Bloedel Stewart & Welch No. 1

Technical Data:

  • Catalog designation: Class “B” Code Word “Balloon” (42 ton 2-truck)
  • Weight in working order: 42 tons.
  • Built: 1911, as c/n (construction number) 2475.
  • Cylinder dimensions: 10×12.
  • Boiler-pressure: 180 pounds per square inch.
  • Hauling capacity on straight level track: 2070 tons
  • Gauge: standard (56.5 inches)
  • Fuel: wood.
  • Braking system: Lima steam engine-brake (later fitted with air train-brakes).


History:

  • Bloedel, Stewart & Welch was formed in 1911 by US lumberman Julius Bloedel and railway contractors John Stewart and Patrick Welch. Bloedel was attracted to BC by the availability of timber and pending relaxation of US import duties on Canadian lumber. The partnership proved sound, as Stewart and Welch quickly secured the company a 40 million board foot (1800 car load) contract to supply materials for construction of the Grand Trunk Railway between Edmonton to Prince Rupert. A similar contract was issued in 1912 for the first phase of construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway from Vancouver to Prince George.
  • BS&W’s first logging operation was at Myrtle Point, near Powell River, for which the Shay was purchased new from the Lima Locomotive Works and assigned road number 1. At that time, wood was the standard fuel and 42 tons was large for a logging locie. This was also the era before air brakes were mandatory – when logging locomotives commonly had steam brakes and the detached trucks on which the logs were transported, had only hand brakes that were set by brakemen, in accordance with locomotive whistle signals from the engineer.
  • By 1925, BS&W had purchased and was logging extensive holdings of prime timber in the Union Bay, Menzies Bay and Alberni areas on Vancouver Island. No.1 worked at the Menzies Bay, Great Central Lake and Franklin River operations. By 1937, when No.1 was transferred to the Franklin River Camp, 42 ton wood burners had been supplanted by larger oil burning engines, so No.1 was relegated to bull-cook (light) duties and saw very little service.
  • Following the amalgamation of BS&W and H.R. MacMillan Export, creating MacMillan & Bloedel Limited, No.1 was taken to Vancouver in 1953 in preparation for sale to Philippine interests. When the deal fell-through, the locomotive was sent to the company’s Chemainus Division, where it was lettered as M&B No.1. Destined for scrapping, it was purchased by local lumberman and museum founder, Gerry Wellburn, as the first item of a large personal collection that evolved into the Cowichan Valley Forest Museum in 1964. The engine was put on display at the museum entrance in 1966 and remains there still.
  • Toward the end of its working life, the veteran locomotive was known affectionately as “The Old One-Spot” and “The Last Of The Wood Burners,” NB: The “Spot” referred to the dot painted to the lower right of locomotive road numbers, and which loggers referred to as a “spot” and included with the number when speaking of a locomotives.
  • The Old One-Spot’s working life spanned many evolutions in BC logging – the era of steam power, the introduction of high-lead yarding and duplex-loading (at Myrtle Point) and the use of chain saws and hard hats (at Franklin River).
  • Julius Bloedel seems to have had a special affection for his “Old One Spot,” which may explain why it was never sold, scrapped or converted to burn oil. His final years were spent in the company of No.1’s bell, which was loaned to his family.