Tag Archives: trains

Hitching a Ride Cross Town — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers

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Hitching a Ride  Cross Town — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers
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In The 1940’s
As a child, for some reason the fascination with trains and the tracks was always there.  Maybe it was due to the fact my Dad rode the trains from New Brunswick to Ottawa after he went to find his Mom who had left  him in England.  He had little money in his pocket when he arrived in Canada and this was a way to travel the country and not have to pay.
I spent much time watching the trains, there were side tracks between Montreal Road and McArthur Road.  On certain tracks they would drop of various sections of the train..  There was a place for Oil Tank cars to be emptied into the Permanent oil tanks.  There were cattle cars filled with Cattle to be dropped off at the slaughter house.  Now this was not a nice place one could hear  the cattle and the end result was not a good one.
Across the two lane of tracks was National Grocer and they had a set of tracks to drop off the groceries, to be delivered to the various stores in the area.  Fruits and Vegetables arrived this way, we sometimes would investigate the premises of these box cars and sample the goods.  Now workers from National Grocery would spot us and tell us of the many spiders that could be found in the bananas.  This did not deter us for when the thought of fresh fruit  took over we would once again investigate. I did very well climbing the cars once again I was with the boys.  (A BIT OF A BAD CHILD – MAYBE  – sure no prissy little girl.)  Now one has  to remember FRESH Fruit was a luxury item as money was tight.
I had become at ease with the trains and had little fear.  I would wait for them to stop at the various spots and before long would be climbing on the ladders, hanging on and going to the next stop and jumping off.  Our neighbors and playmates had moved from Gardner Street to Queen Mary Road in Overbrook, I was rather bored and came up with the idea that maybe I should ride the train to see the kids.  I could drop off on Queen Mary Street, as it was a crossing and the train went slower, I was quite confident and though this will be easy.
Now one gets to know the times of the trains so it was not hard to plan my time. .  You soon realize that the train usually slowed down between the Montreal Road and McArthur Road. Over to the tracks I went and when the train was going by I reached for the rail.  I was so intent on what I was doing I hadn’t noticed my Dad was behind me.  Just as I was reaching he grabbed me by the back of my clothes.  At that moment I was never so frightened for I thought I was going to fall under the train and be run over.
I do not think my feet touched the ground the whole way home. And I did get punished.
YES THE BUTT WAS RED
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historicalnotes
The Vanier Parkway, specifically the portion between Prince Albert and Beechwood, was constructed along the same route that once carried the tracks of the Bytown and Prescott Railway Company through the commercial, industrial and residential areas of today’s Overbrook, Vanier and New Edinburgh. At the time the railway was constructed, this area of the Ottawa region was known as Junction Gore—the northwestern corner of Gloucester Township located at the junction of the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers.
The area continued to grow and small businesses started to open up along Montreal Road and McArthur. By 1909, the villages of Janeville, Clarkstown and Clandeboye amalgamated to form the new village, and then town, of Eastview. Sizable vacant lots along the railway provided the opportunity for larger industries to set up shop.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

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My Old Orange Hat –From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

Out of the Old Photo Album — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers

 

Snow Road Ramblings from Richards Castle — From the Pen Of Noreen Tyers

Summer Holidays at Snow Road Cleaning Fish — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

Snow Road Adventures- Hikes in the Old Cave — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

Putting Brian on the Bus– Stories from my Childhood Noreen Tyers

My Childhood Memory of Richard’s Castle –From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

Grandpa’s Dandelion Wine — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

My Wedding Tiara — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

The Art of Learning How to Butter Your Toast the Right Way — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

Smocked Dresses–From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

The Kitchen Stool — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

The Flying Teeth in Church — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

The Writings of Noreen Tyers of Perth

Memories of Grandpa’s Workshop — Noreen Tyers

Cleaning out Grandmas’ Fridge — Noreen Tyers Summer Vacation at Richard’s Castle

My Flower Seeds — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

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Clippings from the Train Stations in Carleton Place

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Clippings from the Train Stations in Carleton Place

 

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Photo- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Did you know that prior to 1923, anyone taking the train in Carleton Place would have left from this station? It was known as the Carleton Junction and was located on Franktown Road, right where Tim Horton’s is today. The stone station across the street that’s now the home of The Ginger Cafe was not built until 1923. The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?

I will keep adding to this as I go through my newspaper archives.

