Upcoming Events

Steampunk Days: Full STEAM ahead!

Date: June 8, 2020 11:00 am to June 14, 2020 04:00 pm

Welcome to the virtual STEAMPUNK Days - Full STEAM ahead!

We will explore the different components of STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) as well as Steampunk which is a sub-genre of science fiction that incorporates the aesthetics of the Victorian Era with technology of the 19th century.


Here at Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum, we have many items in our collection that are steam-powered (or used to be steam powered).
For example, our 1520 Steam Locomotive, our Grand Trunk Pacific Turntable, our 1913 CP Steam Crane, and our Steam Donkey.

Check out the video by "SmartyMoose" and learn how a steam engine works.

Now that we looked at some steam engines and learned how they worked, we challenge you (young and old) to come up with your own invention of a steam engine! You can use this template by Little Inventors if you'd like. Maybe you come up with the next big invention!



Did you know that Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum has telecommunications equipment housed in our Cora Bell Donald Building displaying the history of telecommunication?
Our collection ranges from telegraph keys and receivers to teletypes, phones, and an operating switch board.

As part of our educational programming, we have a kit which let's you build your own telegraph key. Ask for a kit to take home during your next visit at Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum.

Railroads have been using many different kinds of technology for communications.... some of which are obsolete and some are still being used today.

Semaphores, like this one on Penny Station, were used by stationmasters to communicate with incoming trains. The position of the semaphore would instruct the engineer whether to stop at the station, slow down, or keep going.

Today the Penny Station Semaphore is painted all black, but as you can see in the photograph, its blades used to be painted bright red with a white stripe. This distinct colouring was to ensure a high contrast between the semaphore blade and its natural background.

Additionally, the Penny Station Semaphore is equipped with coloured lenses at the base of each blade. At night when the blades were not visible, their movement could still align these lenses through which a light would be shone to show oncoming trains the appropriate signal.

Mechanical signals like semaphores have been phased out over the years in favour of light signals.

In our video series "Cottonwood Railway - Behind the Scenes", train engineer Brian introduces our gasoline switching locomotive with hydraulic drive.

The locomotive's gasoline engine powers a hydraulic pump which then drives a hydraulic motor that turns the wheels.


Although the technology used to signal on railroads has developed other the years, some signals themselves have been used for decades, for example the Queen's Code.

It is debated how this signal originated, but one common legend is that British ships were ordered to sound this signal to let other boat traffic know that the Queen was on board and that other ships must yield to her passage.

The signal is two long blasts followed by a short blast and one more long blast, ( - - . - ), which is also the morse code signal for the letter “Q”.

Click on picture to hear our Cottonwood Minitrain horn.


Who ever invented the 7.5 gauge rail is a genius, don't you think? (Our Cottonwood Railroad's track is a 7.5 gauge rail.)

In the video from "Cottonwood Railway - Behind the scenes", train engineer Brian talks about our track, track maintenance, as well as the different kinds of ties we use: wood, extruded plastic and plastic ties made in England.

Besides, Brian talks about a few neat engineering inventions that make working on the Cottonwood Railway easier. Can you spot any in the video?  

In the light of COVID-19 and social distancing, Little Inventors created the "Keep your distance" challenge.

The idea is to draw an invention to keep people two metres apart. Do you have an idea for such an invention? 


A in STEAM is for the ARTS




The acronym was originally SMET - but SMET was found to be pretty hard to rally-around. (Lisa Catterall)


"STEM was first coined as an educational concept in the early 2000s by the National Science Foundation". (stemforher.org)


Although there is a long history of the interaction of the sciences with the arts, the A was added to STEM in 2013. (Wikipedia)



Who better to ask for the ARTS than Briana from Two Rivers Gallery?! 

In this MakerLab Online video, Briana explains how to create pop-up books which could be easily decorated as Steampunk pop-up books!


Little Inventors encourages students to produce creative work and explore their ideas using drawing, design, and crafts. One of their resources, the Plan Your Prototype sheet, offers students the opportunity to use drawing to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination.

Do you have an idea for an invention? Use Little Inventors "Plan your prototype" sheet to think about how it will look from different sides.


