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Coal and lumber garden railroad

By Brian Swanton | June 20, 2022

The Kettle Valley Railway, Bruce Division is modeled after a railroad in British Columbia

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Model lumber company scene in garden railway

The Kettle Valley Railway – Bruce Division is a coal and lumber garden railroad modeled after the Kettle Valley Railway that at one time carried freight and passengers through the Thomson/Okanagan Region of British Columbia. The garden railway was started in 2004 and covers a triangular-shaped hillside on Brian Swanton’s property.

The railroad features two small towns, and two ponds with a creek and waterfall between them. There is also a lumbering operation, sawmill, and coal mine. The railway is divided by a grand stone stairway where the trains travel in a tunnel under the steps from one side to the other.

My version of The Kettle Valley Railway, like the prototype, runs a number of trains to serve its varied clientele. KVR No. 3 has been used to pull a scratchbuilt seven-car coal train from the Coalmont Collieries, delivering coal to the coaling tower at Mt. Logan and to the Copper Mountain powerhouse. KVR No. 4 pulls freight trains assembled from a roster of 50 period freight cars to serve the various industries on the railway.

Canadian Pacific Shay No. 1903 pulls a seven-car, scratchbuilt gondola train with ballast from the Mount Logan pit. CP No. 3401 pulls a four-car passenger train consisting of two AMS coaches, a fruit express car, and a baggage/express and Royal Mail car. The latter two cars are kitbashed AMS coaches, modeled after existing Canadian Pacific cars. I hope to complete the construction of CP No. 3716 and a three-car train. It will be modeled after the Kettle Valley Steam Railway excursion train that operates out of Summerland, British Columbia.

Name of railroad: Kettle Valley Railway, Bruce Division

Size of railroad: 75 x 30 feet

Scale: Trains, 1:20.3 and 1:22.5; buildings, 1:24

Gauge: 45mm

Era: 1920s to 1940s

Prototype: Kettle Valley Railway in British Columbia during the steam era from 1920s to ’40s

Age: 12 years

Motive power: R/C battery power; live steam

Length of mainline: 185 feet

Maximum gradient: 3 percent

Type of track: Brass (LGB sectional and Aristo-Craft/USA flex track)

Coal and lumber garden railroad: overview of garden railway in a backyard

Railway overview showing the swing bridge connecting the greenhouse track storage to the outdoor railway. Coalmont is at the lower right and West Summerland is upper left. Photo by Tom Hakala

Coal and lumber garden railroad: overview of garden railway in a backyard
model coaling and water towers on a garden railway

Kettle Valley coaling tower and water tower at the Eagle Ridge Quarry. Photo by Tom Hakala

model coaling and water towers on a garden railway
Model steam locomotive in garden railway scene

Kettle Valley No. 4 with a load of ballast for track work. In the foreground is the Whitely Inn, with the Eagles Lake Ice House on the right and the Summerland Fruit Co-Op in the background. Photo by Tom Hakala

Model steam locomotive in garden railway scene
Locomotive on trestle in garden railway

Trout Creek Trestle with Granby Power House in the background. Photo by Tom Hakala

Locomotive on trestle in garden railway
Model rail yard in a greenhouse

Deer Creek rail yard in the greenhouse. Photo by Tom Hakala

Model rail yard in a greenhouse
Model sawmill scene in garden railway

Deer Creek Lumber Co. sawmill at West Summerland with the town in the background. Photo by Tom Hakala

Model sawmill scene in garden railway
Model lumber company scene in garden railway
Deer Creek Lumber Company’s Chute Lake logging camp loading logs with Porter No. 2 and live-steam Shay No. 3. The stockyard and powerhouse are in the background. Photo by Tom Hakala
Model lumber company scene in garden railway
Coal and lumber garden railroad: City scene in garden railway

The Town of Coalmont, with the station in the foreground and the Coalmont Collieries tipple in the background. All the buildings in this town are scratchbuilt, based on photographs in Diane Sterne’s book, “White Gold and Black Diamonds.” Photo by Tom Hakala

Coal and lumber garden railroad: City scene in garden railway
Coal and lumber garden railroad: Model coal cars next to a power station on a garden railway
Two empty coal cars are ready to return to the Coalmont Collieries from Granby Power House. Photo by Tom Hakala
Coal and lumber garden railroad: Model coal cars next to a power station on a garden railway
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