Sampson the Steam Locomotive celebrates 104th birthday

Sampson the steam engine is celebrating his 104th birthday this weekend. - Andrew Leong/file
Sampson the steam engine is celebrating his 104th birthday this weekend.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Looking for ideas on how to celebrate this Labour Day Weekend? Look no farther.

Sampson, the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre's famous steam locomotive is celebrating his 104th birthday.

"Everyone loves him, there's the magic of the steam, you can hear the steam whistle for miles," Chris Gale, the centre's manager said.

Some little known facts from Gale, about the Cowichan Valley Icon:

- For someone who's 104, Sampson looks pretty good. One of the reasons why might be the fact that he's changed his diet from running on coal to oil.

- His weight? A trim 18 tons, the size of three large elephants.

- Sampson's a big believer in "feeling the burn," as Jane Fonda used to say — he pulls three coaches with up to 120 visitors on each trip around the centre's 100 acre park — which might be another reason he's so trim.

-The famous locomotive could pull up to 95 tons (hence the name) but has made it clear he doesn't want to do that every day.

- He's always got the equivalent of a sports medicine doctor on hand, as the centre's engineers spend a lot of time getting him ready for the next day.

- And while some women spend millions on hair products to make their hair shine, Sampson is a low-maintenance kind of guy, and attributes Pledge to make him shine.

Why all the fuss about a birthday that ends in a "4," when people usually make a big thing out of birthdays that end in a 0 or a 5?

"It's been a while since Sampson's had a birthday," Gale said, and he wants Cowichanians to come and join in the fun.

In addition to visiting the museum, taking a 15-minute, two-kilometre ride on Sampson through the park, barbequing or doing arts and crafts, in honour of his 104th, there'll be a birthday card to sign, cotton candy, and birthday cake to mark the icons special day.

Oh, and people 104 and older are admitted for free.

Your ticket

What Sampson the steam locomotive's 104th birthday

When August 30, 31 and September 1. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The stream train operates 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., every half hour.  Cake cutting and singing every day at noon.

Where B.C. Forest Museum, 2892 Drinkwater Road, Duncan

Tickets At the Forest Museum. Reduced for the special day. Adults $8, seniors $6, youth (13 to 18) $6, children (5 to 12) $5, children four and under free.


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