For many, many years I had researched the old Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton Railroad that ran from…well, even my learned friend the ‘Bushwhacker’ can figure out!
A note of explanation on my strange fixation on trains, especially the steam kind. Sixty-six years ago this month, my Grandfather had taken my mother to the hospital to deliver me. He was returning home and was killed in a car/train crash on Ontario St. in Cobourg. Back in the ‘stone age’ they kept the mother and child in the hospital for several days. Mother was not even aware of this sad event until well after the funeral!
Moving on, I guess you could say that trains are in my blood. Twice in the last few years as a pedestrian type I have come to within seconds of the same fate on a ‘live’ rail way bridge, the last time the Bushwhacker was there. Bud…your hair turned even whiter that day!
For many years, I have been searching in vain for a beautiful old stone bridge. The bridge in question was to be constructed underneath an impressive curving wooden trestle that ran across the Millbrook Valley. This trestle was several hundred feet long and about seventy-five feet in height. This trestle, over Big Creek (Baxter) in 1860 was looked upon by the ‘people of the District’ as the “eighth wonder of the world”. When it became known as a ‘death trap’ in later years, the stone bridge (culvert) was constructed underneath the trestle for the stream to flow through. Thousands of train cars of fill were dumped down through the trestle to create a solid earth road bed over the bridge.
I had first seen a picture of the wooden trestle, and stone bridge in a local history book entitled “This Green & Pleasant Land, Chronicles of Cavan Township”. I had unknowingly crossed the bridge several times on my hikes, but it could not be seen from the height of the trail over it!
Last year, the Bushwhacker and I were exploring the “Millbrook Valley Trails of Cavan and Monaghan Township”. This is a walking area not to be missed! Several trails including: Medd’s Mountain Trail (0.6 km, feeling more like 6 kms!); Baxter Creek Trail (3.0km); Cedar Trail (0.7km); Meadow Trail (0.9km) and the GRAND TRUNK (former PHL&B) Pathway (1.4km)!!
To access it, park in the MNR Provincial Fishing and Recreation Area, located off County Rd 10 and Cavan 4th Line (Zion Rd west) just south of Millbrook. At the MNR lot, follow the marked trail between the two fishing ponds. This trail at present is posted as closed as vandals have destroyed the safety barriers across the top of the bridge. Did this stop the Rebel…I mean Ranger from climbing up there? NO…and I’m pretty sure had this been a ‘live’ railroad…well, you know – three times and out!