For many people, Steampunk is now more than a fiction genre: it is an art form in all shapes and sizes from hats to houses, from minuscule to the magnificent.

Have a look at last years Steampunk Days pictures which show several different kinds of steampunk artistry: costume, hairstyle, make up, accessories, vignettes, and decorations.

They also show many of the typical "symbols" of steampunk: gears, clocks, gadgets, pocket watches, googles, and stetsons.

 NEW in 2020 at Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum will be a Children Tour Book and Coloring Pages created by Archivist Maria Martins. 

Feel free to download the coloring pages and share your creations with us by emailing nfieber@pgrfm.bc.ca. 




.... and math is everywhere in our day-to-day lives!

Math includes addition, subtraction, division and multiplication but also volume, shapes, temperature, patterns, coding and representation.

It also includes more futuristic concepts like time traveling and interstellar travel.

Here's is a MATH RIDDLE for you:

A train leaves in Prince George heading towards Vanderhoof at 100 km/h. 15 minutes later, a train leaves Vanderhoof heading towards Prince George at 200 km/h. Assume there is exactly 200 km between Prince George and Vanderhoof. When they meet, which train is closer to Prince George?

ǝƃɹoǝƃ ǝɔnıɹd ɯoɹɟ ǝɔnɐʇsıd ǝɯɐs ǝɥʇ ɥʇob ǝɹɐ ʎǝɥʇ ǝɹoɟǝɹǝɥʇ ,ʇods ǝɯɐs ǝɥʇ ʇɐ ɥʇob ǝɹɐ ʎǝɥʇ ,ʇǝǝɯ ʎǝɥʇ nǝɥʍ.



… which includes SHAPES, WEIGHTS and SIZES

Rails can have many different shapes and sizes.
At Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum we mainly have flat-bottomed rails (or Vignoles rails) which are also the dominant rails used worldwide. 

When you walk around the museum, you may notice a rail marking on the rails as seen in pictures 

- the foundry/manufacturer (Algoma Steel, ON, Canada)
- the weight of the rail per yard (80 lbs per yard, 85 lbs per yard)
- section type (sec 113, sec 115)
- OH which means that the rail was made with the Open Hearth process
- manufactured year and month (number of | represents month)

Depending on the foundry/manufacturer, the markings may look different.

The last picture shows different GAUGES and SCALES at the museum. Gauge is the distance between outer rails and scale is the size of the model relative to the real thing.

From left to right, you see our Cottonwood Railway 7.5" gauge track, a G-Scale (garden scale) track, an O-Scale track, an HO-Scale track, and a N-Scale track.


Who has visited The Exploration Place in Prince George? Did you know that it is not only a museum but also a science centre often collaborating with Science World at TELUS World of Science

Dig into computational thinking with Science World's Tech-Up learning specialists, Jaclyn and Josh. Each week a different topic is posted that encourages grade 4-7 students to explore problem solving methods and share their solutions through various offline and online activities. 


 A big role in the Steampunk culture plays Steampunk fashion. Steampunk fashion is a mixture of several fashion trends through history such as mid-19th century and Victorian era fashion, post-apocalyptic and sci-fi chic. In addition to clothing, steampunk fashion consists of hair-styling, jewelry, and make-up. Accessories can include gadgets and contrasting accouterments.

The Exploration Place's Public Programming Coordinator Christie developed a slide show (converted to video) about "Steampunk Costume Design - An overview of elements and inspiration".


 Happy International Steampunk Day!

June 14th, 2020

Check out Two Rivers Gallery Sunday Open Studio Video today and craft along to create Steampunk Sock Puppets!

Learn how to make a simple sock puppet, or a more structured puppet, and use things you find around the house to decorate your new friends!


As "Steampunk Days - Full STEAM ahead!" come to an end, we'd like to thank Two Rivers Gallery and The Exploration Place for their contribution to this year's virtual event.

If anyone happen to travel through time, please let us know if 2021 we'll be able to celebrate in person again?! Our fingers are crossed.

Stay safe and healthy! Last but not least, let's enjoy a video of our 2019 event.