The little train that could

After a long history of being idle, the only operational narrow gauge steam engine in Canada is back in operation in Fort George Park.

The train, nicknamed The Little Prince, took its inaugural run on Canada Day 1978. It ran more or less every summer in Fort George Park until four years ago. The train had a gasket leak and at the time no one knew what was wrong, and the train came off the rails.

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Because the train was derailed to repair the leak, it lost its safety certification.

But for the first year since the leak, The Little Prince is running full steam ahead this summer.

Its first run in four years was on Canada Day.

"The weekend went really. We did well over 700 people this weekend. I had no idea what to expect and I knew there was a lot of pent up demand for the train," said Tracy Calogheros, CEO of The Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre.

The Prince George Railway Society ran the train for years, until the city came to Exploration Place and asked them to take over the operation.

Ron Walker has been the chief engineer for the railroad since the 1970s and he's pulling the train into the station this season.

"I enjoy [conducting the train]. I like talking to the people and spreading good will ... I was a railroader for 50 years with CN Rail," said Walker.

Walker is now training two other people on how to conduct the train.

The railroad in the park is classified as real railroad and the same rules apply to them as any other railroad.

"It's a real steam engine, it's not retrofitted, it's a full on steam engine," said Calogheros.

"Wood Wheaton has been a huge help to us. There really were the funders. They gave us $10,000 to be able to keep the train rides at $1 this year. So that's huge for the public. They've also loaned us the expertise of one of their senior staff who's really helped us navigate the requirements around the safety authority and a lot of the government sides of things," said Calogheros.

The engine was built in 1912 but didn't work until 1918, it was cast aside along with many other engines in the province.

It sat in front of the Via Rail building on 1st avenue in a CN Rail garden as a display for 35 years.

Thirty years ago, College of New Caledonia professor, Bob Martin and his students, designed the one of a kind coaches for the engine.

The was originally built by the Davenport (Iowa) Locomotive Works. Running a 10 horsepower boiler, operating at 160 pounds of pressure, The Little Prince burns roughly half a cord of wood per day.

This engine and others like it were used to build the railroad grade for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad right across the country.

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