 

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Photo- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

 

 

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Photo- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

 

You could even catch a stagecoach ride to the Mississippi Hotel–Photo- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

 

 - The C. P. R. haa mde some interior slter.tlon....

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  19 Feb 1906, Mon,  Page 5

 

 - Held on Charges Of Shopbreaking At Carleton...

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  09 Dec 1939, Sat,  Page 32

 

 - Carleton Place Carleton Place, Aug. 29. There...

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  29 Aug 1899, Tue,  Page 3

 

 - 10 Tons of Pig Iron Stolen From Flat Car In...

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  17 Dec 1948, Fri,  Page 1

 

The Ottawa Journal Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Fri, Aug 19, 1898 – Page 7
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The 2 men on the right were retired CPR Trainmen. Horace St. Germaine and Ted Voyce– Photo Joann Voyce
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Photo Ted Hurdis.. 
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Carleton Place station

 

June 6 1882–The keeper of the refreshment room of the CPR at Carleton Place has applied for a beer license and -a lucky bidder at a sale of unclaimed goods at the C. P. R. station got 1,100 yards of dress goods for $12 50. Photo–1901-Carleton Place Train Station

 

March 22 1872- J. L. Murphy is selling at Carleton Place, 72 village lots, near Canada Central .Station. .Sale April 2, Tuesday, at Cornell’s Hotel. .J. A. Wright, auctioneer

 

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Llew Lloyd—View from Bell Street 1957
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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 19 Feb 1906, Mon, Page 5

Marge Mitchell —My Aunt lived on Judson Street and the train tracks were about 60 feet from her house…there were so many trains whizzing by everyday. We loved seeing them and ran up to the station and sat on the benches and watched these mighty iron beasts. Such a fabulous memory of old time Carleton Place.

 

 

 

 

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

relatedreading

James Fanning– Robert Nolan– Train Accident

Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?

Train Accident? Five Bucks and a Free Lunch in Carleton Place Should Settle it

The Men That Road the Rails

The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?

Memories of When Rail was King- Carleton Place

Tragedy and Suffering in Lanark County-Trains and Cellar Stairs

I was Born a Boxcar Child- Tales of the Railroad

The Lanark County “Carpetbaggers”–Lanark Electric Railway

The Titanic of a Railway Disaster — Dr. Allan McLellan of Carleton Place

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

Memories from Carleton Place–Llew Lloyd and Peter Iveson

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

So Which William Built the Carleton Place Railway Bridge

Perils of the Cows of Carleton Place or Where’s the Beefalo?

When Trains Crash —Ashton Train Accident 1950

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When Trains Crash —Ashton Train Accident 1950
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Extract from an article by Duncan DuFresne Bytown Railway Society,, Branchline, January 1982, Pages 10-11-12.--Colin Church’s page

 

But Travie Short is remembered better for another story. Ironically train number 83’s return from Smiths Falls as an extra is involved, as is Fourth Class train number 89 3 another Ottawa West – Smiths Falls via Carleton Place job that also handled much of the CIP production from Gatineau. On the night of March 18, 1950, 83’s extra and 89 were to meet at Ashton, Ont,  The extra had a car to set out at Ashton anyway, on the business siding parallel to the passing track. The extra planned to pull their train into the passing track, cut off head end cars to the one they had to set out, pull out through the east end switch and then back into the business track. It was a bad night, a heavy March snow storm with very high winds was lashing the valley.  The extra pulled slowly into the passing track, 89 was west of Stittsville and eating away the time and distance over to Ashton. The crew of the extra had correctly left their headlight on as they were not “in the clear”. The story goes that the wind was whipping the smoke and exhaust, as well as the snow, around the extra’s front end. As westbound 89 got the extra’s headlight in sight the wind caused the smoke, steam and snow to obscure the light, then clear up, then obscure it again. In the cab of the onrushing 89 this was mistaken for a deliberate “highball” signal indicating (illegally) that the extra was “in the clear”. The hogger on 89 opened, up his throttle and roared past the east passing track switch not knowing that just ahead, obliterated by the flying snow, was the tail end of the Extra, still foul of the main line. Standing on the west switch was a ballast car of rock. The 2624 plowed into it, rolling over in the process, cars piled up in all directions. The little station on the south side of the main was demolished. When all motion had ceased, 89’s engine crew were dead and her head end brakeman, Tom Gilmer, had saved his life by jumping just before the collision. The dead fireman was George Hannam, – the engineer was Travie Short.

