January 27th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 4
Old smoky comes home to Pass
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Top row: Workers from Mammoet in Pincher Creek and from Triple T Trucking in Claresholm.
Bottom row (from left to right): Keith Bott, Tom Houda, Ronald Hruby, Rudy Pagnucco, Elaine Hruby, Billy Houda, Terry Vossler, Terry Barlow, Ken Brands, and John Kinnear.
Pass Herald Reporter
When coal was king and a summer student could make a quick buck underground, mining historian and the Herald’s very own feature columnist John Kinnear was paying his way through college hauling coal out of the Vicary Mine north of Coleman in a Hunslet Diesel Locomotive.
He took many trips in the Hunslet, hauling 17 coal cars at a time, from deep underground up to the surface.

Last week, Kinnear helped the Hunslet take another trip from a yard in Fernie to the Bellevue Underground Mine, to which it’s been donated.
“I thought it would be more appropriate if it were brought back to its roots here in the Pass,” said Kinnear.

On Jan. 22, the move was completed and the Hunslet was deposited on a set of original tracks just outside the entrance to the Bellevue mine. Museum volunteers, staff and former coal miners were soon gathered around the machine.

Bellevue Underground Mine executive director Elaine Hruby said the 10.5-ton locomotive is worth well more than its weight.

“Beyond being something new and special for our collection it’s a symbol of our culture and history,” she said. “For the guys waiting for it to come in, it’s memories: their grandfathers in the mine and their roots in our community, which is coal mining.”
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Riversdale Resources coordinated with Mammoet Equipment and Tripple T Energy Services donated personnel and equipment needed to move the locomotive for no charge. The move would have cost $25,000.

“You can see the Bellevue mine is really charged about having this hear,” said Keith Bott, Riversdale’s community liaison.

Kinnear spoke about receiving more than a few lungfuls of diesel exhaust working with “old smoky”.

The locomotives were outfitted with special diesel filters, which never worked properly, he said, giving the engine its nickname.

“You were always working in diesel exhaust but the mines had good strong ventilation which moved it downwind,” said Kinnear.

The two Hunslets had 65 horsepower and were flame-proof locomotives that were purchased second hand from West Canadian Collieries in Blairmore. They were originally from the British Isles.
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Instead of conventional air brakes like those of the Hudswell they had a large, ratcheted hand lever. It had two speeds, could go forward or reverse, had no clutch and spotty traction.

“When the tracks were wet, the wheels would spin just like the big steam locomotives,” said Kinnear. “On many occasions I had to toss rock dust underneath the wheels so they’d get grip. It would start out at a very low speed so you could literally walk alongside it and throw rock dust until you were off the slippery zone.”

After retiring from the Vicary Mine, the pair were purchased with money from the Devonian Foundation by the City of Fernie and put on display there. But they were then retired to the city yards where they sat for many years, their wheels slowly sinking into the mud.
January 27th ~ Vol. 85 No. 4
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