Robert Turner

A Century of Vancouver Island’s Colliery Railways & Modelling Suggestions by Robert Turner

Vancouver Island’s coal mines and their railways have a fascinating history, and they can make highly detailed and challenging models. The clinic will explore their history, railways, structures and equipment, and suggest modelling possibilities. Coal mines and their railways were a dominant industry on eastern Vancouver Island from the 1860s for nearly 100 years. Coal mining was key to the towns of Ladysmith, Extension, South Wellington, Nanaimo, Wellington, Cumberland and Union Bay, and they all depended on colliery railways. Most were standard gauge, but the early Dunsmuir operations at Wellington were 2’6” or 3’ gauge. These railways used tank engines from Britain and the US, handsome Baldwin Tenwheelers, or small 0-6-0Ts with lots of variation. The structures included an array of pit head buildings, power plants, washeries, and shipping wharves. A famous one was the “Jack Work” White Rapids mine featured in Model Railroader in the 1950s. The clinic will highlight the history, structures, railways and workings of the mines with photos and maps, and we’ll also survey the available model equipment from locomotives and rolling stock to tipples and shipping wharves to get started on a mining scene, module or major project in several scales.
photos by John Geddes
click photo to enlarge
Biography I’ve been model building since I was about six years old, and I’ve worked in HO, HOn3, N scale and On3 (and a little On30). Presently I’m working in On3 (Colorado narrow gauge) and HO for BC logging railways and some dabbling in other areas like plantation railways. I’ve written over four hundred articles for Railroad Model Craftsman and other magazines and historical society publications (such as CN Lines and CP Tracks) and I’m working on my 20th and 21st books about transportation history