From an Ottawa paper 19 March 1950:

Like the Toys of an Angry Giant (with picture)

Smashed and tossed by the tremendous impact of tons of steel, the wreckage of CPR freight No. 83 lies scattered across the main transcontinental line at Ashton, 20 miles southwest of Ottawa.  The broken cars spew their cargo across the snow, the one in the right upper background spreading hundreds of cases of beer about.  Seven cars, the engine and the tender are spread around in much the same confusion as would result if a small boy in temper had upset his toy train.  The early morning collision Saturday of No. 83 with the rear end of an eastbound freight affected train schedules and connections from Montreal to Sudbury, while dispatchers rerouted freight and passenger to by-pass the smash-up in which two crewmen died and two others were injured.  The wreckage was cleared, 250 yards of ripped up track replaced and the line opened for traffic again late Saturday.  At either end of the torn right-of-way, the railway wreck-clearing cranes can be seen beginning the job of working their way to the centre of the pile-up.
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From Stittsville/Richmond Region EMC 22 March 2012

 

Collision of Freight Trains at Ashton on 18 Mar 1950

Ashton Ontario – March 18 was unseasonably warm this year, one day in an extended warm period that has seen most of the snow disappear from the landscape. But March 18 has not always been so lamb-like. Indeed, back in 1950, it was a March lion, with a blinding snow storm hitting the Stittsville and Goulbourn area.

And it was in this blinding snow storm that a fatal and tragic collision between two freight trains happened right at the Ashton train station. Two of the freight cars were thrown into the Ashton station, track was torn up for more than 200 yards, the area was littered with splintered ties and twisted steel rails, and, most tragic of all, two railway employees died.

This all happened about 1:15 a.m. on Saturday, 18 Mar 1950, with a blinding snowstorm taking place.

An extra eastbound freight train from Smiths Falls was pulling into the passing track at Ashton. At the time of the collision, its engine, tender, and several freight cars were already on the siding but the remainder of the freight train, some 15 cars, was still on the main line when a westbound freight train on that main line sliced into these freight cars.

The impact from the westbound engine slamming into these cars threw two of them against the Ashton station, after which the engine toppled end over end, tearing up track.

Two men on this westbound train died in the collision. One was the engineer who was found half buried in the snow while the other was the fireman who was found in the wreckage of the cab. Two others were injured.

 

 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  07 Dec 1953, Mon,  Page 20

The contents of the damaged freight cars were scattered about the site. One had a cargo of beer while another had a load of ladies’ sample shoes, all for the same foot.

A later coroner’s jury, held in Carleton Place to look into the cause of the collision, did not declare any identifiable cause for the crash. However, confusion in the orders to the crews of these trains and poor visibility due to the snowstorm were both cited as contributing factors.

And the situation could have been even worse, and possibly more tragic, had it not been for quick action taken by Percy Illingsworth, the station agent at Stittsville, that night.

A westbound Montreal-to-Vancouver passenger train had left the Ottawa West station before news of the collision was received there. It was thus racing toward Stittsville and beyond that Ashton, with its operators unaware of the fright cars littering the track there.

Mr. Illingsworth, who had been notified by phone of the situation with regards to this approaching train, pulled some clothes over his pyjamas, grabbed a flashlight, and dashed through the snow drifts to reach the train track. Visibility was poor because of the heavy snow storm but when he saw the glimmer of the headlight of the approaching train through the swirling snow, he started signaling with his flashlight for the train to stop. Fortunately, the engineer on the train saw and understood the signal and the passenger train stopped. Had Mr. Illingsworth not taken his action or if his signal had not been seen, this passenger train would have roared into the Ashton station and its carnage with who knows what kind of disastrous and tragic results.

Percy Illingsworth served as the station agent at Stittsville for about 20 years, succeeding the famous A.G. Appleby who was termed “the governor” for his leadership in the community.

Craig Hobbs was the last station agent to serve at Stittsville, holding the position from 1962 to 1968. After that, the station was closed, the land sold, and the building was removed in 1969.

There were extensive tracking systems for the railway at both the Stittsville and Ashton stations. The station at Ashton was on the south side of the track, just west of the Goulbourn/Beckwith town line road. Indeed, the station platform extended to within a few feet of the townline road.

There were switches and a siding at the Ashton station as well as stock yards used by local farmers for when they shipped their cattle to market. In the early 1900’s, horses were frequently housed in these stock yards as farmers shipped them out west.

