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Local man documents entire CN rail corridor for posterity

Oyama resident Alan Gatzke modified his pickup so he could make a video that documents the entirety of the CN rail corridor before it's gone.
Image Credit: Contributed
August 20, 2015 - 10:35 AM

KELOWNA – An Okanagan man with a passion for local history has begun work on a video he hopes will preserve the significance of the CN Rail corridor for generations to come.

Alan Gatzke spent dozens of hours and thousands of dollars from his own pocket to modify his pickup so it could be used as a dolly from which he and a few other volunteers could gather stock footage of the rail line between Kelowna and Vernon.

“My intention was to record it for historical purposes,” Gatzke says of the video he plans to make and give to museums across the valley. “I’m a bit of a history buff myself. I enjoy seeing how the land was used in the past and realizing that it’s going to be a world class trail I thought it was important to document the trail while it’s still a rail.”

To get the footage he needed, Gatzke and a handful of others modified his Chevy pickup to ride on the rails, providing a smooth platform from which he could shoot. With extended axles and rubber coated steel wheels to allow braking, he mounted cameras on the front and sides of the truck and even included an overhead boom to capture the filming process. They also captured footage using a drone and numerous hand held cameras as well.

“We’ve got about 150 (gigabytes) of stock footage to edit now,” he says. “If you were to show the entire footage from one end to the other it would take about three hours.”

They plan to cut it down to one hour by incorporating fast motion and split screens.

Image Credit: Alan Gatzke

Although it took weeks to modify the platform, filming took only a day. They started at around 6 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12 and were done by 2 p.m. The cameras captured the trip from the Tolko operation on Bay Avenue in Kelowna to the switch at Kalamalka Beach in Vernon.

Gatzke, whose father owns Gatzke Orchard in Oyama, says one stretch in particular holds special meaning for him.

“I’m particularly connected to the Kal Lake section,” he says. “As a boy I would hang out on the bridge and we’d walk the trails. I walked along the rails a lot in my younger life so I’ve always had a close connection to that part.”

Now Gatzke is putting together the team who will edit the film and ready it for public viewing. He hopes it will be finished by the end of September, when a special screening will be held at Gatzke Orchard. After that he says he will give copies to all the municipalities who now own the trail.

Filming on the rails, he says, was only possible with the permission of the Interjurisdictional acquisition team created to by local municipalities to buy the track but he also had the support of the Yes group for the Lake Country referendum, which took place the end of April.

“The request met no objection.”

CN sold the 47.5 kilometre stretch of rail to several municipalities for $50 million earlier this year. The municipalities include Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream, Vernon and the regional districts of the Central and North Okanagan.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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