Thousand Islands Railway

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Thousand Islands Railway

Thousand Islands Railway locomotive 500-20090514.JPG

Thousand Islands Railway locomotive 500 preserved in Gananoque
Dates of operation 1884 (1884)1958 (1958)
Successor Canadian National Railway

The Thousand Islands Railway (originally Gananoque & Rideau Railway) was an 8 km (5.0 mi) long railway running from the town of Gananoque north to the Grand Trunk Railway (now CN) Toronto-Montreal mainline, just south of present-day Cheeseborough. The service ran for 111 years between 1884 and 1995. The rails were removed in October 1997.

Grand Trunk Railway British-owned railway in Canada and New England

The Grand Trunk Railway was a railway system that operated in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario and in the American states of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, with corporate headquarters in London, England. It cost an estimated $160 million to build. The Grand Trunk, its subsidiaries, and the Canadian Government Railways were precursors of today's Canadian National Railways.

Canadian National Railway railway company

Canadian National is a Canadian Class I freight railway headquartered in Montreal, Quebec that serves Canada and the Midwestern and Southern United States.



The railway was originally incorporated as Gananoque & Rideau Railway on 15 February 1871, but construction did not begin until 1883 due to lack of money. The town provided tax breaks and $10,000 in debenture financing to Rathbun's Bay of Quinte Railway and Navigation Company to build the line; that company already operated steamship docks in the village. [1] The original 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) line opened 1 January 1884. The company name was changed to Thousand Islands Railway four months later. A swing bridge over the mouth of the Gananoque River was constructed in 1894 to provide service to businesses on the east side of the river.

Swing bridge movable bridge that has a vertical locating pin and support ring about which the turning span can pivot horizontally

A swing bridge is a movable bridge that has as its primary structural support a vertical locating pin and support ring, usually at or near to its center of gravity, about which the turning span can then pivot horizontally as shown in the animated illustration to the right. Small swing bridges as found over canals may be pivoted only at one end, opening as would a gate, but require substantial underground structure to support the pivot.

Gananoque River river in Canada

The Gananoque River is a river in Leeds and Grenville United Counties in Eastern Ontario, Canada. The river is in the Atlantic Ocean drainage basin and is a left tributary of the Saint Lawrence River.

The line originally served to carry timber and freight to Gananoque's docks, where it could be loaded onto ships. While available timber stocks soon diminished, passenger traffic increased as the Grand Trunk under Charles Melville Hays promoted the tiny town as a vacation destination. [2]

Charles Melville Hays American businessman

Charles Melville Hays was the president of the Grand Trunk Railway. He began working in the railroad business as a clerk at the age of 17 and quickly rose through the ranks of management to become the General Manager of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway. He became Vice-President of that company in 1889 and remained as such until 1896 when he became General Manager of the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) of Canada.

The original junction between the Thousand Island Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway was moved 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) east in 1902 to a flatter location. A 1947 map of the Gananoque terminal shows a nine-switch track arrangement, a coal/wood yard, a coal dealer, a number company, a mill, the Cow and Gate dairy, a two-stall engine house, passenger station and freight/express building. [3]

The Thousand Islands Railway was merged into the Canadian National Railway in 1958. Passenger service ended in 1962; freight service ended in 1995. The line was dismantled in 1997.

What remains today

The unique locomotive #500 is preserved at Sculpture Park, where King Street crosses the Gananoque River. The waterfront station became a restaurant after passenger service ended, but was destroyed by fire in 1990; the Arthur Child Heritage Museum was built on the site. The former right-of-way is readily visible on satellite imagery, and is now a hiking trail. The Gananoque Junction station remains on Station Road which is 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) west of Hiscocks Road.

Right-of-way (transportation) right to make a "way" (as in a type of easement) over a piece of land

A right-of-way (ROW) is a right to make a way over a piece of land, usually to and from another piece of land. A right of way is a type of easement granted or reserved over the land for transportation purposes, such as a highway, public footpath, rail transport, canal, as well as electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines. A right-of-way can be used to build a bike trail. A right-of-way is reserved for the purposes of maintenance or expansion of existing services with the right-of-way. In the case of an easement, it may revert to its original owners if the facility is abandoned.

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  1. Statutes of the Province of Ontario. Queen's Printer, Ontario. 1884. Retrieved 2014-05-25.
  3. "By road, rail and water to Gananoque", Douglas N.W. Smith, 120 pages (out of print)