The Ashton station at harvest time also witnessed lineups of farmers with their teams of horses and wagons full of grain, waiting to deposit their loads in waiting freight cars.

The Ashton station handled both passenger and freight traffic and was as telegraph office as well.

The train was a vehicle for travel, not only by individuals and by students attending high school in Carleton Place, but also for groups such as Loyal Orange Lodge members travelling to special events. In 1872, for instance, just two years after the rail line was opened, members of the Stapleton Orange Lodge No. 471 west of Richmond travelled to the Ashton station in order to catch the train into Ottawa for a 12th of July celebration.

The 1981 book “Remembering Our Railway” by the late Grace Thompson of Stittsville, which outlines the history of the railroad in Stittsville and also Ashton, features a cover photo of the 1950 Ashton train wreck as published in the former Ottawa Journal on 20 Mar 1950. This book, which can be found in the reference section at the Stittsville branch of the Ottawa Public Library, remains the most authoritative published account not only of Stittsville’s railway history but also this tragic train crash at the Ashton station on 18 Mar 1950.

John Curry

 

 

historicalnotes

 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  18 Mar 1950, Sat,  Page 1

 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  22 Mar 1950, Wed,  Page 32

 

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

 

relatedreading

Clippings of The Old Perth Train Station

The Glen Tay Train Wrecks of Lanark County

Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?

Tragedy and Suffering in Lanark County-Trains and Cellar Stairs

I was Born a Boxcar Child- Tales of the Railroad

The Lanark County “Carpetbaggers”–Lanark Electric Railway

The Titanic of a Railway Disaster — Dr. Allan McLellan of Carleton Place

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

Memories from Carleton Place–Llew Lloyd and Peter Iveson

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

So Which William Built the Carleton Place Railway Bridge?

The trial of W. H. S. Simpson the Railway Mail Clerk

55 years ago–One of the Most Tragic Accidents in the History of Almonte

The Kick and Push Town of Folger

Train Accident? Five Bucks and a Free Lunch in Carleton Place Should Settle it

The Men That Road the Rails

The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?

Memories of When Rail was King- Carleton Place

 

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I have been writing about downtown Carleton Place Bridge Street for months and this is something I really want to do. Come join me in the Domino’s Parking lot- corner Lake Ave and Bridge, Carleton Place at 11 am Saturday September 16 (rain date September 17) for a free walkabout of Bridge Street. It’s history is way more than just stores. This walkabout is FREE BUT I will be carrying a pouch for donations to the Carleton Place Hospital as they have been so good to me. I don’t know if I will ever do another walking tour so come join me on something that has been on my bucket list since I began writing about Bridge Street. It’s always a good time–trust me.

Are You Ready to Visit the Open Doors?

 

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We Need a Railroad says Ramsayville

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We Need a Railroad says Ramsayville

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Old Time Trains Photo

 

January 11, 1888 Almonte Gazette

The village of *Ramsayville, during the closing months of the year 1852, was perhaps in a more depressed condition than at any time during its previous history. The loss of capital sustained by the burning of the woolen factory and grist mill, at that time its two moat important industries, arrested all progress and prosperity, and hope had in a measure disappeared, and gloomy disappointment broods over the future.

 

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But it frequently happens to nations and towns that the darkest hours of depression precede the DAWN OF PROSPERITY, And such was the experience of the village, for soon a rift appeared in the dark cloud, and the light of an unlooked-for prosperity began to shine and hope sprang up from an unexpected quarter. On the 10th of November that year Parliament passed and the GovernorGeneral assented to the Bill entitled “The Consolidated Loan Fond Act,” for Upper Canada, the provisions of which empowered municipal corporations to borrow money from the fund for specified improvements either within or without their boundaries, to be expended for the I good of the inhabitants. |

The need of a good road from Smith’s Falls to Carleton Place and Ramsayville had long been felt by all business men and farmers along the route, but the money to make such a road was not forthcoming. However, the passing of the Loan Fund Act OPENED U P A PROSPECT Of obtaining the needed funds for that purpose, and Messrs. Wylie, Bell and Shaw announced that a meeting would be held at Franktown for the purpose of organizing a company to build a macadamized road through the townships of Montague, Beckwith and Ramsay.

 

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historicalnotes

 

*First named Shepperd’s Falls and Shipman’s Mills, the town of Almonte, until its industrial growth which started in the eighteen fifties, was a small village which gained the name of Ramsayville.

