Herein is a proposal to restore and create a major tourist destination of significant benefit to the citizens of Parksville Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni.
Various enthusiastic and talented railroad groups such as the port sub railroaders and the Port Alberni track gang (volunteers with the Alberni Pacific Railway) have worked for many years to preserve and continue to maintain the Port Alberni sub division of the E&N. The rail line is a picturesque and incredible bit of railway engineering from Parksville to downtown Port Alberni. This line was used in the late 1950s as a test by the CPR to introduce diesel power replacing steam on the transcontinental mainline as the grades curves and terrain were a condensed version of the Rockies and other areas on the continent.
If one travels the Port Alberni sub, the fantastic scenery, over spectacular trestles and viewpoints, offers us an opportunity to create a worldwide scenic destination and tourist Mecca.
Over in Port Alberni we have the McLean Mill, a steam donkey show and a working logging steam engine travelling from port to the mill over a small portion of the original Port Alberni sub. At present many tourists come by the bus load to see the mill and ride the rails. But alas it remains a bit off the public radar due to limited marketing and promotion, although the “goats on the roof” are recognized worldwide.
I believe we are wasting our efforts to reinstate the line between Nanaimo and Victoria, which funding could be applied to this.
Estimates and real time costing to upgrade/restore the total 29-mile line to Parksville is only a matter of a few trestle repairs and at the most is well within the budget of $20 million that the ICF has proposed to restore the main line over these last years.
If we can get all of the interested parties to come together we can affordably make this become a reality.
We have a most spectacular and historic venue to offer the world. Imagine a rail trip from Parksville station, a stop at Coombs to pick up more passengers and then on to port and the national historic site at the McLean Mill. Perhaps a stay over in Port Alberni and a return trip the next day. Here is an incredible piece of Island history which needs to be saved and promoted. Let us all work together to make this happen. Can you hear the whistle of a steam engine in the distance?
Allan ClarkQualicum Beach