At precisely 2:15pm on Tuesday May 19th, 1914, a giant splash greeted the launch of the Okanagan's latest steam-driven paddle wheeler, the SS Sicamous. The graceful ship represented a long line of transport vessels that ran up and down Okanagan Lake since the 1890s, and for the next 23 years it connected small communities on the water to the commercial hubs of Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton. Just over a year later on May 31st 1915, KVR Locomotive #4 and three passenger cars arrived at Penticton Lakeshore Station to officially open the newly completed Kettle Valley Railway. More than 1500 people were on hand to greet the start of the age of steam rail travel in the area, and connecting the Okanagan to the outside world.
Fast forward to 2014 and the age of steam is being recognised again through the launch of Steamfest! For 18 months starting in May of 2014, the museums of the South Okanagan will be hosting a huge celebration to recognise the impact steam technology and travel had 100 years ago with the launch of the SS Sicamous sternwheeler and the arrival of the Kettle Valley Railway. Steamfest will feature a combination of fun events, amazing exhibits, musical performances, machine demonstrations, and sumptuous culinary celebrations during which the character and history of the South Okanagan will be recognised and remembered.