Then, with the opening of its first woollen mills and  railway transportation, it grew in a period of about thirty years to take a place among the leading centres of the pioneering days of Canadian manufacture of woollen textiles.

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

 

relatedreading

Covered From Head to Toe with “The Beautiful” !! Almonte Train Station

One Night in Almonte or Was it Carleton Place?

Clippings of The Old Perth Train Station

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Clippings of The Old Perth Train Station

 

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Photo from Perth Remembered

The train station was at the end of Herriott Street beside the Brown Shoe Factory building. I have a great memory of catching the midnight train in Perth enroute to Montreal to watch the Montreal Canadiens play the Detroit Red Wings with Perth’s own Floyd Smith playing for the Wings in the early 60’s.  Perth Remembered

In 1881 flat and boxcars were made at the Perth CPR car shops located in the now empty bush, but in 1905  the CPR moved all its equipment to Montreal. Livestock sheds housed cattle and other animals were soon to be shipped by train to all parts in Canada.

In 1859 the first train of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway Co. took nearly ten hours in 40 degree weather to reach Perth from Brockville. There are now few remnants of the old train station that was built from mottled stone from the Otty Lake area.

 

Clippings of memories

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal26 Mar 1974, Tue[Second Edition]Page 21

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal11 Oct 1979, ThuValley EditionPage 3

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal09 May 1968, ThuPage 8

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal25 Apr 1952, FriPage 10

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

relatedreading

The Glen Tay Train Wrecks of Lanark County

Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?

Tragedy and Suffering in Lanark County-Trains and Cellar Stairs

I was Born a Boxcar Child- Tales of the Railroad

The Lanark County “Carpetbaggers”–Lanark Electric Railway

The Titanic of a Railway Disaster — Dr. Allan McLellan of Carleton Place

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

Memories from Carleton Place–Llew Lloyd and Peter Iveson

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

So Which William Built the Carleton Place Railway Bridge?

The trial of W. H. S. Simpson the Railway Mail Clerk

55 years ago–One of the Most Tragic Accidents in the History of Almonte

The Kick and Push Town of Folger

Train Accident? Five Bucks and a Free Lunch in Carleton Place Should Settle it

The Men That Road the Rails

The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?

Memories of When Rail was King- Carleton Place

The Lanark County “Carpetbaggers”–Lanark Electric Railway

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The Lanark County “Carpetbaggers”–Lanark Electric Railway

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In 1892 a scheme was proposed to build the Lanark County Electric Railway Company Perth, Lanark, Oliver’s Ferry, Smith’s Falls, Carleton Place, Almonte. Outside companies could help finance the venture and own a part of it. Riley and Wendler were the Americans from New York proposing the venture and locals included: Alexandria H. Edwards and James Fowler from Carleton Place. In 1896 talks fell dead and as the Perth Courier said,“the whole scheme had a faraway look to it”

 

In 1898 and much back and forth it was defeated and Mr. Fowler formerly of Carleton Place and now of Arnprior was promoting a million dollar beet root project for sugar– and by the looks of the clipping below–water plants.

 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal09 May 1898, MonPage 7

 

 

 

 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal30 Aug 1897, MonPage 8

Carleton Place 1897

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal30 Aug 1897, MonPage 8

 

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May 7, 1898-Mr. Jas. Fowler, the promoter of an electric railway in this county now proposes to run it from Lanark Village to Smith’s Falls via Oliver’s Ferry and Perth. He wants the corporation of Perth to give a cash bonus of $10,000 or to purchase $25,000 first mortgage 5 per cent. 20-year bonds.

May 28,1898-The promoters of the Lanark County Electric Railway are again on the warpath. They want $10,000 each from Lanark, Perth and Smith’s Falls, and promise the people of the latter .place a belt line in their town.

April 12, 1898 – Ground breaking for the County of Lanark Electric Railway was accomplished by Mr. James Doyle, of Perth, and the ground was broken on his farm at Armstrong’s Corners, near Perth.  He used his road grader for the purpose, and turned up the sod for about two acres along the proposed route.  The object was to save the company’s charter, although little else was achieved, and the line was never opened to traffic.

 

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Clipped from– Local Railway Newspaper Items.. the complete rise and fall is documented here. December 8,1898

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Related reading:

So Which William Built the Carleton Place Railway Bridge?

The trial of W. H. S. Simpson the Railway Mail Clerk

The Titanic of a Railway Disaster — Dr. Allan McLellan of Carleton Place

Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?

