BC Forest Discovery Centre
|BC Forest Discovery Centre|
Hillcrest Lumber Company #1,
a class B Shay locomotive
|Location||2892 Drinkwater Road,
Duncan, British Columbia
The BC Forest Discovery Centre, located in Duncan, chronicles the history of logging in British Columbia, Canada. Its mission is to be British Columbia's foremost interpreter and presenter of the forest community – past, present and future. It is a 100 acre site with 2.5 km of operational 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railway.
G.E. (Gerry) Wellburn, a collector, was the founder of the Centre which opened in 1965 as the Cowichan Valley Forest Museum. It was later known for a time as the BC Forest Museum.
There are indoor and outdoor exhibits spread over a 100-acre (40 ha) site, including operating steam and gas rail equipment plus logging trucks. There are forest and nature trails, picnic area, playground, gift shop and a concession. At the Centre visitors can explore a reconstructed logging camp, forest fire lookout tower and the ranger's station.
The Centre has its own heritage railway, a train pulled by a century old steam locomotive which was once used in the filling in of the North Vancouver harbour. Along the route is one of the first pre-fabricated school houses, a trestle over Somenos Lake and an operational water wheel.
- Mayo Lumber Company #3 Shay (class B) (was on loan to Kettle Valley Steam Railway 1995-2009) 
- Hillcrest Lumber Company #1 Shay (class B) (3 ft (914 mm) gauge) 
- Bloedel Stuart & Welch Shay (class B) #1 (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge) 
- Shawnigan Lake Lumber #2 Climax (class B) (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in standard gauge) 
- Hillcrest Lumber Company #9 Climax (class B) (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in standard gauge) - the only operational Climax locomotive in Canada) 
- Cowichan Valley Railway #24 Vulcan 0-4-0T "Suzie" (3 ft (914 mm) gauge) 
- Cowichan Valley Railway #25 Vulcan 0-4-0T "Samson" (3 ft (914 mm) gauge) 
In addition, these diesel locomotives are also part of the collection:
- Cowichan Valley Railway #23 "Sandy" Plymouth 8-ton 
- Cowichan Valley Railway #27 "Handy Andy" speeder 
- British Columbia Forest Products #9 Whitcomb Locomotive Works (80-ton 0-4-4-0 diesel) 
The site has a reconstructed fire watch tower, which offers a commanding view of the site and nearby Somenos Marsh.
The Centre borders the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Refuge and Ducks Unlimited pond. Many types of water fowl and other birds can be found in this area. Red-Eared Slider turtles can be found sunning in the field next to the marsh.
Two bald eagles have built a nest in the stand of trees west of the North Cowichan Station at the Centre's lower grounds. These eagles successfully raised eaglets in 2006 after relocating from a previous nest site along the South Forester's Walk the previous summer. There are currently three eaglets in their nest. The nest is best viewed by standing at the flag pole outside the Wellburn Building at the lower grounds.
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