Final 2010 Black Track Tour

photo by John Hofman

photo by John Hofman

On Sunday, September 12, 2010, well known newspaper columnist and writer Tom Paterson will lead a Black Track Tour of the Morden Colliery south of Nanaimo and nearby coal mining sites and rail lines. “Black Track” refers to those South Wellington area railway lines informally used by miners and residents as a “public thoroughfare” or walking track. Coal dust so thickly coated the lines that they became known locally as the “Black Track.” Paterson is a noted Vancouver Island historian famous for his Black Track Tours. With his extensive knowledge of coal mining history and his engaging and dynamic delivery, he has a special ability to recreate the spirit of early coal mining days.

This year Tom is donating his time and skills to support conservation work to preserve the headframe and tipple at Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park. Morden’s 1913 headframe and tipple were innovative in their use of reinforced concrete and are today the only remaining above-ground structures of their kind on Vancouver Island. These almost century-old vestiges are still standing but are rapidly deteriorating. Fortunately Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park has been named as an Historic Place by Parks Canada and will soon be on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Tom hosted two tours in May and the Sunday September 12 tour will be the third and last of 2010. If you are interested in joining his September tour, call 250-714-0377. Ticket prices are $30 for one individual or $25 each for two or more in a party. The tours assemble at 10 am in front of the headframe at Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park at the east end of Morden Road off the Trans Canada Highway around three kilometers south of the Cedar overpass.

Each participant is asked to bring water or juice, a packed lunch/snacks sufficient to sustain them for the length of the tour, typically about four hours. Hats, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, and clothing to protect from possible brambles or wayward branches and suitable for forecast weather are also recommended. Transportation will be pooled to drive participants to the various mine sites, but participants are asked to provide their own to and from the park. Participants are reminded that to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all tour members, they should refrain from wandering off by themselves or engaging in conversations that impede the ability of others to hear the commentary.