Tourists riding on the steam train to Big Valley got the chance to go back in time and see a variety of vintage cars and steam engines at Alberta Prairie’s Live Steam and Vintage Car Show in Big Valley on July 19 and 20.
“We put it on primarily for the passengers, but it’s open to the community and to anyone else in the community who wants to come,” said Bob Willis with Alberta Prairie.
Smoke drifted on the wind and onlookers had to speak loudly over the sound of the engines, but tourists seemed to enjoy seeing the engines at work and exploring the museums of Big Valley.
People came from Hanna, Red Deer, Calgary, Erskine, Stettler, Camrose and other communities to either show off their engines or their vintage cars.
Sunday saw an influx of vintage cars from the Red Deer Car Club.
Those who spent time in Big Valley saw a few familiar vehicles owned by resident Rod Miller: some cars from the ‘20s, and his own creation: the Tubmobile.
One visitor hopped inside and giggled as she honked the different horns and her friend took pictures.
Also wandering the show were the Valley Belles, Big Valley residents who dress up in Victorian-era clothing to greet the tourists on the train.
The show has been an annual event since 1997, though Willis said that it’s been getting more difficult to find people with steam engines.
“It’s getting a little harder,” he said. “It hasn’t been up until now. As the years go on, it will get harder and harder to mount this show, concentrating on steam. It won’t be that hard to continue on if we change the emphasis from steam to pump engines. That makes it a little easier, because they don’t have to build them, and they don’t have to have a bunch of certifications to run them.”
The steam engines at the show are scale models of steam engines that would have run in tractors on the prairies. Most of the time, people have built them, and then they show them in Big Valley.
“We hope people get some education, and just some plain fun,” Willis said.