The Glen Tay Train Wrecks of Lanark County

55 years ago–One of the Most Tragic Accidents in the History of Almonte

The Kick and Push Town of Folger

Train Accident? Five Bucks and a Free Lunch in Carleton Place Should Settle it

The Glen Tay Train Wrecks of Lanark County

The Men That Road the Rails

Tragedy and Suffering in Lanark County-Trains and Cellar Stairs

The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?

Memories of When Rail was King- Carleton Place

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

I was Born a Boxcar Child- Tales of the Railroad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Morbid Economy of the 1800s

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Photo from Web Odysseum

 

In December 1, 1886 issue of the Almonte Gazette it had an article about people being quite excited about having a train come from the west through our small towns. Was it carrying rare spices or interesting people? No, it was carrying bleached buffalo bones. Why would anyone get excited about bleached buffalo bones? So after I did some research I came up with some pretty interesting tidbits from Bloomberg View.

 

The completion of the first transcontinental railway in 1869 divided the Great Plains in two. Some of its earliest passengers were buffalo hunters, and as they spread out from the railroad’s embankments, the vast buffalo herds were divided, as well.

It marked the beginning of their end. By the tens, perhaps even the hundreds, of millions, the animals were killed for their skins, which were then easily transported to the coasts for the fashionable classes to buy. One man boasted of taking down 1,500 buffalo in a week — 250 in a single day.

The first hunters got as much as $10 per skin. As more sought to cash in, the price plummeted to $1. Still, very good money for the era.

On the other hand, the buffalo skinners, those who followed the hunters and did the dirty work, were paid only a small percentage, plus all the buffalo meat they cared to eat. They went for the tenderloins and tongues and left the rest to rot. Vultures, like the hunters, enjoyed a few bounty years.

Then the herds were gone. Homesteaders arrived to a landscape white with buffalo skeletons. These would become, in many cases, their first harvest. “The prairies of the Northwest are covered with the bleached bones of the countless dead,” a New York Times correspondent wrote in December 1884, “and here commerce steps in again to ask for something else: the very last remnant there is left of an annihilated race.”

Animal bones were useful things in the 19th century. Dried and charred, they produced a substance called bone black. When coarsely crushed, it could filter impurities out of sugar-cane juice, leaving a clear liquid that evaporated to produce pure white sugar — a lucrative industry. Bone black also made a useful pigment for paints, dyes and cosmetics, and acted as a dry lubricant for iron and steel forgings.

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Photo from: Rare Historical Photos

 

Fresh bones could be boiled to extract gelatin for food, glues and photographic emulsions. Their leached husks, rich in phosphorous, were one of the first industrial fertilizers.

And so the homesteaders gathered the buffalo bones. It was easy work: Children could do it. Carted to town, a ton of bones fetched a few dollars. Sent to rendering plants and furnaces in the big industrial cities, that same ton was worth between $18 and $27. Boiled, charred, crushed or powdered, it was worth as much as $60.

A former bone trader named M.I. McCreight calculated that at least $40 million worth of bones was purchased by the processing plants in all — about $1 billion in today’s dollars. “A rather sizable pay-roll,” he noted dryly in his memoir, “to have escaped the notice of history writers.”

The gathering of bones traced the routes of the railroads. Swaths of land 40 miles to each side of the tracks would be picked bare; newspaper reports from the 1870s, aiming to amuse their citified readers, spun corn-pone tales of farmers bringing in “bumper crops.”

By the 1880s, however, a few reporters were expressing nervous awe at the scale of the cleansing, and even despair for what had been lost. In 1891, not 25 years after the slaughter began, the Chicago Daily Tribune ran a dispatch titled “Relics of the Buffalo.” The relics were the animals’ empty pathways and dust wallows, worn into the surface of the Manitoba plains over countless years. The bones, let alone the living creatures, were long gone.

In reports from the era, the full cost of the buffalo-bone trade is usually revealed by the things not said. No note of lament or irony can be found in a 1907 Washington Post story describing the peculiar nature of Seneca Street in Topeka, Kansas. In the 1880s, it was “paved with buffalo skulls” thrown aside by the bone traders — big but hollow, they weren’t worth the space they took up in boxcars. “In light of subsequent values this was the most expensive pavement on earth,” the writer observed, for by 1907 buffalo remains had become collectors’ items, and “a pair of buffalo horns and the head of an animal of that breed will easily bring $400.”-Bloomberg View

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun