Friday, January 31, 2014

The Portage Railway

Robert Legget, Ottawa Waterway, Gateway to a Continent, University of Toronto Press 1975.

The voyage up the Ottawa river from Montreal was interrupted at several points by rapids necessitating a time consuming stage coach portage. When the railway craze began in the mid 19th Century a railway from Montreal was proposed and incorporated as The Great Montreal and Ottawa Valley Trunk Line. In the end only the Grenville to Carillon section (20 km) was built and it became known as the Portage Railway- running from wharf to wharf. As it had been started in 1854, it was built to "Provincial Gauge"- 5'6" wide- and because it was isolated from other railways, it had no need to conform to standard gauge. The line operated as a the only broad gauge railway in North America till its demise in late 1910.
 Over the railway's life the rolling stock consisted of three locomotives and a few cars. The first locomotive, named Ottawa, was constructed by Kinmond Brother of Montreal and was bought new.Other locomotive (old and used) were acquired over the years. It must have been hard to find broad gauge euipment! In 1895 locomotive number 1, Ottawa, was destroyed in an engine shed fire. Locomotive number 3 was renamed Ottawa at this time. I'm not sure which one this is.
The line had no turn-around facilities and the locomotive always pointed uphill- toward Ottawa.

No comments: