders add colour to quiet E&N rail line

Duncan visit part of annual trek for tiny rail cars and their riders

  • Mon Sep 22nd, 2014 7:00am
  • News

They catch a lot of attention as they clunk down the little-used tracks of the mid-Island, with people jumping from cars to take pictures as they cross roads.

The 24 “speeders,” or tiny rail vehicles that were visiting the area from across the continent last week, have moved on, but the local hosts are confident they will be back, for bigger and bigger events.

The tiny railcars visited Duncan as part of what has become an annual sojourn, but their main base was up-Island, near Parksville.

“This year we made sure they stayed on the Parksville side,” said local enthusiast Ken Fyfe who hosts a stop at his property in Coombs where he entertains the visitors, some from as far away as Florida, with his 1908 Sawyer Massey portable steam engine and vintage vehicles.

On the three previous tours of the area, organized by the Motorcar Operator West club out of California, part of the North American Railcar Operators Association, they stayed in Port Alberni and did a couple day trips to Parksville.

But Fyfe and fellow local organizer Gordon Grenon wanted to show the value of the Alberni spur line as a tourist attraction, hosting the 60-plus people in local hotels and restaurants.

The group did a series of short trips around Woss Camp and back and forth to Duncan and Port Alberni.

The local volunteers spent weeks clearing the otherwise unused tracks between Parksville and Port Alberni, including the use of their unique hand-built three part mowing machine.