Friday, February 21, 2014

A bit of history around the neighbourhood

This scene is the winter bound beginning of the second largest railway engineering project in the world during the 1850s... yes somewhere in that period, the Directors of the Cobourg Peterborough Railway company decided to construct a railway across Rice Lake - two and a half miles...

The railway "bridge across the water" to connect Cobourg and Peterborough on an "as the crow flies" path, consisted of several trestles,  31 "Burr Truss Bridges" and a single centre drawbridge. Unfortunately, some of the builders or directors apparently removed some of the "iron stays from the drawbridge" and winter ice and snow contributed to its instability and eventual demise. The operators had to cease using it in 1861 and in 1866 they stopped operations until 1873 when Cobourg officials tried to interest Peterborough folk in resurrecting it.

This long trestle bridge did operate off and on until 1893. However the company was eventually absorbed by the Grand Trunk Railroad and different economic needs - iron ore mining for example - sent the railroad builders in different directions.

The advent of the Trent Canal was the finishing touch and in 1920 submerged the entrepreneurial adventure across the lake.

Today all one can see from the Harwood end - which is where the above photo was taken, is some trees and shrubbery growing out in the lake across to a larger bunch which must have been a bridge terminus. Apparently those who aren't familiar with the area, when out fishing or travelling on this long narrow lak,e constantly collide with the remains of the trestles and bridges under the water in a line across to the community of Hiawatha.

Thanks to Steam Power Publishing for the very detailed information.

 From the edge of the lake where the bridge across the lake started, looking west - we can see a number of small cottages and boat works, all in aid of tourism and fishing... skidoo trails cross the ice and one lonely ice fishing hut sits just off the next point. In the distance is the harbour for Gore's Landing, another popular spot for anglers to rent or store boats and get onto this lake famous for its pickerel.

A different kind of look around my new neighbourhood for you today, but one that I found most interesting. Hope you enjoyed it to, and enjoy the history of your own neighbourhood.


  1. Fascinating! I'm always amazed at what earlier generations of people did. History is certainly a foundation from which we should learn. Rice Lake looks very big, just how large is it?

  2. Very interesting Barb. Lonnie & I have boated on Rice Lake on our Trent River trip & had an uncle living on the lake.I remember seeing the pilings but didn't know what they were. Now I know, thanks !! & no we didn't hit them :~))

  3. Hi Bill - check out Wikipedia which has quite a bit of info on Rice Lake, Ontario - apparently its 22 miles long and not very wide - maybe 2 miles at its' widest. It has about a dozen islands within it and is a very popular spot for fishing... pike, bass and walleye/pickerel being the most popular - you should come and visit with your dogs and your wife - wonder how Adia and Cooper would get along with Bliss and Spirit - but you would love the fishing... not quite wild enough probably though for you. It is called Rice Lake i understand because wild rice used to grow here and was gathered by the First Nations who lived around the area. Rice Lake is also part of the Trent Severn water way from Lake Ontario up to Georgian Bay/Lake Huron.

    And Hi Mike so glad you and Lonnie didn't hit the pilings... you've done what I want to do - I'm hoping to make a trip around the lake this spring or summer with at least one of my boys - the two-legged ones without hair...:))