Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).
The Brockville Rail Tunnel – Brockville, Ontario
Not many doors today, but an interesting story to tell all the same.
In the mid 1800’s the expansion of railway networks was driving industrial growth and commerce throughout Eastern Canada’s cities and towns along the St. Lawrence seaway.
In 1853, the Brockville and Ottawa Railroad (B&0) was incorporated to open a north/south transport route for raw materials, mostly lumber, coming out of the Ottawa Valley to the town of Brockville, Ontario. This convinced the Grand Trunk Railroad to include a major loading and servicing point in Brockville on its highly profitable Montreal to Toronto line.
The one problem that came of this was that the Grand Trunk Brockville station was actually built about 1 km (0.6 miles) from the ships and factories on the town’s waterfront. In order to connect the two, the decision was made to by B & O to build what would become Canada’s first railway tunnel under the centre of town.
Taking almost over six years to complete due to financing problems, the Brockville Tunnel runs north/south from Water Street, for a total distance of 527 m (1,730 ft) and exits north of Pearl St.
The tunnel is straight with a one percent grade (incline) running north to south, and it measures 4.5 m (14 1/2 ft) wide and 4.3 m (14 ft) high.
The tunnel was used by rail traffic for well over a century but eventually the changing size of rail cars and the closing of waterfront factories saw an end to the tunnel’s usefulness. The last train went through the tunnel in 1969.
By then Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR) owned the line and the tunnel. CPR removed the tracks in 1976 and in 1983 the tunnel and waterfront property was handed over to the city for the symbolic sale price of $1.00.
Within a decade Brockville City Council was mulling over various preservation ideas for the tunnel. In 1988 the South end of the tunnel was fitted with an 85 ft walkway, interpretative signage, and then opened to the public. In 1992, both the North and South entrances ends were officially designated as Historic Sites.
In 2016 major renovations were undertaken to make it possible for visitors to safely explore the entire tunnel on foot and discover this marvel of mid-19th century construction for themselves. Interpretive signage along the length of the tunnel tells visitors the story of the tunnel and its construction.
They can also observe nature at work trying to reclaim the tunnel using ground water that seeps and drips constantly through the masonry leaving behind glittering mineral deposits.
The tunnel now includes a paved concrete walkway and a modern LED lighting system which is synchronized to music and sound effects.
It’s a lot of fun for kids of all ages. Imagine walking partway into the tunnel only to have the whole thing go temporarily dark. Then, you hear the sound of a train whistle and rumbling in the distance that slowly gets louder, as if the train is coming towards you. Instead of an actual train, a curtain of light comes barreling towards you along the inside of the tunnel in a mesmerizing sequence of changing colours – something like this:
Chooo-chooooo! All that excitement and no one got hurt 😀
Since re-opening in August 2017 the Brockville Railway Tunnel has received tens of thousands of curious visitors and is open year-round. Admission is free with donation boxes placed at various spots inside the tunnel for those who’d like to contribute to the cost of upkeep.
And as for those huge wooden doors placed at either end of the tunnel? Apparently they were used for years to keep local grazing livestock out of the tunnel in order to avoid messy and potentially expensive incidents.
As always, thank you for looking 🙂
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