Members of Nelson city council and the Cultural Development Committee gathered this week beside the new sign at the west end of Baker Street. (L-R) Councillor Donna Macdonald

Sign of something old and new in Nelson

The City of Nelson celebrates the completion of the new sign signalling Nelson’s Railtown district.

  • Nov. 23, 2012 8:00 p.m.

The City of Nelson and its Cultural Development Committee recently announced the completion of the new sign signalling Nelson’s Railtown district.

The sign was constructed by Brian McLachlan of Artman Signs with graphic work by Nichola Lyttle.

McLachlan utilized steel-cut letters and roofing in keeping with the industrial nature of the area. The bell incorporated within the sign is an original diesel bell, donated by Canadian Pacific specifically for this project.

The historical photos and text were sourced by Shawn Lamb and the Touchstones Archives, and detail the history of the area, from early First Nations fishing to Chinese market gardens to BC’s first hydroelectric power plant.

The sign is a further step in implementing the City’s Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan, which recognizes the historical importance of the railroad in Nelson by renaming the lower Baker Street area Railtown.

The Railtown district is expected to grow in significance in the coming years, showcasing the restored CP Stationhouse which will house, amongst other uses, a regional visitor gateway and business welcome centre.

The text on the sign reads:

“Railtown is named to recognize the CPR’s continuous presence in Nelson since 1891. First Nations had used this area for fishing and root gathering, and early miners worked Cottonwood Creek for gold. Later the Chinese community created market gardens on the flats to help feed Nelson. Industrial development followed, including BC’s first hydroelectric power plant, a coal gas manufacturing plant and Pat Burns’ slaughterhouse. Over time a government fish hatchery, the Rod and Gun Club, the Norman Stibbs Airfield and the City works complex were established. Today Railtown hosts a variety of homes and businesses, as well as a public market and Japanese-Canadian friendship garden in Cottonwood Falls Park.”

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